How to boot Debian Live ISO (USB) on UEFI systems

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How to boot Debian Live ISO (USB) on UEFI systems

Postby jon_stone » 2016-02-21 23:06

As many are, I'm sure, aware, the Debian 8 live iso images (found here: do not come pre-configured with the ability to boot in UEFI mode. Naturally, this can be a little frustrating for those of us with UEFI systems, like myself, so I have a short guide below that should be able to get any USB stick with Debian Live 8.3 ISO to boot in UEFI mode.

First note: There is another guide here on the Debian Forums for booting UEFI but which goes about it differently. That guide is here: If, however, that guide doesn't work for you (it didn't work at all for me), feel free to try the steps below.

and... THE GUIDE:

1) Download the Debian 8.3 Live ISO from the link above
2) Download the ISO for DVD 1 of the full "stable" release. That can be found here: under the section "Official CD/DVD images of the "stable" release" and under the tab "DVD" in that section. (Or jump straight here for amd64 iso's: ... 4/iso-dvd/).

The file you're looking for here is "debian-8.3.0-*ARCHITECTURE*-DVD-1.iso" where "*ARCHITECTURE*" is replaced by whatever processor architecture you need. For example, for amd64 it would be: "debian-8.3.0-amd64-DVD-1.iso"

3) Extract the live iso onto a USB stick as you would normally using software like Unetbootin, PenDriveLinux, or, if you are on Windows, Rufus (available here: ), which I think blows Unetbootin out of the water. Sorry guys, dd isn't going to work here.
4) Mount the larger DVD-1 ISO and open it to explore.
5) From the newly mounted DVD-1 ISO, copy the folder called "boot" (with its contents) and paste it into your Live USB stick.
6) From the DVD-1 ISO, also copy the folder called "efi" (with its contents) and paste it into your Live USB stick.
7) Now, on your live USB stick, go to /boot/grub and open grub.cfg for editing.
8 ) In grub.cfg, RIGHT AFTER the lines:

Code: Select all
insmod play
play 480 440 1
set theme=/boot/grub/theme/1


Code: Select all
menuentry 'Boot without intalling' {
    set background_color=black
    linux    /live/vmlinuz vga=788 boot=live root=/dev/sda --- quiet
    initrd   /live/initrd.img

SAVE AND CLOSE grub.cfg.

9) Make sure your USB stick (or, rather, the partition on it) has a boot-flag. Assuming your USB stick is mounted on /dev/sdb, you can do this with "sudo fdisk /dev/sdb" using the command "a".

For Windows users or new linux users: In Windows, you can do this step by marking the partition as active using DISKPART. First you will need to find and select the right partition and then use the command "active". (There is a short guide on that here:

This may seem like a strange step, but for me the stick wouldn't work without it.

10) Reboot into the USB stick and select "Boot without installing" on the menu that comes up. It may take a few minutes, and it is going to look a bit messy as it boots (it usually brings me to a tty prompt for a few seconds) but it will get there eventually.

I hope this helps, guys! :)

P.S. Concerning step 2 -- I hate for everyone to have to download this big file, but I don't know how I might upload somewhere just the relevant files from the large ISO here so they could just download those. If anyone else knows how to do that please feel free to do so and post the link to the files below.
Posts: 1
Joined: 2016-02-21 22:05

Re: How to boot Debian Live ISO (USB) on UEFI systems

Postby sgosnell » 2016-02-22 01:57

I just use the netinstall version. It boots in UEFI, and can use a much smaller drive (256MB used to work, but now it has grown, so you need at least a 512MB drive. It only takes a short time to download the installer, and to dd it to a drive. Boot it, and run the installer, and it downloads the necessary files, and lets you select the desktop environment you want, if you want one. I would never bother to download an entire DVD, but if that's what you want...
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Joined: 2011-03-14 01:49

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