How To Use DriveDroid to Boot Linux On PC Using Android

You completed your office work last night but forgot to email the documents to your boss. You woke up today and the first thing on your priority list is to mail those important documents. Surprisingly your operating system is not booting for some reason. The only option that remains is to reinstall your Operating System; however, if the documents are on the system partition (the c drive) then things become a little bit dicier.

So, is there any way to recover data without reinstalling Windows?

Well, yes and I will tell you what to do. So, all you need to do is – boot into your computer from a portable OS, like a Linux live cd or something. But even a smallest Live CD of Ubuntu will take 700 MB and you can not carry a live CD or flash drive everywhere you go. But, there is a better way.

If you have an Android phone, then you can use that to boot into your computer with an awesome Android application named as DriveDroid. And instead of using Ubuntu, we’ll use a lightweight Linux distribution named as Precise Puppy Linux. Advantage of the lightweight Linux distro is that we can boot this distro inside RAM (so even a hard disk damaged PC will be able to run it)

What are you going to need?

  1. A rooted Android smartphone or tablet
  2. USB cable
  3. DriveDroid
  4. Precise Puppy Linux (157 MB)
  5. A Windows PC
  6. Rufus (Software for Windows)

Now, once you are done downloading of all the tools, let’s have a look at what exactly we are going to do.

  1. Install DriveDroid on your Android
  2. Create a blank disk image on your Android using DriveDroid
  3. Connect your Android to your PC using USB cable
  4. Flash Linux ISO on that blank disk image
  5. Boot into Linux image that we created using DriveDroid into the RAM of PC
  6. Access the Data using Linux GUI

NOTE: There are two main sections in this tutorial. The first section deals with a one-time setup which deals with setting up your android phone as a bootable Linux Disk Image (Steps 1 to 3). The second section deals with using the Android phone to boot your PC into Linux Disk (Steps 4 & 5).

Boot Linux On PC Using Android

Part1: Installing and Setup DriveDroid on Android

1. Download the DriveDroid from the Google play (link at the top). There are two versions of this app — free and paid. The premium version is ad-free, allow you to download your own repository. But for this tutorial, we are okay with the free version. So, go ahead and install it. The first time you open the app, it’ll ask for Root access, grant that.

2. Next, follow the configuration wizard and select the appropriate type of storage that can be emulated on your device. Basically, the app will ask you to connect your computer to your Android with USB cable (so that) and, confirm whether you can see a new USB drive in your file explorer. Follow the on instruction listed below.

I plugged in the USB cable > Proceed > Standard Android kernel > I see a USB drive, proceed > DriveDroid booted successfully, proceed > Close wizard.

3. Now, let’s create a Blank Disk on DriveDroid that will hold our iso file.

  • Press on the ‘+ ‘sign to add new image disk.
  • Select ‘Create Blank Image’.

You can give any name for the image (I am using ‘Scooby_doo’) however please note that we are going to flash Linux Distro on this disk image hence select the appropriate size for the disk. (Disk type should be FAT).

You can see the newly created image on the primary screen of the app

Part 2: Flash Linux ISO on Disk Image

4. Download the Linux ISO on your computer. (I am using Precise Puppy Linux, link is provided earlier in this article)

5. Open the DriveDroid application again

6. Connect your phone to your PC and click on the disk image (created earlier) in the DriveDroid Application. (In this tutorial Scooby_doo.img). In popup window select ‘Writable USB

Now check the notification panel and you will see a notification which will indicate that the disk image has been successfully emulated.

7. Now the Disk image will be recognized as a flash drive on the PC

8. Open the Rufus tool on your PC. Select the new emulated drive as target drive, select the Linux Distro ISO as target file and click on Start. (Do not change any other default settings)

9. Wait for ISO flashing to finish & you have successfully installed the Linux Distro on Disk image emulated(hosted) on your phone

10. Tap on the DriveDroid notification on your phone to disable emulation(hosting)


Boot Linux into RAM

11. Now your phone is ready with a Disk image that contains Linux in it, so the next step is to boot PC into Linux so that we can access the data on the PC.

12. To boot PC into Linux, connect your phone to PC

13. Now Open DriveDroid and on the DriveDroid screen click on the Linux disk image that we created (Scooby_doo.img)

14. Select ‘Writable USB’ to emulate the Disk

Wait for the Image Disk to be emulated & Make sure your PC has detected the Linux Disk Image

Now reboot your PC and select boot from USB. Depending on your computer, you can do that by pressing F12 or F2 when the computer boots up. For more information, google this with your computer model no.

Boot it into USB drive(emulated). You will see Linux booted inside RAM in few seconds

Wrapping Up

Well, that’s it. Now you can access data on your Hard disk using Linux GUI, keep in mind that the Linux is booted inside the RAM hence you can remove your phone USB connection from PC and still it will be fully functional

So, this is how you can use Linux to extract the data just by using your Android phone and a USB cable. Don’t forget that we are using Linux hence if you are familiar with command line interface you can even boot Distros which are 5MB in size. So, try out some different distros and let me know how it works for you in the comments section.


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