How to install pi-topOS to a microSD card

Here’s a simple guide for anyone who wants to install pi-topOS:Polaris to a microSD card.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • MicroSD card
  • A computer with microSD card slot, or an adapter to connect microSD to your computer (e.g. SD or USB adapter)

Step 1Download pi-topOS from our website.

Note: Please make sure that you are always using the latest release (you can check this by comparing the date in the filename to the date in the release on our OS download page).

Step 2 – Insert the microSD card that you want to write to into your laptop or PC.

Hint: all of our microSD cards ship with an SD card adapter, and you will likely need to use this (or a microSD-to-USB adapter) to connect to your computer.

Let’s get started!

There’s a great tool called Etcher, created by an Internet of Things company called This software has been specifically designed to write operating systems to SD cards and USB drives.

It works the same on Windows, Linux and OS X (trust us – we’ve tried!) and is incredibly easy – with only 3 steps!

  1. Select the zip file that you just downloaded. You could extract the image onto your hard drive first, but Etcher is clever and extracts the file whilst it writes, so why bother?
  2. Select the SD card from the list. If there are multiple drives that are available, make sure that the drive you select is the correct size, to prevent writing to the wrong drive. If you are not sure which drive to write to, then remove all other drives until only the SD card is in the list.
  3. Click ‘Flash’!

That’s it! Etcher will install pi-topOS:Polaris for you (AND it also verifies that it was 100% correctly written). Then all you need to do is plug the microSD card into your Raspberry Pi, and switch on the device.

And once you’ve installed pi-topOS:Polaris you can start making and coding. And if you’re short of inspiration we’re here to help. You could create your own quick reaction game, or control a robot, or launch a rocket! Check out projects page for more inspiration.

If you encounter any issues or problems with pi-topOS:Polaris, then check out this blog post for another way to get it working or reach out to us via


  1. Hi, I downloaded the pi-topOS from the site I put it on SD with the program Etcher. When I started the SD on my rapsberry Pi 3 the installation stuck…. This has appeared “—[ end Kernel panic — not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown–block(179,2)”

    I have downloaded the OS several times but I always have the same problem



    1. Hi Rodolfo,
      Thanks for reaching out. That is indeed very odd! Sorry to hear you were having troubles with the download. Please get in touch with our folks on support via email:
      They’ll be able to help you out.
      Many thanks,


  2. Hello people @ piTop,
    is Polaris a debian based system?
    Or which kind of distribution do you use?
    Do you think it is possible to install vlc or a lamp stack on it?

    Thanks for help.


  3. Hello people @ piTop,
    is it possible to use only the microphone? We install the pi-top pulse in raspian and it microphone works fine with the example “”, but e.g. if i use arecord there is no hardware.
    Thank for your help.
    Christoph Kublin


  4. just a thought, could you consider actually answering the questions posted here?
    It would certainly help other users if there were answers to common issues.


  5. Hello,

    I’m wondering if it is possible to run the pi-topOS within a closed network (that means internet only via a proxy server)? How can i do it?




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