Create a Bootable USB Drive or Memory Card

UNetbootin allows you to easily adapt a Linux CD image to boot off of a USB flash drive or memory card. Have a system without a CD drive? Create a bootable USB drive to run your Linux installer.

I used this method to create an Ubuntu 8.04.1 live SD card. The process required just over 700 MB of space on the card.

UNetbootin’s website offers a statically-linked binary download for Linux systems. This means you don’t need to install it. Download UNetbootin for Linux using the link on the top of the application’s site.

Mark the downloaded file as executable using the command line, or by opening its properties and selecting Allow executing in the Permissions tab. You can run the application on the command line or by double clicking the file.

If you get errors about missing some dependencies, exit UNetbootin and install them before continuing. I had to install mtools and p7zip-full (click the links to install):

sudo apt-get install mtools p7zip-full

UNetbootin should start now without any warnings.

UNetbootin setup

Select the Diskimage option and browse to your source ISO file. In the Drive dropdown box, double check that your desired USB flash drive or memory card is selected. For example, if you want to check if /dev/sde1 is your flash drive, run this command:

mount | grep /dev/sde1

Among the output from that command should be the location where /dev/sde1 is mounted currently.

UNetbootin working

Click OK and wait while UNetbootin works. Click Exit once the process is finished, and eject your drive. You should now be able to boot off of it on any system capable of USB boots.

Archived Comments


Hi Tom Thanx for this!


“UNetbootin’s website offers a statically-linked binary download for Linux systems. This means you don’t need to install anything”

“I had to install mtools and p7zip-full”

The first statement is misleading. I think what you mean is that unetbootin doesn’t require you to install it.


Thank you! It’s funny, I was berating the lack of this very tool not three nights ago.


that is just lovely.

Christopher Denter

Hey Tom!

Thanks for posting again.



Thanks, yes that’s what I meant.


can this allow booting to multiple linux os via a large 16gig USB?


Great post, Tom! I just used this for my Eee PC and it worked great! As a note, the Eee PC liked having my USB drive using the FAT16 file system. Check out gparted if you need to reformat your USB drive to accommodate FAT16.


As always, perfectly timed and interesting post


It maybe be possible to boot multiple distros off one large drive, but I don’t think UNetbootin can handle setting it up.

I haven’t had any problems leaving the default vfat file system on my 8 GB SD card. The EEE PC is known to sometimes have trouble with larger cards/drives, so maybe formatting fat16 helps with that.


Thanks for this, as usual well written, clear and concise a big help since I just got an AsprieOne yesterday, saved me a lot of work.


You’re juist great. Thanks.


Have tried many times with several distros..Ubuntu,Sidux,Slax,etc but on all when I try to boot I get a boot error message..I have tried installing lilo to the stick but makes no difference..
I know the usb port will boot as I run dsl,ZenWalk and Puppy no problem..I have also tried all the methods on
P endrive Linux to no avail any help appreciated..


Sometimes you just have to burn it to an .iso and mount it that way with a network server, or an actual disk. Also for windows try: Universal-USB-Installer-v1.5.6, worked for me for many loads of different Linux, but not all. It can even download the iso for you..


Hi all,

Tried this last night enroute to installung Ubuntu Intrepid on an Acer Aspire One. Ran into a few snags that I thought I would share in case anyone else has similar issues:

1) The Linux variant of UNetbootin did not work for from a computer already running Ubuntu 8.10.
-- None of the default yum repositories had 7Zip-full, so I had to download a package from elsewhere (RPM from the 7Zip homepage IIRC, but not 100% sure). Even then, the executable isn’t called 7z but rather something like 7ze. So I made a symlink, tested from the commandline OK, and this got rid of the warning from UNetbootin.
-- Downloaded Unetbootin build 313 from the sourceforge page. Following all the instructions, it opens fine, and the setup goes exactly as described. BUT it seems to skip over the second step (“extracting and copying files”), _silently_, before writing the bootloader and finishing up. This results in a bootable USB that has no kernel image on it, leading to errors very similar to those described by Trufflesdad above. I checked permissions to make sure 7zip could open the Ubuntu ISO (which was on the desktop), tried running from the root account, etc., but always got the same behavior.
-- Following the exact same instructions, with the exact same ISO, under WinXP worked fine. I was able to boot the AAO from a 1GB USB stick this way without problems.

2) For those trying to boot a live OS on an AAO from the SD card, it basically won’t work. I did find a hack to allow it to boot from the card, but it’s pretty involved and IMHO not worth the trouble. The USB drive is the way to go here.

Hope this may be useful to someone.




Thanks for the p7zip-full link. couldn’t find it with fine now.


Is it possible to boot windows XP setup with this guide? D:


we need this software


Unetbootin is a really cool piece of software and it’s saved my butt on numerous occasions.

Chris: As I type this I’m using Unetbootin to install a Windows ISO to my flashdrive, I’ll let you know how it goes.


As a (late) follow-up, no Unetbootin won’t work with a Windows ISO

Dick Stomp

Shit story! I used ‘usb-create’ under Ubuntu 8.04 and that works perfect…


I could install it on my USB drive. But then I could not boot my EEC PC 901 from the drive.

In the BIOS it tells me: A device enclosed in parenthesis [Removable Dev.] has been disabled in the corresponding type menu.

When it tries to boot (with GRUB) it gives me an error message:
Kernel panic - not syncing: VFS: UNable to mount root fs on unknown-block (0,0)

What is wrong?
Thank You for help


Worked like Charm. :-)

I tried on a Trenscend 4 GB but it said bootmanager absent.
Then i retried it on SanDisk 4 GB..
Worked gr8..

Rakesh Solanki

Thanks for this tip, It was great headache for me before read your post. but you solved my problem, thanks again.


I like a tool for windows called

It lets you do a similar task from in a windows 7/whatever os, and pick the iso, or download it, & format BIG memory cards and put the iso on it, for immediate loading. I’ve used it over 10 times over the last few days to reload a laptop with a slew of different ubuntu/fedora versions. Last time I saved updating from 9.04 to 10.04 with the ramstick, which was a saving of 2 hrs. per ubuntu updating system. Works great, left all the other partitions intact, like the other os’s had done before it (kind of annoying, but w/e). Next reload I will remove them all and format again 8). Now if someone would make a reverse engine for virtualbox images to .iso, we’d be all set!

Sherman Unkefer

is there a way when adding a usb pen drive or Memory Card it can assigned to a specific drive letter. Automatically.
Not go to the lowest drive letter.
Maybe have a boot record on the pen drive or memory card?

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