Using Ubuntu, I want to install Debian Squeeze on my PC with a bootable USB stick. I found this tutorial:

Plug the usb key in order to find the device location:

$ df -k
/dev/sdb                244476    217968     26508  90% /media/xxx

It shows that /dev/sdb is my usb key. Then I unmount it

# umount /dev/sdb

Download these two files:

# cd /tmp/
# wget http://people.debian.org/~joeyh/d-i/images/daily/hd-media/boot.img.gz
# wget http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/daily-builds/daily/arch-latest/i386/iso-cd/debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso

Copy the first on the stick (it has to be umounted):

# zcat boot.img.gz > /dev/sdb

Then mount the stick and copy debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso onto it:

# mount /dev/sdb /mnt/
# cp /tmp/debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso /mnt/
# umount /mnt/

The USB key is now ready. Plug it on the computer to install, select in the BIOS USB for first boot device and start the Debian Squeeze installation.

In the step :

# cp /tmp/debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso /mnt/

the ISO file is just copied, not extracted - Is this correct?


4 Answers 4


That procedure has always worked for me. I tried using unetbootin with debian but for some reasons I was never able to make it work for Debian ISOs (strangely, it works without problems for other distros i've tried like Ubuntu, Finnix (both Debian based!) and CentOS).

But now, starting from Squeeze release, I found that the netinstall iso image works flawlessly from USB, too!

Download it and do

dd if=debian-*-netinst.iso of=/dev/sdX

where /dev/sdX is your USB stick.


Leave the stick unmounted and then as root:

cat XXXX.iso > /dev/sdX
  • you need not be root to be able to do this; in fact it would be a lot safer if u r not root
    – tshepang
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 9:14
  1. If you are creating a bootable USB, for the purpose of doing an installation. You might want to check out http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ . Most distros have packages available, in the repos and possibly unofficial posting online. This tool automates a full ISO to bootable USB conversion. The USB must be partitioned and mounted first. read below to fix the partition, which you may have to do either way.

  2. I'm not familiar with that Debian particular script, but I have done many Grub2 multiboots via USB. For Grub2 to boot from an ISO, it must be completely defragmentated. Any fragments will render the ISO unbootable from grub. The USB should have only one partition, and it must be a primary. The boot flag must be set, and the partition should have a FAT32 FileSystem. If you have issue regarding the partitioning, you should redo the USB. Make sure to make a new msdos disk label, and MBR, in a tool such as parted. Create your primary partition, set the boot flag, and then use mkfs.


This link wont work anymore

$ wget http://people.debian.org/~joeyh/d-i/images/daily/hd-media/boot.img.gz

It's now available at:

$ wget http://d-i.debian.org/daily-images/i386/daily/hd-media/boot.img.gz

Also unetbootin works fine for me, since Debian 7.x (tested with live-DVD ISO)

# apt-get install unetbootin

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