Distros this works with: Universal
What this guide accomplishes: Making a USB drive bootable to install Linux.
- This guide favors NEW USB drives. Used drives will work, but I recommend buying a new drive just for this purpose. They generally cost so little it doesn't make sense to reuse one unless that's all you can do.
- I have removed any information related to DVD burning. Most new laptops do not have internal optical drives (plus USB optical drives are available) and USB booting has been widely supported for years. If you bought the laptop used, there is a very good chance the optical drive may need to be replaced, especially if the problem has been neglected. The main benefit with USB is media reusability, since USB drives can be reformatted, so you do not have to throw them out once the distro becomes EOL, or you switch distros. This is not possible with DVD's.
- If your system that has trouble booting from USB flashdrives directly, you can use a boot manager to mitigate the problem. There is a link to a guide that covers this. Note: While this is an option for stubborn systems, these are very rare and you only need this for legacy systems in many cases.
Important: READ THIS IF YOU ARE USING A USED FLASH DRIVE!
- If your USB drive is used, use Rufus. This will format the drive, to ensure the file system is intact. Unless the file system is too damaged for Rufus to handle, it should be able to format the drive.
- Follow the guide in this order, if you have to format the USB drive manually: Computer Management: 5/6/7/1/2/3/4 Windows format prompt: 8/1/2/3/4
Get a 8-16GB flash drive. While an 8GB drive is far more then you need, 16GB drives are more common. Both drives also allow you to preload firmware files and programs you use on the drive, so you always have local copies. Note: While an 8-16GB drive is recommended, a 4GB drive is sufficient if you do not intend to store firmware.
To write the ISO to the drive, download Rufus. Put this program somewhere where you can easily find it for later.
Once Rufus is downloaded, download the Linux distro you prefer. You can do this using the FTP link (slowest) or a torrent (fastest).
After you have the ISO downloaded, find out where it is located. The download location will depend on your current operating system and browser settings. Typical locations in Windows are Documents and Downloads (WinXP) or Downloads (Vista and up).
Plug your USB drive in now, so your current OS detects 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. If '''ISO image is not automatically selected, click on the drop-down menu and select it manually.
Once you find the ISO, click it and then click Open. After you click this, the ISO will be selected and available to write 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. You will need to confirm that you want to do this before Rufus starts. To confirm, click OK. If you have anything on the drive you wish to keep, you will need to copy it off now.
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