back to article Raspberry Pis gain power to flash their own OSes with new network install function

The minds behind the Raspberry Pi have revealed a beta version of its bootloader that allows network installation of an OS. As explained in an announcement of the new feature, flashing an OS onto the micro SD cards that Pis use as their boot disk currently requires another computer on which you run the Raspberry Pi Imager or …

  1. ShadowSystems

    Damned useful!

    *Hands out pints to the RPi team*

    I can't wait for it to be on the production units so that the option is available out of the box.

    Drink up, & keep up the good work! =-D

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Damned useful!

      Having reinstalled O/S on one of mine recently (it hadn't been used for quite a while and it was the quickest way of updating it) this would definitely have made life easier.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damned useful!

      If only you could update an existing Raspberry Pi 4, from say, 32-bit to 64-bit Raspberian, over the network like real OS's have been able to do for decades.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Damned useful!

        I don't think any typical OS did a 32-bit to 64-bit switch with an OTA update. Usually, that kind of thing was done with a new edition that you installed manually. The chances of messing something up with your config would be quite high otherwise. Since they are compatible, you can load in the package repositories for the 64-bit version, update the bootloader and kernel from the packages or by extracting them from the image, and perform a no-reimage upgrade. If you break something, that's why they didn't do it that way when it's already pretty easy to write a fresh OS image to a card and transfer your config over instead.

  2. Tom 7

    The Borg

    is born!

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: The Borg

      I was thinking Skynet myself, but the end result will would be similar, either way!

  3. trevorde Silver badge

    Only useful

    if you you can buy a Raspberry Pi!

    1. John Jennings

      Re: Only useful

      True Dat

      Been looking for one for some dev work since December. Damned if I can find any (4 or 8 gb) at a reasonable price.

      Ebay is the only source, and I have been ESD Burned there before - and the price is now more than double retail.

      1. Steve K

        Re: Only useful

        Have you tried ?

        1. devin3782

          Re: Only useful

          They're out of stock :( they do have Pi 400 though the spiritual successor to the Acorn, I've been so tempted to buy one.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only useful

        You can rent cloud based RPi's (RPi3, RPi4 4&8Gb) from Myhic Beasts (

        Myhic Beasts have been running netbooted pi's for years. Mythic Beasts and Raspberry Pi foundation work together on a lot of RPi projects, whilst also hosting the RPi web sites (on Raspberry Pi's). (

      3. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Only useful

        For what it's worth, here in the leftpond part of the world, I ordered an RPi 400 off Amazon on Monday, and it was waiting for me when I got home this evening - two days faster than the shipping estimate, even. Typing this comment on it now. It came from our Canadian cousins at, and I must say, I'm impressed. Not a bad little system for $99 all in.

    2. DougMac

      Re: Only useful

      Pishop has Ra4 kits in stock right now.

      I just got one last week, and their website says instock for more.

      No bare boards, but kits are.

      Such is the nature of things.

  4. bpfh
    Paris Hilton

    I thought that you could already do this...

    At least after a first sdcard based install and having to set some specific hardware flags - and having a tftp server on your subnet with an image. No Mac-like resintall from the mothership" option !

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: I thought that you could already do this...

      i think the difference is that it will connect to the Internet and download the image directly from RPI servers so you don't have to have another computer to use as a TFTP server ( or flash an SD card with ).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I thought that you could already do this...

        Hopefully there's an option to be able to select which remote image server to use; I'd hate to be locked in to someone else's remote boot+install server, when I have my own preferred server.

        ... and/or when I'm in scenarios where the system I'm installing is necessarily isolated from the internet.

  5. JakeMS

    Just my luck..

    Decided last week I wanted to build my own media centre computer.. so on Friday ordered a RPi 4 8GB (from one of their recommended suppliers on their website)

    Got delivered Monday, but had to also buy a SD card reader Monday (from local computer shop) for my computer just so I could run:

    dd if=LibreElec.img of=/dev/sdi

    Really could have done with that network boot on monday.. my timing and luck is always terrible lol.

  6. mattaw2001

    I hope this works better than their last buggy network bootable ROM code

    I love raspberry pi foundation to bits, they have achieved so much, but we could have had viable and customizable network booting (even diskless sdcardless operation) two generations ago if they just used industry standard opensource u-boot instead of their own homebrew proprietary broadcom ROM boot.

    And as they are a big charity now they should get their designs reviewed by some hardware engineers/consultants or purchase some proper hardware testers for e.g. USB so it doesn't take a couple of revisions of every Pi generation to eliminate obvious hardware bugs.

    Yes a bit salty, mainly because trying to actually make Pi's work in production (and education is production, students need things to work) - they are big now, not like in the Rpi 1 days.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: I hope this works better than their last buggy network bootable ROM code

      The charity Raspberry Pi Foundation don’t develop these products, the Foundation are there to promote education.

      The SBCs and accessories are pretty good, considering they trailblazed the low cost thing. Enough money has to be spent on compliance already. The occasional oversight is forgivable.

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