I am trying to use the raspi camera on a minimalized version of wheezy. The command raspi-config is not available. I have been able to do everything without it so far by editting /boot/config.txt or installing missing software with apt-get.

Unfortunately, everywhere I look, all tutorials on the camera (including the official RaspiCam-Documentation.pdf) say to first enable it with raspi-config. So, what does raspi-config actually do to the Pi that I can reproduce manually?

  • 2
    FYI Using start_x=1 in config.txt stops my xbian from booting and causes sd card corruption meaning a whole new image has to be flashed to the sd card.
    – gazhay
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 16:42
  • Adding start_x=1 and gpu_mem=128 to the /boot/config.txt file on a Ubuntu 20.10 arm64 for Raspberry Pi 4 leads to an unfixable boot failure where it hangs on the splash screen indefinitely.
    – kreddkrikk
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 4:56

5 Answers 5


OK. raspi-config is actually a bit of bash, so it's quite easy to see what it does:

# $1 is 0 to disable camera, 1 to enable it
set_camera() {
  # Stop if /boot is not a mountpoint
  if ! mountpoint -q /boot; then
    return 1

  [ -e /boot/config.txt ] || touch /boot/config.txt

  if [ "$1" -eq 0 ]; then # disable camera
    set_config_var start_x 0 /boot/config.txt
    sed /boot/config.txt -i -e "s/^startx/#startx/"
    sed /boot/config.txt -i -e "s/^start_file/#start_file/"
    sed /boot/config.txt -i -e "s/^fixup_file/#fixup_file/"
  else # enable camera
    set_config_var start_x 1 /boot/config.txt
    CUR_GPU_MEM=$(get_config_var gpu_mem /boot/config.txt)
    if [ -z "$CUR_GPU_MEM" ] || [ "$CUR_GPU_MEM" -lt 128 ]; then
      set_config_var gpu_mem 128 /boot/config.txt
    sed /boot/config.txt -i -e "s/^startx/#startx/"
    sed /boot/config.txt -i -e "s/^fixup_file/#fixup_file/"

Apparently there's an entry in /boot/config.txt called start_x that needs to be set to 1 to enable the camera, There also needs to be at least 128 MB of memory for the gpu (gpu_mem). Double check seems to confirm it.


edit your /boot/config.txt file and make sure the following lines look like this:

start_x=1             # essential
gpu_mem=128           # at least, or maybe more if you wish
disable_camera_led=1  # optional, if you don't want the led to glow



What raspi-config does is changing the /boot/config.txt. There is a string inside that file which says start_x=0 when camera is disabled. By changing that to start_x=1 will enable the camera. You will have to reboot after you edited the file.

I made a script that searches the /boot/config.txt for the string "start_x=0" and if it finds it changes it to "start_x=1". Use the following code, and don't forget to chmod +x and run with sudo.

grep "start_x=1" /boot/config.txt
if grep "start_x=1" /boot/config.txt
        sed -i "s/start_x=0/start_x=1/g" /boot/config.txt
  • +1 What is the first grep for? And Is it possible that before the first startup there is no such line as start_x=* ?
    – Gabber
    Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 21:24
  • The first grep might be useful for debugging purposes. It is not required for the script's operation. In my Raspbian stretch config.txt file I cannot find a start_x line in config.txt, so this script will not work as it is. Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 7:55

raspi-config seems to support noninteractive mode: you can use nonint command to set the camera

# raspi-config nonint do_camera %d
# %d - Integer input - 0 is in general success / yes / selected, 1 is failed / no / not selected

sudo raspi-config nonint do_camera 0

For more details please check the full list of options: https://github.com/l10n-tw/rc_gui/blob/master/src/rc_gui.c#L50-L100


For the Raspberry Pi 4 with Ubuntu 20, to enable v4l2 for CSI run

sudo nano /boot/firmware/config.txt

and add these lines:

  • Not sure why but this doesn’t work on Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS.
    – sunknudsen
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 14:29

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