USB flash installation medium
This page discusses various multi-platform methods on how to create an Arch Linux Installer USB drive (also referred to as "flash drive", "USB stick", "USB key", etc) for booting in BIOS and UEFI systems. The result will be a LiveUSB (LiveCD-like) system that can be used for installing Arch Linux, system maintenance or for recovery purposes, and that, because of the nature of SquashFS, will discard all changes once the computer shuts down.
If you would like to run a full install of Arch Linux from a USB drive (i.e. with persistent settings), see Installing Arch Linux on a USB key. If you would like to use your bootable Arch Linux USB stick as a rescue USB, see Change root.
BIOS and UEFI bootable USB
Using automatic tools
Using basic command line utilities
This method is recommended due to its simplicity and universal availability, since these tools are part of(pulled in by the meta-package).
/dev/sdx. To restore the USB drive as an empty, usable storage device after using the Arch ISO image, the ISO 9660 filesystem signature needs to be removed by running
wipefs --all /dev/sdxas root, before repartitioning and reformatting the USB drive.
lsblk. Make sure that it is not mounted.
Run the following command, replacing
/dev/sdx with your drive, e.g.
/dev/sdb. (Do not append a partition number, so do not use something like
# cat path/to/archlinux.iso > /dev/sdx
# cp path/to/archlinux.iso /dev/sdx
# dd bs=4M if=path/to/archlinux.iso of=/dev/sdx status=progress oflag=sync
# tee < path/to/archlinux.iso > /dev/sdx
Using GNOME Disk Utility
Linux distributions running GNOME can easily make a live CD throughand . Simply right-click on the .iso file, and select Open With Disk Image Writer. When GNOME Disk Utility opens, specify the flash drive from the Destination drop-down menu and click Start Restoring.
GTK3 based graphical tool to write an ISO file to one or multiple USB devices at once.is a simple
Kindd is a Qt based graphical frontend for dd. It is available as AUR.
Etcher is a OS image flasher built with node.js and Electron, capable of flashing an SDCard or USB drive. It protects you from accidentally writing to your hard-drives and ensures every byte of data was written correctly. There are 5 related packages in the AUR.
Ventoy is an open source tool to create bootable USB drive for ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)/EFI files. With ventoy, you don't need to format the disk over and over, you just need to copy the ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)EFI files to the USB drive and boot them directly. You can copy many files at a time and ventoy will give you a boot menu to select them. It is available in the AUR as AUR.
Rufus is a multi-purpose USB ISO writer. It provides a graphical user interface and does not care if the drive is properly formatted or not.
Simply select the Arch Linux ISO, the USB drive you want to create the bootable Arch Linux onto and click START.
This method does not require any workaround and is as straightforward as
dd under Linux. Just download the Arch Linux ISO, and with local administrator rights use the USBwriter utility to write to your USB flash memory.
win32diskimager is another graphical USB iso writing tool for Windows. Simply select your iso image and the target USB drive letter (you may have to format it first to assign it a drive letter), and click Write.
Make sure your Cygwin installation contains the
ddfor Windows from here. See the next section for more information.
Place your image file in your home directory:
Run cygwin as administrator (required for cygwin to access hardware). To write to your USB drive use the following command:
dd if=image.iso of=\\.\x: bs=4M
where image.iso is the path to the iso image file within the
cygwin directory and
\\.\x: is your USB flash drive where
x is the windows designated letter, e.g.
On Cygwin 6.0, find out the correct partition with:
and write the ISO image with the information from the output. Example:
dd if=image.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M
dd for Windows
A GPL licensed dd version for Windows is available at http://www.chrysocome.net/dd. The advantage of this over Cygwin is a smaller download. Use it as shown in instructions for Cygwin above.
To begin, download the latest version of dd for Windows. Once downloaded, extract the archive's contents into Downloads or elsewhere.
Now, launch your
command prompt as an administrator. Next, change directory (
cd) into the Downloads directory.
