I've heard that this is possible and I want to do this. I downloaded Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS.iso(64-bit) file and used win32 Disk Imager to write it onto two SD cards to try and get it to work. The SD cards I used were a 64GB Class 10 SDXC card and a 32GB Micro SDHC card (with adapter). I formatted them as exFAT and FAT32 respectively and have tried to format them both as NTFS to see if that worked. I also tried this on a 8GB USB drive formatted as NTFS and it worked just fine. Right now I'm using a Lenovo Y70 laptop with these specs:

Windows 10 Home (64-bit), Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.5 GHZ, 16B GDDR3L, 1TB + 8BG SSHD, NVIDIA Geforce 860m (4GB DDR5), Card Reader (Support: SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC),

I have turned safe boot off and turned legacy support on in BIOS and it still won't even recognize it as a bootable drive, I'm really not sure what I'm doing wrong.

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    If you have multiple partitions on the SD cards, and the installation is put on a secondary one, it won't be able to boot. Make sure you erase and format the whole card. – TheWanderer Sep 8 '15 at 23:48
  • I use CMD to completely scrub it each time I try and put Ubuntu back on if thats what you mean. – Alyx Zech Sep 8 '15 at 23:55
  • Hang on, you're using Windows. Sorry, but this really is a Windows issue. Ask it on SuperUser or the main StackExchange site. – TheWanderer Sep 9 '15 at 0:04
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    Are you trying to run Ubuntu from an SD card similar to running Ubuntu from an Ubuntu live CD or do you prefer to do a full installation of Ubuntu on an SD card since you have at least 32GB of disk space on the SD card? My recommended choice is to try a live Ubuntu SD first in order to experience how slow running Ubuntu from an SD card is compared to using a USB flash drive. – karel Sep 9 '15 at 10:50
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    Running a full installation of Ubuntu from a SD card is not different from running it from an USB drive. See How do I install Ubuntu to a USB key without using startup disk creator? – user68186 Sep 9 '15 at 20:41

If you have a dual-SD card reader where you can insert both cards at once, it's possible.

What you need to do is:

  1. "burn" the .iso file on the "install SD"
  2. boot from the install SD
  3. install on the second SD (wiping it completely)
  4. remove the "Install SD"
  5. boot from the second SD.


If you want to optimise the system a bit have a look here for some advanced settings.

  • As you're a reputation 6 user: If this answer helped you, don't forget to click the grey at the left of this text, which means Yes, this answer is valid! ;-) – Fabby Sep 9 '15 at 20:33
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    Not completely sure what you mean by "burn the iso file" – Andrew Wolfe Nov 3 '18 at 0:13
  • @AndrewWolfe it's in quotes, so it means to extract the ISO file onto the SD. – Fabby Nov 3 '18 at 7:47
  • Sorry to be so dense but I think you mean using dd to write directly from the ISO to the SD card character-special file for the whole disk. Is there anything I need to worry about with partitioning? – Andrew Wolfe Nov 3 '18 at 20:06
  • @AndrewWolfe That would be a new question ;-) – Fabby Nov 4 '18 at 9:00

This is possible, however you will need to have a device that supports booting from an SD. Like a Raspberry PI. If you have an image you can use dd to write it to the SD card.

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    -1 Wrong. Since USB card readers are just storage class devices from the point of view of the USB host controller like any other piece of USB storage media, most BIOSes can boot from them if they can boot from USB at all. – David Foerster Jul 10 '16 at 7:15
  • ha, well I didn't know I'd spend a point to downvote, but anyhow, not to be anonymous: I think the answer is not helpful because being so finite as to say "quit" and giving extremely vague and non-helpful tips like "Linux makes it easy, Mac is more difficult" does nothing to help the OP. Also, you mentioned dd but did not begin to explain its usage or more importantly the potential risk(s) involved. Granted, we should be able to research those things but on the contrary, this site is often peoples' only (and ideally best) source OF that research. Sweet avatar though, Evil Empire FTW. – P Smith Jul 10 '16 at 15:25
  • Can you include a answer with instructions on how to do that? Leaving a half-answer as a comment can often cause more harm than good. Thanks. – Thomas Ward Aug 9 '16 at 13:26
  • Riddle me this. I WAS able to boot from USB but NOT SD. So "wrong" is effectively, and from a user standpoint only technically correct. – Mr Purple Dec 3 '18 at 5:34

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