Make a bootable Ubuntu USB drive on a Mac in under 20 minutes.

This article details how to easily create a bootable Ubuntu USB drive that be completed in less than 20 mins (May be 10 if you’ve a fast usb drive). Having a faster USB drive would help in the long run too!


Note: this procedure requires that you create an .img file from the .iso file you download. It will also change the filesystem that is on the USB stick to make it bootable, so backup all data before continuing.

Tip: Drag and drop a file from Finder to Terminal to ‘paste’ the full path without risking typing errors.

  1. Download Ubuntu Desktop
  2. Open the Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/ or query Terminal in Spotlight)
  3. Convert the .iso file to .img using the convert option of hdiutil. Example:
    hdiutil convert -format UDRW ~/path/to/target.iso -o ~/path/to/ubuntu.img

    Note: OS X tends to put the .dmg ending on the output file automatically.

  4. Run diskutil list to get the current list of devices
  5. Insert your flash media
  6. Run diskutil list again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media
    (e.g. /dev/disk2)
  7. Run
    diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN

    (replace N with the disk number from the last command; in the previous example, N would be 2) If if fails to unmount with errors, use the ‘force’ command:

    sudo diskutil unmountDisk force /dev/diskN
  8. Execute the following command while replacing /path/to/downloaded.img with the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.img or ./ubuntu.dmg).
    sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m
    • Using /dev/rdisk instead of /dev/disk may be faster.
    • If you see the error dd: Invalid number '1m', you are using GNU dd. Use the same command but replace bs=1m with bs=1M.
    • If you see the error dd:/devdiskN: Resource busy, make sure the disk is not in use. Start the Disk and unmount (don’t eject) the drive.
  9. Run diskutil eject /dev/diskN and remove your flash media when the command completes
  10. Restart your Mac and press Alt while the Mac is restarting to choose the USB-Stick (This should also work on a PC)

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