If your Arch Linux ISO is elsewhere you may need to state the full path, for convenience you may wish to put the Arch Linux ISO into the same folder as the dd executable. The basic format of the command will look like this.
# dd if=archlinux-version-x86_64.iso od=\\.\x: bs=4M
odparameter, which is used in the commands above. Note however that this parameter is specific to dd for Windows and cannot be found in other implementations of dd.
odis used, all partitions on the selected disk will be destroyed. Be absolutely sure that you are directing dd to the correct drive before executing.
Simply replace the various null spots (indicated by an "x") with the correct date and correct drive letter. Here is a complete example.
# dd if=ISOs\archlinux-version-x86_64.iso od=\\.\d: bs=4M
Xis the physical drive number (starts from 0). Example:
# dd if=ISOs\archlinux-version-x86_64.iso of=\\.\PhysicalDrive1 bs=4M
You can find out the physical drive number by typing
wmic diskdrive list brief at the command prompt or with
Ventoy is an open source tool to create bootable USB drive for ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)/EFI files. With ventoy, you don't need to format the disk over and over, you just need to copy the ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)EFI files to the USB drive and boot them directly. You can copy many files at a time and ventoy will give you a boot menu to select them.
First, you need to identify the USB device. Open
/Applications/Utilities/Terminal and list all storage devices with the command:
$ diskutil list
Your USB device will appear as something like
/dev/disk2 (external, physical). Verify that this is the device you want to erase by checking its name and size and then use its identifier for the commands below instead of /dev/diskX.
A USB device is normally auto-mounted in macOS, and you have to unmount (not eject) it before block-writing to it with
dd. In Terminal, do:
$ diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskX
Now copy the ISO image file to the device. The
dd command is similar to its Linux counterpart, but notice the 'r' before 'disk' for raw mode which makes the transfer much faster:
dd, which includes macOS's default
dd, uses lower-case
msuffix. This differs from GNU
dd, used elsewhere in this article.
# dd if=path/to/arch.iso of=/dev/rdiskX bs=1m
On newer dd you should use "bs=1M", e.g.
# dd if=path/to/arch.iso of=/dev/rdiskX bs=1M
This command will run silently. To view progress, send SIGINFO by pressing
diskX here should not include the
s1 suffix, or else the USB device will only be bootable in UEFI mode and not legacy. After completion, macOS may complain that "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer". Select 'Ignore'. The USB device will be bootable.
EtchDroid is a OS image flasher for Android. It works without root permissions on Android 5 to Android 8. According to bug reports it doesn't always work on Android 9 and Android 4.4.
To create an Arch Linux installer, download the ISO image file on your Android device. Plug the USB drive to your device, using a USB-OTG adapter if needed. Open EtchDroid, select "Flash raw image", select your Arch ISO, then select your USB drive. Grant the USB API permission and confirm.
Keep your phone on a table while it's writing the image: a lot of USB-OTG adapters are a bit wobbly and you might unplug it by mistake.
Using manual formatting
This method is more complicated than writing the image directly with
dd, but it does keep the flash drive usable for data storage (that is, the ISO is installed in a specific partition within the already partitioned device without altering other partitions).
/dev/sdXn. In any of the following commands, adjust X and n according to your system.
- If not done yet, create a partition table on
- If not done yet, create a partition on the device. The partition
/dev/sdXnmust be formatted to FAT32.
- Mount the FAT32 file system located in the USB flash device and extract the contents of the ISO image to it. For example:
# mount /dev/sdXn /mnt # bsdtar -x -f archlinux-version-x86_64.iso -C /mnt
Booting requires specifying the volume on which the files reside. By default the label
ARCH_YYYYMM (with the appropriate release year and month) is used. Thus, the file system’s label has to be set accordingly. Alternatively, you can change this behaviour by altering the lines ending by
archisolabel=ARCH_YYYYMM in the files:
/mnt/syslinux/archiso_sys-linux.cfg for BIOS boot, and in
/mnt/loader/entries/archiso-x86_64-speech-linux.conf for UEFI boot. For example, to use an UUID instead, replace those portions of lines with
archisodevicewill prevent booting from the created medium.
