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.

The latest version of the tool arrives almost a year to the day since we first introduced you to this easy-to-use image writer tool from Balena.

The new release adds a boat load of improvements to the image writing tool that its developers say make it “a much more stable and reliable” than before. 

A Recap of Etcher Features

etcher usb selection screen

Balena is the company steering development of the app and they say, over the course of its releases to date, Etcher has been used to write over one million images to SD cards & USB drives.

As featured in our last if the best Electron apps, Etcher is a true cross-platform tool that you can sue on Windows, macOS and Linux. Regardless of which OS you have Etcher will write .iso, .img and .zip files to USB drives and SD cards.

The main interface is dead simple to use too: 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 the Flash button to, well, you know!

A validated burning option is also available. This can double-check the integrity of the image after flashing so that you’re not left trying to boot from a dud drive.

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

An Etcher CLI is also available. This allows you to write images and validate flashes from the command line. As the CLI tool 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 Etcher.io website as well as from the GitHub release page below:

Visit Etcher on GitHub

Etcher’s Linux builds are provided in the AppImage package format for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

What are app images? AppImages are self-contained runtimes that do not require manual installation or root access, but do require you give them the necessary permissions to run like so:

How to use an AppImage on Ubuntu
How to use an App Image

Because an AppImage will run on pretty much any Linux distro out there you only need to download it, give it permissions (see here) then double-click on it to run:

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

Getting the repo set up is a bit more involved than using the AppImage linked to above but it does ensure you get future Etcher updates automatically through the Software Updater tool.

To add the Etcher repo first open the Software & Updates app:

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:

deb https://deb.etcher.io stable etcher

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

You can also add the repo via a terminal with the command:

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

However you add the repo 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 as Ubuntu disables unsigned repos by default.

To add the repository key open a new Terminal window, paste the following command, and then hit return/enter:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --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 preferred Linux app launcher) and follow the on-screen instructions to create a bootable USB!

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