The very first step when migrating from Windows to Linux is to create installation media or what is commonly called Linux Live Disk. BalenaEtcher is a new tool created specifically for this job, striving to be both simple and safe. Let’s see how you can use it to create Linux Live USB on Windows.
This tutorial will use balenaEtcher on Windows 10 64 bit with the latest Linux Mint installation ISO. The result will be a bootable USB drive that you can use to install Linux Mint.
Download and install
Visit BalenaEtcher’s site and click on the big friendly green button to download it. balenaEtcher is available for Windows, macOS and Linux, and a portable version is available for Windows. Note that the site automatically detects the version it deems the best for your operating system, but you can change it by clicking on the down arrow to the right of the button.
After downloading, install and run the application.
Note: before starting to use balenaEtcher, it is preferable to download the ISO file first and place it in a practical folder. Remember to check its hash to verify the integrity of the ISO file.
Select the source
balenaEtcher is probably the simplest application of its kind. It presents the procedure for flashing a bootable ISO as a series of logical steps.
The first step is to select your source. Click the “Flash from file” button and select the ISO file that you downloaded earlier. There is also a “Flash from URL” option, but it is not recommended to use it.
balenaEtcher guesses the target flash drive and presents its choice as a second step. If it does not guess correctly, click on “Modify” under the device. Then select the correct one from the list that appears.
Here too, balenaEtcher will have guessed which devices are internally connected to your PC and will only present (try) removable media. If you want to see the rest of your devices, click “Show hidden X”, where “X” indicates the number of devices below the list.
Note: we tested balenaEtcher on four PCs. He always guessed correctly which devices are hard drives that should not be touched and which USB connected flash drives / targets are possible. That said, be sure to select the correct device as the target, as its contents will be deleted in the next step.
Flash the ISO
This not so complicated procedure ends with a click on “Flash”, presented as the third step of the process.
balenaEtcher will check your source first. It may take a moment or two, depending on the size of your ISO image and the speed of the hard drive, while the program says it is “starting …”
When actual writing to the flash drive begins, the program will indicate “Flashing …” and will also present a percentage and a completion bar as well as an ETA. You can stop the process by clicking Cancel, but remember that this will leave you with a semi-flash drive which you will then need to reformat to use it.
When the process is complete, balenaEtcher will present statistics on this. Unfortunately, for us, they were half hidden behind an ad. You can close the application and continue using the flash drive to install the operating system you have chosen on your computer. Or you can click “Flash Another” to repeat the process and create a second flash drive.
If you prefer a command line method to create Linux Live USB, you can easily do it from the terminal. Likewise, you can also create a Windows Installer USB on Linux.
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