Raspberry Pi: What to do if SD card doesn’t work

Before buying a SD card to run a Rapsberry Pi Distro, you should check first, if this particular card is reported to work on RPi.

There still is some risk that the card won’t work anyway, especially when buying cards > 32 GB and SDXC cards (which are not supported officially).

So, if you buy for example a SanDisk Ultra SDXC 64GB and install XBian 1.0 Alpha 5, RPi won’t do a thing after being powered on – despite the card being reported to work.

When a SD card doesn’t work in RPi, your first try should always be to install Raspbian “wheezy” (the distro recommended by the Raspberry Pi Foundation). If this works, you should be able to get other distros to work, too.

In this particular case, the following steps made XBian running on the SanDisk Ultra:

  • Install XBian on a SD card that works with RPi,
  • update firmware,
  • create an image of the SD card
  • and copy the image to the original SD card.
  • Finally, you should expand the root partition to be able to use the full size of the SD card.

Firmware update

  1. Install XBian on a SD card that works with RPi, insert the card and power on the RPi.
  2. SSH to RPi and execute the following commands
  3. sudo apt-get update
  4. sudo apt-get install git-core
  5. sudo wget http://goo.gl/1BOfJ -O /usr/bin/rpi-update && sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/rpi-update
  6. sudo rpi-update
  7. Switch the device off
    sudo poweroff

Copy SD

After the RPi has shut down, remove the card and create a backup of the SD card file with your PC, as described here.

Then copy the backup to the other SD card (the one that didn’t work before), like any other RPi image.

Expand root partition

Insert the card in the RPi, power on and SSH to the RPi.

Then choose Settings | System | Resize SD and confirm.

And that’s it!

Alternative solution

A good alternative is to stick to Rasbian and manually install the XBMC package.


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