How to install Raspbian on Raspberry Pi

How to install Raspbian on Raspberry Pi

When the Raspberry Pi is powered on, it expects to boot from an SD Card containing a bootloader, from where it will find directions to a suitable operating system. The operating system is normally located in a Linux partition on the SD card, but it doesn’t have to be; it could be located on a separate USB storage device.

While it is not currently possible for a Raspberry Pi to boot directly from a USB storage device, it is entirely possible to use a hybrid-boot approach; boot from SD Card, then load and run the operating system image entirely from USB storage device. The main advantages of this approach are speed and reliability, especially when working with databases and other I/O intensive processes.

This post provides instructions for downloading and installing Raspbian onto a storage device for use with Raspberry Pi. These instructions can be used for both regular-boot SD Card and hybrid-boot SD/USB storage device configurations.

In this post, the term storage device refers to your choice of SD Card or USB storage device, unless otherwise stated.




  1. @Chris: Thank you for your clear and very useful instructions on how to install Raspbian, remote desktop connection and the UniFi Controller software on a Raspberry Pi. I just bought a Pi 2 model B and the installation went flawlessly at first attempt 🙂

    One suggestion though: I would use “of=/dev/rdisk2” instead of “of=/dev/disk2” in the command at step 5 in the installation instructions for Mac OS X.
    With “disk” it took ages before the image was written to my SanDisk UHS-I Class 10 microSD card, while it took only a couple of minutes to complete wit the “rdisk” command.

    1. Thanks for your comments and feedback Timothee!

      I’ve updated the instructions at step 5 to use rdisk – thanks for the info!


Leave a Reply