So, in the past when I wanted to create a bootable USB stick, I would simply use the dd utility to copy the ISO directly to the USB device.

For example, if I have a USB device mounted on /dev/sdb, I would simply say:

dd if=image.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M; sync

This would work fine usually.

But certain Linux distros come with a graphical utility, "USB Image Writer" (Ubuntu and Linux Mint for example have this out-of-the-box) which provides a nice graphical tool to do this for you.

The only thing I don't understand, is the graphical "USB Image Writer" must be doing something dramatically different than simply using dd under the hood. The reason is that using dd literally takes a few seconds at most. But "burning" a USB image to a USB stick using the "USB Image Writer" utility can take up to like 15 minutes sometimes.

So... what exactly is "USB Image Writer" doing here, and why can't it just use dd?

  • Are you comparing the same ISO burned to the same USB stick? What size is the ISO you tested with? I ask because the idea of burning an ISO to a USB stick in a "few seconds" is hard to swallow. ;) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 10 '14 at 13:25
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    Yes, the same ISO - both are around 500MB. But the important part of the question is really, what is the difference between simply using dd, and using the graphical "USB Image Writer" utility? Does the USB Image Writer Utility do anything beyond just using dd? – Charles Salvia Oct 10 '14 at 13:37

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