• Linux bootable USB created on Mac

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    My current driver is a MacBook Air running Monterey 12.6.1. I have an older Dell Inspiron running Windows 7 offline. My goal is to create a Linux bootable USB on the Mac and use it on the Dell. Is this possible or does the Linux USB need to be created and used on the Dell?

    My first step is to test out Linux Mint and maybe Fedora on the Dell before doing the full installation.  I’ve seen the installation instructions on the Linux Mint website and seems pretty straight forward. Is there anything I should look out for when creating the USB?

    Viewing 5 reply threads
    • #2498229

      You can create the USB drive on any computer you wish. It does not need to be on the unit you intend to use it on.

      The only thing to really be aware of is to make sure that the created USB drive can boot the way your PC does. Windows 7 era machines typically came with a MBR/legacy boot type, but many of those were also capable of UEFI booting.

      I’d say to go for it, using whatever software you like (I have no idea what is available on Mac), and try it out to see if it boots. If not, then you can try something else with the USB drive software!

      Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
      XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon

    • #2498234

      In Windows you can check the boot type.

      If you have UEFI you need to check if “secure boot” is enabled. This can be done via the BIOS.
      If you have secure boot you must have SB Linux. Disabling SB is also an option.

      cheers, Paul

      p.s. Etcher burns ISOs to USB on a Mac.

    • #2498240

      IIRC the installation and user guides on the Mint website tell you how to deal with UEFI, secure boot, etc.

      The newest computer that I have installed Mint (version 20.3) on is a Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series (model 3558) that came with Win 7 Pro. It was new in April 2016 and boots with MBR/legacy boot type (non UEFI).

      You can google your model to determine which Fn key to press to get into the BIOS in order to change the boot order to boot off the usb stick first. I think most Dells use the F2 key for that. Alternatively, there’s an Fn key that will allow a one time boot from the usb; I think most Dells use the F12 key. Either way will work.

      I’ve installed Mint 20.3 on 3 other older computers that date back to 2009. All the installations have been smooth/easy. Before 20.3 I had installed 19.2 on the same 4 computers, all also easy installations.

    • #2498527

      Just a little more info on my Dell Inspiron.  It was bought in 2011, has an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of ram and a 650GB hdd.

      The latest version of Mint is 21 “Vanessa”. Are there any issues I should be aware of this build?

      Also in the Mint installation guide, it says to verify both the integrity and authenticity of the ISO image.  The integrity is performed by doing a check sum of the ISO. The authenticity is performed by using “gpg”. Are both of these necessary? Are these commands built in the macOS?

      I am pretty busy these days so not sure when I’ll have an opportunity to create the Linux installation USB. I will keep you posted.

      Thanks for all the advice. It’s much appreciated!

      • #2498532

        The only bug I know of is that if you use Rufus to make the bootable usb stick, you might get an out of memory error when you try to boot. Be sure to check the release notes on the Mint website.

        I’ll probably take some ribbing for this but I’ve never done the check sum. I always choose a download site like Harvard University. I’ve never had any problem.

        Your Inspiron should be just fine running Mint. If you want more performance it’s easy to replace the HDD with an SSD (at least it would be on my Inspiron).

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2498548

      You can verify the ISO from a Terminal.

      I have tried an online verification of the SUMS file but am not getting any joy.

      cheers, Paul

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2501445

      I finally had some time to try to create a Linux bootable USB drive. And here are the results….

      First I downloaded the Linux Mint 21 .iso file and sha256sum.txt I ran the shasum command in a terminal window and it matched the one in the sha256sum.txt

      I then downloaded balenaEtcher that would create the bootable USB drive. I selected the iso file, then selected my Lexar flash drive and finally clicked flash.  I then got a pop up asking for a password.  It didn’t say what password but I assumed it was looking for my admin password.  But after entering my admin password it just kept asking for a password.

      I went back to the balenaEtcher website and in there forums figured out I needed to run it in an admin account. I was using a standard account. So I repeated my steps from above in my admin account and this time when I clicked flash it proceeded.

      In about 10 minutes it claimed that the flashing completed. Unfortunately,  my USB drive was not recognized! I went in finder and there was no Lexar USB reported. I rebooted and went back to my standard account and still it wasn’t recognized. I tried a different USB drive to make sure my USB port was okay and I was able to view it.

      The only thing I didn’t try was to actually try the USB drive on my Dell. Perhaps there is something in the “flashing process” that makes it unrecognized in my Mac. I will try this when I have some more free time.



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      • #2501454

        I’ve used balenaEtcher on a Dell running Windows 7 before and it worked fine. That was several years ago and was the first bootable Linux usb stick I ever made. If you feel comfortable getting online with your Dell to get the balenaEtcher program, that would be an option. Firefox is still supported in Win 7 and so is Microsoft Security Essentials, so even without security updates you likely would be safe with an updated browser.

        I would try the stick on your Dell, though, before doing anything else. I’ve put a linux bootable stick in a Win 8.1 computer before and while the computer knew there was a usb stick inserted, it didn’t know there was anything on the stick.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2501916

          You might also be able to download the windows version of balenaEtcher to your Mac and move it to your Dell with a usb stick, a local network you might have, etc. I’ve run into programs that advertise a Windows and a Mac version, only to find the Windows version works well and the Mac version just doesn’t.

          FWIW, if it was me, I’d be tempted to crank up the Dell, get a usb stick that the Dell recognizes, update Firefox, Opera, Chrome, or whatever browser you have that still supports W7, and download balenaEtcher and the Mint .iso file. You’ll be online for maybe 15 to 30 minutes assuming a decent internet connection, so you should be pretty safe.

          • #2502256

            I finally had time to try my Linux USB drive on my Dell and it worked! Here is what happened. I fired up my Dell for the first time in about 2 years. I had a couple of “sticky” keys, one being the enter key. I plugged in the Linux USB drive and Explorer recognized it. Although it said it needed to be formatted. This gave me some hope that I would be able to boot into Linux Mint. I rebooted and hit the <F12> key, selected boot USB device and I got the Grub loader and Mint came up pretty quickly.

            My first impressions of Mint is its very similar to Windows 7. It has a lot of “preloaded” software including Libreoffice, FF and Thunderbird. I played around a little but didn’t get online because I was worried not having an AV/AM or firewall running, I did notice a firewall app is this good? Is there a recommended AV/AM for Mint? I guess i should start a new thread with these questions.

            Thanks to all for the advice and encouragement. I look forward to the next steps to actually installing Mint on my Dell.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
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