Let’s Make A Linux Installation Drive

Today’s article might seem like a duplicate article, but it’s just another way that you can make a Linux installation drive. Today, we’ll be showing you yet another way to accomplish your goals. Why? Because we can! Because Linux has umpteen different ways to reach your goals – and that is awesome.

We’ll also be using a different tool for this exercise. It’s a pretty handy tool, suitable for more than just making an installation drive. Specifically, a USB thumbdrive! But, that’s just one thing you can do with this tool. It’s my way of introducing you to the tool in a useful manner. 

So, what tool will be using?

Introduction To ddrescue:​

The tool we’ll be using is called ddrescue and it’s a pretty handy tool. You probably won’t find ddrescue pre-installed, so you’ll almost certainly need to install it yourself. 

Also, if you want some confusion, if you’re using Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, etc., you’ll find it’s gddrescue at least during the installation process. Why? I don’t know. You’ll have to find out from the Turks.

Once you do have ddrescue installed, you’ll find the man page (man ddrescue) describes the application like this:

That’s right, it’s a data recovery tool! We won’t be doing any of that, however. You can probably install ddrescueview and do some of that good old data recovery with a handy GUI. I’m telling you, check the man page. This article is just going to scratch the surface.

Let’s Install ddrescue:

Yes, you can open up some GUI, type in an application name, and then install ddrescue. Or, you can open the terminal and install ddrescue without any GUI help at all. Let’s do that! Press CTRL + ALT + T to (hopefully) open up your terminal.

With your terminal now open, use the appropriate following command to start the installation process:




If you don’t use any of those package managers, you may still have ddrescue in your default repositories. I just can’t confirm that you do.

Now, with ddrescue installed (even if you had to call it gddrescue during the installation phase), we can get into the meat of the article!

Make A Linux Installation Drive:

Remember that terminal that you opened to install ddrescue? Well, I hope you left it open because you’re going to need it. While the ddrescueview tool is a graphical tool, that won’t help with what we’re doing. We’ll be using the tool to make a Linux installation drive, which is almost an afterthought for this tool.

First, like a previous article about making a Linux install USB, we need to identify your target device. Plug in  your USB thumbdrive and use the following command to identify it:

You should be able to easily pick out your USB device by size. It will begin with an ‘sd’ (remember that it’s case-sensitive) and then may be broken down into partitions. Ignore the partitions and know that you’ll be removing any information on that USB drive.

You’re looking for something like sdb or sdc and you’ll add a ‘dev‘ in front of it. So, if your thumbdrive is sdb, your path is /dev/sdb. If your thumbdrive is located as sdc, the path you want is /dev/sdc. It’s pretty simple.

The syntax is as follows:

For example, this would be a command I could use:

This would let me write today’s current Lubuntu testing .iso to a USB drive so that I can test it on a laptop without having to waste the bandwidth to download the same file twice. 

Pretty handy, huh? 

Well, there’s a lot more you can do with ddrescue. I highly recommend reading the man page to learn more about this nifty application. It can do quite a bit more than this. Indeed, this is more an afterthought than anything else, or so it seems.


Well, there you go. You have a new article. That happens regularly around here! Today we talked about yet another way to make a Linux installation drive. Frankly, you can just use balenaEtcher and call it a day. There’s no reason for most of us to do this in the terminal – but we can and it’s not even that difficult. You just need the right tools for the job and Linux has many tools on offer.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

Smash a button!
[Total: 2 Average: 5]

How To: Encrypt A USB Drive

So, today’s article will be a bit different, as I answer a question posed to me by way of the contact form – which is how to encrypt a USB drive. Being the nice guy I am, I answered the question. As I’m also often busy (or lazy), I also decided to turn this into an article. Why not?

I normally frown on people asking me questions directly. My usual suggestion is that they visit a forum and ask there. I usually direct them to Linux.org, where there’s a good forum filled with all sorts of smart people. That’s usually a sufficient answer, but this time I had a few spare minutes and typed out a response to them.

First of all, this was their question (I’ve removed all the superfluous stuff):

How would you encrypt a USB drive?

There were several sentences, a preemptive thanks, and some commentary about reading the site regularly. I decided to tackle this question but I was limited strictly to text because I was using email as my format.

But, if we start with the question, we can see an immediate problem. The question was ‘how would you’… Well, I’d crack open the terminal and use a tool called cryptsetup. That’s what I’d do. It’s a great tool and I’m familiar with its use.

However… That’s not what I’d suggest to the person asking the question. I did mention this to them in my reply, leaving the door open for more questions or for them to hit up their favorite search engine. Instead, I detailed another way to encrypt a USB drive. Yes, they used the word ‘drive’ and not ‘thumbdrive’. That doesn’t matter.

How To Encrypt A USB Drive:

The first thing you’re going to need for this is ‘Gnome Disks’. So, let’s go ahead and ensure you’ve got that installed, open your terminal by pressing CTRL + ALT + T and install the application. If you’re using apt you’d use the following command, but you’ll need to edit it for your package manager. (It’s almost certainly available in your default repos.)

Using Gnome Disks is a good idea. It’s fairly ubiquitous, easy to install, and doesn’t pull in a ton of dependencies when you install it. That means you can easily use Gnome Disks with pretty much any desktop environment out there with ease and very little fanfare.

Now, insert the USB drive. Don’t worry if it automatically mounts. Gnome Disks is smart enough to deal with that. Any data on this disk will be lost. It will be irrevocably lost. There’s no ‘oops’ button involved.

With Gnome Disks now installed (do not ask me why the command to open the application is different than the command to install the application), you can open it with the following:

There you go, you’re in a GUI now. You won’t need the terminal for anything else. (This would be easier with images, but I couldn’t really include images in the email reply without a lot of work and them potentially never even seeing the images due to reading the email in plain text format.)

On the lefthand part of the Gnome Disks window, pick the USB drive you want to encrypt.

On the right-hand part of Gnome Disks, click on the ‘gears’ icon and select the ‘Format Partition’ option.

Add a name for your encrypted USB drive in the next window. Then, say it is an internal disk (it’s all good) and tick the button to password-protect the volume.

In the next window, you will type your password twice. You’ll type it once and then type it again below that. This is to make sure you typed it properly. It’s a good idea to remember this password, ’cause this isn’t something you can just back out of and still have your data.

At this point, Gnome Disks will give you a warning about data loss. In the upper right, click the ‘Format’ button. Be certain about what you’re doing because this will erase data. Gnome Disks doesn’t care if the drive contained the only copies of your child’s birthday pictures.

Gnome Disks is kinda like a wolverine. Approach it with caution because it does not give a crap about your feelings.

Assuming the winds are in your favor, you should now have an encrypted USB drive. Test this by unplugging your USB drive and plugging it back in. When you plug it back in, it should ask you for a password. Enter your password to ensure you typed it properly in an earlier step. If all goes well, enjoy your encrypted USB drive.


By the way, happy Mother’s Day (for those who qualify).

And so, that was more or less my answer to the inquisitive user. I don’t mind questions. I just don’t always have time for that, and often don’t know the answers. Of course, I did make a few changes. The actual reply I sent them was worded a bit differently in places. I think the above reads better and is more concise.

In this case, I think I got it right and they were able to encrypt their USB drive. I haven’t heard back from them since. It’d be nice if they let me know but they left me hanging. Ah well… If it’s wrong, someone will leave me a comment!

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

Smash a button!
[Total: 3 Average: 5]

How To: List USB Devices

Today’s article might look like a funny headline, where the subject would be how to list USB devices. Today, we’ll have a relatively short article. It’s not complicated and you’ve already learned how to list USB devices! Wait-a-minute!

After all, you’ve already been told how to do this. In fact, I’ve written an article on this very subject! See:

A Little About The ‘lsusb’ Command.

That article covered how to list USB devices, using the lsusb command. Right?

Yes. Yes, it did.

But, this is Linux and there’s another command that doesn’t get enough attention. In fact, I’d wager (a small amount) that many of you wouldn’t have used this command before. 

What is this mystery command? It’s really easy to remember. It’s not complicated, it’s simply “usb-devices”. On the man page, the command describes itself as:

usb-devices – print USB device details

Sure enough, that’s what it does. But, unlike the ‘lsusb’ command, this command spits out a whole lot more information by default. There’s not a whole lot more to say about it, and I’m making this article extra short. So…

List USB Devices:

As implied in the opening part of this article, you’re going to need an open terminal. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal now open, simply run the command:

If you check the man page, you’ll find that that’s it. There’s nothing special to do with this command, you just run it. The man page contains this:

usb-devices is a (bash) shell script that can be used to display details of USB buses in the system and the devices connected to them.

It might be the easiest command you’ll ever run – and it’s also easy to remember. So, why is it so unknown? Well, we use ‘lsusb’ for listing USB devices and the command doesn’t rank well in search engines, but it’s at the bottom of many such articles. It also doesn’t do much more than list USB devices, as it’s just some sort of a built-in bit of shell scripting.


So, I figured I’d do an extra short article today. Why not? We’ve done some longer articles lately, so we might as well try the super-short format. It helps that I didn’t dive off-topic or the like, but simply explained how to list USB devices. Do you have any thoughts on articles in this shorter format?

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.


Smash a button!
[Total: 6 Average: 5]

A Little About The ‘lsusb’ Command.

Today’s article will not be all that long or all that complicated, as we’ll just be learning a little about the ‘lsusb’ command. It seems like a good idea to cover it now, early in the year. I’ve been meaning to get to writing this article for a while.

Over the next few days, you will probably see some similar-looking articles. This is just the start. There are other similar commands and we’re going to cover those. Many of my readers will know some (or all) about these commands, and that’s okay. After all, our goal is getting people up to speed.

Today’s command will be the ‘lsusb’ command. If you check the man page, it’s described accurately – like so:

lsusb – list USB devices

As you can see, you use the ‘lsusb’ command when you want to learn about your system’s USB buses and the devices connected to them. You shouldn’t need to install anything. The ‘lsusb’ application is almost certainly available by default.

We probably won’t be covering all the ‘lsusb’ options. We’re just going to cover those options that you’re most likely to use. There’s always the man page for when you want more options. There’s really no need to get to deep in an article like this.

About The ‘lsusb’ Command:

The ‘lsusb’ command is a command that’s run only in the terminal. So, of course, you’ll need to have an open terminal available. If you just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open. Tada! It’s pure witchcraft!

With your terminal now open, the simplest form of ‘lsusb’ is to just run the command without any flags. Like so:

You’ll likely get an output similar to this:

output from the 'lsusb' command
This is just the ‘lsusb’ output from a handy laptop. It’s pretty basic, with nothing connected.

As you can see, it’s not always just the actual USB ports on the side of your device that are USB devices. In the above screenshot, you can see that the wireless card, webcam, and Bluetooth devices are all on the USB bus. They’re not actually connected to a physical USB port, they’re just using the same underlying tech without actually having physical ports.

There are other things you can do with ‘lsusb’, like view the output in tree format. This is great if you’ve got things like USB hubs with things attached to them. It’s good organization and the command is simply:

The only other ‘lsusb’ command you’re likely to use is the ‘verbose’ mode. Like oh so many other applications, that’s the -v flag. The command looks like:

This is not to be confused with lsusb -V – which will show you the version. If you do that, you’ll also learn that the ‘lsusb’ command is a part of the ‘usbutils’ package. 

There’s not all that much more to the ‘lsusb’ command. Those are the ‘lsusb’ commands I’ve found myself using more than any others. They’re also the most used commands I’d ask a user to run when diagnosing a problem with their USB devices. If you want, you can learn more by checking the man page:

There’s more information in the man page about running the ‘lsusb’ command. Feel free to check it out and ask any questions needed.


I’m going to cover some pretty basic stuff in the next few articles. I may intersperse them with other articles, so that folks don’t get bored. Don’t be bashful, leave a comment or two if you want. I love getting new comments and the site’s starting to grow quite nicely. Get your comments in early!

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

Smash a button!
[Total: 6 Average: 5]

balenaEtcher: A Tool To Turn Linux .ISO Files Into Bootable USB Drives

balenaEtcher is a free software tool used to write .ISO files to USBs so that you can boot from them and install Linux. balenaEtcher is just one of many tools to do this, but it is both simple and effective. That makes it fit for purpose and is why it is getting its own article.

You’re going to need a blank USB drive, like a thumb drive. Well, it needn’t be blank but it should be. It needs to be large enough to meet the requirements of your distro – usually 4 GB is adequate. Larger is fine.

You’re also going to need the correct .ISO from the distro you’re trying to install. I have no way of knowing what that is, so here’s an article about picking the distro that’s right for you. You should verify the integrity of the .iso to eliminate it as a source of problems.

You’re also going to need to know how to boot to USB. That link will take you to an article that covers that, and includes DVD. It covers booting to something other than your default drive.

Finally, you’re going to need balenaEtcher. Head to this page and scroll down. If you scroll down, you’ll see many download options. It’s available for everything from Linux to MacOS.

Download the correct version for the operating system you’re currently using. If you download the AppImage, be sure to make it executable before trying to run it. Either way, you’ll need to download balenaEtcher (maybe install it) and then run it. That’ll vary depending on your OS, but they even have .deb and .rpm files available.

All set?

Let’s Use balenaEtcher:

With all those pieces in place, balenaEtcher is fairly self-explanatory. I’m going to assume you got it to work properly. If you can’t get it installed or running from the AppImage, just leave a comment and I’ll talk you through it for your system. You can also ask on Linux.org.

It’ll look something like this when you first open it.

balenaEtcher pick a file
In this case, you’ll pick “Flash from file”.

Then, you’ll click ‘Flash from file’ and doing so will let you navigate to and select the .iso you want to use. Do so, being sure to get it correct.

Next, you’ll select the target. The target in this case means the USB drive that you want to write the .iso to. So, that will be the smaller flash drive in most cases and will look something like this:

balenaEtcher in action
Select the right flash drive. Be very careful at this stage! This step can go horribly wrong!

There’s just one step remaining! You need to click the Flash button and wait for it to do its job writing the .ISO to the USB drive. It looks like this:

balenaEtcher in action
Click the ‘flash’ option and wait patiently while it does its job.

That could take a little while, though not all that long if you’re using USB 3.0. On USB 2.0 it takes a bit, so be prepared to wait – but not terribly long. 

When this is all done, just close the program and your new USB device should be ready. You should be able to boot your computer, select the USB drive as the boot device, and then install Linux. Most of the time, it goes just swimmingly. If it doesn’t, ask for help.

Again, don’t forget to verify the integrity of the downloaded .ISO before you do any of this. The process for doing that varies, and the distro will tell you how on their download page. Have fun installing Linux!

I’ll probably eventually take the screenshots of me installing Linux in a virtual machine, but I haven’t done that article yet. It seems like a good future article to write.


Well, there’s another article. This is just a nice, quick article. It’s handy for when you need to know how to use balenaEtcher, or when you need to tell someone else how to use it. It’s one of the articles I’d expect to see people linking to on a regular basis. “Hey, this is how you use Etcher!”

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

Smash a button!
[Total: 11 Average: 4.7]
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Get notified when new articles are published! It's free and I won't send you any spam.
Linux Tips
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.