Wednesday, 5 March 2014

How to create a bootable Linux USB drive using UNetbootin

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  21:00 23 comments


I am writing this guide because I quite often describe the process of creating bootable Linux USB drives in the reviews that I write.

This short guide will enable me to concentrate more on the features of a distribution and less on how you create a bootable live USB drive.

What is UNetbootin?

UNetbootin is a cross platform tool that extracts the contents of an ISO file to a USB drive and makes that USB drive bootable.

You are therefore then able to try out various versions of Linux simply by downloading different ISO files and using UNetbootin to refresh the USB drive with the ISO file of choice.

Where can you get UNetbootin?

To download UNetbootin visit

If you are using Linux you can quite often find UNetbootin within the repositories of the distribution you are using and many distributions have it installed by default.

To run UNetbootin

If you are using Windows double click on the downloaded file.

If you are using Linux with a graphical desktop then there will likely be a menu option available for UNetbootin. If you are using Ubuntu it should appear in the Dash. Alternatively open a terminal and type sudo unetbootin.

Using UNetbootin

There are 2 basic ways to use UNetbootin. The first is to select a distribution from the list and let UNetbootin download the version of Linux you want to install and the second is to download the image of the distribution you wish to install and select it for installation to the USB drive.

The best method as far as I am concerned is to download the media yourself from the download page for the distribution you are using. This means you get the full choice of distributions available and you will get the latest version.

Once you have downloaded the ISO for the file you wish to install to USB select the "DiskImage" radio button.

Now click on the button with three dots on it.

Find the ISO file that you downloaded and click "Open".

Make sure that you have inserted your USB drive and make sure the "Drive:" dropdown box is pointing at your USB drive.

Click "OK" to start installing to the USB drive.

Note: If the drive is not blank to begin with that UNetbootin will not wipe the drive first. Format the drive yourself before you start.


When the files have finished installing to the USB drive reboot your computer leaving the drive inserted and your system should boot to a menu where you can choose how to run the Linux distribution you have chosen.

Thankyou for reading

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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  1. Gary, if there is an USB drive with old data, does the UNetbooth provide format automatic before start istalling ISO? Mario

    1. Hi Mario. I have updated the guide. UNetbootin doesn't format the drive first. You will need to do that yourself.

  2. Thank you Gary, Mario

  3. Can you do this with windows 8

    1. Yes. UNetbootin should work with Windows 8. You might need to follow my other guide for installing Ubuntu alongside Windows 8 though as there are some other steps to follow to get it to boot.

  4. I tried making a Zorin bootable USB, but i doesn't work.

    1. Try

  5. yes. Zorin didnt work. invalid kernel image error occurs

    1. Try

  6. can zorin lite be installed on a newly formatted laptop without windows using your how to guide.thanks for any help

    1. Absolutely. Create the bootable usb, reboot into Zorin Lite and run the installer.

    2. Thanks for the quick reply

  7. unet bootin is not going beyond 5%

  8. I have used usb drive with UNetbootin for installation without formatting it. In addition to iso image other data is still there on it.

  9. In the distribution list there are plenty of options..I am using windows 7 so could you guide which one to select from distribution list.

  10. Hi Gary. I'm trying to switch from Mythbuntu to Ubuntu and lucky for me, Unetbootin is already on my computer. My problem is that when i go to select my drive, all that comes up is /dev/sdb1. what do i do?

  11. thanks for sharing great steps to make bootbale pendrive. idea short codes


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