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Need more than one operating system on your Raspberry Pi? Several tools are available that help manage the process, such as the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s own NOOBS, and its forerunner BerryBoot.
NOOBS is considered by many to be the superior installer, but it misses a few of BerryBoot’s options. Interested in trying out BerryBoot for installing your Raspberry Pi operating systems? Read on!
What Does BerryBoot Do?
Ever had trouble installing an ISO disk image file to your Raspberry Pi’s SD card? Want more than one OS (perhaps a retro gaming system and a media center)? The answer is a tool that helps to manage the installation of one or more OSes for your Pi.
That’s basically what BerryBoot does. Presenting you with a selection of operating systems to choose from, BerryBoot downloads the OSes and installs them, with minimal interaction from you.
It also provides you with some basic network tools, location settings, and even an editor to adjust the configuration. You might, for example, want to edit your network settings in wpa_supplicant.conf. or you may prefer to change the boot menu timeout in cmdline.txt.
Using BerryBoot is straightforward:
- Download BerryBoot.
- Extract ZIP file to a formatted SD card.
- Configure BerryBoot.
- Select and install one or more operating systems.
- Choose which OS you wish to use each time you boot your Raspberry Pi.
BerryBoot also makes it possible to install your chosen Raspberry Pi operating systems to a location other than the SD card. If you have network attached storage (NAS), or a hard disk drive (HDD) connected to your Pi, these can be used. This is a great way to reduce data writing on your SD card, and prolong its lifespan.
The SD card will need to remain in the Pi to boot from, however.
How to Get BerryBoot
To use BerryBoot, you’ll need to download it from Sourceforge. This is an online repository where many applications and utilities are hosted.
BerryBoot is available in one of two downloads. The first option is for all versions of the Raspberry Pi, from the original through to the Raspberry Pi Zero. If you have a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, however, there is a dedicated version just for these devices.
Having two downloads options is ideal if you have more than one of the many different Raspberry Pi models.
Copy BerryBoot to a Formatted SD Card
Once downloaded, the contents of the ZIP file will need to be extracted and copied to your Pi’s SD card. Ensure this is inserted into your PC first, then right click on the ZIP file and select Extract all. In the resulting dialogue box, click Browse then find the drive letter than matches your SD card. Select this, then click Extract.
Wait while the data is copied to the SD card. Ensure that the contents of the ZIP file are copied to the root of the SD card, rather than in a directory. With this done, safely remove the SD card from your computer.
The next step is simple. Insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi, and boot it up. Make sure you have a keyboard and/or mouse attached. You’ll need one or both to select your operating systems.
On your Raspberry Pi’s display, you’ll initially be presented with a quick configuration screen. The first section, Video, establishes the type of TV you’re using. If you can see green borders at the top and bottom of the screen, select Yes (disable overscan). Otherwise, select No.
Next, specify the correct type of Network connection. If an Ethernet cable is connected, choose Cabled. Otherwise, select WiFi, then find your network’s SSID in the list an input the password.
Finally, ensure the correct Timezone and Keyboard layout are selected under Locale settings. This will ensure that BerryBoot is able to access the server and download your choice of operating system.
Click OK when you’re done.
Select Destination and Install Operating Systems
The next prompt invites you to select a destination for the operating system(s) you’re about to install. You’ll always have the choice of the local SD card, typically labelled mmcblk0. But if you have a NAS box, or a USB drive connected (or both) you’ll also see the options for those. These are labelled sda for the USB stick or HDD, and Networked storage for a NAS device.
With the choice made, click Format (if necessary) and proceed. It’s probably best to leave the file system as the default ext4 option, as you probably won’t be using the drive with any other devices.
Note that when formatting, any existing files on the disk will be deleted.
Once complete, the BerryBoot menu editor is then displayed. Use the Add OS button to browse for an operating system. These are grouped into tabs, so make sure you spend time browsing the choice on offer. When you find an OS you want to installed, put a check in the box. Keep an eye on the numbers in the bottom left corner, which tell you how much space you have left on your destination device. Don’t select too many OSes or you’ll run out of space!
Click OK when you’re done, then select the OS you wish to Make default. This is the operating system that will boot when your Raspberry Pi is switched on, but you’re unable to make a selection at the boot menu. When this is done, click Exit to prompt the download and installation of your favored operating systems.
Other Advanced Options for BerryBoot
Note that Berryboot offers further menu options for your set up. For instance, the Clone option create a copy of the selected operating system.
Meanwhile, Backup lets you create backups of single operating systems (or all installed OSes) to a different storage device. You can also use Delete to remove an OS.
One setting you may have overlooked is Advanced configuration, accessed via the chevrons on the right of menu. Here, you can edit the cmdline.txt and config.txt files (as well as the Wi-Fi configuration file, wpa_supplicant.conf). In cmdline.txt, for example, you can edit the bootmenutimeout property, specifying how many seconds should pass before the default OS is loaded.
bootmenutimeout=<number of seconds>
Also available in the Advanced configuration menu is a Console, Set password (protects your installations), and Repair filesystem to repair the file system. This should also run automatically if the file system is damaged (perhaps following a power outage).
Booting Your Raspberry Pi With BerryBoot
With your operating systems installed, the Raspberry Pi will reboot and present you with a boot screen. As noted, the default option will load automatically after 10 seconds (unless you’ve edited this property), but if you wish to make a manual selection, use your keyboard or mouse to do so.
Moments later, you’ll be enjoying your chosen Raspberry Pi operating system. Want to use a different one? Simply use the restart option and choose again at the boot menu!
If BerryBoot doesn’t suit you, it might be time to check out NOOBS in more detail. See our NOOBS user guide for more details.