After updating to bookworm enabling overlayfs via raspi-config seems to have changed its behaviour.

Before the update, it only affected the sd card filesystem but now it also changes my external usb drives into read-only. Is there any way to prevent this and make it only affect the SD card again? I'm a bit lost so any help would be appreciated.

  • Were the USB drives plugged in when you installed the overlayfs? Does this article help?
    – Seamus
    Oct 17, 2023 at 6:07
  • yes, the USB drives were plugged in when I istalled the overlayfs. However I used to see a message like update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img........when enabling the overlay. That message is no longer there and the system takes a while to reboot afterwards which makes me think the overlay is actually generated in the next boot if that makes any sense... I keep looking for any clues
    – Wrykoulaka
    Oct 17, 2023 at 9:35
  • Seems overlayfs has been around for a while, and offers promises of "good things"... But I get the feeling that it's not "ready for prime time". What do you think? A search suggests that it's not a well-understood subject here on RPi SE. And so you may be in "pioneer mode" - which may necessitate lots of trial-and-error on your part :)
    – Seamus
    Oct 17, 2023 at 17:48

1 Answer 1


After much hacking and googling on this: raspi-config adds overlayroot=tmpfs in cmdline.txt to switch the overlayfs on. If you change that to overlayroot=tmpfs:recurse=0 then the overlay file system will behave like before. You can see all the options in /etc/overlayroot.conf

Also see:https://github.com/raspberrypi/bookworm-feedback/issues/137

  • thank you! I had already given up on this and was playing aoround with log2ram, but this shed new light on it. Hope it will be addressed soon but in the meantime this will have to suffice!
    – Wrykoulaka
    Nov 10, 2023 at 1:39

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