Lazy Man Joe's Ramblings

How to install and run Raspbian Jessie from a USB stick on Raspberry Pi

UPDATE (May 2017):
This article focus on using a Raspberry Pi 2 & USB. 
If you however have a Raspberry Pi 3 and the latest version of Rasbian (Jessie April 2017 or later) then you can natively run from USB – See the documentation here on (

I have been playing around with my Raspberry Pi 2 lately and read that if you want to run some write-intensive code on the Pi (MySQL, etc.) and you have an SD card, you’re probably heading for trouble. SD cards have improved over the years, but they still suffer from having a limited write-cycle (eventually they stop working).

USB stick/drives on the other hand are quite cheap and have a much better write-cycle.

So my next “project” was trying to figure out how to run Raspbian Jessie from a USB stick.

Currently there is no way to boot directly from a USB stick on the Raspberry Pi, but this is solved by using a small SD card to bootstrap the process and point the boot-up manager to boot from the USB stick.

The following article gave me most of the information I needed, but I adapted it to my own set-up which I am documenting in this post – Install & Run Raspbian from a USB Flash Drive

My set-up:

Step 1 – Download Raspbian

Download Raspbian from the RaspberryPi website –

I downloaded the Raspbian Jessie Lite version as I’m planning on running a non-GUI, head-less installation.  This process will work for the full version as well.

Unzip the downloaded file to get the .img file ready to use.

Step 2 – Install Raspbian on your USB stick

I use ApplePi-Baker to make this process quick and easy.

Open ApplePi-Baker, supply your admin password (required as ApplePi-Baker needs root access behind the scenes to write the .img file, etc.)

First off, I “prep” the USB stick by formatting it

  • Select the drive (under the Pi-crust option)
  • Click on “Prep for Noobs” (basically ensuring the partitioning and formatting is done)
  • Wait for the prep to finish

Now you want to write the image file to the USB stick

  • Select the .img file (under the Pi-ingredients section)
  • Click on the “Restore Backup” option – this will write the .img file to the USB stick and may take a while to complete (5-10 mins depending on speed of USB stick)


Your USB stick is now prepped BUT you still need to configure the MicroSD card to ensure the Raspberry Pi boots from the correct drive.

Step 3 – Configure the MicroSD card

Use ApplePi-Baker to prep the SD card as well

  • Select the card in the Pi-Crust section
  • Click on “Prep for NOOBS” to partition and format it

Once formatted, you should see this drive mounted on your desktop as “RASPBERRY”

Copy all the files from the USB stick to the SD Card.

Step 4 – Change the boot path on your MicroSD card

Once you’ve completed step 3, you now need to tell the Raspberry Pi to boot from the USB stick. You do this by changing the boot path setting in the cmdline.txt file in the root of the MicroSD card.

Open the file using TextEdit and change the following:

  • root=/dev/mmcblk0p2


  • root=/dev/sda2

Save the changes and eject the USB stick and MicroSD card.

Step 5 – Boot up your Raspberry Pi

Plug your MicroSD card in the slot in the Raspberry Pi and the USB stick in one of the USB ports.

Add power and wait for the Raspberry Pi to boot up 🙂

Step 6 – Housekeeping (utilising all the space on the USB stick)

To utilise all the space on the USB stick, we need to expand the partition. Normally you would make use of the raspi-config utility to expand the file system, but this does not work on USB sticks.

Log in to the Raspberry Pi (standard username: pi, password: raspberry  [change this in future :-)])

Start FDISK with the following command:

sudo fdisk /dev/sda

Press p to see all the partitions. You should have only 2.

We need to delete the 2nd partition and recreate it – BUT we need to note the start position for the sda2 partition. (write down the start position number – for me it was 131072)

Press d and then 2, then ENTER. [this will delete the partition]

Now we need to create the partition again.

Press n, then p, then 2 and then ENTER.

Provide the start position (first sector) for partition 2. (for me it was 131072)

For the end position, just hit ENTER to use the full partition.

Press w to commit the changes. You will see a message about the table being in use, etc. but don’t worry about it.

Reboot the system to start using the updated partition info.

sudo reboot

Once rebooted, we need to resize the partition to use the full amount of space.

sudo resize2fs /dev/sda2

Once it’s done, reboot your Raspberry Pi again.

Confirm that the changes have taken effect by checking the space allocated using:

df -h

That’s it !

You are now running Raspbian Jessie from a USB stick (using the SD card to inform the Raspberry Pi to boot from the USB stick :-))

Have fun !


Installing Plex Server on a Raspberry Pi

I’m in the process of setting up a little media server to use in my car (for when we go on holiday) and I found a great resource for setting up Plex on a Raspberry Pi.

Have a look at the HTPCGuides guide on setting up a Plex Server on a Raspberry Pi.

They have a great installer which works on the Minibian image (which they supply) or you can use other base images and install the installer manually.

More info here


Have fun !

Apple Mac, Raspberry Pi and the ApplePi-Baker – a match made in heaven !

I recently stumbled on a utility called “ApplePi-Baker” which is the IDEAL little tool to write your Raspberry Pi IMG files to an SD card.

This cool utility allows you to format your SD card, write images to the SD card AND lets you make a back-up of your working Pi SD card.

