Migrating to sd card booting

I have just installed Lubuntu on my Acer Aspire 3820TZ laptop that originally started with Win7. It was recently killed by Microsoft with their annual mega update bomb (BSOD). I unpacked the Lubuntu installation onto an SD card and then installed it onto the hard disc. The result is excellent and I regret not doing it sooner.

The only downside is that it still takes almost as long to boot as it did under Windows which, I suspect, is the HD. Now I have added most of the apps I need, I wondered if I could perhaps copy everything off the HD back to the SD and boot from that. Thus the question is which files should I copy or is it more complex than that?

This is a bit of data about the HD in case it helps:

Model: ATA WDC WD3200BPVT-2 (scsi)
Disk /dev/sda: 320GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/4096B
Partition Table: msdos
Disk Flags:

Number Start End Size Type File system Flags
1 1049kB 577MB 576MB primary ntfs boot
2 577MB 320GB 319GB primary ext4


Well, that’s a 5200rpm drive, so it’s not that fast. An SD card could go faster. But before you do, what version of Lubuntu are you using?

According to the name on the ISO I downloaded it is “lubuntu-19.10-desktop-amd64”.

Thanks for taking an interest.


I’d go for 20.04, since it’s newer and supported for longer.

Right, so if I go for 20.04 will that leave me with all my installed apps, WiFi setting and so on? Or, will it emulate Win 10 and do a total wipe out? Having just about got all I need now set up on 19.10 the thought of going back to square 1 is not a joy.

In addition, I don’t seem to be any closer to finding how I can take my personalised version and run it from SD.



Upgrade to 20.04 and there you go. Everything will be the same as far as your configurations. I suggest this because you may find some speed in booting right there.

As for copying to the SD card, dd, rsync, and CloneZilla are all solutions that come to mind immediately.


Thanks for the advice. I have downloaded and installed 20.04 as suggested. However, it seems to have done a Windows style total wipe. I am just currently re-loading the various apps that seemed relevant to me. Happily as it is less than a week since I first installed 19.10 I can remember most of them and I think all my data was on Dropbox.

Having looked at the spec for CloneZilla I think I will leave well alone as the opportunity for managing a serious mess up looks huge with that tool. I fear that SD booting will have to remain a ‘todolater’ item.

I think I will settle for a request on how to stop the GNU/GRUB stall at boot that want me to choose what to do. There must be a way to embed a ‘keep going’ request.



I suggested an upgrade, so that’s not what I suggested.

But since you did a new install, why didn’t you do it to the SD card?

Are you saying every time you boot GRUB is displayed? Is that what the initial problem was?

Yes, I did an install rather than an upgrade as the 20.04 Release Announcement Comments section pointed out that upgrade does not work. I did unpack onto the SD card which, to be fair, did boot but then dropped into a ‘system’ menu asking for the language I wanted to use before setting off on a file checking ‘binge’. It did , of course, finally end up booted and fully operational but steam driven not rocket driven.

Given how long that took it did seem sensible to do the install onto the HD as that had previously felt (under 19.10) to be quicker than the SD. Bear in mind that I appreciate that it might be possible to have cleaned up the SD card’s booting sequence, but I don’t have the knowledge since it is over 10 years since I last used Linux.

What I have also done is to research sync and have discovered grsync which is more comfortable for Newbies like myself. I have subsequently formatted the SD card to Linux rather than Fat32, managed to get it mounted and now copied everything (I hope) from the HD to the SD using / as the source and /mnt/usb-Multiple_Card_Reader as the destination. That has finally completed with some errors. I will shortly re-boot and see what happens.

The boot time Grub screen is something like this:
Advanced options for Ubuntu
Memory Test (memtest86+)
Memory Test (memtest86+, serial console 115200)
Windows 10 (on /dev/sda1)

Clearly the last item on the list must be the wreckage of the Win10 update that could no doubt be deleted when I discover how. The screen goes after a countdown of about 6 seconds.

I guess that the outcome is that I have done some learning, but realise that I need to learn a whole lot more to sort out these wrinkles.


Only when upgrading from 18.04.

I thought this whole post was about speeding up booting by using the SD card?

