Creating a bootable flash drive on Debian

botond published 2018. 11. 06., K - 02: 45 time



We've talked about it before how to create a bootable flash drive On Windows systems, and now on Debian, we will bring together a bootable flash drive.

Here are two ways to do this: First with UNetbootin, then with dd command to create the boot.

Print boot image using UNetbootin

Boot (also known as boot) To create a flash drive, you first need to look for a custom program that lets you conveniently configure everything on the graphical interface. Windows has Rufus, but now we have to work on Linux, in this case Debian.

The perfect choice for this is the UNetbootin program, built for multiple platforms, so you have Linux at your fingertips.

Get a program

You don't need to install this program, just download and run it.
Download it from the manufacturer's website version of our architecture.

The program also has some dependencies, so install them (as root) before starting apt-get command:

apt-get install mtools

About further addictions here you can find out, but I just had to install the mtools package just now.

Then go to the directory of the downloaded program to make the file executable chmod command:

chmod +x unetbootin-linux64-661.bin


You can also run the file from a terminal:


After launch, throws an error message:

Unable to load library icui18n "Cannot load library icui18n: (icui18n: nem nyitható meg a megosztott objektumfájl: Nincs ilyen fájl vagy könyvtár)"

The missing ICU system (due to the lack of packages in question) has not been installed, but it still starts the program and can be used:

UNetbootin - Main Window

We have two options here.

If you select the top option, you can select a Linux distribution from the drop-down list, and then select a version of it. This will download the selected distribution for us. There are many varieties to choose from, so this is a more convenient way to create a Linux installer.

With this option, the installation packages you select contain the UNetbootin compilations, so for example, the system will not run GRUB we are hosted by UNetbootin's own loader.

If you choose the lower option (Disk Image), you can also burn your own ISO file so you can install Windows or any other operating system.

It should be noted here that (probably) because of a malfunctioning of the program, accessing the image file is only possible in / Root works under a directory structure, so you can only browse files from this directory.

UNetbootin - Select ISO file

Accordingly, I copied a freshly downloaded Debian netinstall to / Root library, which is small, so perfect for this presentation.

From here on, both options continue in the same way:

Select the drive from the drop-down list:

UNetbootin - Select a driver

Then OK button.

Then, if there was something on the flash drive that might conflict with the content you are now uploading, it will throw another window:

UNetbootin - Confirm file overwrite

Press Yes to All here.

Copy files

This will copy the ISO files and the boot loader:

UNetbootin - Copy files

Finally, you will be notified of the completion of the operation and instructions on how to start the flash drive:

UNetbootin - Installation Complete

This completes our boot flash drive.

One thing to note about this is that there is no formatting here, so the previous contents of the flash drive will be retained, except for conflicting files, directories. So if you leave other materials on the drive in a subdirectory, they will remain intact.

Print the boot image using the dd command

If for some reason UNetbootin does not start up or is not working properly, we still have another quick option to make a bootable flash drive.

In this example, dd Linux command we will use it for this purpose. It should be noted here that only a isohybrid will be able to boot. These include installation images downloaded from Debian pages, but you could also create other installers using this method.

I will use the Debian 9.5 netinstall used in the UNetbootin example above to illustrate this.

Discovering a pen drive

First, insert a flash drive into the machine, and then run the fdisk command as root to find the device on the flash drive block:

fdisk -l

Of course, from UNetbootin we can already know how to access the device on our flash drive, but here we need to determine it anyway.

The command lists all hard drives and USB devices in the machine and their logical units.

The output should look for something like a flash drive:

Disk /dev/sdc: 7,5 GiB, 8011120640 bytes, 15646720 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: 0x2f8116b4

Device     Boot Start      End  Sectors  Size Id Type
/dev/sdc1  *     2048 15646719 15644672  7,5G  c W95 FAT32 (LBA)

An 8 GB (7,5 GiB) storage a / Dev / sdc device with a FAT32 partition a / Dev / sdc1 -en.

Run the dd command

Here we will need our main tool. Go to the directory of the ISO file you want to burn, and run the following as root:

dd if=debian-9.5.0-amd64-netinst.iso of=/dev/sdc bs=4M; sync
  • Az if enter your iso file
  • az of parameter, the name of the block device on our flash drive, not its partition.
    Be careful not to misspell here, as it will be overwritten by another incorrectly specified container.
  • A bs parameter specifies that 4 MB pieces should be copied, rather than the default 512 byte size, so copying is much faster.
  • a sync and the switch ensures that the write operation is synchronous, so not in the background. This way, we will not receive our prompt until the copy is actually made.

The output of this command is as follows:

2+1 beolvasott rekord
72+1 kiírt rekord
305135616 bájt (305 MB, 291 MiB) másolva, 0,906688 s, 337 MB/s

You are now ready to boot.


We have also tried two methods to create a bootable flash drive on Debian. Both solutions are useful. UNetbootin comes in handy when we have a graphical interface, so just a few clicks and the copy is done. The dd command will help you if you don't have a graphical interface and need a boot loader soon.