# umount /mnt # syslinux --directory syslinux --install /dev/sdXn # dd bs=440 count=1 conv=notrunc if=/usr/lib/syslinux/bios/mbr.bin of=/dev/sdX
/dev/sdXhas a GUID Partition Table. See Syslinux#Manual install for details.
- For manual formatting, do not use any Bootable USB Creator utility for creating the UEFI bootable USB. For manual formatting, do not use dd for Windows to dd the ISO to the USB drive either.
- In the below commands, X: is assumed to be the USB flash drive in Windows.
- Windows uses backward slash
\as path-separator, so the same is used in the below commands.
- All commands should be run in Windows command prompt as administrator.
>denotes the Windows command prompt.
- Partition and format the USB drive using Rufus USB partitioner. Select partition scheme option as MBR for BIOS and UEFI and File system as FAT32. Uncheck "Create a bootable disk using ISO image" and "Create extended label and icon files" options.
- Change the Volume Label of the USB flash drive
X:to match the LABEL mentioned in the
<ISO>\loader\entries\archiso-x86_64.conf. This step is required for Official ISO (Archiso). This step can be also performed using Rufus, during the prior "partition and format" step.
- Extract the ISO (similar to extracting ZIP archive) to the USB flash drive using 7-Zip.
- Download official Syslinux 6.xx binaries (zip file) from https://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/utils/boot/syslinux/ and extract it. The version of Syslinux should be the same version used in the ISO image.
- Run the following command (in Windows cmd prompt, as admin):
> cd bios\ > for /r %Y in (*.c32) do copy "%Y" "X:\syslinux\" /y > copy mbr\*.bin X:\syslinux\ /y
- Install Syslinux to the USB by running (use
win64\syslinux64.exefor x64 Windows):
> cd bios\ > win32\syslinux.exe -d /syslinux -i -a -m X:
- The above step installs Syslinux's
ldlinux.systo the VBR of the USB partition, sets the partition as "active/boot" in the MBR partition table and writes the MBR boot code to the 1st 440-byte boot code region of the USB.
-dswitch expects a path with forward slash path-separator like in *unix systems.
Other methods for BIOS systems
Using a multiboot USB drive
This allows booting multiple ISOs from a single USB device, including the archiso. Updating an existing USB drive to a more recent ISO is simpler than for most other methods. See Multiboot USB drive.
Making a USB-ZIP drive
For some old BIOS systems, only booting from USB-ZIP drives is supported. This method allows you to still boot from a USB-HDD drive.
- Download and from the official repositories.
- Find your usb drive with
mkdiskimage -4 /dev/sdx 0 64 32(replace x with the letter of your drive). This will take a while.
From here continue with the manual formatting method. The partition will be
/dev/sdx4 due to the way ZIP drives work.
UNetbootin can be used on any Linux distribution or Windows to copy your iso to a USB device. However, Unetbootin overwrites
syslinux.cfg, so it creates a USB device that does not boot properly. For this reason, Unetbootin is not recommended -- please use
dd or one of the other methods discussed in this topic.
syslinux.cfg; this must be restored before the USB device will boot properly.
default menu.c32 prompt 0 menu title Archlinux Installer timeout 100 label unetbootindefault menu label Archlinux_x86_64 kernel /arch/boot/x86_64/vmlinuz-linux append initrd=/arch/boot/intel-ucode.img,/arch/boot/amd-ucode.img,/arch/boot/x86_64/initramfs-linux.img archisodevice=/dev/sdx1 ../../
/dev/sdx1 you must replace x with the first free letter after the last letter in use on the system where you are installing Arch Linux (e.g. if you have two hard drives, use
c.). You can make this change during the first phase of boot by pressing
Tab when the menu is shown.
The Flashnul way
flashnul is an utility to verify the functionality and maintenance of Flash-Memory (USB-Flash, IDE-Flash, SecureDigital, MMC, MemoryStick, SmartMedia, XD, CompactFlash etc).
