Don’t you just love it when somebody solves a problem you didn’t know you had? I sure do. As an admitted “serial re-installer” I acknowledge my addiction to installing, wiping, and reinstalling an endless list of operating systems. I love trying new ones, and that means multiple installations.
It also means I keep a lot of flash drives around:
That picture doesn’t include all of my installers, just the ones I’ve used recently.
If you recall not long ago I gave the hackintosh thing a try. Since then I’ve been experimenting with different versions of Mac OS on multiple NUCs. No reason, really, other than curiosity.
Having a basket full of USB installers was always just part of the deal for me. It didn’t think there was a better way. Well, I was wrong. I recently came across a new utility that solves my borderline USB addiction in a simple, elegant way. It’s an open source utility called Ventoy, and it configures a single USB stick to boot from multiple ISO images. In theory, with Ventoy you can just copy however many ISO images you can fit on the USB stick, and it will allow you to boot from any of them.
I immediately downloaded the latest version to see if it actually did what it claimed to do. I’m happy to report that it works exactly as promised. I grabbed a 64GB Lexar USB stick I had lying around and ran the Ventoy installer. It’s a simple installation. You just tell Ventoy which USB drive you want to use and it works it’s magic on the drive.
After that, you copy your ISO images to the drive. That’s it, no re-configuring or re-installing anything for each ISO. You just copy the ISO image files to it.
When you boot a computer from the Ventoy stick, it lists the ISO images. Once you select one, the system restarts and boots to that image as though it were a standard installation stick.
I tried my Ventoy stick with Windows 10, MacOS Mojave and Catalina, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu. In each case I was able to use the installer just as I would have if I’d created a dedicated USB stick from scratch.
I love this tool. It allows me to dedicate one large USB stick to most of my installer needs. I say most because it is limited to using ISO images. Some OSes, like Libreelec, don’t come in an ISO package. I could convert them to ISOs, but for now I’m just enjoying the simplicity of copying images to my USB stick and being able to install at will.
I highly recommend you check it out!