Make bootable USB stick


To make a bootable USB stick of a Linux distro:

  1. Download an ISO image of your preferred Linux distro
  2. Insert the USB key and unmount it
  3. Copy IMG to USB key using dd (see instructions below)

Using dd on Linux

Find out the name of your USB drive with lsblk. Make sure that it is not mounted.


Run the following command, replacing /dev/sdx with your drive, e.g. /dev/sdb. (Do NOT append a partition number, so do NOT use something like /dev/sdb1)

sudo dd bs=4M if=/path/to/archlinux.iso of=/dev/sdx status=progress && sync

Wait for the command sync to complete before unplugging the USB drive to ensure the data was written completely.

See Core utilities#dd and the ArchLinux Wiki for more information.

Using dd on OSX

# get the device name on OSX
diskutil list 
# use the appropriate device name; do not use partition!!!
sudo dd if=file.img of=/dev/sdc bs=4M 

Stack Exchange and Tinned Software propose a different solution for OSX in which the ISO image is first converted to a DMG using hdiutils.

Author: Adolfo Villafiorita

Last modified: 2021-02-28 Sun 15:57 (created on: 2020-06-25 Thu 00:00)

Published: 2021-02-28 Sun 20:00