How to Make an SD Card Bootable in Linux

Written by ashley poland Google
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How to Make an SD Card Bootable in Linux
SD cards allow devices to expand their memory and hold more data. (memory card image by Dariusz Urbanczyk from

If you've ever used a digital camera or an expandable MP3 player, you've probably used a Secure Digital (SD) Card. SD cards are small---not much bigger or thicker than a stamp---and range in size from 2 to 32 gigabytes (GB). Because an SD card functions the same ways as a universal serial bus (USB) drive, you are able to create a bootable SD card the same way that you would create a bootable USB drive when installing Linux.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Blank 2 gigabyte SD card
  • Card reader, embedded or external
  • Universal USB Creator

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  1. 1

    Install Universal USB Creator on your computer. While Universal USB Creator is recommended by Ubuntu, it will work with any ISO distribution of Linux.

  2. 2

    Download the image (ISO) file for your Linux distribution of choice. These image files are available on the website for your Linux distribution; if you're having trouble deciding which Linux operating system to install, consider DistroWatch's Top Ten Distributions, available under Resources.

  3. 3

    Run Universal USB Creator. In the drop-down menu, choose your distribution.

  4. 4

    Click the "Browse" button in Universal USB Creator to select the ISO file for your Linux distribution.

  5. 5

    Insert your SD card into your computer, either via internal or external reader. If you have any important files or pictures on your SD card, back them up on your computer before continuing.

  6. 6

    Select your SD card from the drop-down menu. To the right is a prompt that recommends formatting your card; select this check box to format your SD card during creation.

  7. 7

    Click "Create" to begin the bootable card creation process.

  8. 8

    To test your bootable SD card, reboot with it.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are already running Linux and are trying to make a backup bootable card for emergencies, your distribution likely has a utility for creating bootable USB drives. Check your distribution's documentation for more information on this potential feature.
  • Many modern computers come with internal SD card slots; check your computer's manual to find out if you have such a slot.
  • You can purchase a USB card reader at most major retailers.
  • Your computer may not recognise your SD card as a drive to boot from; in this case you may have to go into your BIOS at start-up and change the boot order. Your computer should display some text in one of the corners of the first boot screen that tells you what key to press to access your BIOS. For more in-depth information on BIOS options, see Pen Drive Linux's tutorial, available under Resources.

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