Install and run an existing image from piDrive

I had a running server before and didn´t want to start from scratch so the existing SD card image had to be transfered to the piDrive. I first tried the procedure described on the Gungho Labs website. It didn´t worked and stuck when uploading the image file. This was also reported by other users on Kickstarter. The piDrive installer that is coming with the 128MB SD card is web browser based. My strong believe is that the installers webserver can not handle file uploads above a certain file size. Mine was 3.1GB.

So the solution here was to copy the SD card backup image directly to the piDrive.  That´s nice and easy, the piDrive is running from USB. Connected to my PC I used Win32 Disk Imager to create the SD card backup and then write the image to piDrive.

Reading SD card image.

Reading SD card image.

Writing image to piDrive.

Writing image to piDrive.

Compare the speed difference when reading from SD and writing to SSD.

Win32 Disk Imager requires a drive letter to work. When your piDrive is not showing up with a drive letter then use the Windows drive manager and remove all existing partitions on the piDrive. Create a new primary partition using the full size available. There is no need to format the piDrive because the SD backup image will be written anyway.

Windows drive manager.

Windows drive manager. Drive 2 is the piDrive.

When the SD card image is written to the piDrive half of the job is done. Next we need an SD card that boots the Raspberry Pi from piDrive via USB. The piDrive installer didn´t worked and not much space is needed, so I took the 128MB card that was coming with the piDrive and formated it to FAT32. Next I just copied the content from my server SD card to the piDrive SD card. That´s simple because the server SD card shows only the boot partition on a Windows PC and that is FAT32 too.

Once everything is copied the Raspberry Pi needs to know that it must boot from piDrive. A modification in cmdline.txt on the newly created SD card will do this. Open this file with a text editor and change:
root=/dev/mmcblk0p2
To this
root=/dev/sda2
This will instruct your Raspberry Pi to boot from the USB Flash Drive instead of from the SD card.

7 thoughts on “Install and run an existing image from piDrive

  1. Hallo Michael,
    besten Dank für deine Unterstützung.
    Bei mir hat der Installer , wie so bei vielen Nutzern des PiDrives, nicht funktioniert.
    Aber mit deiner Beschreibung hat es geklappt.

    Dan hatte ich noch ein Problem mit einem Wackelkontakt des USB-Verbinders.

    Jetzt läuft alles bestens

  2. Hi,
    I receive my PiDrive without PiDrive to USB cable ((( Can you send me photo or instruction how can I made this cable. I need to know how connect PiDrive pins to USB
    Thank you.

  3. Der Raspberry 3 bietet ja die Möglichkeit, direkt (also ohne eine MicroSD-Card) von USB zu booten (https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pi-3-booting-part-i-usb-mass-storage-boot/). Das funktioniert super.
    Seit 2017-04-10 bietet Raspbian die Möglichkeit, ein jungfräuliches Image direkt (wie von einem MicroSD gewohnt) auf das USB-Drive zu schreiben und sofort davon zu booten (https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/hardware/raspberrypi/bootmodes/msd.md). Der langwierige Copy-Prozess von MicroSD auf USB-Drive kann entfallen.

  4. Hello. Thanks for this tutorial ! I´d like to transfer my Volumio sd card to my pidrive. My volumio sd card contains 3 partitions :
    – the Fat32 to boot
    – /dev/mmcblk0p2 (approximatly 2.3Go)
    – /dev/mmcblk0p3 (approximatly 27Go)

    But this is the /boot/cmdline.txt content :
    dwc_otg.lpm_enable=0 dwc_otg.fiq_enable=1 dwc_otg.fiq_fsm_enable=1 dwc_otg.fiq_fsm_mask=0x3 console=ttyAMA0,115200 kgdboc=ttyAMA0,115200 console=tty1 imgpart=/dev/mmcblk0p2 imgfile=/volumio_current.sqsh elevator=noop rootwait smsc95xx.turbo_mode=N bootdelay=5

    I´ve got a imgpart but no “root=/dev/mmcblk0p2″…
    What must I do on the /boot/cmdline.txt file ?
    Thanks a lot !!!

    • Transfer the SD card image and then try if it is booting. Below in the comments Herbert said that at least on a Pi3 you can directly boot from USB MSD without having a SD cards.

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