The very first step when migrating from Windows to Linux is the creation of installation media or what is commonly known as a Linux Live Disk. BalenaEtcher is a new tool created precisely for that job, striving to be both simple and safe. Let’s see how you can use it to create a Linux Live USB on Windows.
This tutorial will use balenaEtcher on Windows 10 64bit with the latest installation ISO of Linux Mint. The result will be a bootable USB flash drive you can use to install Linux Mint.
Download and Install
Pay a visit to 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 auto-detects the version it deems best for your OS, but you can change it by clicking on the down arrow on the right of the button.
After downloading, install and run the application.
Note: before you start using balenaEtcher, it is best for you to first download the ISO file and place it in a convenient folder. Don’t forget to check its hash to verify the integrity of the ISO file.
balenaEtcher is probably the most straightforward app of its kind. It presents the procedure of flashing a bootable ISO as a series of logical steps.
The first step is selecting 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, though it’s not recommend to use that.
balenaEtcher guesses the intended target flash drive and presents its choice as the second step. If it doesn’t guess correctly, click on “Change” under the device. Then, select the correct one from the list that appears.
Here, too, balenaEtcher will have guessed which devices are connected internally to your PC and will (try to) only present removable media. If you want to see the rest of your devices, click on “Show X hidden,” where “X” denotes the number of devices under the list.
Note: we tested balenaEtcher on four PCs. It always guessed correctly which devices are HDDs that shouldn’t be touched and which are USB-connected flash drives/possible targets. With that said, please make sure you select the correct device as your target since its contents will be erased in the next step.
Flash the ISO
This not-so-complicated procedure concludes with a click on “Flash,” presented as the third step in the process.
balenaEtcher will first check your source. This can take a moment or two, depending on your ISO’s size and HDD’s speed, while the program states it’s “Starting … “
When the actual writing-on-the-flash-drive begins, the program will state “Flashing…” and also present a completion percentage and bar as well as an ETA. You can stop the process by clicking Cancel, but remember that this will leave you with a half-flashed drive that you’ll then have to re-format to use.
When the process completes, balenaEtcher will present some stats about it. Unfortunately, for us, they were semi-hidden behind an ad. You can close the application and proceed to use the flash drive to install the OS you chose 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 a Linux Live USB, you can easily do so from the terminal. Similarly, you can also create a Windows Installer USB on Linux.