Bootable USB flash drives has become popular, given that it is easy to create, it comes in handy, accessible, and very convenient. You might have a damaged installation on your operating system. Or you might need an upgrade to the newest version available. Your new computer or laptop did not have an operating system with it. Whatever the reason may be, bootable USB flash drives makes it easier for everyone to re-install or install an operating system to your laptops and computers. Here is a list of benefits of having a bootable USB flash drive:

  • USB flash drives are compatible to all laptops and computers. You might have noticed that laptops and computers have USB ports but not all laptops and computers have a CD drive or DVD drive.
  • Faster transfer speed. USB flash drives pretty much transfers data faster than SD cards.
  • You can bring the USB flash drive with you anywhere without a hassle. You can just put in your pocket, or in your bag without an added weight since it is very light.

Whatever the reason may be, bootable USB flash drives makes it easier for everyone to re-install or install an operating system to your laptops and computers. Here is a list of benefits of having a bootable USB flash drive: USB flash drives are compatible to all laptops and computers. In this guide, I'm going to show you how to create a USB drive that contains all of the necessary files to boot your Windows PC or Mac into Ubuntu. To create this bootable USB drive, also known as a live USB, you will need access to a USB drive with at least 2 GB of storage and a functioning computer, but it does not matter if it is a Mac. If you select 'USB' and 'Mac' on this download page, it gives a series of command line instructions to make a USB key which the MacBook will boot into Ubuntu from. I've followed them to the letter two or three times on different USB keys, and it doesn't work. There's a very great deal of technical discussion about EFI etc. But this set of instructions seems to suggest it should just work, but.

Basically, you only need three things to make a Ubuntu bootable USB flash drive:

  1. Etcher – the software that we are going to use to create a bootable USB flash drive
  2. Ubuntu – an operating system that we are going to write on your USB flash drive
  3. USB flash drive – well, I am just stating the obvious

Etcher, or balenaEtcher, is a free program and an open source utility. Etcher is primarily used to write image files like .img and .iso files to create a bootable USB flash drive. Here is a list of the things that you would love about Etcher (balenaEtcher):

  • GUI (Graphical User Interface) looks great.
  • It works fast.
  • Free to use! Who would not love anything that is free?
  • Easy to use. It is very user-friendly.

Ubuntu, is an open source operating system. It is under the Linux distribution based on Debian. And here is a list of the things that you would love about Ubuntu:

  • You do not have to pay anything because Ubuntu is totally free! Other operating systems would cost you money so why not go with Ubuntu, right?
  • It has better security compared to other operating systems.
  • It is resource-friendly. Meaning to say that it can still run on older hardware. So, that means you can still use your older laptops and computers with this operating system.
  • It is customizable. Which means that you can personalize the user interface however you want it!
  • Ubuntu is an open source program. This means that you can go through the source code and contribute to innovate and improve the operating system.
  • It saves your time. Ubuntu can actually install the updates in the background so you won’t have to restart your laptops or computers.
  • It is suited for development. It is helpful for programmers with all the aid to make things a whole lot easier and convenient.

Here is how to make a Ubuntu Bootable USB flash drive with Etcher (balenaEtcher)

Step 1: Download the latest Ubuntu ISO file

  • To download the Ubuntu ISO file, you can get it here:
  • Go ahead and copy and paste the link above to a browser
  • Look for the latest version of Ubuntu and go ahead and click Download.

As per Ubuntu’s website, please take note of the recommended system requirements:

  • 2GHz dual core processor or higher
  • 4GB system memory
  • 25 GB of free hard drive space
  • USB port for the installer media
  • Preferably with internet access


It is always better to download the latest version of this operating system.

Step 2: Download the latest Etcher

  • If you do not have the Etcher yet, you can get it here:
  • Click Download
  • Once the download has finished, double click on the file
  • The Installation Wizard will be launched, just follow the steps accordingly.

Step 4: Plug in your USB flash drive to your laptop or computer’s USB port

  • Go ahead and plug the USB flash drive to your laptop and computer’s USB port
  • Make sure that the USB flash drive has 2GB of storage or larger


To avoid confusion, make sure to only plug in the USB flash drive that you are going to use to create a bootable USB flash drive. And since we are going to write on your USB flash drive, do not forget to back it up otherwise the content will be deleted.

Step 5: Select the Ubuntu ISO file

  • Once you have launched Etcher, click on “Select image”
  • Go ahead and locate the Ubuntu ISO file that you have downloaded earlier (usually this is saved on your Downloads folder not unless you have saved the file on a different location)

Step 6: Select the Drive

  • Go ahead and click “Select Drive”
  • Choose the USB flash drive that you are going to use to create a bootable USB


If you have multiple USB flash drives plugged into your laptop or computer, make sure that you have checked the name of the drive where the USB flash drive is plugged into. You do not want to choose the incorrect one. Remember, all files will be deleted.

