Boot Images from External Media

There are many images that are designed to run from an SD Card or Thumbdrive (U-Disk). For example, Volumio, CoreELEC, LibreELEC, Armbian images and Khadas SD images(VIM1/VIM2/VIM3). This tutorial is about how to boot these images.

Step 1. Clone image to SD-Card or Thumbdrive (U-Disk)

  • Download Etcher, it will clone the image into your SD Card or Thumbdrive. It’s got a user-friendly GUI for beginners, and is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux.After decompression, it is an executable file. Select firmware and it will automatically identify your USB device.

Howto Use Etcher

  • Else, use dd on Ubuntu:

  • Use dd on the Ubuntu command line

$ sudo dd if=/path/to/image of=/dev/sdX bs=8M

Step 2. Copy the Appropriate DTB File

  • Unplug then plug your SD card into your computer (re-mount it).

  • Navigate to your SD card’s /boot directory, and open the folder labelled DTB.

  • Find the appropriate .dtb file and copy it into your SD card’s /boot directory.

  • For VIM1: Copy kvim.dtb, kvim_linux.dtb or meson-gxl-s905x-khadas-vim.dtb to /boot, and rename it to dtb.img.

  • For VIM2: Copy kvim2.dtb, kvim2_linux.dtb or meson-gxm-khadas-vim2.dtb to /boot, and rename it to dtb.img.
  • For VIM3: Copy kvim3_linux.dtb or kvim3l_linux.dtb to /boot, and rename it to dtb.img.

Note:if you board is VIM3,please choose kvim3_linux.dtb, or your board is VIM3 Lite,please choose kvim3l_linux.dtb.

Step 3. Boot VIM from SD Card

There are 2 ways to boot from the SD Card:

1). Via Keys mode (Side-Buttons)

2). Activate Multi-Boot via Android.

  • Enter Settings->About Device->System->Updates.
  • Click select and choose
  • Click update, then the system will reboot and boot from the external media image.

WARNING: Don’t use your PC as the USB-Host to supply the electrical power, lest it will fail to activate Multi-Boot!


  • Android N has a permission issue. You cannot use it to boot from your external media image without damaging your SD card.

  • Android O also has a permission issue. If you want to boot Ubuntu with Linux 4.9 please refer to this guide.