How To Create GNU/Linux Bootable USB Drive

This tutorial explains steps about creating bootable USB drive of GNU/Linux distribution with UNetbootin or Rufus program. A GNU/Linux bootable drive is just like a DVD to boot and install Windows in your computer, except it is used to install GNU/Linux system. By using this article you can, for example, create Ubuntu bootable USB drive. It is not limited to Ubuntu, using UNetbootin/Rufus you can create bootable drive for another GNU/Linux distribution such as Fedora, openSUSE, Slackware, Linux Mint, or anything else with this tutorial. This tutorial explains UNetbootin for GNU/Linux and macOS users, while Rufus is for Windows users.

Common Preparations

Before burning your iso file, you should consider these things:

  1. Make sure your USB drive capacity is bigger than the iso file size.
  2. Make sure your USB drive contents has been safely copied somewhere, especially if there is important data inside.
  3. For macOS users, install UNetbootin by downloading DMG unetbootin-mac-625.dmg from the official site
  4. For GNU/Linux users, install UNetbootin directly from your official repository. For example in Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install unetbootin; in Fedora sudo dnf install unetbootin.
  5. For Windows users, install Rufus by downloading EXE rufus-2.11.exe from the official site
  6. Both UNetbootin and Rufus are free software, licensed under GNU GPL.



For GNU/Linux and macOS users:
1. Prepare the iso image file. This including download or obtain it from somewhere. For example, Ubuntu iso image.
2. Open Unetbootin from desktop menu.
3. Select Diskimage.
4. Click […] button, select the ISO file. If you have no idea where it is, navigate to Computer first then to / and then to /home.
5. Select Type: USB Drive.
6. Select Drive: /dev/sdXY where X is your USB drive letter name and Y is its number. To know the correct drive address: open Terminal > type lsblk -o NAME,LABEL > see the line indicating your USB drive. For example, my drive address is /dev/sdc1.

Don’t make mistake here otherwise you may mess your main partition.
7. Press “OK” button. Wait until it’s finished.


For Windows users:
1. Prepare the iso image file.
2. Open Rufus from desktop menu.
3. Select Device: your USB drive.
4. Select Partition Scheme: MBR partition scheme for BIOS and UEFI.
5. Select Filesystem: FAT32.
6. Select Cluster Size: default.
7. Select Quick Format.
8. Select Create bootable disk using: > click disk icon > choose the iso image file > OK.
9. If Rufus asks about downloading syslinux, answer Yes and let it download (fire up your internet connection).
10. If Rufus asks about choosing between ISO mode and DD mode, choose ISO mode. It means the iso file you use is a hybrid iso.
11. Rufus will remind you that it will delete all files inside the USB drive while performing image writing. Make sure you have already have backups, and answer Yes. The last thing: press “Start” button.
12. Wait until it’s finished.