Etcher - Burn Images To SD Card & Make Bootable USB


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So for a distro hopper like me, one very useful tool is USB-ISO-MAKER. I always need to have these tools at my disposal as I am always testing out distros. For a long time, I have resorted to Rufus on Microsoft Windows as my most trusted USB ISO MAKER, and for all these times, I must confess, it has served me well. But the problem with Rufus, it requires Windows.

So I have been looking for similar tools on Linux but they always seem to be unreliable sometime. The very popular Unetbootin works most of the time but it is in no way as robust as Rufus. There is also dd which is a command-line utility but sometimes I do really prefer a GUI and dd can be devastating if you are not very careful. But then there was Etcher. Let me show you why Etcher is so awesome.  

What is Etcher?

Etcher is a free and open-source image burner with support for Windows, OS X, and GNU/Linux. It makes USB and SD card image burning as simple and fast as possible. Etcher was developed to fit a particular need, that is “an SD card burner app that is simple for end users, extensible for developers, and works on any platform”. That is although the developers initially meant it to solve problems of writing ISOs to SD cards, in particular, they provided a one-stop universal and cross-platform solution for burning images to SD cards and USB drives in a safe and easy way.

Also read – How To Make A Multiboot USB In Linux?

What are some of the key features of Etcher?

​Let me enumerate a few -Beautiful and Friendly User Interface – the first thing I noticed with Etcher is the appeal in terms of looks. The developers have put out a very modern-looking app, that is smooth, colorful and easy-going. When I installed Etcher on my elementary distro with the dark theme, everything felt right at home.

Hard drive friendly – I have never been comfortable using dd because of the risk of wiping my drive. With Etcher, this risk has been completely done within an obvious drive selection process so you don’t end up with an empty hard drive.

Cross-Platform – Etcher just works whichever environment I find myself. From Linux to Windows to Mac, Etcher requires no complicated installation process and the process is the same across.

Development – The thing with Etcher is that it is under active development, unlike other similar tools which seem to have been abandoned for a while. The developers are on course to improve with a roadmap that they are currently on.  If you had been using Etcher in the last year, you’d really appreciate the speed of updates with bugs and fixes. There have been over 15 beta updates in less than a year. The developers intend to include things like 50% faster burns, simultaneous writing for multiple drives.

Download and Installation

​You may download and install from pre-made images available here. These are AapImage files and do not require installation on Linux distributions including Debian and Ubuntu. Alternatively, you may install Etcher with the following commands

Save the following as /etc/apt/sources.list.d/etcher.list:

deb stable etcher

Trust’s GPG key:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 379CE192D401AB61

Update and install:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install etcher-electron

How To Use Etcher?

​Using Etcher to create bootable USB and SD cards is as simple as in 3 simple steps.  

Step 1

​You select your source image. All popular file formats are supported such as iso, img, zip and others. You may drag and drop to the app or you may use the file picker to add the image file.

burn image to usb with etcher

Step 2

​The second step involves selecting your target drive. You can easily differentiate your USBs and SD cards from your hard disks so that you do not end up wiping them.

make portable usb with etcher

Step 3

​The last step involves “clicking” on Flash button to begin the writing process.

select linux iso to make usb with etcher

​And in a few minutes, your bootable USB or SD card will be ready.

etcher usb maker


​I tried and tested a lot of USB-ISO-Makers, and then I found a winner in Etcher. Etcher is able to complete writing image files to both USB and SD cards which many other tools are unable to do. And it does this with amazing speeds in times of just a few minutes and not half an hour like other tools. The app is way quite beautiful for just an ISO maker. If you are a distro hopper like me, Etcher is a handy tool to have around and you should definitely check it out. Share your thoughts and comments with us in the comment section below.