Instructions: Run Raspberry Pi with read-only Linux

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With its numerous interfaces, the Raspberry Pi and its little brother Raspberry Pi Zero are a great basis for handicrafts from WLAN garage door openers to VPN dongle. But the microSD cards of the mini-computers are prone to failures if the power is switched off while the Raspi is running or if the power is running low in battery mode: At some point the file system will be damaged, so that the Raspi may no longer boot. The solution is a read-only system in which the SD card of the Raspi is mainly operated write-protected and, if necessary, is integrated so that it can be briefly written for updates or additional software.

The following instructions work with all generations of the Raspberry Pi as well as with the Zero and Zero W models, which are already available for 12 to 20 euros and are only slightly larger than the 40-pin GPIO connector that makes the Raspi so interesting for control tasks power. In addition to the Raspi, you also need a microSD card of at least 8 GB on which you can install the current lite image of the Raspberry Pi OS using the Raspberry Pi Imager or the Balena Etcher from You cannot use the desktop versions because the graphical user interface cannot cope with a read-only root file system.

When starting Raspberry Pi OS for the first time, there are no special features to consider. The only important thing is that you are using the command sudo raspi-config Change the standard password, make the correct language and country settings, adjust the host name if required and finally update the system. If necessary, you should also install additional libraries and applications, such as WireGuard for a VPN dongle or Python, if you want to use the Raspi for switching tasks, before you finally prepare for read-only operation.

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