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Thread: Installing and booting from SD card

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011

    Question Installing and booting from SD card

    Hello folks!

    So I have a little problem here, hoping some of you could help!

    The Story

    At home I run a small Fit-PC2 which I use as a basic webserver as well used as a centralized login location (with some host keys). In short nothing very I/O demanding, Now recently it's 2.5" harddisk broke, so it needs a new disk. It had a Mini-SD slot so I went ahead and got a 32GB micro SD and a micro-SD to Mini-SD converter, an SD card seemed like a way to go here.

    My idea is to actually have this in as a permanent solution, so an ext4 filesystem would be favorable, however, the ubuntu installer does not detect the micro SD card as a disk.

    The idea is to first see If I can even boot ubuntu from this SD card, So I went ahead and plugged the SD card into my windows 7 PC and used UnetBootin to prep a 12.04 Live CD on the SD card. (using a USB-converter).

    The Problem

    Now when I put in the SD card in the SD-slot of the fit-pc it DOES actually boot into the unetbootin screen after which i get the ubuntu 12.04 splash screen. Sadly, it does not go beyond the splash screen and the console displays:

    stdin : error 0
    unable to open '/dev/sda'
    Where after it returns to initramfs
    (unsure but perhaps the issue lies in the fact that de SD slot is called /dev/mmcblk0p1 whem USB-booting a live-CD)

    Strange enough I can get the entire thing to boot just fine when I just use the same SD card and plug it in a USB-pen I have, I presume it's because the USB-pen has a small controller on it, Because the access times are also much slower (5 mb/s instead of 15 mb/s) then when using it as an SD card directly (tested this with hdparm).

    The Facts

    Now to lay down some facts to further assure that we're heading the right direction here.

    • The Fit-PC2 bios supports SDHC and USB booting, as mentioned the initial boot works!
    • I've tried multiple versions of Ubuntu, error 0 is always encountered
    • System used to run Debian 6 without any additional drivers from its old harddrive
    • The Fit-PC2 is connected to my home network using DHCP
    • Fit-PC2 has 4 USB-2 ports, 1 miniSD slot, 1 HDMI connector and a 100mbit ethernet port.

    The Question

    So basically I'm wondering if it is possible to have this installation running from the MiniSD slot?

    Although finding a better USB-pen might offer the solution, it still feels like the "frankenstein solution" compared to using the nicely integrated SD card slot.

    How would I best go about this?
    Last edited by maever; October 21st, 2012 at 03:39 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Re: Installing and booting from SD card

    I would get a new hard disk, external drives of any kind never seem to work as well as internal ones.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
    Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus

    Re: Installing and booting from SD card

    Check the MD5SUM of your downloaded iso file.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Mataro, Spain
    Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: Installing and booting from SD card

    In this situation I would also consider a Compact Flash card instead of SD/microSD card.

    Actually there are SATA to CF and IDE to CF adapters with dimensions as 2.5" HDDs to make it simpler for you.

    I don't know the flash memory details too deep, but I believe the CF card offers much more lifetime compared to SD. In small devices usually the CF is a HDD replacement.
    Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64bit & Windows 10 Pro 64bit

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011

    Re: Installing and booting from SD card

    I know a harddisk would be faster but seeing as this is a 24/7 machine, I'm interested in the cheapest solution

    I think my first post pretty much rules this out 100%, tried multiple images + the fact that it WORKS when I use a USB-PEN SD card adapter.

    Already considered those, they are simply not an interesting solution price-wise + are based upon the IDE interface.
    SSDs would make more sense in that case but are still a bit expensive and just don't even get close to the 15 euros I paid for this little SD card of 32GB (class 10+).
    Also you can't tell me that running on SD cards isn't viable, there are entire hardware concepts built upon SD cards as storage medium.

    I would prefer a solution instead of a work-around.
    Thanks for the reply though
    Last edited by maever; October 21st, 2012 at 10:38 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

    Post Re: Installing and booting from SD card

    Try get mini usb thumb like this:


    And please have a look here:

    Install boot manager on any usb-thumb and try boot from SD - Partition.

    PS. I have no better idea.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    Re: Installing and booting from SD card

    Hi there

    I have recently installed Ubuntu 12.04 on a SD Card 32Gigs Class 10 45Mb/sec (costs about EUR26 from Amazon) on a miniPC barebones. The previous SATA HD from which I was running the programme developed bad sectors as a result of overheating and I had to discard it. The OS is running well from the SD card , have installed a number of plugins and some programmes and I still have 22Gigs. I plan to use an external HD to store bulky files, like pics and music. For my day to day documents I store on Dropbox. Working like a charm and completely noiseless. If you try to run the OS from a pendrive or external HD it tends to be slow and freezes repeatedly.

    Hope this helps some



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