How to Create a Bootable openSUSE USB Drive

Run OpenSUSE Linux anywhere from a USB drive

When you create a bootable openSUSE USB drive using Windows, you can experiment with all the features of openSUSE. The USB drive can replace all versions of Windows with openSUSE or dual boot Windows with openSUSE.

To create an openSUSE USB drive, first download openSUSE and the balenaEtcher software, then create the openSUSE USB drive using balenaEtcher.

How to Download a Live Version of openSUSE

You have several options for how to try out the OpenSUSE Linux distribution. OpenSUSE is broken into two main branches, Tumbleweed and Leap. Leap is the traditional release model, with new versions arriving on a regular schedule. Tumbleweed is a rolling release distribution, which receives continual updates and has no static version. While Tumbleweed is fantastic for a permanent installation, it isn't suited for a live USB. This guide focuses on Leap.

  1. Open a browser, then go to the OpenSUSE download page.

    OpenSUSE download page
  2. Select the Live tab.

    Live tab on openSUSE Leap website
  3. Choose a download option: Gnome, KDE, or Rescue LiveCD. The rescue option recovers a broken system. The Gnome and KDE desktop environments have benefits and drawbacks, so choose the one you prefer. If you aren't sure, select KDE (OpenSUSE is known for an excellent KDE Plasma experience).

    Options on openSUSE Leap website

Download and Run Etcher

There's no shortage of image writing applications that can flash an OpenSUSE image to a USB drive. balenaEtcher is simple to use and run. Plus, if you're not on Windows, you can use Etcher on Mac and Linux.

  1. Open a web browser, then go to the balenaEtcher download page.

    Etcher download page
  2. Select Download for to start the download.

    On Windows, you have the option to install Etcher or run it in a portable form. The portable one is simpler since you can run it from the download directory. This is the method this guide covers.

    Download button for balenaEtcher
  3. After the download, open your Downloads directory, then locate the Etcher executable file.

  4. Select Etcher to run it.

Flash OpenSUSE to Your USB With Etcher

Once everything is in place, you're only a few steps away from a bootable OpenSUSE USB drive.

  1. The Etcher window is divided into three sections, designed to walk you through the process of writing to the drive.

    Etcher on Windows 10
  2. If the USB drive is inserted, it appears in the middle column. If not, insert the USB. It may or may not appear in the column after you do. Either way is fine.

    Drive location in Etcher
  3. Click Select image.

    Select Image button in Etcher
  4. In the file browser window, browse to and select the OpenSUSE disk image. Then, select Open to load it into Etcher.

    Open button
  5. If the USB isn't loaded, use the center column to browse to the file and select it.

  6. When everything looks right, select Flash.

    Before you flash the USB, be advised that everything on the drive will be erased.

    Flash button in Etcher
  7. Etcher writes the image to the USB. This can take some time.

    Etcher flashing image
  8. When Etcher finishes, it displays a message letting you know that you can close the application and use the USB.

    Etcher flashing complete
  9. Reboot your computer into the USB.

    • On a computer with a standard BIOS, reboot the computer and boot into openSUSE (as long as the boot order has a USB drive before the hard drive).
    • On a computer with UEFI, boot into openSUSE by pressing the Shift key and rebooting the computer. A UEFI boot menu appears with an option to Use a device. When the sub-menu appears, choose EFI USB Device.
  10. openSUSE begins to boot. It takes a fair amount of time to do so.