How to create a bootable USB drive with Etcher on Linux


Boot floppy disks (or bootable drives) are an important tool for troubleshooting system problems on any operating system. They allow you to temporarily access the file system of a broken computer and fix the problem that caused the failure.

In addition, bootable drives also serve as live USB drives, making it easy to access your system on any device, anywhere. To create a bootable drive, you need to flash an image file to your removable storage device using an image flash utility.

On Linux, you can use Etcher to create a bootable drive. Here is a guide to help you through the process.

What is Etcher?

eraser, also known as balenaEtcher, is a program for writing image files to storage devices such as USB sticks and SD cards. It is free to use and available on all major platforms: Linux, macOS and Windows.

With Etcher, you get a pretty intuitive graphical user interface (GUI): one that is both easy to navigate and use. To create a bootable drive with it, all you have to do is follow a few simple steps and it will take care of flashing the image file to your chosen storage device.

One aspect of Etcher that sets it apart from some other image flashing utilities is its ability to validate the removable media before initiating the flash operation. So if you accidentally insert a defective SD card or flash drive, the software will notify you of it instead of flashing the image file to the damaged drive and leaving you wondering why your boot drive is not working.

How to install Etcher on Linux

Before you can use Etcher, you must first install it and set it up on your computer. There are two ways to do this: you can either download the Etcher AppImage from Balena’s official website, or you can install the software directly from the command line.

1. Run Etcher directly from the AppImage

The easiest way to run Etcher on your Linux system is to download the AppImage file.

Download: eraser (Free)

Once downloaded, do the following to get started:

  1. Extract the downloaded POST CODE File to get the Etcher AppImage.

  2. Right click on the AppImage file and select properties.

  3. Go to Permissions Tab and check the box next to Allow the file to run as a program.

  4. click Shut down.

  5. Double-click the AppImage file to start Etcher.

Alternatively, you can use the chmod command to assign executable permissions to the file.

sudo chmod +x ./balenaEtcher.AppImage

Make sure to include the exact name of the AppImage file in the above command.

2. Install the Etcher via the terminal

If the above method doesn’t work and you can’t run Etcher from its AppImage, install it from the command line using a package manager.

But first you need to add the Etcher repository to your system using cURL. If you’re using a Debian based distribution like Ubuntu, enter the following command:

curl | sudo -E bash

Install Etcher on Debian / Ubuntu with APT:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install balena-etcher-electron

On RHEL-based distributions like CentOS and Fedora, add the Etcher RPM repository:

curl | sudo -E bash

Then install the package using the DNF package manager:

sudo dnf update
sudo dnf install -y balena-etcher-electron

You can also use yum instead of DNF:

sudo yum update
sudo yum install -y balena-etcher-electron

Since Etcher is available in the Arch User Repository, you can install it directly with yay:

yay -S balena-etcher

How to create a bootable USB drive

There are three steps to flashing an image file to removable media with Etcher. Before you begin, however, you need to meet a few requirements.


First, you need to back up all of the data on the storage device that you want to flash an image to. This is to prevent any loss of data on the drive as Etcher will format everything on it while the image is being flashed.

And secondly, you need to download the image file that you want to flash to USB drive or SD card to your computer.

Although Etcher allows you to import image files using their URL, the process is not very reliable and has been known to fail in some cases. Therefore, we recommend downloading the image to your local computer beforehand and then using it with Etcher.

Etcher supports three image formats: ISO, IMG and ZIP. So make sure the downloaded image file is in one of these file formats.

Flash the image file with Etcher

When everything is set up, connect the storage device to your computer and start Etcher. Follow the steps below to flash the image file to your storage device.

  1. Click on that Flash from file Button under the + Icon and navigate your file system to find the image file you want to flash.

    Using Etcher on Linux

  2. Hit the Choose a destination and Etcher will automatically detect and mark all removable drives attached to your computer. Click on your drive and press Choose Continue.

    Select USB drive in eraser etc

  3. Press the lightning Button to start the flashing process. If asked for a password, enter one and click Authenticate.

    flashes the image to a USB

Depending on the size of the image file you selected, it will take a while for Etcher to flash the file to your selected storage device and validate the flashed image. So sit back and wait for the process to complete. Once it finishes you should see a message on Etcher that reads: Blitz completed.

If you want to flash an image on multiple devices at the same time, Etcher can do it. To do this, first connect the storage devices to your computer on which you want to flash the image file. And then, on the Choose a destination In the Etcher window, check the boxes for the drives you just attached.

Successfully creating a bootable drive with Etcher

Using the steps above, you should be able to create a bootable USB drive or SD card with Etcher in just a few clicks.

While you can do this with pretty much any other image flashing program, Etcher has the upper hand over most of them thanks to its polished, easy-to-use interface and a relatively faster flash process, making the entire task seamless and convenient.

In fact, Etcher is not only available for Linux, you can also use it to install operating systems on a Raspberry Pi.


How to install an operating system on a Raspberry Pi

Here’s how to install an operating system on your Raspberry Pi and clone your perfect setup for quick disaster recovery.

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