How to try System 76’s Pop OS! on Windows 10 Laptop

Do you want to try some other OS on your Windows 10 ultrabook without losing any date? Than this blog post is for you. I will explain and document my process and explain step by step. The first step is of course to determine which OS you would like to try. In my case that is the new Linux distribution Pop OS! 20.04. So, how to try System 76’s Pop OS! on Windows 10 laptop?

Download Pop OS

Pop OS! is actually System 76 version of Ubuntu. So, let’s go to System 76’s main page.

Now, we can discover other product that System 76 offers, or we can select Pop OS! tab and select download. Newer version of Pop OS! is 20.04 and it’s released couple of days ago. Why Pop OS! 20.04? For me, I would just like to try this Linux distribution because I saw that there is build in tiling windows manager right out of the box.

Windows managers are something that I’m interested about and I would like to spend some time learning about them, and this is maybe great place to start.

So, how can we try Pop OS! 20.04 without losing out data. I think there is couple of ways:

  • Create Virtual Machine
  • Live Boot form Bootable USB stick
  • Install on external Hard drive or large USB Stick [not working]

Create Virtual Machine

This is probably the easiest and the best way for the new users to the Linux. There is a lot of Virtual Machines Managers, by for this post we are using Oracle’s VirtualBox. For this we need:

  • Pop OS! 20.04 iso image file
  • VirtualBox client

Detailed description and instruction on how to start with VirtualBox you can find on my other post:

Live Boot form Bootable USB stick

Live Image

Second option on how to try Pop OS! on Windows 10 laptop is with Live image. Live image is when we boot our OS from USB stick without installing it on Hard Drive. And for this to be done we need to create bootable USB Stick from Pop OS! 20.04 iso image file. There are a lop to way to do this task, but I’m using program called Rufus. You can download Rufus on following site:

Download installer and install the Rufus on your Windows 10 machine. Rufus looks something like this.

Rufus 3.10

Other great option is Etcher.

It’s a bit user friendly that rufus and after downloading and installing, Etcher look something like this.

Balena Etcher

Now is just simply the mater of selecting the right device (USB stick) and the Pop OS! iso image file and click start. Remember, the USB stick will be configured as bootable USB stick with Pop OS! image, so this mean that all existing data from your USB stick will be removed in this process. USB stick will be formatted before it will be configured as bootable. And please, don’t select the wrong partition in this process, this can lead in losing of all your data. So, please be careful when selecting the device. Now, we have bootable USB stick and we can simply boot from it. So lets boot from it.

Boot from USB stick

We need to reboot our laptop and and chose the USB as boot device. This can be different from laptop to laptop, but for my laptop HP Envy x360 13 inch I i need to keep pressing escape button (ESC) on boot up to open boot up menu.

And now I came across the first problem for the new users. That is lack of support for secure boot and UEFI on Pop OS! 20.04. We can not just simply smash Escape button (ESC) in order to open boot menu and select our to boot from our bootable USB stick, because on some newer laptops secure boot is enabled by default and Legacy support is disabled.

Configure BIOS

Step are next:

  • Keep pressing ESC when powering on your laptop until you see Startup Menu.
  • If we select Boot Devices Options, we will not see our USB stick, so next step is to select BIOS Setup by pressing F10
  • Now we are at Main BIOS tab and we need to switch to System Configuration tab, and then enter into Boot Options
  • In System Configuration tab we need to disable Secure boot, which is enabled by default.
  • Enable Legacy Support
  • Increase value of the POST HotKey delay (sec) to 5s (this step is important because in other way you will not see confirmation dialog at boot up)
  • Press F10 – Save and Exit to save your changes are reboot.
HP Startup Menu
Main Bios Tab
System Configuration Tab Boot Options

Allow changes to boot options

Now, again strange thing happened on my machine. I didn’t change boot order in BIOS setting (to boot first form USB instead of HDD), because I don’t want to have to come back into and switch it back to HDD when I’m done with USB stick. So, after reboot, I started, again to press ESC key in order to open Startup Menu and then select option Boot device Options, but by doing that I was accidentally exiting from another dialog that was now appearing right after reboot. Now dialog was actually BIOS changes confirmation, in which you have to Enter given code and press Enter to accept changes or press ESC to switch back to default settings. I was clearing my BIOS changes by starting to press ESC after reboot. So, my advice to you is don’t start bashing ESC button on first reboot after changing some BIOS setting, there is maybe some confirmation dialog.

Then, after allowing BIOS changes, I was able to reboot again, enter Startup Menu, select F9 and now we can successfully boot from our USB stick.

In demo mode I just installed OBS studio so that I can record and start playing around.

Demo on live Pop OS! image

Install on external Hard drive or large USB Stick

I wasn’t able, at this time, to install Pop OS! 20.04 on external disk. This was very frustrating for me because I managed to achieve this task with Manjaro, without major issues. I will spend some more time investigating this topic and then revisit this.


There are a lot of way for you to try some other Operating System (other then Windows 10), and I think that Pop OS! 20.04 should be on your short list with Manjaro, Ubuntu and MX Linux. But that is the point of this blog post. It should give you the knowledge to install new OS, along side your existing Windows 10, and just give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can just remove VM, format USB or External HDD, but if you like it, than maybe we can together learn on that journey.

Did you try System 76’s Pop OS! on Windows 10 Laptop? How was your experience? Did you manage to install Pop OS! on external HDD and can you share? Please comment down below and follow my switching to linux series at

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