RACHEL-Pi USB installer software

Hi, we’re working with World Possible to support RACHEL-Pi in our products (WDLabs). We have experimental software based on the R-Pi Foundation’s NOOBS OS installer that will install the RACHEL-Pi server onto a USB drive attached to R-Pi and also install a desktop to facilitate downloading RACHEL modules to create a customized server.

It’s set up as a dual-boot solution: (1) DOWNLOAD: boots Raspbian to provide easy setup of WiFi and enable simple selection and download of RACHEL modules (just drag ‘n’ drop rsync commands from the RACHEL module repository to the terminal) and (2) RACHEL-Pi: boots RACHEL-Pi to serve the downloaded RACHEL modules to local clients. The modules are stored in the NOOBS “Data Partition” which is shared between Raspbian and RACHEL-Pi and is maximized to the available space on the drive. The software is delivered via 2.3GB zip file for the SDcard. The USB drive doesn’t require preparation. After installation the SDcard is only used for the initial boot process (and for software reinstallation) and the USB drive handles the rest.

There’s a PDF at the link below with instructions, link to zip file and link to a quickie video stepping through software installation and use of server/client. This should be considered experimental, though I’ve been working with it on various devices with no issues (e.g. Pi3, CM3, PiDrive 314/250/375, PiDrive 64GB Flash, etc.).

If anyone’s interested, we’d like to do field testing and would provide beta test kits.


Dave Chew, WDLabs

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Hi Dave,
Yes, I’m interested.
Next week (Feb. 27) I’m heading to SA and Zim for several purposes. The primary one is setting up pilot projects using RACHEL-plus devices. Also, I’ve got meetings set up to discuss our goal of training local youths to assemble RACHEL enabled devices using Raspberry Pi components available in SA.
Please feel free to respond in this forum or to me at bob.rollins@redwoodlearning.org
PS Where are you located?

Hi Bob, thanks for your interest! Hopefully we can connect the dots and get you set up with devices to test. We have several products that can be used to create a RACHEL-Pi server. Which one(s) to ultimately use may depend on individual deployment projects- the priorities in terms of cost, #simultaneous clients, power consumption, physical environment, etc.

You can look at our current products here: https://www.wdc.com/products/wdlabs.html . We have more coming soon.

The product categories to focus on are:

PiDrives: USB disk drives optimized for R-Pi. Attach to R-Pi and use the software above to install RACHEL-Pi and RACHEL modules to the PiDrive.

Enclosure kits for R-Pi + PiDrive.

PiDrive Compute Centre: full computer kit including Pi3, PiDrive, enclosure, wireless KB/M, cabling, power supply, preloaded SDcard. Bring your own HDMI monitor and cable.

PiDrive Node Zero: PiZero integrated with PiDrive into a compact, low-cost, low-power server.

Our on-line store doesn’t currently reach SA, but we’re collaborating with several Pi distributors that may be able to ship there (The Pi Hut, Pi Supply, BuyaPi; more to be added). We could also set up an arrangement with a local distributor in SA that carries R-Pi products.

We’re located in Irvine, California.

After reviewing our products, can you make a proposal on what to send for beta test (products and quantites)? We can try different kits/configurations and see what works best, if you can manage it.


Hi Dave,
Thank you so much for the tutorial and help. I have successfully setup the Rachel-Pi USB on a Raspberry Pi 3 device and tested installing some modules and it works great.
Now, I live in Saudi Arabia and am interested in beta-testing your solutions. I’ll start with some local schools and youth communities. This is really a promising project.
I can also arrange for a local distributor for your products although we get products shipped directly all the time from the states.
Looking forward to working with you.

Hi Ahmed, thanks for your nice feedback on the RACHEL USB installer and offer to participate in beta testing. As described in my post above, we have a range of products for R-Pi that can be used for servers, client systems and other appliances. It would be best if you could propose what product(s) or functionality you need based on what the schools may already have, #user-students to be supported simultaneously, etc. For example, if you need the RACHEL server, we could provide the Pi, HDD, enclosure, cabling and power supply and SDcard preloaded with the RACHEL USB installer software. If you need client devices, we have the PiDrive Compute Centre, which is a full computer kit as described above. Let me know what you think.

Look forward to supporting your project! Thanks!

BTW, my email is dave.chew@wdc.com if you or anyone else would like to contact me directly.

@dwcsjca - what do you think about working with @JaniceLathen in Tanzania – they run RACHEL programs using Raspberry Pi clients and have been doing it for almost a decade. Highly recommended (I’ve visited their programs myself in Tanzania). NetHope 2017 Device Challenge Introductions

Hi Jeremy- thanks. I checked out her website and they’re very well established as you said. I’ll contact her to see if we can be useful to their program.


i tried to use this with a WD 4tb USB HDD and i ran into some issues…how can i get this to work with large USB storage space…it also didn’t work with a sandisk 256 GB thumb drive. it keeps saying it doesn’t have enough space (-359757 GB) or something

I would suggest using one of the images from this page instead. If you’re using a Raspberry Pi 3B+ you won’t need to change anything for USB booting. If you’re using a 3B or 2B you will need to follow a few instructions in the readme file.


Is the procedure to add Zim files for kiwix just a matter of copying the zim files to the /home/rachel-modules/ ?
Or should a sub directory be added to rachel-modules as in the post from

Thanks for any assistance