How to dual boot multiple OS’s with Raspberry Pi

Since there are so many operating system choices for the Raspberry Pi, why limit yourself to just one? It is possible to dual boot multiple operating systems on the Raspberry Pi, the same as is traditionally done on any ordinary desktop system. It is not necessary to have multiple SD cards lying around with different operating systems on them, popping them into your Raspberry Pi whenever you want to boot into a different OS. Instead, we can put two or more operating systems on the same SD card.

In this tutorial, we will cover the step by step instructions to configure dual boot operating systems on the Raspberry Pi. You will be able to install multiple operating systems onto a single SD card, and then reboot the device any time that you want to load into a different OS. Since there are many Linux distributions available for the Raspberry Pi, it is super handy to be able to load into various choices on a whim.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to download and install PINN to an SD card
  • How to boot into PINN and load multiple OSes
How to dual boot multiple OS's with Raspberry Pi
How to dual boot multiple OS’s with Raspberry Pi
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Raspberry Pi
Software PINN
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Dual Boot Operating Systems on Raspberry Pi




There are a few different ways you can go about loading multiple operating systems onto the Raspberry Pi. Probably the easiest and most straightforward way is with the PINN operating system installer. This method is also officially supported by the Raspberry Pi developers, and included as an option inside of the Raspberry Pi imager tool.

The official PINN website is hosted over on GitHub. Click that link for more information about the tool. In the instructions below, we will go step by step with loading PINN onto an SD card, and then booting into PINN in order to install multiple operating systems on the Raspberry Pi.

  1. Let’s get startd by navigating to the Raspberry Pi’s website by going to the Raspberry Pi OS download page. On this page, we need to download the Raspberry Pi imaging tool. Be sure to select the one that corresponds to your current operating system – either Linux, Windows, or MacOS.
    Downloading the Raspberry Pi OS imaging tool
    Downloading the Raspberry Pi OS imaging tool
  2. Next, you will need to install the Raspberry Pi imager tool. This step will vary depending on which operating system or Linux distro you are currently using. On Debian based distros, including Ubuntu, the command would be:
    $ sudo apt install ./imager_1.8.4_amd64.deb
    



  3. Open up Raspberry Pi imager and choose which Raspberry Pi model you are using. Then, click on ‘Choose OS.’.
    Click on Choose OS to look for the PINN option
    Click on Choose OS to look for the PINN option
  4. This next menu will allow us to choose which operating system we want to install to our micro SD card and subsequently run on the Raspberry Pi. We will need to look under the ‘Misc utility images option’, so click on that.
    Opening the Misc utility images menu
    Opening the Misc utility images menu
  5. Click on the PINN option. After this is done, select your storage device (likely a microSD card) that you plan to install the operating systems to. Then, proceed with writing PINN to the device.
    Installing PINN to our storage device
    Installing PINN to our storage device
    WARNING
    At this stage, PINN will be written to your microSD card or other selected storage device. This will overwrite any existing data on that device, so please make sure you have backed up anything important from the storage device before proceeding.
  6. Next, we are ready to insert the microSD card or your other storage device into the Raspberry Pi, and boot up the device. You will be presented with a menu like the one below:
    PINN menu on Raspberry Pi
    PINN menu on Raspberry Pi
  7. Once booted into PINN, you will need to connect to WiFi unless you are already using a wired connection. This is because PINN will download whichever operating systems you select for installation. Then, go through the various tabs (general, minimal, media, games, utility, testing) to search for the operating systems that you wish to install. Once done with your selections, click on ‘Install’ and the operating systems will be downloaded from the internet and installed onto your storage device.
    Installing multiple operating systems using the PINN utility
    Installing multiple operating systems using the PINN utility




Once complete, you can boot up the Raspberry Pi and will be presented with the GRUB bootloader prompting you to select the operating system that you would like to run.

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we saw how to boot multiple operating systems on a Raspberry Pi system. Using the PINN utility is a recommended method for performing this operation, since it is officially supported by Raspberry Pi. The only problem is that PINN does not have every operating system available for selection, but does come with a lot of various choices which have all been verified to support Raspberry Pi hardware.



Comments and Discussions
Linux Forum