How to create bootable linux USB flash drive via CLI?

This post will show how to create a bootable Linux USB flash drive from the terminal and using just a dd command. It's required that you have downloaded an ISO of your choice, I'm going to use Fedora Workstation 32 ISO as an example. In my case it is required to have a Linux machine (20GB disk) and at least 2GB USB flash drive. Depending on distro it can be different. I prefer this method because it's easy and I don't need to install any additional software for that.

Create a bootable USB flash drive

  1. Insert USB flash drive into the USB port.
  2. Find the name of the USB drive. For that I found the easiest would be to use an lsblk command. This will output something like that:
1[aaron@dark-side ~]$ lsblk
3sda 8:0 1 14.6G 0 disk
4├─sda1 8:1 1 1.9G 0 part /run/media/aaron/MediaUSB
5├─sda2 8:2 1 11M 0 part
6└─sda3 8:3 1 22.9M 0 part
7nvme0n1 259:0 0 232.9G 0 disk
8├─nvme0n1p1 259:1 0 600M 0 part /boot/efi
9├─nvme0n1p2 259:2 0 1G 0 part /boot
10└─nvme0n1p3 259:3 0 231.3G 0 part
11 ├─fedora_localhost--live-root 253:0 0 70G 0 lvm /
12 ├─fedora_localhost--live-swap 253:1 0 11.8G 0 lvm [SWAP]
13 └─fedora_localhost--live-home 253:2 0 149.5G 0 lvm /home
14[aaron@dark-side ~]$

In that case USB flash drive is dev/sda, it can be different in your system. To identify the correct drive I usually check the size of the drive. This has been a good enough identifier.

  1. Unmount USB flash drive. For that I'm going to use unmount command.
1sudo unmount /dev/sda1
  1. Flash Linux ISO to a USB flash drive.
1sudo dd bs=4M if=/path/to/linux.iso of=/dev/sda status=progress oflag=sync

Make sure to use a correct device path and don't append partition number - In my case simply /dev/sda is enough. Also, replace /path/to/linux.iso with a path to Linux ISO file in your system.

When this command finish successfully then everything is done. Reboot the system and start installing :) Depending on a system you may need to configure your BIOS to boot from USB.


In this post I described a system of how I create a bootable Linux USB flash drive. I have only tested this flow with some distros and it seemed to work in every case. If you have any questions, suggestions then let me know in the comments below.

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