A great feature of many Linux distributions is that you can create a live USB (or CD/DVD) key and boot directly into it. This allows you to try out an operating system, troubleshoot an existing installation, or install Linux onto the system's hard drive.

Fedora is one of those distributions of Linux that allows us to boot into a usable environment directly from USB. In order to do that, we just need to write the Fedora installation file (.ISO format) to the USB thumb drive.

In this guide, we'll go over the step by step instructions to create a Fedora bootable USB key via either command line or GUI. Follow along with us to get your USB key setup through Fedora's Media Writer tool or the ddrescue command utility.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • How to download Fedora and Fedora Media Writer
  • How to create Fedora bootable USB with Media Writer (GUI method)
  • How to create Fedora bootable USB with ddrescue (command line method)
Writing Fedora ISO file to bootable USB key
Writing Fedora ISO file to bootable USB key
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Fedora Linux
Software Fedora Media Writer, ddrescue
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Download Fedora


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Before beginning, you'll need a Fedora ISO file to copy to the USB drive. You can head over to the official Fedora website and grab whichever edition of Fedora suits you best, whether that be Workstation, Server, or something else.

While you're on the download page, you can also grab Fedora's Media Writer if you plan to use the tool for creating a bootable USB drive. It's available for Windows and MacOS, and can also be installed on Fedora Linux, in case you're already running a copy of Fedora. Executing the following command in terminal will download the Fedora Media Writer tool.

$ sudo dnf install liveusb-creator

Create Fedora bootable USB with Media Writer (GUI)

We'll be going through the steps on a Fedora system, but you can use Fedora Media Writer on Windows, MacOS, or any Linux distribution. The steps should be very similar, with some slight differences in appearance, regardless of what system you're using.

  1. Search for and open the newly installed Fedora Media Writer on your system.
  2. Opening the Fedora Media Writer GUI application
    Opening the Fedora Media Writer GUI application
  3. Pick the edition of Fedora you'd like to install. You'll probably just want to use Workstation, unless you have a server or you want to check out some of the other "spins" of Fedora, which are just different desktop environments than the default GNOME. If you already downloaded a Fedora ISO earlier, you can select "custom image" and point Fedora Media Writer to the downloaded ISO file.


  4. Choose whether to install Fedora Workstation, Server, some other Fedora Spin, or a downloaded ISO file
    Choose whether to install Fedora Workstation, Server, some other Fedora Spin, or a downloaded ISO file
  5. Make sure you select the correct USB drive for the program to write to. Then, click "write" to begin writing the image file to the thumb drive. Keep in mind that this step will completely erase any content that is currently on the flash drive.
  6. Select the correct USB device and then begin writing changes to the drive
    Select the correct USB device and then begin writing changes to the drive

Once the process finishes, you are ready to use the USB drive to boot into Fedora's live environment.

Fedora Media Writer has finished writing the ISO file to USB drive
Fedora Media Writer has finished writing the ISO file to USB drive

Create Fedora bootable USB with ddrescue (command line)



Assuming you've already downloaded the Fedora ISO file you wish to use, you can use the ddrescue command on any Linux system to write the ISO image to the USB drive by following the steps below.

  1. Start off by identifying the device file name your system has assigned to the USB drive.
    $ sudo fdisk -l
    
    In our example, the USB drive has been assigned the following path: /dev/sdb
  2. Identify the name of the device you want to write the ISO to
    Identify the name of the device you want to write the ISO to
  3. Next, install the ddrescue utility if it's not already on your system.
    $ sudo dnf install ddrescue
    
  4. Now, use the following command syntax to write your downloaded ISO file to the USB drive. Note that this will also erase all the content currently on the flash drive. Make sure you change this file name with that of your own, as well as the path to your USB drive.
    $ sudo ddrescue Fedora-Workstation-Live-x86_64-34-1.2.iso /dev/sdb --force
    

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    ddrescue is currently writing the ISO file to the USB thumb drive
    ddrescue is currently writing the ISO file to the USB thumb drive

After the command wraps up its process, you can eject the USB drive and use it to boot any computer into a live Fedora environment.

Closing Thoughts

In this guide, we saw how to create a Fedora Linux live bootable USB key. This can be done from Fedora's own GUI application called Fedora Media Writer, or from the command line with the ddrescue utility. Both methods produce the same results, so you should use whichever one you find easier. Afterwards, you can use your USB key to boot any computer into Fedora, allowing you to try out the operating system, troubleshoot the current installation, or install Fedora onto the hard disk.

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