Fixed: Universal USB Installer syslinux errors

I was trying to create a bootable flash drive with Ubuntu 11.04 using the Universal USB Installer utility from on a Windows 7 64-bit machine with a 16 GB flash drive (mapped to G:), but I kept getting an error that the drive wouldn’t be bootable.

The message in the command line window read:

Execute: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Temp\[random].tmp\syslinuxnew.exe -maf G:
Syslinux Errors 1

A message box would then appear with the following warning:

Universal USB Installer Setup

An error(1) occurred while executing syslinux.
Your USB drive won’t be bootable…

When I opened a command prompt and ran syslinuxnew.exe -maf G:, the result was zero FAT sectors. When I ran syslinux.exe -maf G:, I got a much more informative message, or at least one that I could better understand: this doesn’t look like a valid FAT filesystem.

And of course, the flash drive wasn’t FAT32, it was NTFS. I had forgotten to format the drive as FAT32 before running the utility, but I also managed to not check the box next to “We will format G:\Drive as FAT32.” in the utility itself.

No wonder Google wasn’t returning any results when I searched this – who’s going to have missed properly formatting the drive not once but twice?

In the event that a quick format as FAT32 doesn’t work for you, you can try running a few diskpart commands in Windows to really thoroughly format a flash drive, including the MBR and partition table.

17 thoughts on “Fixed: Universal USB Installer syslinux errors

  1. Vlad

    Thanks for posting this! This was my problem, except I did format the USB, but I only did a quick format, which apparently is not enough to change it from NTFS to FAT32.

  2. Matt

    I had this issue, and it wasn’t a formatting problem (although thank you for the tip), but rather that the amount of space I specified to “Store Changes” needed to be at least 2048MB (2GB). It was an 8GB flash drive, so this was no problem. The reason it needs 2GB of space is that is the minimum amount of space required to house an Ubuntu system volume. If I had opted out of retaining changes, I probably wouldn’t have even encountered this trouble, but I wanted to experiment with a portable, updateable Ubuntu install.

  3. vizzini

    > No wonder Google wasn’t returning any results when I searched this – who’s going to have missed properly formatting the drive twice?

    Well, I did it too :). Actually, my drive came pre-formatted as FAT32, but after re-formatting (not quick format) as FAT32 from Windows Explorer, I no longer get this error. Thanks for taking the time to post this!

  4. qweyu

    This is wonderful coz i have just been looking for this solution and i have landed on this post and it has work quite well. Also i have come to learn that a quick format doesn’t really format.

  5. Bob

    Thanks for the info Oliver. Was trying to put Puppy Slacko on a USB stick using Universal USB Installer and kept getting “syslinuxnew.exe has stopped working” and “USB won’t be bootable” error message.
    Your fix worked a treat.
    Interesting that a quick format doesn’t work in this case though.
    You learn something new every day eh?

  6. Bob

    Meant to say that I was trying to install ‘Tails’ on a USB stick, not Puppy Slacko – though I was messing about with both.
    Getting old!!! Is it teatime yet? Where’s Martha? Who are you?……

  7. Carlos M

    Thank you so much! I was freaking out because of that message. I had to format my USB (non fast way) and its solved, Now Im going after UBUNTU!

  8. wendigo

    I have the problem with The console says that I don’t have permission to wrote the label of flash memory and that the USB won’t be bootable. I have running the app like administrator.

    What’s the problem? could anyone help me, please?

    Thanks in advance.

  9. Jaime

    I’m trying to create a bootable usb with Universal USB Installer to install Ubuntu 13.04 amd 64… I formated the USB like five times, not quick format. The USB is completely empty, but when I try to create the Bootable USB, it tells me that there’s no space. The USB is 8 GB, is in good condition, I can use it for whatever I want, but this. Oh, I’m doing it form windows 7. Please, help.

  10. Dave

    Thanks man, was trying to run this command to install an offline password and registry editor on an NTFS formatted usb stick. Why didn’t I think of this!? Thanks again!

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