In the past, to use a disc image, you had to burn it on a CD or DVD. However, nowadays, virtually everyone uses USB flash drives. Not only are they a great way to save files on a highly portable device but are also ideal for burning the ISO image of your software of choice. Creating a bootable disc image of a Linux distribution is no exception to this rule. Indeed, you can now quickly burn Debian on any pen drive, as long as you follow the appropriate formatting and burning procedures. 

This article is part of a series dedicated to Debian, a Linux distribution. If you are reading about Debian for the first time, or wish to review other steps of its installation process, take a look at the breakdown of the whole series below:

  • The pre-installation process – Formatting your pen drive and burning the ISO file (YOU ARE HERE)

If you are already familiar with some of these steps, you can skip ahead to the part more suited to your needs. Otherwise, keep on reading!

If you own a computer or laptop with a CD-RW or DVD-RW optical drive, nothing prevents you from using it to burn Debian. However, almost all new laptops (and even many computers) lack this feature. As such, knowing how to burn an ISO file on a USB drive using dedicated software or commands on the Terminal is essential. 

Before using your USB flash drive to burn Debian on it, you should format your pen drive. Some disc burning tools offer a format option as part of their procedure, but it is always best to do it yourself first, just in case. 

To those that wonder, burning your Linux distribution on an external bootable peripheral is not optional. If you skip this process altogether and open the disc image directly from within your current session, nothing will happen. Indeed, to be able to install your Linux distribution on your hard drive, you need to boot its installer from BIOS (UEFI). To do so, you need to burn Debian on USB first. 

The only other alternative is to open the Debian installer through a virtual machine. With it, you can install Debian directly from within your current OS, without having to burn any file or boot from UEFI. However, by doing so, you will not get a full hard-drive installation. Instead, you will keep your current OS and get two operating systems simultaneously running on your computer whenever you start a VM session. If you’d like to know more about how to create a VM for a Linux distro, I will refer you to this article on the subject.  

Before continuing, make sure that you have already downloaded the appropriate Debian installer.

The way to format a USB stick depends on your current OS and your preferred method of doing this process. As such, before you are ready to burn Debian on your external peripheral, I suggest reading one of the following articles:

Formatting your pen drive – for Windows 10

Formatting your pen drive – for macOS

Formatting your pen drive – for Linux

To burn Debian on your pen drive, you have to format it first.

There are several ways of burning a disc image on a pen drive, ranging from the command line to the use of an integrated UI on your Windows, macOS, or Linux OS computer. 

Be aware that if your OS comes with a burning tool, there is a possibility that the software will only work with CDs or DVDs. I know that this is the case with some Linux distros integrated tools such as “K3b”. As always, YMMV.

As with formatting, burning the ISO file can be done in several ways, and the different methods available will depend on your current OS. As such, I recommend reading one of these articles, which provide instructions specific to your laptop or computer’s operating system and preferred way of doing the procedure:

With these aspects covered, you are now ready to start reading part 5: The pre-installation process – Reviewing your BIOS settings before doing the installation.

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

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