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Raspberry Pi Firmware Update

Raspberry Pi Firmware update

Thanks to the hard work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the Raspberry Pi firmware is getting better continuously. To benefit from these improvements, it’s important to update your Raspberry Pi’s 4 firmware when a new version is available. In this tutorial we’ll see how you can update your firmware very easily.

For those who don’t know what “firmware” exactly means, have a look at this Wikipedia page. In very short : It’s software stored on the board itself that will allow the communication between the chosen OS (Operating System) and the hardware (Raspberry Pi board). In our case, specific for the Raspberry Pi, the firmware consists of 2 parts : the bootloader and the USB controller. As the bootloader is the main part of the firmware, in some articles you’ll read “bootloader” and not “firmware”. But “firmware” and “bootloader” mean the same in our case. It’s a little confusing … Anyway, you probably understand now this software is essential for your board. So, be careful with what you do to not mess up your Pi.

Time needed: 5 minutes.

There are multiple methods to update the firmware of your Raspberry Pi. In this tutorial we’ll update our Pi’s firmware using the Raspberry Pi Imager. It’s super easy and it’s recommended by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

  1. Prepare the hardware

    For this tutorial, you need to have your Raspberry Pi 4 running on the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS. If necessary, take a quick look at our tutorial ‘How to update your Raspberry Pi to the latest version‘. The methods we’ll use, work only with the Raspberry Pi 4.

    Next, be sure to have prepared following components :
    – your PC (the tutorial has been setup with a Windows PC, but the steps remain exactly the same if your PC is running on macOS or Ubuntu)
    – an empty micro-SD card. It’s only for temporary use. But be careful and backup the existing data if necessary. All data will be overwritten !
    – A micro-SD card adapter (if your PC can only read regular size SD cards).micro-SD card and adapter

  2. Install the Raspberry Pi Imager (skip this step if this tool is already installed on your PC)

    Before doing the actual update, we need to install a small tool on our PC : the Raspberry Pi Imager.
    This tool has been developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and is safe to use. It allows to easily select the image and install it on an SD card. You can download the tool by following the instructions on this page : https://www.raspberrypi.org/software/
    When the downloading process is finished, click on the downloaded exe-file to install the tool on your PC.

    Raspberry Pi Imager installation

  3. Insert your micro-SD card into your PC

    Insert your micro-SD card and launch the Raspberry Pi Imager on your PC.

    Raspberry Pi Imager

  4. Select the image

    Click on the left button “CHOOSE OS” to select the tool we’ll install for updating the firmware.
    Scroll down and click to “Misc utility images >”, in the next menu click on “Bootloader >”. And in the final menu you can choose between 3 types of boots :
    – SD Card Boot : The ‘classic’ boot : your Raspberry Pi boots from an SD card
    – USB Boot : If you want to boot from an SSD connected to an USB-port for example
    – Network Boot : To boot from a remote server via your network

    Raspberry Pi Imager Boot options

  5. Select your storage media : your SD-card

    Click now on the middle button “CHOOSE STORAGE” to select your SD card. Be careful to choose the right media if you have multiple media connected to your PC ! All existing data on the selected storage media will be overwritten and consequently lost. If you’re not sure which one is your SD card, just disconnect other storage media temporarily.

    Raspberry Pi Imager Storage

  6. Write the image

    After that, click on the right button “WRITE” and confirm with a click on the “YES” to start installing the image of the firmware updating tool. As it is a small image, this process should be quite short.

    Raspberry Pi Imager Writing

  7. Insert the micro-SD card into your Raspberry Pi and boot

    When the writing process has finished, you can remove the SD card from your PC and insert it into your Raspberry Pi. Connect a display to the HDMI-port. And finally, plug the power cable in the USB-C connector of your board. This will boot your Pi.

  8. Wait until you get a green display

    Now you just have to wait for about 10 seconds until your display becomes totally green. The green colour means the bootloader update has been successful. Raspberry Pi firmware update green display

  9. Switch off your Raspberry Pi and remove the micro-SD card

    That’s it ! You can now remove the power cable and the SD card. On the next boot, the latest firmware will be installed on your board.

Remark

If you want more information about this topic, visit the the official Raspberry Pi OS documentation : “Updating the Bootloader“.

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