I'm trying to set up a Linux system to boot off of a microSD card, connected via a USB card reader, and I'm trying to clone my existing Linux system image to the microSD card using Partmiage.

Every time I try to clone the image, it fails: the host system that I'm using to do the cloning complains about timeouts while writing, or fsck complains about numerous errors on the destination image even though the source image was fine, or various other random and obscure I/O errors.

I've tried two different brand new microSD cards (a 32GB SanDisk and a 32GB Lexar) and 3 different readers (a Lexar USB 3.0 SD card reader, a Belkin universal media reader, and a Lexar microSD card reader).

Are there issues with using partimage to restore old images to a microSD card? Or is ext3 not a good filesystem for microSD cards? Or am I just extremely unlucky with media or with card readers?

  • re: ext3 not a good filesystem for microSD cards, see answer by AngelaS (performance penalty) to this question: superuser.com/questions/843656/… – fixer1234 Dec 9 '14 at 15:22
  • @fixer1234 - Thanks for the link. I'll do some tests with that, although I'm uncomfortable using a filesystem that doesn't do native POSIX permissions for my root partition. – Josh Kelley Dec 11 '14 at 14:38
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    FYI, I created a number of Linux boot SD cards using standard speed, cheap cards formatted ext2 or 3 to use as a portable "computer" (USB2 readers). The speed is roughly comparable to using a LiveDVD. – fixer1234 Dec 11 '14 at 19:28
  • @fixer1234 Something's happened to AngelaS's answer, I'm being told "Page Not Found"... Is that just me? Maybe it was merged to another Q? I didn't get any results searching for "AngelaS" except mentions like these – Xen2050 Mar 18 '17 at 21:05
  • @Xen2050, it looks like the question it was attached to was closed as opinion-based and eventually deleted, so the answer went with it. AngelaS's answer was anecdotal, so it probably isn't worth trying to re-post here, but she described her own experience with ext2 performing poorly on SD cards compared to FAT or NTFS, and speculated as to why. It wasn't an authoritative answer, but at least reproducible personal experience. I suggested that the OP check it out because it lent credence to the possible relevance of the filesystem. – fixer1234 Mar 18 '17 at 21:26

I am not familiar with Partimage, so I cannot help on that. However: both dd and gparted work perfectly well with microSD cards, so you should have no problem first dd'ing your image to the card, second enlarging the partition to the card capacity with gparted. Also, gparted supports a wider range of filesystem types than partimage.

Lastly, are you sure you can format your card to ext4? It would seem to me the boot sector should still be fat32.


In further testing, it looks like I've just been unlucky (or, possibly, some SD cards' translation/wear leveling is very bad for ext2/ext3/ext4, as AngelaS's answer suggests - I'd love to have a way to better test this). A Wintec FileMate SD card worked perfectly, with partimage and ext3.

  • The answer links to a post that has since been deleted. For anyone landing here, AngelaS's answer was anecdotal, describing her own experience with ext2 performing poorly on SD cards compared to FAT or NTFS, and she speculated as to why. – fixer1234 Mar 18 '17 at 21:32

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