Pi400 Network Boot and USB Drive

Pi400 at Microcenter

I had a recent trip through a city with a Microcenter, and with the past year of limited availability of Raspberry Pi devices made a quick trip to see if they had any stock. I really wanted a Pi4 8GB, or a PiZero2W but was happy enough to pick up a Pi400 as I’ve not played around with this model before.

Plug side

After getting home and staring at the device I remembered that most of my current development has been using cameras connected to the pi camera connector, and there is no obvious access to a camera connector on the Pi400.

I also was staring at my current collection of micro sd cards and trying to decide which one I wanted to use to get the Pi400 up and running. At this point I remembered that the Pi4 devices with USB3 interfaces supposedly can boot from a USB Drive. I have a couple of SSDs that have been sitting unused for over a year, as well as an external dock that I can at least use to get a system up and running.

Screen before Hard Drive

This is the screen I got when I powered up the Pi and then connected the screen but didn’t have the drive connected. It was in low resolution because I’d not had the screen connected when I applied power. Later images are in full resolution because the power was the last connection I made. The QR Code takes you to the Raspberry Pi Software Page.

Network, Mouse, Drive, Power, and screen plugged in

It cycled through the previous three screens until I held down the shift key to initiate the network boot.

After status messages while it downloaded a network boot image, the screen transformed to look like the same familiar Raspberry Pi Imager application I use on either Windows or Raspian to create a bootable sd card.

I selected the version of Raspian I wanted installed

I selected where I wanted Raspian installed.

I made some changes to the settings so that the machine name and default user were different from the defaults. Because this installer is running from ram, it would let me save the settings, but the drop down “for this session only” was not enabled. The most frustrating issue here is that there’s not an easy way to get my public key to the machine for ssh connections, while the Imager software running on another machine would automatically import the current user key.

After hitting the write button, the standard warning pops up.

After just a couple of minutes the system rebooted and came up with the standard Raspian desktop. It was a very easy install, and arguably much easier than having to fiddle with a microSD card and reader on my primary desktop. The only requirement that might be complicated for some users would be the need to use the wired ethernet cable.

I ran my standard update command, rebooted, and checked the status of the machine. The hard drive access light was blinking regularly for a few minutes but after a short period settled down without constant disk access.


2 thoughts on “Pi400 Network Boot and USB Drive

  1. Pingback: Pi4 and USB Drive over 2TB | WimsWorld

  2. Pingback: ORICO 2.5 inch USB C Hard Drive Enclosure | WimsWorld

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