Distro self-promotes usable w very old h/w; iso > 4GB too big for ASUS laptop USB?

Hi. I'm a first time trier of MATE and a first time poster.

Issue summary: I tried copying the iso file I chose onto USB drive. This failed due to FAT32 4GB limit. I reformatted USB drive to NTFS, and copied the iso. Booting failed. The ASUS website says to boot from USB drive, drive must be formatted FAT32.

So, first I want to say that I didn't have a "no fuss, no muss" experience! This distro self-promotes as being compatible with very old devices, and I'm trying to use it with a 10-ish year old laptop. I could find no discussion of this specific issue.

A bit of detail:
Laptop: asus x53u 6GB 320GB brazos e450 dual core 1.65GHz
iso tried: ubuntu-mate-20.04.5-desktop-amd64.iso

I could post more detail from my notes (I upgraded laptop bios which made UEFI available; I verified that laptop sees a FAT32 USB..) but I'd like to know if I'm a doofus who's missing something obvious and/or if there's a known workaround and/or if MATE is the wrong choice for this vintage hardware.


(Seems like a nice community btw; I came here after seeing it recommended in a "Best Linux Distributions for an Old Laptop in 2022" article. I didn't do lots of research but the website seemed sunny and upbeat)


Welcome @NeilS-Wpg to the community!


Hi not sure where you downloaded from but at


Has the 20.04.5 showing at 3.2gb.
and 22.04.1 at 2.5gb. After burning to usb I have 2.7gb.


Hi mendy, thanks for your reply.

What I did was:

  1. from Choose a release | Download select "Focal Fossa"
  2. from Choose a download | Download select "Direct Download"

So you are saying that when you download ubuntu-mate-20.04.5-desktop-amd64.iso you get something other than these?


(2nd image was of iso's properties in 7-zip; i had to remove it because of limitation on new members)

If true, we're probably close to solving this!

By the way, I'd figured an iso was a kind of specialized "bootable OS image" file, and I didn't realize until just now it was more like a zip, and that I could open it with 7-zip. This in turn might have made me wonder if I was supposed to unzip, and then only place a subset of the files on the USB drive, but if what you download is so different in size from what I download, that clearly needs to be understood first!

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Second image:

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Yes at link for example I downloaded the 22.04.1 which came to 2.7gb. iso file. Once I had that have to burn it to usb or dvd and then boot that (usb / dvd) to install or try. Burn sets up the usb / dvd to be bootable. Just copying to usb will not boot.
Image is iso I ended up with before burning to usb. Used Disks to create the usb.
Image is UM22.04.1.iso in my backup that I used to burn the usb I used to install.


Yup, I omitted the "burn disc image" step! I'll figure out how to do that, and then I expect I'll be well on my way. Thanks!


Hello Neils-Wpg

You posted a screenshot from a Windows operating system.

  • If you are trying to prepare the ISO-file of Ubuntu-Mate on your USB-stick from a Windows computer you might want to consider using Balena-etcher, which is frequently mentioned for this purpose :

  • https://www.balena.io/etcher/

  • You might want to consider downloading the ISO-file of the current Long-Term-Support release i.e. Jammy Jellyfish:

  • https://ubuntu-mate.org/download/amd64/jammy/


Hi and thanks.

From online info, etcher & Rufus appeared to be the popular choices for the boot-USB prep task. I'm cautious about running exe's from sources I'm unfamiliar with so I did a good amount of (somewhat painful) reading/skimming, and determined both would be fine (even downloaded both) but eventually went with Rufus.

I completed the install and the updates, and MATE now seems to be running as it should.

If anyone involved with project documentation is reading this, let it be known that it was a bit too easy for me to skim the section "Creating Installation Media" (at guide.ubuntu-mate.org) without absorbing the need for more than a simple copy. Rereading that section, I see it doesn't even use the word copy (in the relevant context) even though copying is what the naive user is most likely to consider.

I also find that section has some other weaknesses:

  • refers to "installation media (CD, DVD, SD card, or USB drive)" which places CDs first in list even though they are rarely used (is it not correct that they are now unusable due to size limits?); much better to say (something like) "installation media (usually an SD card or USB drive but can also be a DVD or CD)", and, to point the user to instructions for the most common case first.

  • ".. allows you to try Ubuntu MATE on your computer without installing, and without changing anything at all on your computer..." For me what's confusing here is that it suggests there are two cases: 1. install on computer ; 2. don't install on computer but run it so you can check out the look and feel, and make changes that won't be persistent. But case 2 is a very limited test drive I think because some settings require a reboot, no? More importantly, isn't there a 3rd case, where you boot off a boot media, and then make changes which do persist by being written either to the boot media or to some other writable device? Maybe I'm wrong here, but I think I've heard of scenarios like this, where you can boot a machine for a specific purpose with portable media, set settings, work on docs, etc, and the whole environment is saved on the portable device(s), allowing the machine to be booted differently (off its internal mem or some other external devices) and used as such, and then later re-booted with the earlier media to run (and evolve) in that environment (kind of like you're presenting it with a disk partition).

So that section could probably benefit from some freshening. (I'm not sure how active this community is and how much volunteer manpower is available for updating docs.)

Regarding Jellyfish, without doing much research I went with the older version just figuring that I don't have new hardware to support so I might as well go with rock-solid. What would you say is the biggest user experience advantage of the newer version?

I may as well also mention that I'm finding it really very sluggish, both at bootup and in general responsiveness. The laptop is a hand-me-down that I didn't have experience with, and after doing a bit of specs checking I see its CPU has a pretty low rating, so that rather than the OS is probably the main reason. Also, from some other reading there may be other distros that are a bit more lightweight than this one but not hugely.

That said, it does not too badly with Youtube and Netflix, and I've no need for a serious workhorse.

An annoyance is that I can't seem to teach the darn thing to not require a password after either coming out of screen saver or coming out of resume from suspend (close lid, wait, open lid, touch key), even though the settings seem to be offering me that option (I recently succeeded to achieve no pw after a boot.. I think .. not sure how reliable it is).

Another annoyance is that the touch pad sensitivity setting seems to have no effect: it's always super sensitive. This resulted in many unintended clicks until I disabled treating tpad touches as clicks.

Thanks again folks for taking the time.


Hello Neils-Wpg

Thank you for the extensive feedback from a "new Linux user". This is very valuable as experienced users tend to forget how much they did not know and had to learn when they began their own Linux journey. :slightly_smiling_face:

Slow to boot...
If your machine has a traditional hdd-drive, replacing it with an ssd-drive would improve your boot times. This may or may not be an option depending on your budget and how the laptop is built (ease of accessing parts). If you look on youtube with the search term "repair" added you can often find some kind of visual guide.

One last thing...
Now that you are running Linux - do remember to make regular (daily is good) backups of your "home" folder. :+1:

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Agree with backup but you may have to tailor it to your usage and needs.

In my case my home folder is 700gb. of data which mostly doesn't change.
My backup folder is 190gb. of data that has some changes.
I copy for example my Linux Installation.ods file (which is changed often) to a folder which I then copy to a flash drive along with other changed files. If crash I just have to apply the changes to the already backupe files on my removable drives. Also thanks to help in forum have a bash script to back up my configuration files that I do monthly. Do back up, once on Windows had a large amount of files I backed up to a removable drive, deleted from hard drive, dropped the removable and the at the time glass discs shattered all gone. Your hard drive may last forever and a new drive may fail in a week, so always back up at least what you don't want to lose or are not replaceable.

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