Linux for Starters

Linux for Starters: Your Guide to Linux – Make a Bootable Ubuntu USB Stick in Windows – Part 3

This is a series that offers a gentle introduction to Linux for newcomers.

One of the easiest ways to install Linux is by creating a bootable USB key. We will walk you through the process for the Ubuntu Desktop distro.

Before we start, you’ll need a 4GB or larger USB stick, Windows XP or later, USB stick writing software (balenaEtcher), and an Ubuntu ISO file.


Step 1 – Download the Ubuntu ISO

Download the Ubuntu 21.04 Desktop ISO. Save the file to your local hard drive. It’s a 2.6 GB file so it will take a few minutes (or longer) to download.


Step 2 – Download and Install balenaEtcher

Go to https://www.balena.io/etcher/ where you can download the Windows installer for balenaEtcher. Save the 124MB file to your local hard disk.

When you run the downloaded file, it’ll generate a popup dialog box with a license agreement. Click the “I agree” button to accept the license. It’ll launch the program. You should see this:

balendaEtcher - launch
Click image for full size

Step 3 – Flash the Ubuntu ISO file to the USB stick

  • Insert a USB stick into your machine The USB stick needs to be at least 4GB in size.
  • Click the ‘Flash from file’ button and select the Ubuntu ISO file you downloaded from Step 1.
  • Click the ‘Select target’ button and choose the USB stick. Make sure you don’t choose your system drive (which balenaEtcher should have hidden).
  • Click the “Flash!” button. You’ll see a confirmation dialog box. Click “Yes” to begin the writing of the ISO file to the USB stick. Here’s an image of the flashing in progress.
balenaEtcher - flash
Click image for full size

Once the ISO file has been written to the USB stick, balenaEtcher will validate that everything is in order. Here’s an image of the validation process in progress.

balendaEtcher - validating
Click image for full size

If everything goes ok, you’ll see

balentaEtcher - flash complete
Click image for full size

We’ll now use the Ubuntu USB stick to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard drive.


All articles in this series:

Linux For Starters
Part 1What is Linux? Why use Linux? What do I need?
Part 2Choose a Linux distribution meeting your specific needs and requirements.
Part 3Make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick in Windows.
Part 4We show you how to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard disk.
Part 5Things to do after installing Ubuntu.
Part 6Navigating your way around the Desktop.
Part 7Updating the system, install new software.
Part 8Open source replacements for proprietary Windows desktop software.
Part 9Get started with the power and flexibility of the terminal.
Part 10We cover the basics of files and permissions.
Part 11Getting help from your system.
Part 12Learn all about the file system.
Part 13Manipulating files from the shell.
Part 14Maintain your system with these simple tips.
Part 15Managing users on your system.
Part 16Explore different desktops to GNOME 3.
Part 17Gaming on Linux.
Part 18Protect your privacy with this guide.
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3 comments

  1. FYI: I use Pop!-OS and it came with “Popsicle” USB Flasher, and it actually works better than Etcher. It will also do multiple USB Flash Drives. The Popsicle GUI is a whole lot simpler than even Etcher

  2. I’m not keen on Etcher but it’s perfectly acceptable for creating Ubuntu USB keys in Windows.

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