How to make a bootable Live USB stick

Last update on Oct. 24, 2013.

How to make a bootable Live USB stick

This guide will show you how to make a bootable USB memory stick (pendrive) for installing Kwheezy. Or perhaps just to use as a portable Live session.

This guide requires that you have an existing Linux or *BSD installation. We will be using the dd command.

The dd command is very powerful, be very careful when using it, particulary when specifying the drive.

First, make sure you have the iso (image) file you want to image to the USB stick. Let's say it's in your Download folder. Open the command terminal.

Plug in the USB stick. In the terminal, enter:

dmesg | grep Attached

The last line (or there abouts) should show the device ID. As can be seen below, mine is 'sdg'.

[45203.941766] sd 10:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg6 type 0
[45203.958139] sd 10:0:0:0: [sdg] Attached SCSI removable disk

Now we know the device ID we can proceed to dd the image to the USB drive:

Remember to change the device id!

dd if=Downloads/kwheezy-1.2-64bit.iso of=/dev/sdg bs=1M ; sync

Then wait until it has finished copying the data to the drive / memory stick.

The breakdown:

  • dd is the command.
  • "if=" tells dd what the input stream is, in this case the iso file.
  • "of=" tells dd what the output stream is, in this case the USB stick.
  • "bs=" tells dd what block size to use, in this case 1M (1 megabyte) is reasonable.
  • ";" seperates the commands
  • "sync" tells the system to sync all data to disks (so that we know it has finished physically copying all data)

That's all folks. You may now try to boot off the USB stick.

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  1. Rickster on 09/29/2013 10:19 a.m. #

    Thank you very much for writing this howto for us PCBSD Users' out there.
    Then again, it's no surprise that many *BSD folk hold Debian GNU/Linux in a very high regard.

  2. euan on 10/01/2013 5:14 a.m. #

    @Rickster: You're welcome. It's no surprise that some of us Debian GNU/Linux hold BSD's in very high regard. Can't wait for FreeBSD 10 to come out :-)

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