Chances are if you are already using Linux, you might have already learned how to burn an ISO file. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ve already had to burn an ISO to USB from Linux OS. Moreover, if you opted to install your distribution on a virtual machine or by dual-booting Linux with another OS, you might have skipped this process altogether. 

This article provides a how-to guide on how to burn ISO files to USB on Linux using different applications available for free. These applications are either found natively on your OS or are available online (depending on your distribution). If you don’t know which OS you want to try out, I suggest taking a look at this ITgirl.tech article for ideas!

This tutorial is for those running a Linux distribution on their machine. If you are a Windows 10 user, click HERE for the procedure; and if you use macOS, you can find how to burn an ISO file to your pen drive HERE

If you’re used to the Linux way of doing things, you might want to consider using the command line instead. It is after all the primary way of doing anything on this operating system, and it is guaranteed to work on all Linux distributions. You can find a guide on how to burn ISO files using the command line HERE.

Otherwise, keep on reading! Depending on your Linux distro, there are specific GUI packages available. We will take a look at the disc image burning applications for the following Linux distributions: Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Elementary OS, and Debian.

However, even if your Linux distribution is not on this list, don’t worry! Follow the instructions for UNetbootin, which you can find under the “Ubuntu” section. UNetbootin is compatible with all distributions (and their derivatives) based on Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Suse, Arch, and Gentoo. The only thing you will have to do differently is the download of the app itself. For that, use the download guide for your specific distro on the UNetbootin website: https://unetbootin.github.io/linux_download.html

NOTE FOR THOSE WANTING TO BURN A WINDOWS 10 DISC IMAGE: You will require a particular procedure that you can find HERE. For everything else, including regular software and Linux distributions, follow the instructions below.

For each distribution, you will find one or more ISO burning applications, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to burn the ISO on your Linux distro.  

A review of some basic concepts

  1. What is an ISO file
  2. Why do I need to burn the image on a pen drive

What is an ISO file

An ISO file represents a copy of a full image from a disc, which you can find online. ISO files are used to get a virtual copy of any software or operating system that you would typically find on a CD or DVD. For example, there are disc images for video games, Linux or Microsoft operating systems, and other software applications that are still available through physical disc copy.

Typically, operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Linux offer their disc images for free from the official’s developers’ website. If you want to test an OS by using its live version first, you will need to get yourself an ISO image of the OS. The same goes when doing a full install on your hard drive. If you wish to install the OS on a hard drive besides the one found on your machine, then you will also need to burn the ISO to USB from your Linux distro. 

Why burning the image on a pen drive

Back in the day, operating systems were more often than not installed using either a CD, DVD or floppy disks. Remote network installations were also a thing but mostly reserved for businesses.

Nowadays, doing an OS install is faster and more straightforward — no need to switch CDs or DVDs, or to bother with keeping backup installation CDs. The content of an OS disk image will vary depending on whether you want to do the installation using the internet (net install) or a USB key. Then all you need to do is format your pen drive and burn the ISO file on it.

Note that you will not be able to use your software if you copy the content of ISO on a pen drive. To work correctly, you need to create a bootable USB from your ISO image, which requires burning the ISO on USB from your Linux distribution. Indeed, just like their physical CD or DVD counterparts, ISO images need to be burned on a blank drive. Otherwise, you will get a copy of the software’s content, but you won’t be able to start the installation process.

How to burn an ISO from Linux – Ubuntu

To burn an ISO on USB from Linux using the Ubuntu distribution, we will use UNetbootin. Unlike Linux Mint or Elementary OS, Ubuntu does not offer a disc burning utility tool in its Software Manager. UNetbootin is compatible with all Linux distributions and is exceptionally efficient in creating bootable disc images on USB. 

You can fetch UNetbootin (https://unetbootin.github.io/) directly from the command line:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gezakovacs/ppa

Installing UNetbootin from the command-line

Enter your password, then press Enter when prompted.

Installing UNetbootin from the command-line

Update your system.

sudo apt-get update

Installing UNetbootin from the command-line

You are now ready to install UNetbootin.

sudo apt-get install unetbootin 

Installing UNetbootin from the command-line

How to burn the ISO on your USB from Ubuntu  

Make sure you have already downloaded your ISO file of choice. 

