I followed these DebianEeePC HowTo InstallUsingStandardInstaller instructions at the Debian Wiki, to write a Debian ISO to my USB.

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

Using sha1sum, I can check the checksums of my downloaded ISO file. How can I check the checksum of the USB stick devive, to be sure that the USB stick does not have any problems and that the ISO was copied perfectly?

  • USB is universal serial bus. Surely you mean some sort of device attached to that bus (like a flashdrive, ethernet or sound card)? – Stéphane Chazelas May 12 '13 at 10:19
  • @StephaneChazelas, edited the question. – maxschlepzig May 12 '13 at 13:12
up vote 15 down vote accepted

You can use cmp for checking if everything was copied fine:

$ cmp -n `stat -c '%s' debian-X-netinst.iso` debian-X-netinst.iso /dev/sdX

This solution does not explicitly compute the checksum of your /dev/sdX - but you don't need to do that because you have already done this for the source of the comparison (i.e. debian-X-netinst.iso).

Doing just a dd if=/dev/sdX | sha1sum may yield a mis-matching checksum just because you get trailing blocks (/dev/sdX is most likely larger than the iso-file).

Via cmp -n you make sure that no trailing bytes on your /dev/sdX are compared.

If you are paranoid about the quality of your USB mass storage device you call sync, eject it, re-insert it and then do the comparison - else all or some blocks may just come from the kernels VM (cache) - when in reality perhaps bits on the hardware are screwed up.

  • Hey there! When I do this, I receive instant mismatch at the very first line. What can be the cause? – SarpSTA Mar 24 at 22:40

Julien's answer does the job but there is a simpler and faster way to do this:

sudo head -c <image size> /dev/sdX | sha1sum
  • So, in a single line: head -c $(stat -c '%s' the.iso) /dev/sdc | sha1sum – Julien Palard Jan 16 at 11:22

Just using dd and md5sum / sha1sum is enough, but as previously said, be carefull, your device is not of the same size than your file, so sums will differ.

Here how you still can do it

First you'll need to know the size of the file:

$ stat -c '%s' debian-live-8.2.0-amd64-lxde-desktop.iso
1003487232

Then, to be cool with your syscalls, you better get this as a multiple of a nice power of two like 4096, the multiplication of the two HAVE TO yield exactly the size of the file, in other ways, you'll check too few or too many bytes, yielding a wrong checksum.

$ bc
bc 1.06.95
scale = 9
1003487232 / 4096
244992.000000000

I'm happy, 4096 × 244992 = 1003487232 so 4096 is good for me, (and will for you, probably) so I can use a block size of 4096 (typical) and a bloc count of 244992.

Don't forget to write the file on the USB key...

$ dd if=debian-live-8.2.0-amd64-lxde-desktop.iso of=/dev/sd? && sync

And know, using the known block size and the block count, you can read the exact number of bytes from the key and check them:

$ dd if=/dev/sdb bs=4096 count=244992 | sha1sum
b0dbe4ca8f526d1e43555459c538607d4a987184

(Yes md5sum is way faster than sha1sum but that's clearly not your bottleneck here, the bottleneck is the USB thoughput, thanks for noticing).

Or, in short:

dd if=/dev/sdb bs=4096 count=$(($(stat -c '%s' the.iso) / 4096)) | sha1sum
  • Thanks with $ dd if=/dev/sdb1 bs=4096 count=<filesize/4096> | md5sum I could check the md5sum of a Debian image written to a usb stick and compare it to Debian md5sums. – Paul Rougieux Sep 7 '17 at 8:31

Based on @Kyle Jones answer

diff <(md5sum debian-XYZ-netinst.iso | awk '{print $1}') <(dd if=/dev/sdX | md5sum | awk '{print $1}')

you should use md5sum because it's faster than sha1sum (this will save time when you check big file)

  • 6
    You mean md5sum is at least twice as fast? It has to be since the OP already has the sha1sum from the download site and does not have to calculate that. And reading from USB is going to be limiting factor not the sha1/md5 calculation. – Anthon May 12 '13 at 5:20
  • 1
    I'm running ZFS with SHA-256 checksumming on a processing-power-wise mid-range system. Even during scrubs (which reads all data and verifies all checksums) on pools residing on spinning rust, the limiting factor is disk I/O throughput, not CPU. I doubt many USB memory sticks will sustain a much better throughput than that, particularly if it's connected over USB 2.0. – Michael Kjörling Oct 29 '13 at 8:59

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.