There are several places on the net that show you the long, manual procedure required to create a Live USB Linux drive. With so many netbooks coming out without CD drives, the folks at Ubuntu saw the need for an easy way to create a bootable Live USB drive so you can install Ubuntu on that new netbook. I'm going to show how to do this with Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) since that's the long term support version.
You'll want at least a 1GB USB drive to do this. Download the liveusb package file and save it to your USB drive. (If you'd like to try this with Gutsy or Intrepid, then choose the appropriate package from here.) Next, insert your Ubuntu 8.04 Live CD into your CD drive and reboot your computer to the Live CD (make sure your BIOS is set to boot from CD).
When Ubuntu is done booting to the CD you should see an icon on the desktop for your USB drive. Double click the icon for the USB drive and then double click the liveusb_0.1.1_all.deb file. Click on Install Package in the window that comes up. Once that's done you can close the package installation window.
Currently there's a bug in this program that makes it take forever to copy the files to the USB drive. The workaround is to change the mount options in one of the configuration files. Open a terminal and enter the following:
Now in the text editor, find the line that looks like:
Remove the "-o", "sync", portion of that line and save the file. Now you're ready to create your bootable Live USB drive.
Warning - All current data on your USB drive will be deleted when you perform the following steps. Remove all other USB drives from your computer, leaving only the one you want to use as a Live USB.
Go to the menu and select System->Administration->Install Live USB. In the Create Live USB system menu don't bother with the Options section since they don't appear to work at this time.
Click on Execute, click Yes at the confirmation prompts and wait. Wait some more. Even with the little bug fixes, it took about 10 or 15 minutes for mine to complete. Once it's done, click on Quit and your new bootable Ubuntu Live USB drive is complete. You now have a nice, compact piece of bootable media that you can use to install Ubuntu on any computer with USB ports.
With a few tweaks, this program worked well for the basic task of creating a USB version of the Live CD. It's obviously a work in progress, but I'm sure it will be working 100% soon.