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Goodbye Balena Etcher AppImage

June 27, 2023 — BarryK

Balena Etcher flash-drive image-writer is in Appi, the AppImage Installer. I had only tested that it starts, hadn't tested that it actually does write an image file to a drive. But, this post has alerted me that there is a problem with writing:

...they have reported that 'pkexec' is missing. This is a little utility to run something as another user. It puts up a little GUI window asking for a password. 'pkexec' is in the 'polkit' package, but Easy does not use polkit. That's easy to solve, I created /usr/bin/pkexec, a script that is a frontend to 'sudo-sh', which was introduced yesterday:

Hmmm, Etcher now doesn't complain about missing pkexec, but it somehow doesn't allow the little GUI that asks for the password. It tries to flash to the USB flash-stick and fails, with "The writer process ended unexpectedly".

I did some searching of error reports for Balena Etcher, and my God, so many error reports! Now I know why the Raspberry Pi people no longer recommend Balena Etcher.

The thing is, EasyOS has EasyDD, that you can either run from the commandline or in GUI mode via the menu ("Setup" category), and it "just works". Writing a drive-image or ISO to a drive is a very simple operation, or should be.

Reading responses on the Balena Etcher forum (, they have advised people in a few places to run it as the root user. Yes, then it does work.

I did a test, wrote EasyOS 5.4.3 image file, about 825MB, to an 8GB flash-stick. Success, or so it seemed. What alarmed me is that Etcher reported successful completion, but the activity light was still flashing on the flash-stick. I waited about 7 minutes, it was still flashing. What???

I exited from Etcher and the flashing stopped.

What was Etcher doing? Still writing something? If someone has a flash-stick without an activity light, they wouldn't realise and would have unplugged it. Anyway, what could it be writing 7 minutes after reporting completion?

Didn't want to wait any longer, it was worrying me that it just kept on flashing, so exited.

I should mention that the activity-light started flashing immediately after I had selected the target drive, before clicking the "Flash!" button. That really is odd.

So, have now removed Balena Etcher from the AppImage Installer.    

Tags: easy