Open UNetbootin.

(You will have to enter your password; this is normal as UNetbootin requires root privileges.)

Insert a formatted USB stick.

In UNetbootin, the “Distribution” option is selected by default. Select the “Diskimage” option instead. 

Click on the three dots icon, then choose your ISO file.

Under “Type,” USB drive should already be selected. Leave it as is. UNetbootin makes the “Drive” selection automatically; double-check to make sure that it has chosen your USB drive.

Click “Okay.” It will start the burning process. 

Once you are done with the installation, click “Exit.” 

From there, installing the operating system from your flash drive will vary according to the host computer. If you plan on booting the OS from a pc, follow THIS guideline. 

How to burn an ISO from Linux – Linux Mint

A Ubuntu derivative, Linux Mint can also use UNetbootin. However, Linux Mint also has Brasero (a disc burning utility) readily available from its Software Manager library. So instead of installing another app from a website, we will use this software.

Download your ISO file of choice.

Insert a formatted pen drive.

Go to Linux Mint “Software Manager” and search for “Brasero.”

Install the software. You might be asked to install additional packages (called dependencies). You’ll have to accept and continue. Otherwise, Brasero will not work as it relies on these additions to function correctly. 

Using Brasero to burn an ISO on USB from Linux

Launch Brasero.

Using Brasero to burn an ISO on USB from Linux

Select “Burn image.”

Using Brasero to burn an ISO on USB from Linux

Then add your ISO file under “select a disc image to write”, and choose your pen drive for the “select a disc to write to” option.

If you cannot select your USB drive (i.e. you get “No disc available”), then you might need to unmount it first. Open the Terminal and enter the following:

sudo umount /dev/sdb1

You should now be able to select your USB drive. Be careful not to eject your pen drive instead of unmounting it. By ejecting your external peripheral, you won’t be able to burn your ISO on it.

How to burn an ISO from Linux – Elementary OS (a Ubuntu derivative)

Elementary OS has an easy to use App Center, which features its own set of applications that are all compatible with this particular operating system. For this distro, I suggest installing “Image Burner” (https://appcenter.elementary.io/com.github.artemanufrij.imageburner/), a lightweight app designed for Elementary OS. It isn’t feature-rich, but when looking for an uncomplicated disc burning utility, you can’t go wrong with this app.

Photo courtesy of the Elementary OS App Center (https://appcenter.elementary.io/)

Download your ISO file of choice.

Insert a formatted USB key.

Go to Elementary’s App Center, then search for “Image Burner”. Install the app.

Open Image Burner, then select your ISO file and your destination disc (in this case, your USB key). Voilà!

How to burn an ISO from Linux – Debian

If you use Debian, then you might be the type of person who’d rather use the command line to burn your ISO file on USB from your Linux distribution. Still, sometimes using a GUI software can be a compelling alternative to the usual Terminal. There are three main options suggested on the official Debian website: Brasero, Xfburn, and K3b. However, of all three Brasero is the way to go; Xfburn and K3b are meant to be used with CDs or DVDs. You have two ways of installing one of these options: either use the Terminal or use the Software Center. All three applications are available from repositories, which you can access through APT in the command line. If you want to burn your ISO image on USB, stick to Brasero.

Brasero

Command-line Installation: 

The package name is “brasero”, so installing it is pretty straightforward.

Open the Terminal, then type:

$ sudo apt install brasero

Software Center:

Look for “brasero.” It will be the first software to show up in the search results. 

As for the burning procedure, follow the instructions found under the Linux Mint section.

For other Linux distributions:

For all distros, UNetbootin is a great option.  

If you use a Ubuntu-based distribution (such as Linux Mint, Lubuntu, or Linux Lite), execute the commands below.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gezakovacs/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install unetbootin

Otherwise, you can find instructions for other Linux distributions HERE

Finally, if UNetbootin isn’t your cup of tea, there is always the good old command line (LINK).

© 2019, ITgirl.tech. All rights reserved.

Larryssa
Owner and content creator behind ITgirl.tech. Geeky girl and blogger based in Montreal, Canada. Chocolate and nature lover (in that order). View all posts by Larryssa →

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