So, before I install Ubuntu MATE, I have files on my microSD card from my other Pi (that broke) and I am wondering if I can boot another Pi (a school-owned one) to transfer the files. Can I boot the pi's card from another Pi, transfer the files off of, and erase the card to install Ubuntu MATE?

Also, where and how can I get the files to boot to Ubuntu MATE on the PI?

1 Answer 1


Its always best to have a couple of SD cards around - it can be easy to 'break' an OS with a wrong install while playing around (done it a few times before now). Personally, I find 16Gb cards the best price to size ratio for my use.

But to answer your questions:

  1. Yes you can access the data on the Pi SD card - just use a (Micro) SD to USB adapter and use the file explorer to find the files you want to keep as it is a Linux computer.
  • Windows machine can access the boot portion natively but needs something like Diskinternals to read the ext4 partition.
  • Mac users often use the chargeable extFS for Mac (my preferred option) or free BUT read only ext4fuse
  1. Ubuntu images for the files are now available direct from them ubuntu.com with basic desktop install instructions for the Pi 4 here BUT as you are after Mate, then head direct to the Mate support site ubuntu-mate.org and download their ready configured images here

Edited: 3/11/20 Note that the Mate team recommends a Pi 4 with 2GB or the equivalent compute module - no mention is made of the Pi 400 at this date

  • So, is there like a zip where I have to extract and drag-and-drop on the empty microSD card and just slip it in the Pi?
    – Achak Claw
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 20:56
  • Please follow the links for install instructions - I use Etcher to put the image on the cards balena.io/etcher Note that the Mate team recommends a Pi 4 with 2GB or the equivalent compute module - no mention is made of the new Pi 400
    – user115418
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 10:36
  • I might get the Pi 400, I can't beat a Pi 4 inside of a keyboard. Balena Etcher is nice, but it needs admin crap on macOS which I don't have. Can I boot Ubuntu MATE via noobs if I drop the files into its own folder?
    – Achak Claw
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 16:51
  • EDIT: Nevermind, I found a NOOBS image for Ubuntu MATE (15.10, need to upgrade to 20.04) and can drag and drop the files from that.
    – Achak Claw
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 17:04

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