On https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-3-model-b/ it is said that

"The Raspberry Pi 3 has an identical form factor to the previous Pi 2 (and Pi 1 Model B+) and has complete compatibility with Raspberry Pi 1 and 2."

I interpret this as it should be possible to run my old Raspberry Pi 2 images on the Pi 3. Is this really so? I have not been successful running my old software. What can be done to upgrade existing Pi 2 images for the Pi 3?

  • 1
    What have you had problems with? Is there a specific package that doesn't work, or is your pi 3 non-bootable with a pi 2 image? – goobering Jul 19 '16 at 18:47
  • I don't see why not. Is there any issues that you are having already, or do you not have the Pi3 yet? – Bob Hart Jul 19 '16 at 18:55
  • It doesn't boot, I only get a coloured square on the monitor. – user37342 Jul 19 '16 at 19:12

You may need to have an updated version of the firmware. You could achieve that by doing an apt-get update/upgrade on an earlier Pi before moving the SD card to the Pi3.

There are a few incompatibilities between the Pi3 and earlier variants to do with DMA and the serial link. We'd need to know the details of the software you are using to comment any further.

  • I have several older Pi's basically used for different measurements. I am using the standard Raspian images of different vintages. The most important utilities are sshd and mysqld; fuse; owfs. I also use FPC and GCC for programming. It would be nice to avoid reinstalling and transfer of data. – user37342 Jul 19 '16 at 18:59
  • @user37342 That should be fine. – joan Jul 19 '16 at 19:00

Ideally you should update both firmware and the kernel on the old images, and the easiest way to do that is to upgrade raspbian itself sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade && reboot.

At the minimum, you need to update the firmware on the old images. So, just to get it to boot, you must sudo rpi-update && poweroff.

Then take the SD card to the newer RPi device and it should work.


"identical form factor" means identical physical size - although that isn't strictly true (the LEDs and WiFi antenna are different), but they will fit in the same case (although you may not be able to see the LEDs).

As joan has stated the images should work (again provided you are using Jessie and have updated the firmware). The coloured square generally indicates old firmware.

There are a number of differences; the Pi3 requires more power, the USB power setting differs (the Pi3 always provides full power).

There are some other differences - the serial interface has tripped many users. The few other differences are generally insignificant - provided you are using Device Tree.


This is a very common question. The RPi3 is compatible with the RPi2 and RPi1, but each of these devices use different hardware, therefore need different drivers. See here for a related question.


Thanks all. It turned out that my Pi was defect. I have got a replacement that works. H

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