Simultaneously flashing multiple USB devices

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© Photo by Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

© Photo by Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

Article from Issue 252/2021
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If you need to flash the same image to multiple USB media, Popsicle saves time by letting you write in parallel.

Sometimes you need to copy the same ISO image to several USB storage devices. Since most available tools only let you write to one media at a time, this process can be a time-consuming task. With Popsicle [1], you can flash an image to multiple media simultaneously.

Installation

Originally written for the Ubuntu derivative Pop!_OS, you can find Popsicle in the repositories for Arch Linux and its derivatives. For other distributions, Popsicle's GitHub page [1] provides the source code and detailed installation instructions. In addition, Popsicle is available as a Flatpak [2].

Operation

After installation, you will find a launcher in your desktop's Start menu. Popsicle does not require any configuration and supports intuitive use. Upon start-up, a small dialog opens prompting you to select the desired file for flashing using the Choose an Image button (Figure 1). After selecting your image, you have the option to validate the image with a checksum in the Hash: input field using SHA-256 or MD5.

Figure 1: As the first step, Popsicle prompts you to select an image for flashing.

Clicking on the Next button (upper right corner) takes you to the Select Drives dialog. Here you will find a list of all USB storage devices (including drive names) found on your computer. Popsicle reads the model names from the volumes on the media and displays them, making it easier to clearly identify the individual USB drives. You can select the desired drives by using the checkboxes to the left of the drive names (Figure 2). If you want to transfer the image to all USB drives connected to the computer, check the Select all option. Then, click on Next again, and Popsicle will start writing the data simultaneously to all selected drives, showing a progress bar for each drive (Figure 3).

Figure 2: You can select the desired USB drives for flashing from the list or choose Select all to write to all drives connected to your computer.
Figure 3: Popsicle shows a separate progress bar for each drive while writing.

After completing a run, Popsicle notifies you about the number of successfully written storage devices. If you want to write to more USB drives, select the media with the program window still open and click Flash Again (top left corner). Popsicle will then guide you through the appropriate dialogs. You can skip the image selection dialog this time; just select the desired media and write the data again.

Versatile

Popsicle lets you use USB drives by different manufacturers and with different capacities when flashing the images, making it a versatile tool. Popsicle independently determines the supported write speeds and communicates with each drive at the appropriate transfer rate. As a result, significant deviations between the individual media will occur in practice.

Popsicle can also write to SD cards. If you use a reader for different formats on your computer, Popsicle integrates these formats as devices with the name Generic-SD/MMC if required, which, for example, allows teachers to create identical SD cards for students' Raspberry Pis.

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