etcher image writer on ubuntu

Etcher is a popular open-source USB image writer tool for Windows, macOS and Linux and it recently got a new stable release.

Version 1.0 of the tool arrives almost a year to the day since we first introduced you to this easy-to-use image writer tool.

The new release sees the app pick up a boat load of improvements that, its developers say, help make it “a much more stable and reliable tool”.

A Recap of Etcher Features

etcher usb selection

The company steering development of the app say over the course of the various beta releases Etcher was used to write over one million images to SD cards & USB drives.

Built using the Electron format, Etcher is a true cross-platform app that can write .iso, .img and .zip files to USB drives and SD cards.

The main interface is dead simple to use: you select an image, select a drive (the built in drive picker is designed to avoid you making mistakes and overwriting a hard drive, etc) and hit Flash. Validated burning double-checks images after writing so that you’re left faffing about trying to boot from a dud drive.

No sign of some previously planned features, like support for creating multi-boot USB sticks, or enabling persistent storage on Ubuntu images.

  • Support for creating multi-boot USBs
  • Support for persistent storage on Ubuntu images
  • Registered Etcher as handler for *.img and *.iso files

It’s not just the GUI client that’s gotten an update though. Etcher 1.0 also sees the first experimental release of the Etcher CLI.

The Etcher CLI lets you to write images and validate flashes from the command line. As it doesn’t rely on the Electron framework, it’s a smaller download and install size. Its developers also tout the ability for users to write custom scripts using the CLI to “perform tasks such as multi-writes.”

How to install Etcher on Ubuntu

Etcher is available to download for Windows, macOS and Linux from the website or direct from its Github page:

Etcher on Github

Linux builds are provided in the AppImage package format.

AppImages are self-contained runtimes that do not require manual installation or root (but do require you necessary permissions to run).

And since AppImage will run on pretty much any distro out there, you only need to download it and double-click to run:

etcher appimage

If you prefer to install your apps in a more traditional way, using apt, you can install Etcher on Ubuntu from a repository.

Now, getting this set up is a little bit more involved that with a regular PPA, but this methods the benefit of ensuring you get all future Etcher updates automatically through your update manager.

To add the Etcher repo open the Software & Updates app using the Unity Dash (or an alternative app launcher):

Select the ‘Other Software’ tab in Software & Updates [1]

adding repo software sources on ubuntu

Click ‘Add’ [2] and paste the following the entry field of the box that appears:

echo "deb stable etcher" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/balena-etcher.list

Click ‘Add Source’ [3] to confirm the change, then close Software & Updates. You’ll likely be prompted to update your software sources.

The next step is to add the repository key. This allows Ubuntu to verify that packages installed from the repository are made by who they say they are. You have to add this key to be able to install Etcher; Ubuntu will disable unsigned repos.

Open a new Terminal window, paste the following command, and then hit return/enter:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 379CE192D401AB61

Finally, update your packages list and install the app:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install balena-etcher-electron

That’s it; launch Etcher from the Applications grid, or your distro’s app launcher, and follow the on-screen instructions.

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