I have an old version of NOOBS (1.4) installed on my Raspberry Pi, and I want to update to a newer version.

I don't have a way to plug my micro SD card into a computer to install the new version of NOOBS on it, so I was wondering if there was a way to do it without taking the SD card out.

I tried using apt-get dist-update and rpi-update to see if they would do it, but NOOBS did not update.

Is there is a way to do this?

  • similar question with no answer raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/50427/… Nov 25, 2017 at 4:45
  • Is there a reason for upgrading NOOBS? I thought NOOBS is just a user-friendly OS installer. Once you've selected and installed your OS, wouldn't you just upgrade it using that OS's own mechanisms (e.g. apt-get on Raspbian)?
    – David C.
    Oct 25, 2019 at 16:32

4 Answers 4


Updating NOOBS is possible as of now. You have to follow the following steps:

  1. Download a NOOBS .zip file from https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/noobs/
  2. Extract it to your Downloads folder and delete anything not noobs related
  3. Make an empty folder (I'll act like your home folder is on /home/pi, you called your folder h and left it on the desktop)
  4. Run sudo mount /dev/mmcblk0p1 /home/pi/Desktop/h
  5. Run cd Downloads
  6. Run sudo cp *.* /home/pi/Desktop/h
  7. Now make another folder (I assume you are gonna call the folder "a" and drop it on your desktop)
  8. Run sudo nano Desktop/a/installed_os.json, then copy this content here (I assume you have Raspbian based on Debian Stretch):

  "bootable" : true,
  "description" : "A port of Debian Stretch for the Raspberry Pi (full desktop version)",
  "folder" : "/settings/os/Raspbian",
  "icon" : "/settings/os/Raspbian/icon.png",
  "name" : "Raspbian",
  "partitions" : [
  "release_date" : "2018-03-13",
  "supported_models" : [
"Pi Model",
"Pi 2",
"Pi Zero",
"Pi 3",
"Pi Compute Module 3"

  1. Save it and reboot. If you did everything correctly you should have the latest version of NOOBS and your old Raspbian installation should still be bootable.

It appears as of 2015 that updating NOOBS on an SD card using a Raspberry Pi is not possible.

See this discussion thread https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=47878

One of the posters has this to say:

You could try contacting the developers here - https://github.com/raspberrypi/noobs/issues and ask for an upgrade path.

But I'm not sure what you think you might gain by updating NOOBS once you have got a stable OS installed - after that it stands to one side unless you need to re-install or change OS.

Then there is this issues #104 Update/Upgrade Path, https://github.com/raspberrypi/noobs/issues/104 with a comment that says:

NOOBS releases are specifically intended to be non-upgradeable - it is simply a case of using whichever version is the latest release when you are setting up a new SD card.

This reasoning behind this is that making NOOBS upgradeable would involve writing to the recovery partition which introduces the possibility of the SD card becoming corrupted (which would obviously be a bad thing when NOOBS is designed to be as stable as possible).

It is, however, entirely feasible to create a backup of your exisiting OS installation (installed under v1.2.1 or earlier) that you could install via NOOBS v1.3. You can follow the guide on how to do this at https://github.com/raspberrypi/noobs#ho ... os-version. Remember that you will need to create a tarball of both the boot and root partitions.

This article Updating Raspbian on your microSD for the Raspberry Pi 2 describes updating Raspbian however mentions to update NOOBS requires using a PC or Mac to download NOOBS and put it on an SD card.

The commands you mention are to update the installed operating system and not NOOBS.


See https://raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/a/45250/8697 for my earlier answer to a question on NOOBS.

Most of the issues still apply although PINN which is based on NOOBS does have some update capability.


Yes you can upgrade NOOBS or PINN (enhanced version of NOOBS). NOOBS and PINN both uses two partitions on the Pi's boot system SD Card, /dev/mmcblk0p1 (a vfat boot partition) and /dev/mmcblk0p5 (a Linux display/selector/(/media/pi/SETTINGS) partition). To list files in NOOBS/PINN boot partition, it has to be mounted, sudo mkdir /mnt/d1; sudo mount /dev/mmcblk0p1 /mnt/d1 then ls -l /mnt/d1.

I would suggest to make a back up or your system first as if any thing goes wrong the only other recovery would be a fresh install.

Get the lastest copy of NOOBS wget -O NOOBS_lite.zip https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/NOOBS_lite_latest or PINN wget -O PINN.zip https://sourceforge.net/projects/pinn/files/latest/download

Make subdirectory mkdir NOOBS or mkdir PINN. Change to subdirectory cd NOOBS or cd PINN and unzip unzip ../NOOBS_lite.zip or unzip ../PINN.zip.

The runinstaller in the file recovery.cmdline is for the new install. We are updating, not installing a new systems. THIS OPTION HAS TO BE REMOVED, vi recovery.cmdline (Enter) cmd dw to delete word :wq (Enter) to save and exit (:q! (Enter) to quit without saving if things goes wrong) (See WARNING at https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=142574&start=200#p1239359).

Remove the old NOOBS/PINN files from /dev/mmcblk0p1 that is mounted on /mnt/d1 previous, sudo rm -R /mnt/d1/* and copy the new files sudo cp -R * /mnt/d1/. Cleanup and sync, cd ../, sudo sync; sudo umount /mnt/d1; sudo rmdir /mnt/d1, rm -R NOOBS* or rm -R PINN*.

Reboot sudo reboot and and first boot on the new NOOBS or PINN and then to previous OS boot.

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