How to Burn Disk Image in Raspbian for Raspberry Pi

This tutorial guides you through how to burn a disk image from within Raspbian for Raspberry Pi.

Most Raspberry Pi “disk image burning” tutorials show you how to burn a disk image that allows you to install Raspbian (or other operating systems) onto your Raspberry Pi.

But this walk-through is different because it shows you how to burn a disk image using Raspbian for Raspberry Pi.  I found this process to be essential after I downloaded huge disk images (mostly for retro gaming).

Basically, you can use the Raspbian operating system (made just for Raspberry Pi) to burn a disk image.  I tried several GUI-based disk image burning apps, but none of them would install and/or work for me.

Finally, I resorted to a command-line solution.

Apparently, pretty much all Linux packages come with a program called “dd”.  Before you run the command below, make sure your correctly identify the Micro SD card / USB thumb drive onto which you intend to burn your disk image file.  Use the full steps below to find that out.

Before you start the steps below, here’s a preview of the command to burn a disk image using the dd program for Linux:

sudo dd if=/media/pi/NameOfExternalHardDrive/MyDiskImages/MyImageFile-128gb-Unified12517.img of=/dev/sdb status=progress bs=4M

In the command above, “if=” is short for “input file=”.  Then, “of=” is short for – you guessed it – “output file”.  In this case, instead of an output file, we specify an output drive (“sdb”).  Use the steps below to identify the “output” drive and finish burning the disk image.

How to Burn Disk Image From Within Raspbian for Raspberry Pi 3

  1. Make sure your destination SD card is unplugged from the Raspberry Pi.
  2. Open Terminal, type ls -la /dev/sd*
    Now plug in the SD card
  3. Type ls la /dev/sd* again and see what appeared.
  4. Now enter this command to perform the SD card write:
  5. sudo dd if=/media/pi/My\ Passport/raspberryimages/MLP\ 128gb\ Unified12517.img of=/dev/sdb status=progress bs=4M
  6. Just WAIT for the operation to complete. I waited over night.
  7. Raspberry Pi seems to write to SD card at around 8.6MB/sec.
  8. To write a 128GB image to a Class 10 SD card took 14924 seconds, or under 5 hours.
  9. The Terminal window will just sit there as your SD card is prepared.
  10. When it’s done, it’ll say:
  11. X records in
  12. Y records out
  13. Z bytes (# of GBs) copied, # seconds, # MB/sec

Explanation of the last command:
Here’s the format of the last command:
“sudo dd if=FileLocationHere of=DeviceNameHere bs=4M”
So simply replace “FileLocationHere” with the exact location of the image file you want to write (.img or .iso).
The file location will be something like..
OR /media/pi/MyExternalDrive/yourimagefile.img

If you have an .iso file instead of a .img file to burn,
install and use Brasero.

Some GUI disk writer apps:

  1. Etcher – couldn’t install this
  2. Gnome imagewriter aka multiwriter – couldn’t install this
  3. Unetbootin – couldn’t install this
  4. Brasero – only burns .iso files, but not .img files

BUT – it’s possible to convert .img to .iso

How to Convert IMG to ISO in Linux

  • Try the free ccd2iso program
  • Mount the .img with CDemu (, and then use ddrescue (which should be in the repositories) to copy the contents of the mounted device to an .iso. Don’t know if that will preserve autoboot features, though.
  • $ sudo aptitude install ccd2iso
    $ ccd2iso $img_file $iso_file



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