How to make a Bootable linux USB with balenaEtcher?

As you have landed here, we guess that you are here because of one of the following reasons.

  • You are migrating from Windows/Mac to Linux.
  • You want to install Linux OS on your new computer.
  • You want to perform a fresh installation of Linux to increase speed and to remove malware/viruses.
  • You are looking to dual boot or want to run a live instance of Linux.

Etcher is the ultimate solution that you are looking for, balenaEtcher is an image writing utility that can copy OS image files to your USB with ease. It is an open source application and many developers/IT professionals recommend this for burning image files. A user-friendly and sleek interface makes it the perfect choice for amateurs or users with no knowledge of USB booting. 

As we have mentioned USB booting, it is basically copying or writing the operating system files to a pen drive so that the user can install the OS with that USB drive on any computer. With Etcher in play, this process of booting is easier than ever. Below, we have put together the steps to make a live Linux USB using Etcher.

Download and Installation

  1. First, you need to download Etcher on your computer from the official website. Download the software package according to your OS.
  2. For Windows, simply run the downloaded application and Etcher will load after performing some installation steps.
  3. For Linux, open Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and enter the commands (Replace the name of the file below with the one you have downloaded)
    cd Downloads
    chmod a+x Etcher-linux-x64.AppImage
  4. For Mac, drag the downloaded file to the Applications folder and it will install.

As the interface of Etcher is exactly the same on all platforms, the steps ahead will be the same on your computer irrespective of your operating system.

Select File/Source

  1. First, download the image file that you want to write on a USB drive. Visit the official website of the Linux distribution you want to install. If you want to boot a live image, then download the live ISO if available.
  2. Click on “Flash from file” and go to the location where you have downloaded the OS image file. Select it and you will see the image name in the Etcher window.

Select Drive

  1. Connect the USB drive you want to use for flashing the OS image. If a single USB drive is connected to your computer, Etcher will automatically select it.
  2. If there are multiple, click on “Select target” and choose the USB drive from the list you want to use. It will be displayed in the Etcher window.

NOTE: Etcher will only show external USB drives. All other hard drives or internal/external SSDs will be hidden to avoid any unintentional data loss by amateurs.

Flash the ISO

  1. The final step is to click on Flash! Etcher will validate the Linux ISO files and will start burning the image files after successful validation.
  2. You can see the current progress and estimated time remaining in the Etcher window. Once it is done, you will see a “Flash Complete” message.
  3. That’s it! The USB drive has the OS files which can be booted to install or run a live operating system on your computer.

The process to burn image files is easy and you can get it done with just a few clicks. Once the OS image file is flashed on your USB drive, simply restart your computer and choose the USB drive from the boot menu to load your live Linux on the system. Create bootable pen drives easily and install operating systems on any computer. 


  1. How to solve the “something went wrong” error while uploading the image file?
    It is generally because of the corrupted image file or an unsupported file type. You can firstly update the Etcher application and then try downloading the OS image again.
  2. How to solve the “1 Failed Device” error along with some other info about checksums not matching?
    This is because the integrity of the image file is not verified by Etcher. Download the official OS image or any other image file you want to write.
  3. Can I write any Linux distribution image file to my USB drive using Etcher?
    Yes, Etcher supports all Linux distribution image files and you can simply choose the ISO file that you want to burn.
  4. Can I use Etcher on Linux to create live USB?
    Yes, you can do it. Download the live image file of the operating system you want to burn and follow the same steps mentioned above.
  5. How can I open the Terminal window in Linux OS?
    You can open the Terminal window by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard. 
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