Introduction

Distros compatibility: Universal

What this guide accomplishes: Making a USB drive bootable to install Linux.

Legacy guide w/ DVD burning steps (Note: OUDATED)

Important guide notes:

  • This guide favors NEW USB drives due to how cheap small capacity drives are. If you want to reuse an old drive, then those will also work.
  • I have removed all information from this guide that targets DVD burning. Many new laptops (and some desktops) no longer include optical drives.
  • In a lot of cases, the optical drives that come with used equipment is likely already broken in some way. It isn't uncommon for the previous owner to neglect a failed optical drive. In regards to laptops this is even more common then it is on desktops.
  • In the case of a USB drive, they can be reformatted and reused multiple times before the flash memory wears out. DVD media is typically single use.

IF YOUR SYSTEM HAS TROUBLE BOOTING FROM USB DIRECTLY:

Note: This problem typically only comes up for users with very old hardware (or systems with buggy USB boot implementations). It does NOT affect the majority of readers.

If your system that has trouble booting from USB media directly, a CD boot ma manager can be used as a workaround. These guides cover how to use the boot manager option:

PlopKExec

Plop Boot Manager

This guide was written with the intention of purchasing a new USB drive just for this project. While used drives work, they should be formatted before writing the ISO to the drive to ensure there are no filesystem problems. Using a 16GB USB drive will allow you to store the vast majority of Non-Free firmware you need, along with locally stored copies of programs you install on every Linux installation.
  • This guide was written with the intention of purchasing a new USB drive just for this project. While used drives work, they should be formatted before writing the ISO to the drive to ensure there are no filesystem problems.

  • Using a 16GB USB drive will allow you to store the vast majority of Non-Free firmware you need, along with locally stored copies of programs you install on every Linux installation.

  • Get a 8-16GB flash drive. While an 8GB drive is more then you need, 16GB drives are becoming cheaper (and more common). Note: While an 8-16GB drive is recommended, a 4GB drive drive can be used if you only want to copy the OS to the drive.

  • To write the ISO to the drive, download Rufus. Put this program somewhere where you can easily find it for later.

Add Comment

For the first time user, FTP is the safest option. Torrents are not recommended because advanced configuration is strongly advised. While the changes are obvious, the average user is likely to miss something important. Once Rufus is downloaded, download the Linux distro you prefer. You can do this using the FTP link (slowest) or a torrent (fastest). Once Rufus is downloaded, download the Linux distro you prefer. You can do this using the FTP link (slowest) or a torrent (fastest).
  • For the first time user, FTP is the safest option. Torrents are not recommended because advanced configuration is strongly advised. While the changes are obvious, the average user is likely to miss something important.

  • Once Rufus is downloaded, download the Linux distro you prefer. You can do this using the FTP link (slowest) or a torrent (fastest).

Add Comment

If you have to move the files to another location after downloading them, you will need to find the files yourself. Common default download locations: Windows XP: Documents and Downloads. Windows Vista/7/8.x/10: Downloads
  • If you have to move the files to another location after downloading them, you will need to find the files yourself.

  • Common default download locations: Windows XP: Documents and Downloads. Windows Vista/7/8.x/10: Downloads

  • After you have the ISO downloaded, find out where it is located. The default download location depends on what OS you are currently running, and if you kept the default download location settings in your browser.

  • Plug your USB drive in now, so it is detected for later.

Add Comment

Users who have trouble booting from USB directly: If your system is older and lacks the option to USB boot or has problems doing so, refer to this guide for additional tools to facilitate USB booting. Note: Most users will not need to do this. This only applies to select users since most systems boot from USB correctly. Rufus will ask you if you want to write the ISO in ISO or DD mode. The mode you select is up to you, but when in doubt it is best to use what Rufus recommends. Optional: If you are using an older USB drive, run a block test. This will ensure the drive does not have any problems before you use it. Find Rufus and open it. Once Rufus is open, find the ISO of the Linux distro you downloaded. Click on the image that looks like a CD to locate the ISO.
  • Users who have trouble booting from USB directly: If your system is older and lacks the option to USB boot or has problems doing so, refer to this guide for additional tools to facilitate USB booting. Note: Most users will not need to do this. This only applies to select users since most systems boot from USB correctly.

  • Rufus will ask you if you want to write the ISO in ISO or DD mode. The mode you select is up to you, but when in doubt it is best to use what Rufus recommends. Optional: If you are using an older USB drive, run a block test. This will ensure the drive does not have any problems before you use it.

  • Find Rufus and open it. Once Rufus is open, find the ISO of the Linux distro you downloaded. Click on the image that looks like a CD to locate the ISO.

  • Once you find the ISO, click it and then click Open. After you click this, the ISO will be selected and is now available to write to your USB drive. Note: If ISO image is not automatically selected, click on the drop-down menu to select it manually.

  • WARNING! If you have any files you want to keep, back them up BEFORE writing the image to the USB drive. Once you locate the ISO to write to the drive, select Start. The program will warn you this will erase the drive. Confirm this by clicking OK and the process will begin.

Add Comment

Finish Line

7 other people completed this guide.

Nick

Member since: 11/10/2009

36,564 Reputation

30 Guides authored

Team

Master Techs Member of Master Techs

Community

267 Members

638 Guides authored

4 Comments

Link if you like or not your choice... https://www.ifixit.com/Story/20263/Creat....

tcagle53 - Reply

Cambang5999@gmail.com

Cambang 5999 -

Unetbootin does not work anymore and is considered unstable to use when installing any Linux OS, also 4GB USB drives are more than big enough to get the job done

Will Unknown - Reply

My reasoning for saying 8GB is because 4GB sticks are all but nonexistent (8GB is more popular now), but if you already own the 4GB stick then it'll work. I even use one from 2006 in the guide, to show that reuse is possible.

Oh really? I always thought it was still a usable option - thanks for letting me know that I was wrong.

Nick -

Add Comment

View Statistics:

Past 24 Hours: 3

Past 7 Days: 22

Past 30 Days: 92

All Time: 1,295