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Make a Live openSUSE Flash Drive for Easy Installs

written by: Chad Anderson•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 1/27/2011

Using a few free and open source tools, you can generate openSUSE Live drives for use in installations.

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    Linux Live Distributions

    The USB flash drive has replaced the floppy disk and become so common that most of us have extras lying around. Where Linux installations used to be booted off of floppy disks or the rare installation CD, now users download their disk image and create a Live version of their preferred distribution. Live distributions boot and run like regular systems, allowing the user to install off of the USB flash drive using the pre-configured settings. OpenSUSE, like most other derivatives, lets users download the ISO image file that can then be used to generate a bootable, Live, installation medium. The ISO image acts like a folder containing all of the necessary installation files and can be transferred to a USB flash drive using a number of methods.

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    Unetbootin by Dan Lynch Unetbootin is a cross-platform application specifically for generating Live USB flash drive images. The application handles the downloading and imaging with the click of a button. You can download Unetbootin from the developer's page on SourceForge. There is nothing to install as Unetbootin runs as a binary.

    Insert a blank, unformatted USB flash drive into the computer, then launch the Unetbootin application from your desktop. Select "openSUSE" from the Distribution drop-down box. Click the "Type" drop-down box and select "Flash Drive" from the list, selecting your USB flash drive's location from the adjacent box. Click the "Ok" button to download the image and copy the ISO's contents, folder structure and all, to the USB flash drive.

    Be careful when using Unetbootin since picking the wrong drive letter can lead to another disk, or your main hard drive, being written over by the disk image. Unetbootin does not check before copying the image to the chosen disk.

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    SUSE Studio Image Writer

    The openSUSE project also provides its own image copier for creating openSUSE install drives on both Linux and Microsoft Windows machines. You can download theopenSUSE Installer by Dan Lynch  Windows version from or download the Linux version through zypper with the "zypper install imagewriter" command. On Linux distributions other than openSUSE, you may be better off using dd or another imaging tool to copy the ISO's contents.

    Insert a blank, unformatted USB flash drive into the computer, then download a Live CD image from the openSUSE software download site. Once the download is complete, launch the SUSE Studio Image Writer, then drag and drop the image into the application. Click the "Write" button to copy the ISO image folder to the USB flash drive.

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    The dd tool is a classic command line utility for copying data bit-by-bit to another location. Its versatility makes dd the file copying swissdd by fsse8info  army knife of any Linux user's toolkit. On Windows, a tool like dd does not come natively with the operating system, although some developers have created the dd for Windows port.

    Insert a blank, unformatted USB flash drive into the computer, then download a Live CD image from the openSUSE software download site. Launch a command prompt or terminal, then used the cd command to navigate to the folder where you saved the openSUSE installation image. Use the "su" command to become the root user or simply prefix all future commands with "sudo". Type "dd if=openSUSE.iso of=/dev/usb1" where "openSUSE.iso" is the name of the image you downloaded and "/dev/usb1" is the physical location the USB flash drive is mapped to. Press the "Enter" key to execute the command and copy the ISO image to the drive.