Most of the tools out there that "burn bootable ISO to USB" rely on specific OS information. Is there some universal way to boot up El Torito bootable ISO without burning it to DVD or CD (and instead using for example USB)?

Maybe some special boot-manager will do?

I'm using Windows 10 and Opensuse Tumbleweed. I've my own EFI Partition with rEFInd and my EFI firmware have an boot-entry for it.

Especially I remember back in the time that there was something like this which copied the ISO image file (.iso) and some GRUB DOS bootloader into my USB flash which then essentially boot up the ISO image.

  • Aside from burning to optical media or creating a bootable usb, the only option left (for isolated machine) is placing the ISO on a HD and somehow mounting it prior to BOOT. Is this what you are asking for? – Yorik Dec 18 '15 at 16:25
  • Which OS are you currently running? Are you willing to install a different boot loader if necessary? – heavyd Dec 18 '15 at 16:28
  • @Yorik No I meant exactly using USB or HDD instead of DVD/CD. You misunderstood me. – Nemo759 Dec 18 '15 at 16:28
  • @heavyd No problem - I have added on my EFI firmware entry linking to my own EFI partition rEFInd boot-loader. And it is not linked with any OS. Otherwise I have OpenSUSE and Windows 10. – Nemo759 Dec 18 '15 at 16:30

El Torito is a specification for CDs. Using anything else is (e.g. USB flash drives), is a hack or emulation--there's no standard.

That said, Rufus is an excellent tool if you're creating it on Windows.

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  • Exactly what I am searching for. My title also says universal. And Rufus is not. – Nemo759 Dec 18 '15 at 16:40
  • @Nemo759 Universal? You want a tool that runs on every OS ever created? – Jason Dec 18 '15 at 16:47
  • I want a tool that somehow boots up ISO (boot-manager). And this boot-manager isn't ISO itself but supports all kind of boot up methods (like EFI). – Nemo759 Dec 18 '15 at 16:51
  • Rufus supports EFI... – Jason Dec 18 '15 at 16:54
  • Rufus doesn't make all kind of ISO bootable images to boot from USB. – Nemo759 Dec 18 '15 at 16:55

You can use any solution that loads the image to memory in its entirety and then executes whatever is on it.

SYSLINUX example:

kernel memdisk
initrd http://server.w23.lan/tftp/boot-isos/Acronis-2012-Rescue.iso
append iso

kernel memdisk
initrd http://server.w23.lan/tftp/boot-isos/Macrium-Rescue.iso
append iso raw

Acronis is Linux-based, Macrium is Windows-based.

There is a very large but: Access to the image in memory will only work via INT13h (BIOS-style disk access). Everything else requires explicit driver support. Windows does not have that built in and Linux requires additional helpers to make this work.

GRUB also supports settings up loopback devices.

(You may ask why the entries above work: They use initrd/WIM boot, both of which use INT13h to load the image and then cease access to the boot medium.)

None of that will work with UEFI, of course. In another answer, rEFInd is mentioned. Maybe it can do something similar for UEFI.

tl;dr: No universal solution is possible. There are many variables to consider when booting different ISO images.

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  • FYI: The OP mentioned rEFInd in the question. – Scott Sep 11 '17 at 4:47

I think rEFInd is the only solution.

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