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Creating GNU/Linux Installation Media With Etcher

If you are not already technical and familiar with live media, creating GNU/Linux installation media for the first time can seem confusing. Each GNU/Linux distribution has different instructions. Some distros recommend using command line utilities like cp or dd, while others recommend using custom software that you need to install and use to get started.

For example, here are instructions for making Live Media USB keys for three major GNU/Linux distros:

If you want a single user-friendly application that can easily create bootable media, balena's Etcher is an option. It is cross-platform, open source, and has a simple straight-forward interface.

The general process is:

  1. Open Etcher
  2. Select your image media
  3. Select your target drive
  4. Start flashing

That's it.

How to get your computer to boot from your new bootable media will depend on your computer and its firmware. Here, some DuckDuckGo searching will come in handy if you are not sure how to proceed.

Note: By default, Etcher collects error and usage statistics. Balena claims this is done in a way that cannot personally identify a user, and the option to disable this functionality can be found in Etcher's settings. Also, Balena has recently begun showing advertising in Etcher (1, 2). If maximizing privacy around the creation of your installation media is paramount, it may be best going with the recommended default creation method promulgated by your GNU/Linux project of interest.

A simple, graphical alternative to Etcher is Fedora Media Writer. It is open source, cross-platform, and, while geared towards creating Fedora installation media, can accept custom images from other GNU/Linux distributions.

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