Why do I need to know how to write a raspberry pi disk image to SD card with win32diskimager?
Even if you bought a ready-prepared SD card with your Raspberry Pi, sooner or later a newer, better version of the operating system (OS) will be released. Unless you know how to make a bootable SD card from the downloaded OS image file, you won’t be able to take advantage of the improvements (and believe me, there will be lots of them as time progresses). There have already been three versions of Debian since I got my first Pi in May 2012 (Squeeze, Wheezy Beta and Wheezy Raspbian).
How do we do it then?
You’ll need two things…
- a downloaded image of the Operating System you want to put on the card.
- a program called Win32diskimager.
Downloading the OS image
The latest version of Debian for the Raspberry Pi at the time of writing is Raspbian Wheezy.
A List of all official images available is found on the Raspberry Pi download page which currently looks something like this. Scroll down until you find Raspbian Wheezy (current at Oct 2012)…
Once you’ve clicked that, you’ll get to the “auto-download” page, that looks like this…
Your download should start by itself. You may need to confirm by clicking OK in your browser. (See next image)
If you happen to want the, now superseded, Wheezy Beta version it’s here
So once you’ve downloaded the OS image file, you might want to follow the instructions on the download page to check the checksum. In case you don’t know what this is all about, it’s a way of testing that the file you have downloaded has not been tampered with. Because of the sheer volume of download traffic, it’s necessary to use many “mirror” sites to host the downloads. In the event that one of these “went rogue” and started putting viruses or other malware into the files hosted on their site, the file’s checksum would be different. The checksum changes if the file is altered in any way. So this is a way to ensure that you have the “clean and correct” official file.
One more thing about this. You run the checksum program on the file you download – i.e. the .zip file itself. You don’t run it on the unzipped .img file. A carelessly written instruction on the download page has confused an awful lot of people who didn’t realise that. It caught me out first time as well :-P
Once you’ve downloaded the zip file and checked its checksum, it’s time to unzip it to get to the .img file. You’ll need this .img file to write the SD card with Win32Diskimager.
I’ve had great success with this using version 5. Download here. Then unzip the file win32diskimager-binary.zip, then double-click Win32DiskImager.exe in the unzipped folder called win32diskimager-binary. Click Yes to confirm you want to run the program. Then it will start. Once you’ve established that it works, close it down and plug in your SD card.
Having plugged in your SD card, (re)start Win32Diskimager. Choose the drive you want to copy the image to (in my case F: ).
Then click on the folder icon and choose the unzipped .img file from earlier that you want to put on the SD card. Then click Write, to write the Operating system on the card from the .img file.
You will then be asked to confirm. Check carefully that you are writing to the correct device and if so, click Yes.
The progress bar will show you how far it’s got.
When it’s finished it looks like this.
Then you can eject the card reader and remove the SD card. Then you can try it out in your Raspberry Pi. If all went well, your Pi should boot up (start) into your new operating system. It may take a couple of minutes. If nothing’s happened after that, look at the LEDs on the Raspberry Pi. If you only get the red power LED, either the card is not inserted properly or it can’t boot this combination of card and image, or something went wrong with the process. But in the main it should work well. :-D