How to Create Bootable Arch Linux on USB Drive

This article explains how to create an Arch Linux bootable USB thumb drive. It will allow you to install the OS on a PC, or simply test it in Live mode. The following methods will also work for any other Linux distributions.

Method 1: 'dd' command

This guide was created using the following:

  • Operating system: Arch Linux
  • Release: 2017.11.01
  • Kernel: 4.13.9
  • Architecture: x86_64

'dd' is a command-line utility for Unix and Unix-like operating systems whose primary purpose is to convert and copy files.

We'll use it to copy the Arch image to the USB drive.

1.1 Find the USB route

We'll need this to use as input for the 'dd' command. So type in a terminal:

$ sudo fdisk -l

And you'll get an output like this one:

arch linux USB drive - fdisk

Then locate your USB stick. You can use the size to determine which of the listed items corresponds to it.

1.2 Format the USB drive

First of all, we'll need to have dosfstools installed. Type in a terminal:

$ sudo pacman -S dosfstools

To format the drive, we have to unmount it. We need to use the path found in Step 1, in my case it's /dev/sdb

Unmount the drive:

$ sudo umount /dev/sdb

Now format it:

$ sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb

1.3 Write the .iso image

Type the following command, having 'input.iso' as the path where the image is located, and 'pathToYourUsbDrive' as the path to your USB drive.

$ sudo dd bs=4M if=input.iso of=pathToYourUsbDrive

For example, I have the image in /root/media/archlinux-2017.11.01-x86_64.iso and the path of my USB is /dev/sdb

So it would be something like this for me:

$ sudo dd bs=4M if=/root/media/archlinux-2017.11.01-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sdb

When the process finishes, run:

$ sync

Now, the bootable USB is ready to use.

Method 2: Imagewriter

This guide was created using the following:

  • Operating system: Arch Linux
  • Release: 2017.11.01
  • Kernel: 4.13.9
  • Architecture: x86_64

2.1 Download the package from AUR

Go to AUR - imagewriter and click on 'Download snapshot' as the image shows:

imagewriter aur

Now open a terminal and go to the path where the package is located. Type:

$ tar -xf imagewriter.tar.gz 
$ cd imagewriter
$ makepkg -csi imagewriter

And answer 'yes' to all...

2.2 Format the USB

Just do as shown in Method 1, Section 1.2.

2.3 Write the .iso file

Open imagewriter

$ imagewriter

Select the image and click 'Write':

imagewriter write iso

Wait for the process to finish and you'll have your bootable USB drive ready.

Method 3: Rufus

This guide was created using the following:

  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Release: Latest up to 11/20/2017
  • Architecture: x86_64

Download an install the iso burning tool from Rufus website.

Open Rufus and set all the options as in the image:

arch linux USB drive - rufus

You'll see an icon of a CD to the right of the line that says 'Create a bootable disk using...'. Click it and select the .iso image of Arch linux (or the distribution you want to install).

Finally, click start and wait for the process to finish.

1 thought on “How to Create Bootable Arch Linux on USB Drive”... add one

  1. Formatting a drive before using dd to write to the device is bullshit. Also, just use the conv=fdatasync parameter to dd instead of a separate sync command.
    Finally, a referral to the relevant Arch Linux Wiki ( is the least you could do, as it contains all the information to install and configure an Arch Linux distribution. Additionally, it has a lot of interesting (vital) warnings, notes, and tips.


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