I have a Raspberry Pi 1 Model A and would like to install a *nix (probably either Raspbian or Ubuntu) OS to something (SD card, whatever) so that I only have to install it one time, and that the rpi simply needs to run that installed OS at startup.

How can I do this? I'm worried about a situation where I need to install the OS each and every time I give the rpi power!

  • 1
    Have you seen the Raspberry Pi quickstart guide? You only need to install the OS to the SD card once (unless, of course, you manage to corrupt your installation!) and you can run your Pi as many times as you like. You won't need to install the OS every single time the Pi boots.
    – Aurora0001
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 12:33
  • Thanks @Aurora0001 (+1) - but what about an app stack that I want to install on top of the OS? For example lets say I wanted my rpi to be a web server? I might need to install nginx and some other packages on top of the default Ubuntu installation. Could I somehow create a system image that contains my nginx/web server-ized Ubuntu installation and then use that? Or do I need to install the app stack (again, web server, database, whatever) each and every time I power the rpi on?
    – smeeb
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 13:06
  • 2
    Any changes on the SD card are persistent. You can install nginx with apt-get on the Pi (or a different package manager, if you don't choose a Debian-based distro). The changes don't get wiped on reboot; it's just like a hard disk or USB drive. Imagine it being just like a normal computer—you don't have to reinstall all your software every time, and the Pi is essentially just a small single board computer.
    – Aurora0001
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 13:22
  • Thanks @Aurora0001 but just to clarify: or you saying: (a) that I need to install Ubuntu on the SD card, and then start up the pi and install my app stack (apt-get, etc.) right there on the pi? Or could I (b) install Ubuntu and my app stack on the SD card all at once, and then just start up the pi with everything already installed and ready to go? This would be preferred if at all possible!
    – smeeb
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 13:48
  • You could install your packages all at once when you install the OS to the SD card. Making apt-get work in that situation can be a little tedious though—it might be easier to create a custom image with the packages you want installed, or just install the packages on the Pi the first time you run it.
    – Aurora0001
    Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


Use the program Etcher with a so-called image file. All your settings , installed programs and documents will be saved if you do a proper shutdown from the "Start" menu (it is called something else on Raspbian , but you get the idea).

Get image files for "Raspbian Stretch Desktop ZIP" here . I strongly recommend Raspbian , it is the best supported distro and the Model 1 A can not run Ubuntu anyway.

  • Thanks @flakeshake (+1) - so it sounds (please correct me if I'm wrong) like I can: (1) load the Raspbian Stretch Lite image into Etcher, then (2) modify that image to contain other files (including any Linux packages, Java/JVM, my service executable, etc.) on it, then (3) burn that entire image to an SD card and/or USB drive and finally (4) plug that SD card/USB drive into my rpi so that when it powers on it starts running the OS. Am I understanding the "flow" correctly here?
    – smeeb
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 19:02
  • If so, then I imagine Etcher allows me to run commands like apt-get to retrieve linux packages/open source dependencies, etc.?
    – smeeb
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 19:03
  • ^^^ if not, how else would I be able to add packages/files to the default Raspbian Stretch Lite image prior to burning?
    – smeeb
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 19:59
  • After Etcher is finished , take the card and put it into your Pi. Now turn the Pi on and install software while the Pi is running. If you want to modify the image file beforehand , please ask a new question ! Don't derail this one , it will confuse visitors of this site.
    – flakeshake
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 12:39

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