I downloaded the Archlinux arm .img file for the Raspberry Pi and installed it onto my SD card.

Is it possible to use a different partition instead of FAT16 that is in the .img? Or will the GPU not detect it at all?

I ask because it would be a huge performance boost if I could use squashfs as the boot partition.

  • Welcome to RaspberryPi.SE :) I hope you don't mind, I added the archlinux tag to your post to help other Arch users like ourselves find it.
    – Jivings
    Jul 3, 2012 at 1:21
  • Technically it's Archlinux arm but thanks anyway for inserting the tag. :D Jul 3, 2012 at 1:27
  • Don't worry, the ARM architecture is implied.
    – Jivings
    Jul 3, 2012 at 1:28
  • @Haskeller Why don't you want it to be FAT? It is a small partition, with no writes. Jul 3, 2012 at 8:07
  • File permissions,time stamps, and read performance improvements(loading kernel). Jul 3, 2012 at 17:36

2 Answers 2


This is the only mention of the boot partition I can find in the chip documentation:

The split between ARM and GPU memory is selected by installing one of the supplied start*.elf files as start.elf in the FAT32 boot partition of the SD card.

Therefore I assume it will only read FAT.

Just found this on the Raspberry Pi forums:

There is firmware on the SOC that you will not be able to touch. It is pre-programed from the factory. And yes it is required to boot, and this is why the first partition has to be FAT because this is how the firmware is designed. You only need a FAT partition big enough to hold a bootloader of some type.

  • Does Broadcom have any other versions of GPU firmware that will load the Archlinux arm kernel on a filesystem besides FAT? Jul 3, 2012 at 1:48
  • I assume the root partition isn't FAT? Jul 3, 2012 at 6:25
  • @AlexChamberlain: Root partition is EXT4.
    – Jivings
    Jul 3, 2012 at 8:05
  • @Haskeller: Not as far as I am aware. What is your use case?
    – Jivings
    Jul 3, 2012 at 8:05
  • @Jivings I thought it would be... Jul 3, 2012 at 8:06

To answer your question in the most literal sense, the partition could be FAT32, instead of FAT16. The Debian image uses FAT32.

  • Pretty sure Arch is also FAT32 and OP was mistaken.
    – Jivings
    Jul 12, 2012 at 8:42
  • @Jivings Nope, it is definitely FAT16. You can use piimg list. Jul 12, 2012 at 8:46

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