Raspberry Pi, Banana Pi, Orange Pi – Transferring an image file on SD / MicroSD support



One of the most innovative aspects that you can find on the Raspberry Pi and derivative boards (Banana Pi, ODROID, Orange Pi etc …) is the ability to contain the OS on a relatively small storage media (SD or MicroSD) and easy to replace. Practically you could also say that the SD or MicroSD is for Raspberry Pi what a hard drive is for a PC. This, personally, marks a turning point in terms of use of this board why make them versatile with really low costs.


The versatility is the ability to easily change the functionality of the Raspberry Pi based on the content that resides in the SD / MicroSD. Speaking more specifically, you may configure a NAS Server, a Media Center, a video surveillance system … etc., each on a SD / MicroSD different. It is then up to the end user to choose what he needs that his Raspberry Pi performs.

Before you start it is useful to make clear that in this article we will discuss the transfer and not of a real operating system installation. Usually for Raspberry Pi and derivative boards, operating systems are already prepared and compressed in various formats, generally ISO file. The purpose of this article is therefore to explain step by step how to transfer an image of an operating system on SD / MicroSD support ready to be used.

What do you need?

Depending on the model or derived Raspberry cards you have, you will need to procure an SD or MicroSD card. Fortunately models that possess the SD card slot are those “old generation” and to name someone I would say Raspberry Pi Model A, A + and B, Banana Pi …; everything else is using MicroSD cards.


In my experience, usually I recommend buying a MicroSD card at least 8Gb Class 10, to ensure good performance of the operating system. The costs of these cards are really low and this allows you to also purchase different units. Among all the ones I’ve tried and tested I would recommend this , or if you want a cheaper solution with included adapter also this could be good for you.

Once you have picked a MicroSD card you’ll need a card reader. For those who do not have it included in their PC I personally use the reader of the Kingston.


Where you can download images of the operating systems for Raspberry Pi

You can find the image files of different operating systems by downloading them from the official websites of the boards. I add someone below for information.

Before you download the OS image you want to use, check the compatibility with the board of the model you have.

Transferring the image of the operating system with a Windows PC

Once you download the image that interests you, and once you’ve extracted from the compressed file (right-click on the downloaded file and click extract here), you’ll need a program that allows the transfer of the image on a MicroSD card . On a PC with Windows as the operating system, I use a software called Rufus (download link).

Once you’ve downloaded, double click on the icon and its interface will appear on the screen


Insert the Micro SD card in the reader and wait for the operating system detects it


Once you have inserted the MicroSD will see that the program recognizes it and uses it in the field device / unit.

Select the image you want to transfer


If the file is not .iso, select “All Files” in the bottom drop-down menu.

At this point the image is loaded. Check that the flag is checked on “create bootable with”. Starts writing, clicking on start. Confirms the write alert, clicking OK. Once the operation is complete, remove the MicroSD from the PC and insert it into the slot of the board. Now it is ready to be used.

Transferring the image of the operating system with a Linux PC

Once you download the compressed file of the image from the site, extract the content (right-click on the downloaded file and then click extract here). Then, insert the MicroSD card and open the terminal:

$ sudo fdisk -l


password for user:

[output troncato]

Disk /dev/mmcblk0: 29,8 GiB, 32010928128 bytes, 62521344 sectors Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes Disklabel type: dos Disk identifier: 0x00090806 Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type /dev/mmcblk0p1 2048 62521343 62519296 29,8G b W95 FAT32

Find the device name associated with MicroSD. Usually in Linux systems, an SD / MicroSD card is named as mmcblk0p1.

Go to the location where you extracted the image of the operating system (in my case, the Desktop folder)

$ cd /home/daniele/Scrivania/
 $ ls

As you can see there are two files. The file.img is the image that we will write to the microSD while file.zip is the compressed image file that I downloaded from the site.

At this point, by the command to start image writing on the microSD:

$ sudo dd if=2016-09-23-raspbian-jessie.img of=/dev/mmcblk0p1 bs=4096


password for user:

When the operation is finished, you can remove the micro SD from the PC and insert it into the board slot. It is ready to be used.


I wrote this guide for those wishing to enter the world of Raspberry Pi boards and derived, with the aim to give a basic steps to get the system running. I did not want to dwell on the technical aspect of the commands you’ve typed, or programs that I have used, in order not to weigh down here but they make it more fluid possibile.Se you have questions or concerns please feel free to comment. In the spirit of open source every small contribution will be of great help to the whole community.[:]

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