Raspberry Pi day 3: Using the right disk image.

Day 3 in the Raspberry Pi House

I’ve realised the version of Raspberry Pi Debian Squeeze I’d been using was out-of-date. There are two problems with the Mac OS X script for making RasPi SD cards called RasPiWrite:

  • It downloads out-of-date images (certainly for Debian)
  • There’s a bug in it which means that the option to use your own disk image you’ve downloaded doesn’t work. I wasted ages on this before I twigged.

I even tried editing the Python script of RasPiWrite to force it to use a current image, but I couldn’t get it to work.

So, if you have a Mac as far as I can see, at the moment you have 2 options to make your RasPi SD card:

  • Use the slightly scary command line instructions here: http://elinux.org/RPi_Easy_SD_Card_Setup
    You need to be really careful with this though, because if you type the wrong thing in you can wipe your hard drive. Oopsy. And beware that ‘/dev/disk1s1 => /dev/rdisk1′ isn’t something you type, it’s something you work out in your head.
  • Use a Windows box.

I did the former (on my second-best Mac), and it worked. My terminal session looked something like this:

Giles-Booths-IdeaPad:~ gilesbooth$ diskutil unmount /dev/disk1s1
Volume NO NAME on disk1s1 unmounted
Giles-Booths-IdeaPad:~ gilesbooth$ dd bs=1m if=~/Downloads/debian6-19-04-2012/debian6-19-04-2012.img of=/dev/rdisk1
dd: /dev/rdisk1: Invalid argument
1859+1 records in
1859+0 records out
1949302784 bytes transferred in 321.937141 secs (6054917 bytes/sec)
Giles-Booths-IdeaPad:~ gilesbooth$ diskutil eject /dev/rdisk1
Disk /dev/rdisk1 ejected

Your command will almost certainly be different, so don’t cut and paste this! It takes quite a while to write to the card, so don’t worry if it looks like nothing is happening, and that error message didn’t seem to cause any problems.

My new card booted ok after a while – lo! I have RaspberryPi wallpaper and programming tools, education tools like Scratch, though the screen is in a weird 1824 x 984 resolution on my TV (which doesn’t fill the screen), rather than the better 1920 x 1080 which I’d had before. And you still have to create a root password using ‘sudo passwd root’ in the terminal before you can install any applications using Aptitude.

I’ve been mulling over some possible uses for my RasPi:

  • It would make an awesome partner to my Arduino.
  • It could be left on all the time displaying my Google calendar for the day or week plus the time of my next train on a TV’s AV or HDMI input.
  • Driving a display at work with relevant tweets or headines.
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5 Responses to Raspberry Pi day 3: Using the right disk image.

  1. Eben Upton says:

    Looks like you need to adjust your overscan settings – we’ve recently pulled in the screen edges to avoid issues with TVs which over-report their resolution. Putting:


    in /boot/config.txt may help.

    • blogmywiki says:

      Many thanks Eben. I did wonder if that was done to make it play nice with TVs using the composite video out. I used
      but your info is most useful!

  2. Kenny says:

    Hey, I’m pretty much a complete novice,

    Ive tried this a few times, when I boot the Rpi I keep getting:
    mmc0: Timeout waiting for hardware interrupt.

    after reading a few things it sounds like my SD card might not be compatible?

    I looked on a site which said that this confirmed compatible

  3. Justin says:

    Thanks for this. I was really helpful. I was really worried about the dd: /dev/rdisk1: Invalid argument thing. For all the “for absolute beginners stuff” they have on the Raspberry Pi forums, I do not think it means what they think it means.

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