Do you actually still have a partition on the drive with that on there? Running update-grub (which is run any time GRUB is installed or upgraded) should remove the entry if the partition does not exist.

If it does exist and you want it gone, use the live media (you still have it on the SD card or USB?) and use KDE Partition Manager to delete the partition.

You should look at /etc/default/grub. Here’s the important bits:


This is the default entry in the menu. This should be your Lubuntu install, which looks like the first one, and since we’re counting from zero, 0 should be the right value.


This modifies behavior related to waiting for a keystroke. You really don’t need this because even without it, it will pick up on you hitting the shift key at boot to access the GRUB menu.


This is the amount of time that will elapse before the GRUB_DEFAULT entry is booted. Make it 0 and it doesn’t wait at all.

You will need to edit that file with sudo if it’s not to your liking. And when you’re done, you’ll need to sudo update-grub to make it stick.

More info here.

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Many thanks for the detailed advice.

Yes, the SD being quicker is what I was expecting, but boot times are subjective unless one sits with the stopwatch. Indeed they seem longer still when every step one takes to trim the time has zero impact. However, that is the usual experience of the Newbie. Tiny but fatal mistakes are made because they are not seen due to lack of knowledge.
I was amused to see that NANO is still about and being used. It brought back memories of my early years fighting with configuring Linux many years ago. However, it works and the outcome was thus:

Extract from etc/default/grub

'# info -f grub -n ‘Simple configuration’
GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian
'# Uncomment to enable BadRAM filtering, modify to suit your needs…

The update provided the following:

peter@Ceris-PC:~$ sudo update-grub
[sudo] password for peter:
Sourcing file /etc/default/grub' Sourcing file /etc/default/grub.d/init-select.cfg’
Generating grub configuration file …
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-5.4.0-28-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-5.4.0-28-generic
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-5.4.0-26-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-5.4.0-26-generic
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.elf
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.bin
Found Windows 10 on /dev/sda1

Thus I think I can take it that the update has ‘stuck’. However, the text screen at boot is still there which makes it look as if my efforts have achieved nothing. Perhaps I should add a 'print “Hello World” comment just to see where it comes in the boot sequence…



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I think you should wipe out that Windows partition.

There is some progress to report that might be of interest to anybody following this thread.
Firstly, there is a very Newbie friendly piece on the creation of an SD card Lubuntu install with persistence. That is useful because it means that the card will retain for subsequent sessions any additional apps that are installed. Apparently system changes cannot be given persistence, as I have sadly found, which is a pity. The problem there is that the USB install gives the super user the name Lubuntu and the machine the same Lubuntu, so the console reads Lubuntu@Lubuntu. That is not a lot of use for apps like DropBox that need know computer names. Anyway the article is to be found here:


The goal of using the USB installation for a quicker boot has also been examined, this time with some measurement. Hard disc boot time, with my fastest keyboard response to the choice menu, is 1min 40 seconds. Not hitting return at the menu add about 8 seconds. Booting from the SD card with the fastest keyboard response to the choice menu and with the fastest Ctrl+C to stop the file checking came out at 1 minute 10 seconds. A slow Ctrl + C which did eventually stop the file checking part way through gave 2 minutes. I have not had the patience to wait for the full file checking to finish. The conclusion is that the HD boot is quicker than the SD boot unless one can find a way to remove the menu and the file checking issues from the boot sequence. Advice on where to look for that would be appreciated.

I agree that the Win 10 debris should be deleted, but again I am not really sure how one should go about that. My thought was to delete that partition and then create a new partition that would hopefully be empty.



And that would do it! :grinning:

A small update really for any Newbies that have stumbled upon this thread. I have found a nice app called Grub Customiser which allows one to add tweeks from the comfort of a graphical interface. It is also worth having a search for “What does Grub do in Lubuntu?” to get a better understanding of what is going on. The suggestions made earlier for editing Grub


are all handled from the Advanced Settings button in the Appearance Settings. It all seems easy to use but as well as saving the edited file one needs to needs to install to the Master Boot Record (MBR) which was a step I failed to spot first time around. The hiding of the choice screen has now reduced the boot time from the hard disc to 1 minute 22 seconds.

All that is needed now is the courage to manipulate Partition Manager and say goodbye to the Win 10 debris.



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