Burning a Linux boot ISO to a USB drive on a Mac.

By | 16 October 2014

I always forget the exact commands to use when I have to burn a Linux ISO to a thumb drive on my MacBook Pro. I am burning a SuSE boot ISO in the example but this procedure should work for just about any ISO. These instructions work for me but remember, dd will erase EVERYTHING on your drive. Use it with caution. I am not responsible if you screw something up.
1 – Insert the USB thumb drive (or SD card or whatever) and run:
diskutil list
2 – Determine the disk identifier (in this example its /dev/disk2):
new-host-5:~ chris$ diskutil list
0: GUID_partition_scheme *1.0 TB disk0
1: EFI EFI 209.7 MB disk0s1
2: Apple_CoreStorage 790.7 GB disk0s2
3: Apple_Boot Recovery HD 650.0 MB disk0s3
4: Microsoft Basic Data BOOTCAMP 209.0 GB disk0s4
0: Apple_HFS Macintosh HD *790.4 GB disk1
0: FDisk_partition_scheme *2.0 GB disk2
1: DOS_FAT_16 THUMBDRIVE 2.0 GB disk2s1

3 – Unmount the disk:
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2
4 – Burn the ISO to the USB drive (BE CAREFUL HERE!!!!). This step will take a while and dd is infamously quiet while its running. It hasn’t hung… Just give it time. If you want to see the activity you can open another terminal and run iostat -d 3 and watch the activity in real time 🙂
sudo dd if=Downloads/openSUSE.iso of=/dev/disk2 bs=1m
5 – If the USB drive is mounted after dd finishes, unmount it and you are done…
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2

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