With the release of Windows 8.1 I finally decided that it was worth replacing the trusted Windows 7 with Microsoft’s latest and greatest. Windows 8 is awesome; it provides many behind the scenes system improvements that will make your PC run more fluidly, and with Windows 8.1 Microsoft has fixed many of the user interface flaws that users and critics have been complaining about. I highly recommend upgrading to Windows 8.1 if you are a UMass student, faculty or staff because it is FREE through Microsoft Dreamspark!
The one hassle involved with installing any new operating system is that at some point you need to create a Bootable Disk, a thumb drive or DVD which contains the setup and system files necessary to launch the operating system installer.
Creating a Bootable Disk poses as quite a hassle because if you download an operating system from the manufacturer or through DreamSpark, as I did, the file you download is an .iso file. This means that your new operating system is encoded as a DVD image file. If you own a computer that can burn DVD’s and have a blank disc, then you can burn the .iso file you downloaded onto the blank disc. If you do not have access to a DVD burner or a blank DVD, then your only choice is to use a thumb drive.
Creating a Bootable USB drive takes a little more effort because typically you’d have to download some program in order to extract the .iso file and then reformat the drive and set it as a bootable device before you’d be able to transfer any operating system files onto it. UNetbootin makes this whole process a whole lot simpler. UNetbootin is a lightweight, free, and open sourced program that will allow you to easily create bootable USB’s.
Once you open UNetbootin, you should see something similar to the above screenshot. To create a bootable USB, you can choose between a collection of Linux distributions that will be downloaded by UNetbootin, or you can select your own .iso image file. UNetbootin will then extract the .iso for you, reformat your selected USB drive, and install the appropriate files, all automatically!
UNetbootin simplifies and shortens the process of installing a new operating system, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering installing a new operating system.