Creating a bootbale USB Stick from Xubuntu ISO file on command line (Update)

It took me some research to get this proved instructions to work for any kind of USB Stick and any Linux/ubuntu distro to boot from.

Any usb-creator GUI did not work (for me) and also caused some bugs…

[Current issue at the releases 15.04 and 15.10] There are problems with the Startup Disk Creator alias usb-creator, if you try to create a 15.04 boot drive from the versions 12.04 LTS and 14.04 LTS of Ubuntu. See this link to the release notes Unetbootin works from Ubuntu 12.04.5 and 14.04.2 (can make a working USB boot drive for Ubuntu 15.04), but the bug is still there in Startup Disk Creator (tested April 29 2015 (and October 22 for 15.10))

My Step-b-Step manual (I do assume you run in a ‘root’-terminal, otherwise
you need ‘sudo‘ for each command):

  • 1. Plug your USB Stick and check which device it is mounted on:
    # fdisk -l
    Disk /dev/sdb: 16.1 GB, 16059990016 bytes
    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sdb1 2048 31367167 15682560 b W95 FAT32
  • 2. Unmount the device:
    # umount /dev/sdb1
  • 3. Not sure if this step is needed, but just-in-case I formated the USB
    Stick in FAT32

    # mkdosfs -n 'give-it-a-name' -I /dev/sdb -F 32
    mkfs.fat 3.0.28 (2015-05-16)
    # fdisk -l /dev/sdb
    Disk /dev/sdb: 15 GiB, 16059990016 bytes, 31367168 sectors
    Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    Disklabel type: dos
    Disk identifier: 0x00000000
  • 4. download the lastest Linux/Ubuntu ISO image (No sudo required here 😉 )
    # cd /data/ISO ; wget Xubuntu 15.10
    ‘xubuntu-15.10-desktop-amd64.iso’ saved [1104052224/1104052224]
  • 5. YOU MAY NOT NEED THIS STEP!!! Please read the isohybrid article first!
    I figured out in several attempts that I need to avoid the “Missing Operating System” message at boot attempt. Also I mounted the ISO image and realized that this ISO was using isolinux not syslinux

    # pwd
    # isohybrid xubuntu-15.10.iso

    More about isohybrid – please click here.

  • 6. Copy the ISO to the Stick
    # pwd /* Make sure you are still in the path
    # dd if=xubuntu-15.10.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=1MB
    1104+1 records in
    1104+1 records out
    1104052224 bytes (1,1 GB) copied, 63,5949 s, 17,4 MB/s

    Hint: The bs is the block size. dd will read 1MB of data into the memory and then proceed to write it at the disk as a whole. 1MB or 4MB usually is a good value when making a disk from an ISO.

  • 7. Last step before unplug your Stick is:
    # sync       
    # eject /dev/sdb
  • 8. Boot from Stick and have some FUN!

Do I need to mention that on some laptops/PCs you need to change the boot order in BIOS first to have USB as your 1st device. Well sometime you can press F12 during boot and select the device manually 😉



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