How to double boot your Raspberry Pi


Linux users will be familiar with dual booting their systems. We often have Linux running alongside Windows or another Linux distribution. The Raspberry Pi, itself a small $ 35 Linux computer, isn’t particularly well known for dual-booting, but it can be done; all we need is a little help.

PINN is a site which creates a custom installation script tailored to our specific needs. With PINN we can install multiple operating systems on a single micro SD card or USB stick. PINN does not download an operating system to our boards, but rather creates an installation file which, when run on our Raspberry Pi, will automatically download and install all of our operating system choices. From there, all we have to do is reboot, pick a new OS, and we’re ready to build some other great Raspberry Pi projects.

For this project you will need

  1. A Raspberry Pi, we chose a Raspberry Pi 4
  2. 32 GB FAT32 formatted micro SD card
  3. Ethernet connection for your Raspberry Pi
  4. Keyboard, mouse, HDMI and power supply for your Raspberry Pi
  5. a computer

How to create a custom installation with PINN

We start the process by creating a custom install script through the PINN website.

1. On your computer, move towards https://pinn.mjh.nz.

2. Insert a 32 GB FAT32 formatted blank microSD card in your computer.

3. Click on the SD card to set the target storage device. This will not ask you to specify the drive, but will allow Pinn to be properly configured for use on an SD card.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

4. Select the size of your microSD card. In our case, it was a 32 GB card.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

5. Choose your Raspberry Pi model. We chose a Raspberry Pi 4. Choosing the right model is vital, as it dictates which operating systems can be installed.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

6. Click on the headings to filter the operating system choices. There are many different operating systems available for the Raspberry Pi. We can install a general OS, such as Raspberry Pi OS, Twister or Manjaro. We can also install specialized OS such as DietPi (servers and appliances) and Kali Linux (network security).

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

seven. Click on your choice of OS then click Next.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

8. Use the slider to divide the space on the microSD card between your choice of operating system.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

9. Download the ZIP file containing the installation and the recovery.cmdline file.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

ten. Extract the contents of the ZIP in a new folder called PINN.

11. Copy recovery.cmdline to the new folder. We have downloaded a replacement file that contains instructions specific to our installation. This new file will replace the existing version in the PINN folder.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

12. Copy the contents of the PINN folder to your microSD card.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

13. Eject the microSD card and insert it into your Raspberry Pi.

Installation configuration

Now that our microSD card is configured and ready to be installed, we move on to the Raspberry Pi and finalize the installation which involves downloading and installing PINNs of our chosen operating system.

1. Connect Ethernet, keyboard, mouse, HDMI and ultimately Powerful to your Raspberry Pi. PINN will automatically start to complete the installation. It takes about 30 seconds.

2. Make sure your operating system choices are displayed and, once ready, click on Install to begin the download and installation process. You will be prompted to confirm the installation, answer yes proceed. Depending on your internet connection and the model of Raspberry Pi, this may take a while.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3. Once the installation is complete click OK to restart.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

4. On the first reboot, the first operating system on the drive will boot normally. Perform standard configuration for your chosen operating system, then to restart the Raspberry Pi.

For each subsequent boot, the Pi will boot into the PINN operating system selection screen. Click on the operating system to select, then click on START to run.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)


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