I want to switch from Ubuntu 16.04 to Debian 8.7.1.

I have the correct Debian ISO image on a USB stick. However, my computer will not boot from it, nor will it boot from a CD/DVD with the image on it either. It just flat out ignores the other boot media.

Oddly enough, my computer will boot from a USB stick if there is an Ubuntu ISO image on it.

I am using a PC with amd64 architecture. I've looked into installing Debian from a Unix/Linux system but that looks really messy.

Any advice?

  • Two possible problems: 1). Have you actually boot from a thumb drive (set in bios)? 2). Are you sure the thumb was flashed successfully? How you flashed an .iso to a thumb drive?
    – ddnomad
    Mar 30, 2017 at 17:36
  • If I'm understanding your questions correctly: 1) yes, I'm entering boot options with f12 at startup. 2) I downloaded the iso onto my computer from debian, and then saved it onto my thumbdrive. That's how I 'flashed' the .iso to my thumbdrive.
    – user223600
    Mar 30, 2017 at 17:38
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    2). So have you just copied/moved an .iso file to your thumb drive? If so there is no way it would work. You have to actually flash it with dd if=/path/to/your/iso of=/path/to/thumb/device bs=4M (thumb device without partition number, i.e. /dev/sdb). You can also use a graphical tool like unetbootin but it has occasional problems with some distributions and modifies a boot sector so I would still recommend dd.
    – ddnomad
    Mar 30, 2017 at 17:42
  • Next step, try booting from that usb drive on a different computer, with no Ubuntu installed. I don't see how/why it should only boot a specific distro's media.
    – ILMostro_7
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:08
  • Good point I'll look into that. By the way I did not have to use dd with my Ubuntu install. Boy this is one confusing installation process.
    – user223600
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:18

2 Answers 2


Use a program like unetbootin or Linux Live USB Creator to extract the image to the flash drive, or, if you use cd/dvd a burning software. Don't just copy the iso in them. It will not work like that. And don't mess with complicated techniques like the ones in the link you provided. It can also be done that way, but why bother if you can use tools that do it right?

  • 1
    "Please note, that Debian advises not using unetbootin for this task. It can cause difficult-to-diagnose problems with booting and installing, so is not recommended." - debian.org/CD/faq
    – user8779
    Mar 31, 2017 at 15:45
  • Despite the fact it works like a charm! I have never experienced a problem all these years. Mar 31, 2017 at 20:31

After three attempts I managed to install Debian 8.7.1 on my computer and I am very happy with it.

The issues with my installation attempts were 1) bad ISO, 2) firmware issues, which relates to 3) unable to configure apt during installation. I corrected my ISO problems, found an ISO with firmware, and ran the Debian installer via ethernet. It worked like a charm.

Here are the steps:

Download ISO from Debian (this iso includes firmware and gnome):


insert your USB and locate it with:


wipe the USB disk clean (change sdx to your device):

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdx

now create the ISO:

cd ~/Downloads

sudo dd if=debian-live-8.7.1-amd64-gnome-desktop+nonfree.iso of=/dev/sdx bs=1M

Next turn off your wifi and be sure you are connected to ethernet. Restart your computer and enter boot options (for me that means holding down f12). Choose graphic install. And that's it. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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