CentOS USB Installation to a Flash Drive

CentOS USB Installation; The following tutorial covers the process of creating a CentOS bootable USB flash drive using Windows and the LiveUSB Creator. Once installed, the CentOS Live USB will operate just like the Live CD, and you should be able to install CentOS from USB to a hard drive as well. A persistence feature is not being utilized in this tutorial so you will not be able to save and restore your changes on subsequent boots.

What is CentOS?

CentOS (Community ENTerprise Operating System) is an open source Linux distribution based on the upstream source code of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distro. It aims to provide a free, community supported alternative to RHEL while maintaining binary compatibility. It is used by many popular web hosting companies as a Linux server platform in rack server environments due to its extreme stability, security features, and availability of software packages.

Its most notable features include:

  • Linux Stability: Known for its long term support and stability, making it a popular choice for server deployments.
  • Red Hat Compatibility: Strives to be binary compatible with RHEL, allowing users to migrate between the two without compatibility issues.
  • Linux Security: Like Red Hat, CentOS emphasizes security by providing timely updates and patches for vulnerabilities.
  • Community Support: Has a strong community following of users who contribute to its continued development.
  • Linux Server Oriented: While CentOS can be used for various purposes, it is particularly well suited for server environments, including web servers, databases, and enterprise applications.

CentOS Linux Specifications

  • Distribution Home Page: Project Page
  • Minimum Flash Drive Capacity: 2GB
  • Persistent Feature: No

Prerequisites to make a CentOS Live USB

  • Windows host PC to run the LiveUSB Creator
  • USB flash drive
  • CentOS-*-LiveCD.iso
  • liveusb-creator-x-x.zip

How to Install CentOS to USB using Windows

We can use the Fedora LiveUSB Creator for CentOS USB installation. Here's how:

  1. Download Fedora liveusb-creator and extract the contents of the zipped file to your PC.
  2. Download CentOS ISO file
  3. Navigate to the liveusb-creator-x-x folder and click liveusb-creator.exe to launch the tool.
  4. Under Use existing Live CD, browse to where you saved the CentOS-*-LiveCD.iso and then select it.
  5. Set the Target Device to point to your USB flash drive.
  6. Click Create Live USB to begin the copying process.

Install Centos to USB using the Fedora Live USB creator

A progress bar will indicate the progression of CentOS as it is being copied to the USB drive. Once the process has finished,
(1.) Proceed to restart your PC.
(2.) Using a hotkey, access BIOS or UEFI during system post.
(3.) Set your Boot Menu to first boot from the USB drive and save your changes (F10).
(4.) Continue to boot your computer from the flash drive.

If all goes well, you should now be booting into your own portable CentOS on USB. Enjoy! 

Note that you could also use Etcher to burn ISO to USB. Or similarly, you could also use the DD command from a running Linux terminal. Here's how:

Replacing the path with your actual path to the ISO file and X with your actual USB device letter found using fdisk -l, enter the following:

sudo dd if=/path/CentOS*.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=4M status=progress && sync