How to Create a Linux Bootable USB Drive Using Linux

Easily create your own live Linux USBs

Most guides show how to create a Linux USB drive using Windows, but what happens if you have already replaced Windows with a version of Linux and you want to try out a different distribution?

Here, you'll be introduced to a Linux tool that works well with older machines running a standard BIOS and newer machines requiring an EFI bootloader and learn how to create a Linux bootable USB drive from within Linux itself.

You'll also find out how to choose and download a Linux distribution, as well as how to download, extract, and run Etcher, which is a simple graphical tool used for creating Linux bootable USB drives within Linux.

Choose a Linux Distribution

Choosing the perfect Linux distribution is not all that easy but we have a guide that will help you choose a distribution and it will provide the download links for the ISO images required to create a bootable USB drive.

Download and Extract Etcher

An etcher is a graphical tool that is easy to install and use on any Linux distribution. To start, visit the Etcher website and click the Download for Linux link.

  1. Open a terminal window and navigate to the folder where Etcher has been downloaded to. For example:

    cd ~/Downloads
  2. Run the ls command to make sure the file exists:

  3. You should see a file with a name similar to the following:
  4. To extract the files use the unzip command:

  5. Run the ls command again:

    Linux unzip Etcher AppImage
  6. You will now see a file with a similar filename:

  7. To run the program, enter the following command, replacing your actual filename:


A message will appear asking whether you want to create an icon on the desktop — it is up to you whether you say yes or not.

Create the Linux Bootable USB Drive

  1. Insert a USB drive into the computer. It is best to use a blank drive as all the data will be deleted.

  2. Press Select Image, and navigate to the Linux ISO file you downloaded previously.

    Select Target button in Linux
  3. Etcher will automatically choose a USB drive to write to. If you have more than one drive installed, click on the change link underneath the drive and choose the correct one instead. Finally, press Flash.

  4. You will need to enter your password to give Etcher permission to write to the USB drive.

  5. The image will now be written to the USB drive and a progress bar will tell you how far through the process it is. After the initial flash part, it moves on to a verification process. Do not remove the drive until the full process is complete and it says it is safe to remove the drive.

Test the USB Drive

Reboot your computer with the USB drive plugged in. Your computer should now provide a menu for the new Linux system. 

If your computer boots straight to the Linux distribution you are currently running, then you may wish to choose the Enter setup option that most distributions provide in the GRUB menu.

This will take you to the BIOS/UEFI boot settings. Look for the boot options and boot from the USB drive.