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How to Create a Bootable USB Flash Drive in Linux

Traditionally, Operating Systems used to install from CDs or DVDs, including Linux distributions. However, now we have USB flash drives, which are much faster and easier to use than CDs/DVDs. Hence they are being used extensively as boot devices for operating system installations.

Let us see how to create a bootable USB flash drive for a Linux distribution from a Linux computer. The tool we are going to use for this purpose is Unetbootin, which is a fairly simple and easy to use boot disk creator program for Linux.

To install Unetbootin on Ubuntu and Debian, run:

sudo apt install unetbootin

Note: Use apt-get instead of apt on older Ubuntu versions (version 14.04 and below).

To install Unetbootin on other Linux distributions, download it from the official site and set executable permissions on the downloaded binary file using:

chmod +x unetbootin

In Ubuntu, start the Unetbootin program with the command unetbootin from the Terminal.

In other Linux distributions, go to the project folder and run ./unetbootin from the Terminal.

There are two options available in UNetbootin. You can select the Linux distribution and its version, which the tool will then download. Or, if you already have a downloaded ISO file, you can choose the Diskimage option and select the downloaded ISO file.

Generally, the option to download a Linux distribution does not have all the newer versions, hence it is better to download ISO from the official site of the particular distribution and then use it to create a bootable USB Flash Drive.

Here, we are selecting an Ubuntu 16.04 desktop ISO which I have downloaded from the official Ubuntu website.

In the field “Space used to preserve files..”, we have specified 500 MB. This space can be used to store some temporary files (Eg. Downloaded files from the internet in a Live Ubuntu environment) in the USB drive, to be used or moved somewhere later.

Next, select the USB drive (make you have connected one already) to which the Linux Distro will be written to.

Finally, hit the OK button. It will now carry out all the steps needed to create a bootable drive from the ISO. A progress bar will be shown at the bottom of the window.

Once the installation is finished, reboot the computer with the USB drive inserted and go to the GRUB menu. The key to enter the GRUB menu differs from device to device. Usually, it is F12.

The GRUB menu format can also differ from device to device. Go to Boot From and select the USB device. You can then try Ubuntu Live without installing it.


🍻 Cheers!

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