can I use the dd command to clone my ubuntu installation from my external disk to my local hard drive. will it even boot? I think I can, but not sure. do I need to make the output partition on my local disk the exact size as the input partition on the usb? I'm thinking install and boot off a liveusb on a different small flash drive and run something like sudo dd if=/media/usbexternaldisk of=/media/localdisk would that work as is?

also if I make an iso image of my external ubuntu installation using dd, can I burn it onto disk or unto another hard drive and have that boot up?


1 Answer 1


Using dd to clone an Ubuntu installation

Yes, you can use dd to clone an installation, but it's not the fastest/easiest way to do it. It's better to do it via backup/restore with a live-tool such as Clonezilla.

  • If you wish to use dd, note that the target disk must be the same size or larger than the source.

  • Also, to make it bootable, you must copy from device-to-device (e.g. /dev/sdX), NOT from partition to partition (/media/...)

  • Use sudo fdisk -l or gparted to find out which block devices your target internal hard disk (usually /dev/sda) and external USB hard disk (usually /dev/sdb) are.

  • Then use dd with exactly the following syntax, where x is the letter for the USB drive and y the letter for the internal drive which you have determined in the previous step:

      sudo dd if=/dev/sdx of=/dev/sdy bs=8M && sync

    and wait for it to complete.

  • To answer your other question, no, simply dd'ing to an ISO (or CD or DVD, etc.) will NOT work; it will be unbootable. For that, you need to use a tool such as remastersys. See this question for more information:

    How do I convert my Ubuntu installation into a Live-USB or Live-CD?


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