How to Create a Bootable USB Drive for Linux?

It is usually best to install or try Linux using a bootable USB Drive. And you should have a bootable Linux USB lying around just in case; you need a fresh install of Linux on your system. Almost all Linux distributions provide an ISO file for their installation. And you’ll need a third-party tool to make the installation media out of the ISO file.
This guide is designed in this manner that whether you are currently on Windows, Mac, or an existing Linux system, you can follow the same procedure to create a bootable USB drive for Linux. So, Let’s get things started without any worries. 

Things you’ll need

  1. USB Drive of 4GB at least (be sure to back up your data on it because the drive will be formatted during the process).
  2. ISO file of the Linux Distro that you want to install. I recommend you Ubuntu if you haven’t decided already or just following the tutorial.
  3. A flashing Utility: Balena Etcher (available for Windows, Linux, and Mac) or Rufus (available only for Windows).

Downloading Etcher
Downloading Rufus

How to create a bootable USB drive using Etcher

So now that you have downloaded Etcher and the Linux ISO file, plug your USB drive and follow the below steps:
  1. Fire up the Etcher software; you may need to install it first if you’re on a mac or downloaded the installer version. Linux users need to extract the zip file first to get the portable AppImage launcher. The portable version would launch right away.
Etcher: selecting a image for creating a bootable USB drive
2. Click on Select image and browse to the download folder (or where the Linux ISO file is located). At last, double click on the Linux ISO file to open.
Etcher: opening the Linux ISO file for creating bootable USB
3. The USB drive should automatically be selected. Select the correct USB drive by clicking on change in case you have other removable drives connected.
Etcher: Selecting the correct USB drive
4. Just hit flash. It would ask you for some permissions (to format the drive and destroy all the data on it) to allow. The flashing would start once you allow the permissions.
Etcher: Flashing the Linux ISO file
After the process is done (5-15 minutes depending upon the size of ISO file and writing speed of your USB drive), you have successfully created a bootable USB drive for Linux. You can now install or use the live version of the Linux Distro you flash into it. 


How to create a bootable USB drive using Rufus (Windows)

Since Rufus is only available for Windows and is one of the most popular image flashing utility, we are covering it for users of Microsoft Windows. So plug in the USB drive to get started:
  1. Fire up Rufus (either the installed version or Portable one) and allow for the administrative privileges. Once it opens, make sure to select the correct USB drive.

Rufus: Selecting the correct USB drive
2. Select Disk or ISO image on Boot selection and click on the SELECT button.
Rufus: Selecting Disk or ISO image
3. Now browse to the download folder or the location where you have the Linux ISO file in the pop-up window and double-click on the ISO file to open it.
Rufus: opening the Linux ISO file
4. Now, you have to select whether the disk you want to install Linux on uses MBR or GPT partition scheme. Here are the steps to find out if you don’t already know:
Rufus: Selecting the partition scheme for installation disk
a. Press Windows key + X and select Disk Management from the pop-up list.  
b. Right-click on the disk you want to know the partition scheme of and click on Properties.
Disk Management: Properties of Disk
5. In the Volumes tab, you can see the partition scheme of your disk (listed as Partition style).
Disk Management: Showing the partition scheme of disk
6. Leave other options default and proceed to START. It would ask how you want to write the image, stay with the recommended Write in ISO Image mode, and click OK.
Rufus: Selecting the write in ISO Image Mode


7. After allowing some permission to format the data, it would start writing the ISO files onto your USB drive.
Rufus: Linux ISO writing and creating bootable USB drive for linux
Once the process is done (5-10 min usually), close the program and boot into your new Linux USB drive.

Got problems flashing?

In case you’ve encountered any errors during the flashing process, there is a high possibility that the ISO file you’ve downloaded might be corrupt. Or the USB drive might be causing the problem. Try one more time with a fresh copy of Linux ISO or use another USB drive. Comment down your issues if not resolved, we’ll be happy to answer them.



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