ISO to USB stick / memory card

ISO to USB stick - memory card

Below we describe methods to write a siduction ISO image file as live media to a USB stick, SD card, or SHDC card.


Important information
The following methods will overwrite existing partition tables on the target media, causing all data to be lost. Take extreme care when selecting the target media and its drive label.

GUI application

For Linux™, RasPi™, MS Windows™, or Mac OS X™

The small tool USBImager is available for all the above operating systems and is used to backup data and create the live medium. The program is open source and licensed under the MIT license. Download the necessary file for your operating system and install the program according to the instructions on the download page.

The handling is very simple thanks to the no-frills interface.

Write the image file to the device: 1. Select an image by clicking on ... in the first line. 2. Select a device by clicking on the 3rd line. 3. Click on the Write button in the 2nd line.

Detailed information can be found in the Readme of the project page.

Linux command line

We recommend using the command line. There is no need to install additional programs, since all the tools you need are already available. A single, easy-to-understand command line is sufficient to transfer the siduction ISO image file to the storage medium.

Before we write the siduction ISO image file to the storage medium, we need to determine its drive label. The easiest way is to use journald. The command journalctl -f executed in a terminal shows continuously the messages of systemd. Now we plug in the storage medium and watch the messages in the terminal. Lines of the following type contain the information we are looking for.

kernel: usb 2-3.3: new high-speed USB device number 7 ...
kernel: scsi 1:0:0:0: Direct-Access Intenso Alu Line ...
kernel: sd 1:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg1 type 0
kernel: sd 1:0:0:0: [sdb] 7866368 512-byte logical blocks: (4.03 GB/3.75 GiB)
kernel: sd 1:0:0:0: [sdb] Write cache: disabled, read ...

This is an Intenso USB flash drive with 4 GB storage capacity and a sector size of 512 bytes. The drive name is sdb. It follows that /dev/sdb is the path to use for the target medium.
Assuming the siduction ISO image file is stored in the /home directory of user tux, we can use the dd or cat commands to write to the target medium. The commands require root privileges. Therefore, depending on the system, either prepend sudo or doas, or use a terminal and become root with su.

dd if=/home/tux/siduction-21.3.0-wintersky-kde-amd64-202112231751.iso of=/dev/sdb
cat /home/tux/siduction-21.3.0-wintersky-kde-amd64-202112231751.iso > /dev/sdb

The copying process may take 15 minutes or longer for an ISO image file of about 3 GB. Please wait relaxed until the prompt returns.

Additional data partition

Usually the storage medium is much larger than the ISO image file. The methods shown so far all use the entire storage medium, although the ISO image file only occupies 2.9 GiB. This cannot be changed afterwards. It is a good idea to take advantage of the command line and set up two partitions in advance. The first partition will later contain the live system and the second one the otherwise unused space. This allows us to take data on the media to the live session and store it there during the live session.

We use as root the command cgdisk /dev/sdb to create a new GUID partition table (see the manual page Partitioning with gdisk) and use the following data:

1st partition:
Start sector: 64 (default)
Size: 3G (3 GB, slightly larger than the ISO image file)
Type hex code: 0700 (Microsoft basic data)
Name: siduction
2nd partition:
Start sector: xxxxxxxx (default, 1st sector after the previous partition).
Size: xxxxxx (default, the maximum possible size)
type hex code: 8300 (Linux)
Name: data

We write the partition table to the medium and exit cgdisk, but still stay in the root console, because the second partition still needs a file system and a meaningful label to make it easier to find in the file manager during the life session after mounting. The commands are:

mkfs.ext4 -L LifeData /dev/sdb2

With the storage medium prepared in this way, we write the ISO image file to the 1st partition.

dd if=/home/tux/siduction-21.3.0-wintersky-kde-amd64-202112231751.iso of=/dev/sdb1

Please pay attention to /dev/sdb1. If only /dev/sdb is used, the dd command will mercilessly overwrite our newly created partition table.

Mac OS X command line

The copy process is very similar to the procedure for a Linux operating system. Connect your USB device, Mac OS X should mount it automatically. In the Terminal (under Applications > Utilities), run this command:

diskutil list

Determine the name of the USB device and unmount the partitions. In our example the name is /dev/disk1:

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk1

Assuming the siduction ISO image file is stored in the /home directory of user steve, and the USB device is named disk1, execute the following command:

dd if=/Users/steve/siduction-21.3.0-wintersky-kde-amd64-202112231751.iso of=/dev/disk1
Last edited: 2022/04/11