This quick tutorial will deal with the tasks of writing an ISO file on multiple USB pen drives, and writing multiple ISO files into one USB pen drive. These are two different tasks that require the utilization of different tools, but I thought it would be a good idea to cover them both in one article so here we go:
Writing an ISO on multiple USBs
To write an ISO image file on multiple USB drives simultaneously, you will need the software that is named “MultiWriter”. Ubuntu users will find it in their default repositories with the package name “gnome-multi-writer”.
Once you open this tool, it will automatically display the detected media drives. If you see nothing at this point, try to mount the USB drives manually and they should show up. You can mount them by pressing the “Play” button on GNOME Disks, or usually by simply opening them on the file manager.
Now that the USBs are mounted and detected, we can “burn” the ISO file. Before we do that, hit the gear icon that corresponds to preferences and set them as you like. The “Verify” and “Wipe” are on by default, as this will guarantee the best results. Please note however that all data in the disks will be wiped (deleted).
Next, we must select our ISO image file. To do this, hit that little “x” button to the right of the preferences. I am not sure if that is just a bug or an icon image missing, but this is the right button to click in my case.
Then we simply select our ISO image and hit the “Start Copying” button. The copying will take some time to complete and the more the drives the longer this time will be, but bear in mind that the gain is incrementally higher as we use more drives compared to the task of burning the image on the USBs one by one.
Writing multiple images on one USB
If you want to write multiple ISO images on one USB in order to have the capacity to boot into a selection of systems by using the same pen drive, you can do it with a tool called “MultiSystem”.
First, download the software and unzip the file. Next run:
on a terminal. There’s a chance that the script won’t work on Ubuntu systems, so in that case add the corresponding repository by entering the following commands on the terminal (at your own risk):
sudo add-apt-repository 'deb http://liveusb.info/multisystem/depot all main'
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install multisystem
Open the application and select the device from the list below. Note that the device must be mounted at “/media” and its filesystem must be “FAT32” in order for multisystem to detect it properly.
On the first tab of the application’s menu, you may add your image files one by one. Just hit the green arrow button and a file manager window will let you navigate your local files.
Next, you may select the “Menus” tab which is basically a Grub configurator. It will allow you to set up the grub.cfg configuration file set the colors and background image of the bootloader and compile the menu list.
Other options include the use of non-free components like the PLoP boot manager and the FiraDisk. Moreover, in the “Boot” tab, you may select system-specific boot options, or just test-drive your creation in the QEMU system virtualization tool, or in VirtualBox. This of course, presupposes the existence of either in your system.
If MultiSystem isn’t working for you, you may also try alternatives like the multibootusb or the YUMI that basically do the same thing. In general, I have found that all of these tools are a little bit underdeveloped and often riddled with bugs, so you should have patience and not give up easily. Having a multisystem USB stick is worth your time and effort.