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I am trying to boot my rapsberry pi 3 model B from an external HDD.

I have written an Arch Linux ARM image to both my 16 GiB thumbdrive and 500 GiB HDD.

I can boot from that thumbdrive, but the HDD doesn't boot successfully. The HDD activity light goes on, and it stops after a second or so.

Output of fdisk -l (from my laptop):

Disk /dev/sdb: 465.8 GiB, 500107860992 bytes, 976773166 sectors
Disk model: Storage Device  
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0xe9d2f500

Device     Boot  Start       End   Sectors   Size Id Type
/dev/sdb1         2048    206847    204800   100M  c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
/dev/sdb2       206848 976773165 976566318 465.7G 83 Linux

lsblk:

/dev/sdb2: UUID="91cb05d2-9f8a-4dff-be6b-739e52b73bbd" TYPE="xfs" PARTUUID="e9d2f500-02"
/dev/sdb1: SEC_TYPE="msdos" UUID="3A91-8F78" TYPE="vfat" PARTUUID="e9d2f500-01"

[Note: I am not plugging in both the HDD and thumbdrive at the same time.]

Is there any restriction while booting from a 500 GiB media? Please help.

  • There's no 500 GiB restriction. Edit in the output of fdisk -l for both the thumb drive and the HDD. – goldilocks Feb 16 '19 at 15:40
  • Thank you for commenting. I have added the output from fdisk -l – Sourav Goswami Feb 16 '19 at 15:42
  • I have reformatted it several times. Still no luck. I don't know why my thumbdrive is able to boot while the HDD is not 🤔 – Sourav Goswami Feb 16 '19 at 16:02
  • Does it work if you unplug the "thumbdrive"? – Dougie Feb 16 '19 at 18:17
  • How can it work? The thumbdrive contains the /boot/ and / partition. I am booting from the thumbdrive. That's fine. I can't boot from the HDD somehow. That's weird. – Sourav Goswami Feb 16 '19 at 19:51
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I just saw that the USB Boot may have some bugs:

https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pi-3-booting-part-i-usb-mass-storage-boot/

It clearly states:

Some flash drives have a very specific protocol requirement that we don’t handle; as a result of this, we can’t talk to these drives correctly. An example of such a drive would be the Kingston Data Traveller 100 G3 32G.

The device that works is: Sandisk Cruzer Blade 32GB.. So basically I gave up trying to boot from the HDD, instead I can use the HDD for the /home/user/ directory.

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The boot partition of sdb is not marked as bootable.

Do the following as root:

fdisk /dev/sdb

Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/sdb: 465.8 GiB, 500107860992 bytes, 976773166 sectors
Disk model: Storage Device  
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0xe9d2f500

Device     Boot  Start       End   Sectors   Size Id Type
/dev/sdb1         2048    206847    204800   100M  c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
/dev/sdb2       206848 976773165 976566318 465.7G 83 Linux
Command (m for help): a
Partition number (1-7): 1
Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/sdb: 465.8 GiB, 500107860992 bytes, 976773166 sectors
Disk model: Storage Device  
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0xe9d2f500

Device     Boot  Start       End   Sectors   Size Id Type
/dev/sdb1    *    2048    206847    204800   100M  c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
/dev/sdb2       206848 976773165 976566318 465.7G 83 Linux

Watch the * aper in the boot-column. After that, reboot and remove the thumbdrive.

  • No, it didn't work. BTW, I don't use the bootable option in any of my devices, and they are booting fine for months! – Sourav Goswami Feb 16 '19 at 23:48
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Is your HDD getting enough power? RPI USB might not be able to give enough current for the HDD.

If the HDD has an option to provide external power (not from USB) , then it might probably work.

  • Yes it is getting power, but it has bad sectors :( I can only work with XFS file system (and JFS works way slower). I primarily run it in my computer with Arch Linux (x86_64). I have extracted compressed file, and moved the root/boot/* to boot/ and so on. I know it should boot, but it doesn't ; may be due to an unsuccessful write? – Sourav Goswami Feb 17 '19 at 8:45

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