From a command prompt, invoke flashnul with
-p, and determine which device index is your USB drive, e.g.:
Avaible physical drives: Avaible logical disks: C:\ D:\ E:\
When you have determined which device is the correct one, you can write the image to your drive, by invoking flashnul with the device index,
-L, and the path to your image, e.g:
C:\>flashnul E: -L path\to\arch.iso
As long as you are really sure you want to write the data, type yes, then wait a bit for it to write. If you get an access denied error, close any Explorer windows you have open.
If under Vista or Win7, you should open the console as administrator, or else flashnul will fail to open the stick as a block device and will only be able to write via the drive handle windows provides
Loading the installation medium from RAM
This method uses Syslinux and a Ramdisk (MEMDISK) to load the entire Arch Linux ISO image into RAM. Since this will be running entirely from system memory, you will need to make sure the system you will be installing this on has an adequate amount. A minimum amount of RAM between 500 MB and 1 GB should suffice for a MEMDISK based, Arch Linux install.
Preparing the USB flash drive
Begin by formatting the USB flash drive as FAT32. Then create the following folders on the newly formatted drive.
Copy the needed files to the USB flash drive
Next copy the ISO that you would like to boot to the
Boot/ISOs folder. After that, extract from the following files from the latest release of from here and copy them into the following folders.
./win32/syslinux.exeto the Desktop or Downloads folder on your system.
Settingsfolder on your USB flash drive.
Create the configuration file
After copying the needed files, navigate to the USB flash drive, /boot/Settings and create a
INITRDline, be sure to use the name of the ISO file that you copied to your
DEFAULT arch_iso LABEL arch_iso MENU LABEL Arch Setup LINUX memdisk INITRD /Boot/ISOs/archlinux-version-x86_64.iso APPEND iso
For more information on Syslinux see the Arch Wiki article.
Finally, create a
*.bat file where
syslinux.exe is located and run it ("Run as administrator" if you are on Vista or Windows 7):
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Desktop\install.bat
@echo off syslinux.exe -m -a -d /Boot/Settings X:
Other methods for UEFI systems
For UEFI-only booting, it is enough to copy the files from the ISO and either change the FAT volume's label or edit boot loader configuration files to set
This method involves simply copies files from the ISO image to a USB flash drive and either adjusts the systemd-boot configuration or the file system's label.
- If not done yet, create a partition table on
/dev/sdXand a partition (
/dev/sdXn) on the device.
- If not done yet, format the partition to FAT32:
# mkfs.fat -F 32 /dev/sdXn
- Mount the FAT32 file system:
# mount /dev/sdXn /mnt
- Extract the ISO image to the mounted file system:
# bsdtar -x --exclude=syslinux/ -f archlinux-version-x86_64.iso -C /mnt
archisolabel=ARCH_YYYYMMto match your device, e.g. by replacing it with
- or unmount the file system and change its LABEL to match
# fatlabel /dev/sdXn ARCH_YYYYMM
- Unmount the FAT32 file system.
- Partition the USB flash drive and format it to FAT32.
- Right click on
archlinux-version-x86_64.isoand select Mount.
- Navigate to the newly created DVD drive and copy all files and folders except for
syslinuxto the USB flash drive.
- When done copying, right click on the DVD drive and select Eject.
X:\loader\entries\archiso-x86_64-speech-linux.confwith a text editor and change
archisolabel=ARCH_YYYYMMto match your device, e.g. by replacing it with
- or change the FAT32 volume label to match
- Eject the USB flash drive.
- If you get the "device did not show up after 30 seconds" error due to the
/dev/disk/by-label/ARCH_YYYYMMnot mounting, try renaming your USB medium to
ARCH_YYYYMMso Arch can find it. (e.g. For
- If you get other errors, try using another USB device. There are case scenarios in which it solved all issues.
- If you get
losetup: /run/archiso/bootmnt/arch/x86_64/airootfs.sfs: failed to set up loop devices: No such file or directory, try using a USB 2.0 port. (Some USB 3.0 ports through USB hubs don't work.)