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USB Installation

There are several reasons why one might want to install from a USB drive.

  • CDs are easily lost or scratched.
  • Testing a new version without expending a CD-R
  • USB drives are cheap and almost everyone has one


First, download the correct image according to your needs. There are two different versions are available.

  • The HDD version acts like a USB hard drive
  • The FDD version is a so-called superfloppy image.

Which version you require depends on your BIOS. Sometimes it is necessary to try both versions.


This method uses physdiskwrite, which must be started as Administrator on Vista/7/8. For Windows Vista and Windows 7 please see end of page for an alternative.

First, download PhysDiskWrite. There is a GUI version also.

Next, unpack the previously downloaded IPFire image and PhysDiskWrite to the same directory (ie. c:\ipfire).

Now, drag-and-drop the IPFire image on to the PhysDiskWrite program. A command console will open, displaying the available drives. Press the corresponding number to choose the appropriate drive (your USB stick). The copy process will start. Upon completion, the window will close automatically.

If any problems are encountered, open a command console and run the program manually.

physdiskwrite -u ipfire.img

The window will then stay open, displaying information about any errors that may have occurred.

After writing the image, connect the USB drive to the computer that will be running IPFire. Before the computer will from the USB stick, it will probably be necessary to configure the BIOS. If there are no options in your BIOS relating to USB devices, it may be necessary to upgrade your BIOS to a newer version. This is an inherently risky task, and is beyond the scope of this article.

The installation will behave as though it is being installed from a CD-ROM drive.

If you still encounter problems, please ask us in the Forum.


The easy way

sudo -i
zcat ipfire-X.Y-install-usb-fdd.i586.img.gz > /dev/sdb

Where “sdb” corresponds to the USB stick

An alternative method

  • You will need the IPFire ISO, the testdisk tool and the syslinux package.

At first testdisk must write the MBR to the USB drive. Please remove all other USB devices, since it could lead to problems. After starting the program, select the USB stick as a device and format it as FAT, not FAT32! It is important that the MBR is in FAT format.

Now continue with syslinux. Sometimes it will not work with the newest versions, 3.x. In this case use version 2.11 as it has always worked with that version.

When ready, open a DOS box and change into the syslinux directory. Enter >syslinux.exe drive-letter:> which is the drive-letter of the USB-stick. Now some files should be written to the USB-stick (some of them are hidden).

Now we'll continue with the ISO-file. Just extract the files to the USB-stick by using your favorite packaging program or just use ISOBuster. Then, please move all files from boot\isolinux to \ (all! files) on the USB-stick. That directory can then be deleted. Now, please rename the isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg and delete the file isolinux.bin - and youre done !

Windows Vista & Windows 7 Details

Variant A

Download program from Download the USB-FDD image from

Run the unetbootin program that you downloaded

USB Drive MUST be 2GB or Less!
  • Uncompress the downloaded images
  • Select ISO Image and ensure FLOPPY is selected
  • Select the USB-FDD Image you downloaded from ipfire
  • Select USB device to use
  • Click OK
  • Change your BIOS to boot from USB and… ENJOY

Have fun :-)

Variant B

Download USB-HDD Image. Download Win32DiskImager from Write the USB-HDD Image on the USB Stick with Win32DiskImager. Unmount the stick in Windows and you're ready to install from this stick.

Translations of this page?:
en/installation/usb_stick.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/25 17:26 by bebima