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How to create an installation USB drive for SLE 11, 12, or 15

This document (7017894) is provided subject to the disclaimer at the end of this document.


SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP1
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP4
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP4
SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 12 SP4
SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 SP4


A SUSE Linux Enterprise installation medium is needed but the system in question does not have an optical disk drive or burning an ISO file to a DVD is otherwise not an option.


Writing an ISO image of SLE to USB can be done in five steps.

1.  Download the ISO for the desired distribution from SUSE Free Downloads

2.  Change the shell's working directory into the logged in user's Downloads directory (or default download location)
hostname:~ # cd ~/Downloads

3.  Check the output of lsblk to verify the USB device is attached and is recognized by the OS.  The SIZE column is usually the best indicator
hostname:~/Downloads # lsblk

4.  Run the following "dd" command to write the ISO data to the USB drive.  Assume for this example that sdb is the USB device found with lsblk and that the ISO image is for SLES 11 SP4.
hostname:~/Downloads # dd if=SLES-11-SP4-DVD-x86_64-GM-DVD1.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4k
(use sudo with dd if you are not logged in with the root user)
This write process will take several minutes as dd reads data from an input file and writes it to an output file block by block. 
5.  Before removing media from the USB port, make sure all cached writes to the device have been flushed out to disk with "sync"
hostname:~/Downloads # sync
Once the prompt returns, the data from the ISO image will have been fully copied to the USB drive and the device will be bootable. The new installation device may now be safely unplugged from the system.

Additional Information

CAUTION: Be sure to back up any important data stored on the USB device before running the "dd" command.  This method will overwrite any existing file system that begins on the first block of the device. Even if the existing file system is larger than the ISO, the Master Boot Record will be overwritten and data managed by the previous file system will be irreversibly corrupted. With this in mind, be prudent in double and triple checking that the proper device identifier is used in the dd's "of=" parameter.

Also, remember to configure the system's BIOS boot priority so USB devices are checked for boot loader data before the primary storage device(s).

If a SLE 10 USB install medium is needed, please refer to this article instead:
How to create a bootable USB drive to install SLES 10



This Support Knowledgebase provides a valuable tool for SUSE customers and parties interested in our products and solutions to acquire information, ideas and learn from one another. Materials are provided for informational, personal or non-commercial use within your organization and are presented "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND.

  • Document ID:7017894
  • Creation Date: 28-Jul-2016
  • Modified Date:18-Feb-2021
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

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