I have some old micro SD cards that I'd like to use if possible. How much space does Raspbian need and how much room should I leave over? (What is the minimum size card I can use?)


For jessie (full) I'd use a minimum 8GB SD card, that should leave 2-3 GB spare.

For jessie lite I'd use a minimum 4GB SD card, that should leave a GB spare.

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While what @joan replied suffices what you asked, you may still consider other things like what other software you wish to install. If you do some RnD, you might need more space for some data if you are not using some USB drives.

So, just be considerate about these.

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  • 2
    Knowing one's needs is important before deciding which size card to use (that said, it is trivial to clone to a larger one then expand the filesystem). I do a lot of dev on my Pi, and I quickly outgrew 8GB and had to move to 16GB in order to compile various things. – stevieb Sep 19 '16 at 13:49

Absolute Minimum card size is 1GB for a base Raspbian system with no GUI.
If you're using a USB Hard drive or USB Stick as the root file system, you can get away with an even smaller one.

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I installed Jessie Lite (2017-03-02-raspbian-jessie-lite.zip) on a Pi 3 with a 2 gigabyte micro SD card. Here's what df showed me:

Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/root       1.8G  846M  807M  52% /
devtmpfs        459M     0  459M   0% /dev
tmpfs           463M     0  463M   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           463M  6.2M  457M   2% /run
tmpfs           5.0M  4.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
tmpfs           463M     0  463M   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/mmcblk0p1   63M   21M   42M  33% /boot

So it looks like 2G is about the lowest you can go with a stock Raspbian Jessie Lite image.

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