Creating a Bootable USB Drive with dd

Linux has a nice built-in command called dd that can be used to a create bootable USB drive. But this may not work for UEFI booting a Windows install. I’ve tested with Linux install ISOs and they all seem to work fine. But when I’m on Windows, I like to use Rufus.

Bootable USB Drive from ISO

Format USB Drive

I like to start by formatting the USB drive wit gparted. I don’t think you really have to do this but I feel better starting off with a clean drive. You also do not need gparted. Any disk tool you like that can format should be fine.


Make sure you select the right disk. You don’t want to format your main drive. USB drives are normally small so I use the disk size as a quick way of knowing what disk to pick in the dropdown. You can also use the commands “df -h” or “lsblk” in the terminal to list the connected disk.

Ones you make your changes click the check mark to apply them.

Copy ISO to USB drive.

Now that we have a clean USB drive we can copy an ISO to it. I am going to use the Manjaro ISO I downloaded.

Double-check you are using the right disk name and put in a command like this.

DD command to make a bootable USB Drive
sudo dd bs=4M if=manjaro-xfce-20.2.1-minimal-210103-linux59.iso of=/dev/sde status=progress oflag=sync

DD command explained

  • dd is the command of course.
  • bs is the data block size. The optimal block size depends on various factors. I just use 4MB. I don’t remember why.
  • if is the input file. In our case, it’s the Manjaro installer ISO.
  • of is the output file. In our case, it’s the USB drive at /dev/sde. Your disk may have another name.
  • status=progress tells the command to show us what is going on.
  • oflag=sync tells the command to write to the disk after each block instead of waiting.

Working bootable USB drive

Now you should be able to look at the USB drive and see files on it. You should also have a bootable USB Drive if the ISO you copied was bootable.

This has only not worked for me ones and that was with a VMware ESXi ISO. It could have been a combination of the server and the USB drive. I’m not sure. I ended up booting a Windows box for that and using Rufus because I was short on time to dig into it.

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