How to flash an NVMe boot drive with Raspberry Pi 5

This tutorial outlines how to use the Raspberry Pi 5’s built-in capability to automatically download and launch the Raspberry Pi Imager via network boot. This feature is ideal for setting up or reconfiguring NVMe drives without manual intervention, using an empty drive and an Ethernet connection.


  • A Raspberry Pi 5.
  • An empty NVMe drive.
  • An Ethernet connection with internet access.
  • No other bootable media (e.g., microSD card) inserted into the Raspberry Pi.

Step 1: Connect Your Hardware

  1. Connect the NVMe Drive: Attach your empty NVMe drive to the Raspberry Pi 5. Please follow our documentation for more details.
  2. Set Up Network Connection: Connect your Raspberry Pi to the internet using an Ethernet cable.

Step 2: Power On and Network Boot

  1. Power On: Turn on your Raspberry Pi without any microSD card inserted. Make sure the NVMe drive is already connected.
  2. Automatic Network Boot: The Raspberry Pi will perform a check for locally connected bootable media. Finding none, it will proceed to boot from the network.

Step 3: Raspberry Pi Imager Auto-Execution

Upon successfully booting from the network, the Raspberry Pi 5 will:

  • Automatically fetch the latest version of the Raspberry Pi Imager from the network.
  • Start the Imager, which will detect the connected NVMe drive.

Step 4: Automatic Flashing of Raspberry Pi OS

The Raspberry Pi Imager will:

  • Give you the ability to select the OS you want to install.
  • Begin the process of flashing the OS onto the NVMe drive without requiring user intervention, assuming default settings are to proceed automatically.

Step 5: Finalize Installation

  1. Reboot: After the OS is successfully flashed, the Raspberry Pi should reboot automatically.
  2. Boot from NVMe Drive: Post-reboot, the Raspberry Pi will now boot from the NVMe drive that contains the newly installed Raspberry Pi OS.


Your Raspberry Pi 5 is now configured to automatically detect an empty NVMe drive and install Raspberry Pi OS using its network boot feature. This method simplifies the process for users needing to install or update the OS on their devices, making it highly efficient for large deployments or rapid setups.

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