I would like to know what the manual steps are to replicate the operation of unetbootin linux utility.

That is to say - how to manually install (and by word manually I really mean using the command-line and basic linux commands) a linux system on an external drive / stick from an ISO file sitting at another running linux system.

In my case I am running Fedora 19 and I want to install another distribution (regardless of which exactly) on a connected stick / drive.

I would like to learn and understand my linux better. There are many tutorials on the net but all of those I have found EITHER resort to using some installation utility OR boot from the drive to continue the installation once GRUB is on and iso file tranferred there.

  • Look at the files on the booting system all the commands used are there... – Ramhound Aug 22 '13 at 19:31

unetbootin is just a tool to make installation media like DVD or USB stick from ISO file. actually the most important part is just write the data from ISO to DVD or USB sector by sector.

If you do want to experience a manual installation without advanced tools, you can try to install arch linux via USB stick. here's the guide. You will it just use command dd, and then you will experience all steps on installing a linux.


I believe what you are trying to ask is referred to as bootstrapping. Installing a Linux distro on a physical harddrive from within another Linux distro.

Not all distros support this method of installation and I would not recommend trying to install Fedora using this method and I don't believe it's officially supported.

However, this works quite well with Gentoo installing within a chroot using a stage3 and a portage snapshot. ArchLinux also supports this and similar to Gentoo involves unpacking an archive. Finally Debian has debootstrap.

For supported distros (and this doesn't work so well with SystemD) this technique allows you to do a "full" install from the comfort of your existing install and boot into it after you've finished configuring it.

  • ok, but if there are only a couple of distros supporting the boostrapping how come the unetbootin can install almost any distro on my USB stick just having the ISO file? – user2433984 Aug 23 '13 at 15:53

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