I decided I wanted to change from an SD card to a USB flash drive however I am not sure how. I already have the distro I want to be installed on the USB flash drive I just need to know how to change it similar to the way you would do it on Windows 10.

  • I don't know if it is the case for modern Pi devices but in the past the boot device could not be changed. You essentially had to have the kernel boot from the SD card, but could define the root filesystem as being on the USB stick. I'm not certain of the process these days, hence only a comment.
    – Mokubai
    May 14, 2021 at 13:16
  • I have this working on a raspi3b @Mokubai. Raspi2 and before needed the boot loader itself to be on SD. We need to know what Pi he is trying to do this with in order to help further. I can't remember what I did and hate to research it again if it isn't even going to help him.
    – Señor CMasMas
    May 14, 2021 at 14:34
  • This says the raspi3 can be USB booted right out the box, but I myself had to mod my firmware to do it.. (several steps) I bet it depends on the firmware version it ships with.
    – Señor CMasMas
    May 14, 2021 at 14:38
  • If you have a Pi 4 this might be possible: raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/118926/… otherwise for earlier Pi's then you need at least some parts of the system on the SD card: raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/119079/…. Have a look at their search: raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/search?q=boot+from+usb
    – Mokubai
    May 14, 2021 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


The official documentation https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/hardware/raspberrypi/bootmodes/msd.md explains very well how to do USB boot on different versions of Raspberry PI.

Raspberry PI4, 400 and 3B+ boot out of the Box from USB. For other Raspberry PIs you can enable a bit that it boots from USB. This is a one time operation. You can't disable USB boot afterwards on these devices. Since enabling it is model dependent and you have to take care for the Pi 3A+, please have yourself a look on how to enable it for your device. Since you didn't write your model, I can't write the exact steps for yours here.


Changing boot order with Raspberry Pi EEPROM Manager

According to the rpi forum thead

Raspberry Pi EEPROM Manager (rpi-eeprom-mgr) is a menu-driven front-end for rpi-eeprom-update (which comes ootb in raspbian).


customize the boot order:

rpi-eeprom-mgr change boot order

NOTE: As outlined in the description the utility is just a friendly frontend for running commands like sudo -E rpi-eeprom-config --edit and the counterparts described in the docs, while making sure you don't accidentally set invalid options.

Changing boot order with Raspberry PI Imager

An alternative method for flashing the boot eeprom via an sdcard:

  1. In Raspberry PI Imager pick Operating System > Misc Utility Images > Bootloader and then pick either SD Card Boot or USB Boot, flash the image to a sdcard, insert it into the rpi and then boot from it once to update the boot firmware.

rpi imager usb boot

NOTE: The methods above are specific to Raspberry Pi 4 and most likely won't work on a rpi3 or rpi2 board — for these you'll need to do it the 'old way': edit /etc/fstab to boot the kernel from the sdcard but then load the rootfs from the usb device.

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