If you only have one USB flash drive plugged into your laptop or computer, Etcher will automatically detect and have the device pre-selected.


Step 7: Double check your selection

Ubuntu Usb Installer Mac

  • Before we proceed with the flashing process, go ahead and double check first that you have selected the correct Ubuntu ISO file
  • And then also double check that you have selected the correct device

Step 8: The Flashing Process

Ubuntu Bootable Usb For Mac Usb

  • Once you are sure that you have all the correct selection, go ahead and click the flash image
  • The flashing process will now then start and a progress bar will be shown directly below the flash image
  • Once the flashing process is completed, it will let you know that the flash is complete

So, there you have it. You have successfully made a Ubuntu bootable USB with Etcher!

Last Updated on April 10, 2020 by Etcher

CDs are long gone and if you want to reinstall an operating system, a bootable USB drive is the one required. Let’s learn how to create a bootable USB disk from Ubuntu using terminal today. We’ll be creating a bootable USB of the Ubuntu ISO file, but you can work with any ISO file that was designed to be written to a CD to be bootable.

The Steps to Create a Bootable USB Disk

So as I mentioned, we’re working with the Ubuntu ISO file here to create a bootable USB disk, but you can replace the ISO with any other ISO that’s built to be bootable and then follow the tutorial exactly as is.

For Ubuntu, we need a USB disk that’s 8GB so we can have all the files. If you’re working with any other ISO or operating system, the storage requirements will be different.

1. Download the ISO File

To create a bootable USB disk from the Ubuntu terminal, we need to download the ISO file first. In my case, I’m downloading the Ubuntu ISO file for version 20.04. You can choose to download the ISO for another operating system that you want to write to USB. You can follow this link to reach the Ubuntu download page –

Select the package which you wish to set up your bootable USB drive with. For this demonstration, we are using the Ubuntu 20.04 (Codename Focal Fossa). You can either directly download the file by clicking on the Download link on the page or use the wget command to get the file on your system.

2. Connect the USB drive

Once we have downloaded the correct disk image file, we will open the terminal and connect our USB drive. One that’s done, our next step is to figure out the drive name using the Linux fdisk -l command

This will give you a list of all the disk drives that are available on the system. You’ll see a separate section with just a single disk path like /dev/sdb1 with a mount path that’s different from the common ones in Linux (like /home/, /etc/, /boot/ etc.). With Ubuntu, the default mount point is in the /media/ directory. Mine was mounted on the /mnt/

3. Unmount the USB stick

Since Ubuntu automounts any external device that’s connected, we need to unmount it so we can proceed to write the ISO to the USB. We use the umountcommand for this purpose. This action can be executed in two different methods.

The first method will involve using the path at which our USB device has been mounted. This command should look like this.

In this particular case, we will use the command as given below.

This will unmount the USB disk from our system.

Alternatively, we can use the device’s name in this format.

In this particular case, we will use the command as given below to unmount the USB disk.

Now that the device has been unmounted, we will make a bootable drive using it.

4. Write the ISO to the USB Disk

Our USB disk has been unmounted and our ISO file is already downloaded on our system. Now we will make this USB drive bootable for Ubuntu 20.04 using one single command. This is how you enter this command in the terminal.

  • This command requires us to use sudo privileges.
  • The bstag reads the number of bytes which will be read from the source and written to the destination at a time.
  • The second tag, if denotes the path of the input file for the function
  • Whereas ofdenotes the path where the file has to be output to.

The thing about the dd command in Linux is that it will do anything you ask it to do without asking any questions. Hence, we need to use the command carefully. Before you begin writing, ensure that the output path is the path that you want to write the data to. There’s no turning back once the data has been written.

For our system, we will use the command as given below to create our bootable USB disk for Ubuntu 20.04.

This should start the process of writing the ISO image file on your USB disk and converting it into a bootable drive. You should see a screen as given below. Once you are done, which should take only a few minutes, your USB disk is ready to work as a USB bootable disk for Ubuntu 20.04.

Ubuntu bootable usb for mac windows 10

Wrapping up

There are multiple methods to create a bootable USB disk for the Ubuntu OS. Using the terminal for the task is a commonly used method because it eliminates the need for you to install any additional software. Further, it often takes less time to create a bootable USB disk from the Ubuntu terminal as compared to other methods like using the Startup Disk Creator or installing some other software.

Hence this method is advisable even if you are not much comfortable with the terminal-based commands. It eliminates the need for any GUI software, which may be unavailable in some situations. The only major flaw in this method is the lack of a safe-check with the dd command, but it can be eliminated by carefully entering the command. This tutorial aimed to help you create a bootable USB disk from the Ubuntu terminal. If you have any feedback, queries or suggestions, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below.