How to make a bootable USB from an ISO in Linux

The purpose of this tutorial is to make a bootable USB drive from an ISO file. USB drives have recently overtaken CDs and DVDs as the primary media of physically distributed software. It is now a common task for system administrators and normal users to install operating systems and software via USB.

When you download a Linux distro, chances are that it will come as an ISO file and you will need to burn it to USB in order to install Linux on a computer. This allows you to boot directly into the Linux installer. Similarly, we can also put other software on the USB drive, assuming that the installer is distributed as an ISO file.

In this tutorial, you will see the step by step instructions to create a bootable USB from an ISO file on a Linux system. We will cover the steps for both command line and GUI on major Linux distros.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to create bootable USB from ISO via command line
  • How to install Gnome Multi Writer
  • How to create bootable USB from Linux GUI
How to make a bootable USB from an ISO in Linux
How to make a bootable USB from an ISO in Linux
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software dd, GNOME Multi Writer
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

Create bootable USB from ISO via Linux command line



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The only two things you will need in order to get started are an ISO file and a USB stick. In case you are planning on installing Linux and do not already have a Linux ISO handy, see our Linux download page.

  1. Make sure your USB drive is plugged in. Then, open a terminal and use the following command to see what device path Linux has given to your USB stick:
    $ sudo fdisk -l
    
    fdisk gives us the label of the USB stick
    fdisk gives us the label of the USB stick

    In the screenshot above, you can see that our flash drive’s device is labelled /dev/sdb. Take note of whatever yours is labelled (it should be very similar, but maybe contain a different letter); we’ll need this in a moment.

  2. Now, we can use the following dd command to make a bootable USB from the ISO file:
    $ sudo dd bs=4M if=/path/to/file.iso of=/dev/sdX status=progress oflag=sync
    

    Of course, replace /path/to/file.iso with the path to your ISO file, and replace /dev/sdX with the name of your device.

  3. dd will now copy the contents of the ISO file over to your USB stick. When it’s done, you’re ready to use the USB drive as Linux installation media or a software installer.
    dd command being used to copy ISO contents to USB stick
    dd command being used to copy ISO contents to USB stick


Make Bootable USB From Linux GUI

To create a bootable USB from ISO file via Linux’s graphical interface, there are a plethora of tools available in your operating system’s software manager which would be suitable for the job. The one we will be using is called GNOME Multi Writer and can be obtained on all major Linux distros.

You can use the appropriate command below to install GNOME Multi Writer with your system’s package manager.

To install GNOME Multi Writer on Ubuntu, Debian, and Linux Mint:

$ sudo apt install gnome-multi-writer

To install GNOME Multi Writer on Fedora, CentOS, AlmaLinux, and Red Hat:

$ sudo dnf install gnome-multi-writer

To install GNOME Multi Writer on Arch Linux and Manjaro:

$ sudo pacman -S gnome-multi-writer
  1. Plug in your USB drive and open GNOME Multi Writer. Start by clicking on the “Start Copying” button.
    Click the button to get started
    Click the button to get started
  2. Next, locate your ISO file and import it.
    Import the ISO file you wish to burn
    Import the ISO file you wish to burn
  3. Finally, let GNOME Multi Writer burn your ISO file to the USB.
    Gnome Multi Writer showing the progress of the burn process
    Gnome Multi Writer showing the progress of the burn process

Closing Thoughts




In this tutorial, we saw how to make a bootable USB drive from an ISO file on a Linux system. With most computers no longer coming with a disc drive, it is important that users learn how to use USB drives for installation of their ISO files. You now saw how to do this via command line and GUI and can choose whichever method is easiest for you. Also feel free to use any USB burner GUI, as there are many options available.



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