Download and Produce a Balsa 8 gigabyte SD Card using a Linux Machine

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This page is part of the Quick Start for Balsa. It tells you how to turn an ordinary SD card into a Balsa SD card using a Linux Computer. The steps are:

  • install the programs you will need.
  • download the information (image file) for the Balsa SD card
  • expand the image file.
  • copy it to an SD card.

This process writes over the SD card completely. Any existing data on the card will be lost.

Install the Programs You will Need

Install the following packages: p7zip zsync usb-imagewriter

You can do that using Synaptic, Ubuntu Software Center or a Terminal command:

sudo apt-get install p7zip zsync usb-imagewriter

Download The Image Using Zsync

Start a Terminal session. Change directory to where you want to download the image file. Then enter this command:


A message may appear in Terminal: "No relevant local data found..." If you are not trying to resume an interrupted zsync download, ignore this message and let the download continue. If you DO want to resume an interrupted zsync download of this file and you see this message, type CTRL-C, check to be sure the current directory is where your interrupted download lives, then repeat the zsync command.

The image is a large file and may take some time. If you have to interrupt it, you can continue on from where it left off by re-entering the zsync command above.

Expand the image

In a Terminal session, Change directory to where you downloaded the image file. Then type:

7zr e balsa-1.0-lucid-beta-1-8gb.img.7z

This will create a file named balsa-1.0-lucid-beta-1-8gb.img in that directory.

Copy it to an SD card

Run the Imagewriter from Applications | Accessories | Imagewriter. Select the file balsa-1.0-lucid-beta-1-8gb.img and the SD card.

Note that the above program has a bug that makes the copying very slow and may also decrease the life of the SD card. Until this is fixed, you will want to do the following instead:

  1. Find the device name of the SD card. The easiest way to do that is to plug in the SD card, and run the Disk Utility (System | Administration | Disk Utility). The device name is titled Device: and looks something like /dev/sdd or /dev/mmcblk0
  2. Open a Terminal window and change to the directory where you have the file named balsa-1.0-lucid-beta-1-8gb.img
  3. In the following line replace sd-card with /dev/sdd or /dev/mmcblk0 you found in step 1.
sudo dd bs=4M if=balsa-1.0-lucid-beta-1-8gb.img of=sd-card

When the program or command is finished, the SD card will be a Balsa SD card.

You can use the card to set up a machine to set up a machine to run Balsa, either the machine you just used to build the card or a different machine.