Linux Basics H1 – How to create bootable Xubuntu Live USB on OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)

By Emrah Okic

In this installation guide I will go through the installation of bootable Xubuntu 14.04 LiveUSB on OSX 10.11. LiveUSB will boot Xubuntu 14.04.3 Trusty Tahr, which is latest LTS release of long term supported Xubuntu version.

Below you can see the system description of the computer and USB, which were used to create LiveUSB. Xubuntu 14.04 was tried without installing on this machine as well.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 16.29.13 .png

  • 8GB USB stick (FAT32 formatted, MBR)

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 16.45.57 .png

This procedure requires that you create an .img file from the .iso file you download. It will also change the filesystem that is on the USB stick to make it bootable, so backup all data before continuing.

After backup we can proceed.

If you haven’t taken the backup of your data, I strongly advise you to do so.

1. Open the Terminal (~/Applications/Utilities/Terminal)

2. Convert the .iso file to .img using the convert option of hdiutil

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 17.04.09 .png

3. OS X tends to put the .dmg ending on the output file automatically. Rename the file using the renaming option of mv Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 17.03.17 .png

4. Now we have ready .img file. Next step is to prepare our media. Run diskutil list command to get the current list of devices

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 17.20.51 .png

5. Insert your flash media. Run diskutil list again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk1)

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 17.10.12 .png

6. Run diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN (replace N with the disk number from the last command; in the previous example, N would be 1)

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 17.24.10 .png

7. Run sudo dd if=/Users/chicco/Downloads/xubuntu-14.04.3-desktop-amd64.img of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=1m 

(replace /path/to/downloaded.img with the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.img or ./ubuntu.dmg). There might be prompt for password

Using /dev/rdisk instead of /dev/disk may be faster

8. After the previous command of mounting an image on USB is ready run diskutil eject /dev/disk1 and remove your flash media when the command completes


9. Restart your Mac and press alt/option key while the Mac is restarting to choose the USB stick. (EFI BOOT )


10. Try Xubuntu without installing to see if it works on your machine


11. Voilá! It works! Xubuntu 14.04 running on mac on USB stick. Working: keyboard, mouse, speakers, wifi, special keys for brightness and volume. English keyboard outlay.


12. Hardware specification using command sudo lshw -short -sanitize


13. Reboot your machine to get back to OSX.

I have successfully installed LiveUSB with Xubuntu 14.04 on it. If you want to install Xubuntu permanently on Mac, you will have to create a partition for Linux and the install it there.


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