Very cool tool ! 🙂

I can certainly recommend this to any Raspberry Pi enthusiast using a Mac 🙂

Download here

Like always – Have fun !



Affinity Photo better than Adobe Photoshop ?

We’ve been using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom for years and although we’re not professional photographers, we’ve enjoyed using the software.

Truth be told – I mainly used Lightroom to import and manage my photo catalogue & doing the odd “enhancement” (colour adjustments, etc.)

Looking at the pricing for the subscription model, it’s not that expensive per month but it does add up over the years.

The nice thing is that you do get continuous upgrades to the software (not all of them great – when you think of the Lightroom “mess” Adobe created a while ago).

Recently however, Heidi had a look at Affinity Photo and she’s well impressed !

For a once-off fee of $49.99, you get the software and support for 2 years !

Compare that with $9.99/month for Lightroom & Photoshop.

So we’ve decided to cancel our Adobe Creative Cloud Photographer bundle (Lightroom and Photoshop) and will now be using Affinity Photo instead.

There are a couple of things missing – it doesn’t handle the import and management of your photos as well as Lightroom, but it’s something I can probably work around.

Affinity Photo won the Apple Mac App of the year 2015 – which says something 🙂

We’ll update you on our experiences as we go along, but for now it’s “Bye-Bye Adobe!”

More info and review of Affinity Photo on TechRadar



Digital EPO and Strava

I was quite stunned today when I read an article published on the Bicycling SA site –

6 Signs You Need a Strava Intervention

According to the article, people do all kinds of “interesting” stuff to get “better” ratings on Strava (or other places which allow you to upload your workout TCX files manually).

The site allows you to “fudge” your data and increase your performance by %. []

I like my cycling and have been a Strava user for many years now, but it never crossed my mind that you could “fudge” your data to get better results.

I use it more to see what friends are doing & to keep track of my progress during the year. I’m not THAT competitive and the Strava bits are just fun.

Anyways, upon further investigation I found this article as well – to help you spot “fudged” data

How to tell if someone used Digital Epo to cheat on Strava

Have fun !


Another Picture Style for Video – Marvels Cine 3.4

While on the subject of using different Picture profiles for filming/video recording, I found another Picture style called “Marvels Cine” for my Canon EOS 7D.

The results looks quite impressive – see here:

finally, the new marvels cine picture style 3.x for canon dslrfinally, the new marvels cine picture style 3.x for canon dslr

The blog entry explains the loading of this onto your camera as well.

Have fun !



More info on the Technicolor Cinestyle Profile

Vincent Laforet wrote an interesting article on the history and use of the Technicolor Cinestyle in 2011 already, but as I said previously I’m only now getting into the filming scene 🙂

Good to share though !

New Technicolor Profile for Canon HDDSLRs


Have fun !


How to install EOS Utility if you can’t find your CD anymore …

So I needed to install the Canon EOS Utility program on my MacBook recently in order to load a new colour profile (Technicolor Cinestyle) onto my Canon 7D, but I could not find the media (CD) which came with my Canon EOS.

As always, the power of the internet is amazing and I found some useful links to people who had experienced the same issue.

I’m not going to re-hash the process as it’s well documented here:


I found that it worked best if you download the EOS Utility 2.14.0 under the OSX 10.7 (Lion) section, edit the install as per the instructions in link above and then install.


EOS Utility 2.14

Once installed, download the updated for OSX 10.11 (El Capitan) and it will update your installation.

Have fun !



Installing the Technicolor Cinestyle Profile on your Canon EOS camera

I recently got more involved with using my Canon 7D for filming & have been reading up a bit on how to get “more” dynamic range out of your camera while capturing video.

I do make use of MagicLantern on my camera, but at this point in time it’s only to give me some extra features onscreen (LiveView on-screen info, zebra stripes, on-board intervalometer (time-lapse), etc.)

I read about the Technicolor Cinestyle profile for EOS cameras (FAQ).

When you install this profile on your Canon EOS DSLR, you get a new User-Defined picture style on your camera, which essentially produces a “flat” image (but capturing more dynamic range).

You NEED to make use of Post-processing (Colour correction, etc.) to make the video come to life, but that’s another blog post in it’s own :-).

To install the Technicolor Cinestyle profile is quite easy:

  1. Register and download the Cinestyle profile (in .zip format)
  2. Extract the .zip file to a local folder
  3. Connect your camera via USB (but do not switch on yet)
  4. Start up the Canon EOS Utility program (comes on the CD with your EOS camera, or read my post on how to install WITHOUT having the original installer)
  5. Switch on your camera
  6. The EOS Utility should recognise your camera and show you a start-up menu
  7. Select ” Camera Settings / Remote Shooting”
  8. Select the Camera Icon
  9. Click on “Picture Style” and select Detail Set
  10. In the window that comes up, select one of the User Defined slots (1,2 or 3)
  11. Click on the “Open” button and browse to the Technicolor_CineStyle_v1.0.pf2 file and select it.
  12. It will now be loaded in the slot you selected.
  13. Viola ! you can now set this as your shooting picture style

Canon explains a bit more about the Picture styles here

Have fun !

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