create a bootable USB key from a DBAN .iso image

For whatever reason dban only ships an ISO image. If you want to boot from USB key the process of creating one is fairly trivial.

First, I should note that DBAN can be downloaded from

– /dev/sdb is the USB key
– This is being done on a Linux-based host
– syslinux is installed

This was done on a CentOS 7 host. I can’t think of any reason it wouldn’t work from any recent Linux with an up-to-date syslinux available.

# Obtain the image and turn it into something USB key bootable by moving the isolinux files to syslinux. In this process you will create a small directory that has the dban files. At no time will you use mkisofs or any other similar command.
sudo mount -o loop,ro dban-2.3.0_i586.iso /mnt
mkdir /tmp/dban
cp -rp /mnt/* /tmp/dban
sudo umount /mnt
cd /tmp/dban
mv isolinux.bin syslinux.bin
mv isolinux.cfg syslinux.cfg

# Insert USB key and make it a single partition device with first partition bootable:
echo ‘,,C,*;’ | sudo fdisk /dev/sdb

# Format as FAT32 filesystem
sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1

# Mount it so you can write the DBAN files to it
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt

# Copy the files to the key
sudo cp /tmp/dban/* /mnt

# Make it bootable
sudo syslinux /dev/sdb1

# unmount it

sudo umount /mnt

# make sure everything is written to the key. Some keys can be very slow to do the actual write so give it time.
sync; sync

# remove the key, you’re done.