Popsicle: Flash Images to USB

Jarret B

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I came across some information about this program on the Internet. I looked at Linux.org and found that there were a few conversations about it.

Popsicle is a program that allows you to burn an ISO to a USB drive. This may sound familiar, since a few other programs do this too. Popsicle allows you to check the hash of the file to verify the ISO is not corrupted or changed. The main feature that makes it nice is that you can burn the image to multiple USB drives at once.

Since Popsicle is a specific program for the PopOS Linux distro from System76, I'll go over installing it by downloading it and not using a Personal Package Archive (PPA). Here, if the PPA is left enabled, you may download a package from the PPA, which could cause making Ubuntu unstable.

PopOS Repository

If I were going to use a PPA, then the command I use would be:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:system76/pop

If you enter the command, you'll get the output, as shown in Figure 1. This is all the information we need for what we want, so type 'CTRL+C' to cancel adding the PPA Repository.

Figure 1.jpg

FIGURE 1

The part we need to note is the web address for the repository, which is 'https://ppa.launchpadcontent.net/system76/pop/ubuntu/'. Keep this in mind and let's move on to get the files we need.

Looking at various websites, you'll find that there are only two files we need for Popsicle to work: 'popsicle' and 'popsicle-gtk'.

NOTE: There is a GitHub source for Popsicle at 'https://github.com/pop-os/popsicle#...creenshots Image Selection ... 4 Translators '. You can also download Popsicle through FlatHub on Flatpak. Just in case you run into wanting a program that has no other source, other than a PPA, this can help. If you want to install Popsicle on a distro other than Ubuntu, use Flatpak.

Getting the Files

What we want are the files to install the Popsicle program. If you look at the website we found associated with the PPA, you’ll see to a website showing two folders. The folders are 'dists' and 'pools'. Now, the 'dists' folder contains the list of packages that are available to download. The files are in the 'pools' folder. Inside 'pools', there is a folder called 'main'. Inside 'main' are a bunch of folders that are organized by file names. The names of the folders are mostly a single letter. The files we want all start with the letter 'p', so go into the folder labeled 'p'.

There are quite a few programs that start with 'p' for the PopOS, but towards the bottom is 'popsicle', so click on it. Inside are the Popsicle deb files, as shown in Figure 2. You'll notice that the two files are here that we need, 'popsicle' and 'popsicle-gtk', both are version 1.3.0. They are all labeled as 'amd64', which is what we need. In the middle of some numbers are the Ubuntu Versions: 18.04, 20.04 and 21.04.

Figure 2.jpg

FIGURE 2

Find the one you need for your system based on the Ubuntu Version. If you have an Ubuntu Version not listed, used the next lowest version. For example, if you have Ubuntu version 19.04, then you should download 18.04.

Make sure you download both files for your version and do not mix versions between the two files.

Installing the Files

Once you have the proper deb files, then right-click on the ‘popsicle-gtk’ file and select ‘Open with Software Installer’. If you do not have the options, then select “Open With’ and from the drop-down window, and choose ‘Software Install’ or ‘GDebi Package Installer’.

Once the program loads the deb file, you should have a button to click to install the software. After you install the ‘popsicle-gtk’, do the same steps with the ‘popsicle’ file.

When you install both files, click on the menu button and find Popsicle. Click the ‘Popsicle’ icon to start the program.

Using Popsicle

After Popsicle loads, you can click on the ‘Choose Image’ button to select your ISO or IMG file. When you have selected your image file, you have an option at the bottom if the window to choose to check the file by a hash. The hash can either be sha256, SHA1 or MD5. Select the hash type you need, then paste in the hash from the website where you downloaded the ISO or IMG file. The program checks the file against the hash and the hash turn green, Figure 3, if it matches. If it matches, the file is intact and is not corrupted or changed.

Figure 3.jpg

FIGURE 3

Your next step is to click on the ‘Next’ button to continue.

The screen that appears will list all the USB drives connected to the system. The program automatically updates the list if you add or remove a drive.

Select all the drives or only the ones you want to use. Be careful, if you select an incorrect drive, it will be formatted and the image file extracted on it. Figure 4 shows an example listing.

Figure 4.jpg

FIGURE 4

Clicking 'Next' will then show each selected USB drive and the percentage completed on the flashing, see Figure 5.

Figure 5.jpg

FIGURE 5

When the program completes the flashing, you'll get a screen like Figure 6.

Figure 6.jpg

FIGURE 6

All the USB drives should be an image of the ISO or IMG file selected.

Flatpak

If you want to install Popsicle on distros other than Ubuntu, use Flatpak.

You may need to install Flatpak first, so do:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:flatpak/stable
sudo apt install flatpak gnome-software-plugin-flatpak -y
flatpak remote-add flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo


If you have a different distro, then change the commands appropriately. The third command is specific to Flatpak, so it is the same on all Linux Systems that run Flatpak. It installs a repository called 'flathub' which is where the files for Popsicle are stored.

To install Popsicle, use the command:

flatpak install flathub popsicle

Now that you have Popsicle installed, you can use it as described previously.

Conclusion

Popsicle is an easy program to be used to flash multiple USB drives with an image, even if the drives are all different sizes.

It performs the writing in parallel, so it takes the same time to do one as it does multiples.
 


I played around with it for the last few minutes, and it seems like a step above Balena Etcher. If I'm burning multiple isos, I can see myself using this.
 

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