Installing OS to Raspberry Pi using Windows

This tutorial will walk through installation of OS for the the Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi will not start without a properly formatted SD Card, containing the bootloader and a suitable operating system. Most of theĀ  problems with booting the Raspberry Pi are a result of an improperly formatted or corrupted card. Make sure that you insert the card before powering on the Raspberry Pi, and that you shutdown the Raspberry Pi before unplugging the card.

First, you will also need to choose a distribution – the OS you want to for the Raspberry Pi. Note that you can have several SD Cards with a separate distribution on each, then power off, swap cards and restart the Raspberry Pi to use that card.

Format the disk on Windows

– Download and install the SD Association’s Formatting tool from their website.
– Install it and open the Application you have just installed.
– Set “FORMAT SIZE ADJUSTMENT” to ON in the Options menu.
– Make sure you have selected the Drive your SD Card is inserted in
– Click “Format”
Your microSD should now be ready for OS installation.

Flashing the SD Card using Windows (with Win32DiskImager)

You’ll need to download your OS of choice first.
– Download the distribution from the www.raspberrypi.org downloads page or from the official website of your chosen distribution. Make sure the distribution is for the Raspberry Pi, as others will not work. Usually these are zipped (compressed) files ending in .zip or .gz (something like “distribution-name.zip”).
– Extract the image file from the downloaded .zip file, so you now have “distribution-name.img”.
– Insert the SD card into your SD card reader and check what drive letter it was assigned. You can easily see the drive letter (for example G:) by looking in the left column of Windows Explorer. You can use the SD Card slot (if you have one) or a cheap Adapter in a USB slot.
– Download the Win32DiskImager utility (it is also a zip file). You can run this from a USB drive.
– Extract the executable from the zip file and run the Win32DiskImager utility; you may need to run the utility as Administrator!
– Right-click on the file, and select ‘Run as Administrator’
– Select the image file you extracted above.
– Select the drive letter of the SD card in the device box. Be careful to select the correct drive; if you get the wrong one you can destroy your data on the computer’s hard disk! If you are using an SD Card slot in your computer (if you have one) and can’t see the drive in the Win32DiskImager window, try using a cheap Adapter in a USB slot.
– Click Write and wait for the write to complete.
– Exit the imager and eject the SD card.
You are now ready to plug the card into your Raspberry Pi.

Power-on the Raspberry Pi

Once the SD card has been inserted, you can power-on the Raspberry Pi. Different distributions will have different startup screens but these are usually very easy to follow.

Just follow the on-screen messages and your Pi should be up and running in minutes.


– masterkenneth

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