How to Setup Etcher USB and SD Card Image Writer for Linux

There are plenty of tools for writing to USB drives on Linux, but most are specialized to writing bootable USB images of one distro. For example, Fedora has its own tool which makes Fedora Live USB, and other distros also have the same. If you try to write something else, it might or might not work as expected and on forums will tell you that this software is not for that. So we decided to find and test a generic ISO writing tool for USB and SD cards. It is called Etcher and it is still in beta phase but it is quite usable.

Etcher GUI

The etcher GUI is installed same way on any distribution because it is an AppImage. So first we download etcher AppImage from the official site. You can use also following command to download it for terminal, but it will download the version that was current in time writing of this article. For latest version use official site.

wget https://resin-production-downloads.s3.amazonaws.com/etcher/1.0.0-beta.14/Etcher-linux-x64.AppImage

We need to set executable and access permissions to the AppImage

chmod a+x Etcher-linux-x64.AppImage

And the we run it with sudo or as root:

sudo ./Etcher-linux-x64.AppImage

You should get the etcher started like this:

Etcher-Start-Screen

Using it is straightforward, you pick iso image on your hard drive, then pick drive where you put USB drive to be etched, then you click Flash! button and wait Etcher to do its work.

Flashing-in-process

Note that for proper operation, you must have fuse installed. In most distros it is installed by default, but if you don't have it for some reason, you install it with following commands

On Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install fuse

On CentOS as root

yum install fuse

After the image burning was completed, you will get this screen:

Flash-Complete

From there you can flash another image or same image again.

Etcher CLI

If you are running a server without desktop environment, or you simply don't want GUI, you might want to install etcher-cli. As it is written in nodejs and there is no appImage we first need to add repository for nodejs and install nodejs

On CentOS as root:

curl --silent --location https://rpm.nodesource.com/setup | bash -
yum install -y nodejs

On Ubuntuas as normal user:

curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_6.x | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

Install the cli (on ubuntu or centos with sudo or as root)

sudo npm install -g etcher-cli

Then you only need to invoke it from terminal with the path to image:

For example

miki@miki-X550JK:~/Downloads$ sudo etcher FreeBSD-11.0-RELEASE-amd64-dvd1.iso
? Select drive /dev/sdc (15.5 GB) - DataTraveler 3.0
? This will erase the selected drive. Are you sure? Yes

It will burn the image same as the GUI utility.

Now I have a flash drive with FreeBSD 11.

Conclusion

I think we have here Rufus replacement for Linux. Only drawback is that developers have stated that they don't plan on making RPM and deb packages, AppImage and npm nodejs packages is all we will get. But the installation process is simple enough and burning iso images to USB flash drives or SD cards is really easy with Etcher. This is all for this article, thank you for reading and have fun with Etcher.

About Mihajlo Milenovic

Miki is a long time GNU/Linux user, Free Software advocate and a freelance system administrator from Serbia. Got introduced to GNU/Linux in year 2003 on old AMD Duron computer, and since than always eager to learn new stuff about this system. From 2016 writes for Linoxide to share his experiences with wider audience

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1 Comment

  1. Hi there

    I just wanted to say a Big thanks for sharing this info
    I struggled to find out how to get this going elsewhere
    I found it frustrating that there was little info geared towards installing this on linux.
    There seems to be tons of people to sort things for windy and mac but say if you want a program
    to write img to sd cards for raspberry pi etc they point towards windows and mac programs.

    This method worked for mint 18 just fine, Thanks pal cheers.