Using the Raspberry Pi is a lot of fun. With so many projects, a $50 computer will last several months. But installing the Raspberry Pi can take a long time.

If you don’t connect a keyboard for Wi-Fi setup, it’s hard to find the right display configuration. Or some other installation option that shouldn’t take that long to figure out.

But in many cases, you can make these changes quickly and easily. Here’s how to set up your Raspberry Pi in /boot/ before you even boot it up.

What is a Raspberry Pi boot partition?

Raspberry Pi 2

When you set up your Raspberry Pi, you will need to install an operating system. It was not done in the same way as on a PC or laptop. Instead, an operating system is installed on the Raspberry Pi by writing it to the SD card.

During this process, the map is divided into two or more sections. One of them has an operating system formatted with the EXT4 file system.

The other is always named «boot» and is called /boot/. It contains a lot of boot data, configurations and other options and is formatted with the FAT file system. Note that the /boot/ partition is required for every Raspberry Pi distribution.

Aside from the fact that you can use /boot/ to tweak your Raspberry Pi’s hardware settings, it’s notable in a different way. The /boot/ partition can be accessed on any computer using a card reader. This is different from the main OS, which can almost always only be read on a Linux machine.

So you can access /boot/ on Windows, macOS, Linux, whatever. Importantly, you can also navigate to it from the installed operating system on your Raspberry Pi.

So the /boot/ partition is useful. But what can you do about it? Insert your Raspberry Pi’s SD card into your PC, open /boot/, then read on to find out.

1. Name your Raspberry Pi Distro

Running multiple projects on your Raspberry Pi can get a little confusing. For example, I keep a spreadsheet so I know what each Pi is doing. I also note what hardware is connected, like a camera or touch screen, and in which case the Pi.

But you can only have one Pi with multiple microSD cards to easily switch between projects. However, even then, you may find it difficult to remember what is on each card.

Just create a text file under /boot/ with a useful name like «security cam.txt» or «print server.txt». You can add more detailed information about the project to the body of the file.

This allows you to quickly identify the SD card without downloading.

2. Tweak Config.txt for better hardware compatibility

While the Raspberry Pi does not have a system BIOS per se, it does have a config.txt file located in /boot/.

This is the home of settings for the Raspberry Pi, with options for just about anything you can imagine. The file contains a list of settings in the «property=value» format (without quotes), one per line. Note the absence of spaces. Comments can be added using the # symbol to start a line.

Each section of the config.txt file is clearly marked, with commented lines explaining what each option does. Although this file should only be edited with care, there is enough information to prevent you from making changes with serious consequences.

The kind of settings you make here will depend on your hardware settings. For example, you can enable the camera module on boot:


Meanwhile, if you find it difficult to get an image through HDMI, please use


This option combines various HDMI settings to create a common, comprehensive fix that should get HDMI working.

Another notable config.txt setting rotates the display using display_rotate. For example, rotate 90 degrees with


180 degree rotation


And so on.

As you have already understood, config.txt is the single most important hardware configuration function in the Raspberry Pi. While raspi-config is important, config.txt has more impact, allowing for significant pre-boot configuration.

See the wiki for more information on the config.txt file.

3. Create an empty file to enable SSH

Edit the config.txt file on Raspberry Pi

Using SSH to access your Raspberry Pi remotely saves a lot of time. For example, you can update your operating system, but you can’t connect your Pi to a TV. The answer lies in remote access to your Raspberry Pi and SSH is the fastest way to do it.

However, in later versions of the Debian-based Raspberry Pi operating system, SSH is disabled by default. This is a security measure that may be inconvenient for normal users.

However, there is a workaround. Just create a special file in /boot/ to enable SSH.

Open the /boot/ partition on your computer and create a new file. Tag him ssh and remove the file extension. It is so simple! As fast as it is, it’s worth keeping the ssh flag file on your PC. So all you need to do is drag and drop the file to /boot/ partition every time you install Raspberry Pi OS.

This file acts as a flag when the Pi boots, instructing the operating system to enable SSH.

Note that the first time you log in, you will be prompted to change the default «pi» user password.

4. Save Wi-Fi network credentials in wpa_supplicant.conf

Another issue with setting up the Raspberry Pi is getting the device on the wireless network. While plugging it directly into your router might save time here, you might run out of ports. Or Pi is too far away.

The answer is wireless networks, which means entering the Pi desktop environment. Setting up with a mouse and keyboard won’t take long. You can set it up on the command line by editing the wpa_supplicant.conf file, but you can also change it before the Pi boots.

Under /boot/ create a new wpa_supplicant.conf file. Open it with a text editor on your computer (such as Notepad on Windows, or you may prefer Notepad++). Copy and paste the following lines:

 ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev update_config=1 country=US network={ ssid="SSID" psk="PASSWORD" key_mgmt=WPA-PSK } 

Some changes are needed. First, change the country accordingly (eg UK for UK).

After that, set the SSID and PASSWORD fields according to the fields of your wireless network. Save the file, then close it and boot up the Pi. The device should soon connect to your local Wi-Fi. Go to your router’s administration page to view the Pi’s IP address.

You should then be able to remotely access your Raspberry Pi via SSH. As with ssh, it’s worth keeping a copy of the wpa_supplicant.conf file on your PC for quick setup.

5. Fix errors with /boot/Partition

USB ports on Raspberry Pi 4

The release of the Raspberry Pi 4 in 2019 included three iterations with different RAM specifications. While the 1GB and 2GB models work fine, the Raspberry Pi 4 4GB has a bug. In particular, this concerns the detection of USB ports in Ubuntu.

This bug prevents ports from being detected on the 4GB version of the Pi 4, but there is a workaround. Until an official fix is ​​released, you can tweak the amount of RAM available to the OS.

Open /boot/firmware and find the usercfg.txt file. Run this in a text editor and add:


This changes the available RAM from 4GB to 3GB.

Save the file and close, then boot your Raspberry Pi 4. The USB ports should now be working. A future update should fix this bug, so be sure to remove the line in usercfg.txt when this happens.

6. Copy data from your computer to Raspberry Pi

If you need to quickly copy data from your computer to your Raspberry Pi, you can use the /boot/ partition. Just copy the data to the new directory and it will be available when the Pi boots. Please note that the size of the /boot/ partition is limited.

Thus, it is only suitable for small files such as MP3s or images, not video files. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works.

Here are some more ways to copy data from PC to Raspberry Pi

6 Ways to Use Raspberry Pi /boot/Partition

With so many options for configuring your Raspberry Pi under /boot/, you’ll save time on your next project. As a reminder, you can do the following in the /boot/ partition:

Many of these tweaks speed up the process, but you can make setting up your Raspberry Pi even easier. Here’s how to save time setting up your Raspberry Pi with PiBakery. Raspberry Pi with PiBakery.

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