How to Create a Bootable Ubuntu 20.04 USB Stick

Tutorial Dec 09, 2020

This tutorial will guide you on how to create your own bootable  Ubuntu 20.04 USB stick. From which you can, install it on your machine or try out the latest features Ubuntu has to offer without actually having to install it.

Different ways we can create a Bootable Ubuntu 20.04 USB:

  • From Ubuntu desktop
  • From the command line
  • From a Windows machine

Ingredients required:

  • Ubuntu iso file. It can be any flavor of Ubuntu, examples being, xubuntu, kubuntu, lubuntu etc. at the time of writing, the latest LTS version of Ubuntu is 20.04.1
  • USB Stick (minimum size: 4GB)

FROM UBUNTU DESKTOP

If you are already using an Ubuntu Desktop system, be it 20.04 itself, the non LTS 20.10 or something older, you can use the Startup Disk Creator utility to create your own bootable USB stick.

After connecting the USB stick to your system, launch the Startup Disk Creator utility. Click on the "Other..." button and browse for the Ubuntu .iso file which you have downloaded. With the .iso file and disk selected, click on Make Startup Disk. It will ask for confirmation and then your user password before the process begins.

Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator
Startup Disk Creator

Note: If more than one device is listed in the Disk to use list, make sure you choose the one that you're intending to use.

When its done, you will have a bootable Ubuntu USB stick.

FROM THE COMMAND LINE

First, we need to know our USB stick's device name. For that we can use the lsblk utility, when you run the command, the output will be something like what is shown below,

lsblk
NAME   MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
loop0    7:0    0    55M  1 loop /snap/core18/1880
loop1    7:1    0  55.4M  1 loop /snap/core18/1932
loop2    7:2    0 255.6M  1 loop /snap/gnome-3-34-1804/36
loop3    7:3    0 217.9M  1 loop /snap/gnome-3-34-1804/60
loop4    7:4    0  64.8M  1 loop /snap/gtk-common-themes/1514
loop5    7:5    0  62.1M  1 loop /snap/gtk-common-themes/1506
loop6    7:6    0  29.9M  1 loop /snap/snapd/8542
loop7    7:7    0  31.1M  1 loop /snap/snapd/10492
loop8    7:8    0    51M  1 loop /snap/snap-store/498
loop9    7:9    0  49.8M  1 loop /snap/snap-store/467
sda      8:0    0    20G  0 disk 
├─sda1   8:1    0   512M  0 part /boot/efi
├─sda2   8:2    0     1K  0 part 
└─sda5   8:5    0  19.5G  0 part /
sdb      8:16   1  14.9G  0 disk /media/penguin/16G
sr0     11:0    1   2.6G  0 rom

In my case, the USB stick's device name is sdb so the device path will be /dev/sdb. And with that information, we can use the dd utility to create our bootable USB stick with the command,

sudo dd if=/path/to/ubuntu20.04.1.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M

Note: We have to be careful when using the dd utility. Since it will do exactly what you tell it to do, always make sure to double-check that you typed in the correct device path.

The process will take a few minutes. The dd command won't be providing any progress indicator. So, we will have to wait until dd gives us back control of the terminal. Don't panic and stay patient. You will know it's done when you see an output similar to what is shown below.

664+0 records in
664+0 records out
2785017856 bytes (2.8 GB, 2.6 GiB) copied, 209.978 s, 13.3 MB/s

And that is it. You now have an Ubuntu bootable USB stick.

FROM A WINDOWS MACHINE

You will need a utility called Rufus. download it from here. I would suggest using the portable version since it is convenient.

Launch Rufus, click on SELECT, browse and choose the Ubuntu iso file. Leave all the option as they are and click on START.

rufus
Rufus

Now, a window will pop up asking you to choose the mode in which you wish write the iso file onto the USB stick. The two modes are, ISO Image Mode and DD Image Mode. Going with recommended option, which is the ISO Image Mode would be fine. The main noticable difference between them is that, with ISO Image Mode you'll be able to open it in a file explorer to add or remove files. While with the DD Image Mode you are restrained from accessing the contents of the USB stick. You can read this if you want to know more about the differences between these modes.

rufus ISOHybrid Image detected

After choosing the mode, all we have to do is wait. It will tell you when the process is done.

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