You are here

The simplest way to make a LiveUSB from within GNU/Linux

I change distributions like people change socks, because I’m stubborn and refuse to test things through virtual machines and would rather run it pure and dry off my hardware.

I have this one unbranded 8gb USB stick that I literally bought (a handful of others of, all lost or dead) out of the back of a van, that I have continued to use for my LiveUSB’s for about five or six years now, and it's still kicking.

Thankfully, doing this change from distro to distro is incredibly simple, with the use of just a couple quick terminal commands. This will work from within any distribution.

Checking the mount point of the USB drive

Before you can put your ISO of your desired distribution onto your USB, you first need to know what mount point your system has given the device, so we later can tell the tool we use to copy the files over, where to copy them.

The command we need to use is


The command should show you an output similar to this screenshot.


As you can see, there are a few devices hooked up:

  • sda - the 120GB SSD in this laptop
  • sdb - the 2TB External drive
  • sdc - 32GB SD card for my DSLR
  • sdd - my 8GB USB thumbdrive

If you run lsblk without any parameter, you get a list of all block devices returned. You need to identify the USB Flash Drive or SD card that you want to copy the Linux distribution to.

The easiest option you have is to check the size of any listed device and find the device that matches the size of the Flash Drive or SD card.

It is very, very important you don’t mix up what device, is what. You MUST know the correct answer, or you run the risk of completely blanking the wrong drive (like a 2TB external, poof, gone.)

Copying the ISO to USB

The next step, is to use the dd command to transfer the contents of the ISO onto our USB in a bootable fashion.

sudo dd if=/path/to/your/file.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=4M status=progress #Replace X with the proper letter from lsblk or be doomed

Using the above command, there will be no warning, no question, it will simply run and will show you the progress as it does.

Once it is done, you can simply reboot, select your USB as the bootable device (mine is listed as my primary device...) and boot into your LiveUSB you desired. Quick, painless as long as you heed the warning above, and should generally only take around 5 minutes or so.

Good luck!


This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News


Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer