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Both Rufus and Etcher will create a Live USB for installing Ubuntu.

Rufus appears to have a lot more options than Etcher, thus it appears more complicated.

Rufus

IMG:

BalenaEtcher

Etcher

Please explain the use of all these options.

I do not want to overwrite any precious files or ruin my hard drive.

Thanks to Muhriddin Mahkamov for the idea for this question: how can i write programs correctly in rufus (adapted to my computer)

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Rufus Options

When I use Rufus, I just use default settings 90% of the time.

If I have more than one USB device plugged in, I use Device to select the correct drive. In Etcher it is also important to confirm that the correct drive is checked under Select target, Etcher can flash multiple USB's and HDD's at one time.

If I want a Persistent USB, that saves my changes, I adjust the Persistent partition size slider. (Persistent partitions do not work using Rufus with pre-19.10 Ubuntu). Etcher has no persistence option. Space not used by the OS and boot partition is wasted.

If I want to ensure the USB will only install in UEFI mode, (mainly for Dual booting), I click Partition scheme and select GPT. The Target system changes to UEFI (non CSM). All Etcher Ubuntu installs work in either BIOS or UEFI mode.

If I want to install to a USB hard drive, I check List USB Hard Drives. This can be very dangerous and lead to many destroyed vacation photos. Etcher has an option in settings, (upper right of the window), for Unsafe mode. Placing a check in this box will allow an install, not only to USB hard drives, but also to internal drives.

If I want to label the USB I select Volume label and add my choice or leave default to use the ISO name. Etcher just uses the full ISO name

I usually keep File system as FAT32 (Default). NTFS allows files over 4GB. Using FAT32 or NTFS allows data to be written to the OS partition and read from the cdrom folder while running, Etcher clones the ISO or IMG file and uses the file systems from them, ISO9660 in the case of Ubuntu. All space on the drive that is not used for OS or boot is wasted.

I have never found a reason to touch Cluster size.

If I want to zero the USB to ensure there are no artifacts from old installs, I remove the check from Quick format. This may greatly increase creation time.

I leave Create extended label... checked. Not checking Create extended label..., uses an abbreviated Volume label.

I do not Check device for bad blocks unless the drive has been giving me problems.

I leave everything not mentioned above per default.

After pressing Start, if persistence is not chosen, there is an option to Write in ISO image mode or Write in dd image mode. The latter will clone a Ubuntu ISO as ISO9660, the same as Etcher uses.

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Rufus developer here.

I'm not going to elaborate on C.S.Cameron's answer above, because it's more than comprehensive enough and should be the accepted answer.

What I am going to point out however are the three following elements:

  1. You chose to enable the advanced options in Rufus and then asked "Why are these options, that might be confusing to newcomers, there?". Well, these options are hidden by default in the UI precisely for that reason. As such, all the checkboxes are out of scope of your question, because they don't display unless you specifically look for options that are clearly labelled for users who are expected to have some understanding about what they might do (from looking at how they are labelled in the UI).

  2. Unlike Etcher (or Microsoft's MCT if you are creating Windows bootable media), Rufus was not really designed to be a newcomer-friendly utility. That is because we see installing or even booting an OS as a non-trivial operation (if it was, there wouldn't be whole forums dedicated to booting for instance) that requires a minimum level of proficiency with the whole process. Thus we consider that, if you don't do a minimum of research, such as familiarizing yourself with some of the terminology (UEFI, CSM, Secure Boot, etc.) and what it applies to, you may not be able to boot at all or you might end up with an installation that doesn't quite match what you might have wanted, such as an OS that was installed in BIOS/CSM mode when you really wanted to install it in UEFI mode. As such, and unlike other software, Rufus does not try to sugarcoat or hide elements that some people may find confusing. And if that look a bit too daunting, then we very much expect that the user will look for another utility to create bootable media, that is geared more specifically towards newcomers, since Rufus is far from being the only game in town.

  3. As a Windows software that formats drives, Rufus was designed to look relatively close to the design of Windows' native formatting utility (which is why you find a field for Cluster size, because that's something you do see in Microsoft's drive format dialog). And that's because, even as we are not trying to hide elements that some users might find daunting, we might as well make our UI familiar enough to anyone who has ever used Microsoft's native utility to format a (non bootable) drive.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Rufus looks very different from balenaEtcher and is seen by some as more complicated. But, as far as we are concerned, we think that this is a great thing since Etcher and MCT, with their simplified interface (but more limited ability to fine tune how the boot media should be created) can occupy one side of the bootable media creation landscape, whereas Rufus can occupy another. From there, users can choose the software they think will suit them best, with "This software does look a bit too complex" being a perfectly valid reason to go for the one software that seems to better match your current proficiency level of a topic.

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  • Thank you for an answer to this question. I am happy that you also found my answer comprehensive enough. Please keep up the good work you do with Rufus. I think the tool is significant in luring new Ubuntu users and making the OS easy enough for everyone to try. +10. – C.S.Cameron Feb 1 at 4:45

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