FAT32 and FAT issue

I have a RPI3B+ and have tried installing several OSs on it. I am formatting the SC card with SD Card Formatter (not Windows). SDCF does so as FAT32. But when I use Etcher to install the OS, the card is changed to FAT. Whud da hay! This is an issue because Putty or BitVice will not connect to my RPI if the SD format is FAT. How can I make BEtcher leave the SD card as FAT32 and not change it to FAT? When the card is indeed in FAT32 format, the terminal connects no problem at all.

I need some good advice. Thanks a cool million for your help.

Etcher does not format the SD card, it just writes the image you provide to it.
Which image are you trying to write?

Libreelec or something similar. Etcher starts with an SD card that is fat32. When the burn is done. It is fat. I know what I’m doing. Card is a 64gB card. Right now I’m working with Partition Wizard mini tool to change the card’s formatting to show alll 64 gigs of it. PW mini tool keeps wanting to only restore data as opposed to formatting. So I’m doing an overwrite format to erase the data, then I’ll try again.

Oh, and using SD card formatter to accomplish the overwrite. Thanks for your response Zvin


balenaEtcher is a tool for flashing disk images. And a disk image contains partitions, type of those partitions (fat, fat32, ext3, …), data, etc. You can look at it in this way - simplified explanation - balenaEtcher just copies bit by bit from the image to your SD card. There’s no formatting, partitioning, etc.

If you look at our device images they do contain following partitions:

  • resin-boot fat32
  • resin-rootA extFS
  • resin-rootB extFS
  • resin-state extFS
  • resin-data extFS

resin-data partition is a small one and it’s going to extended during the first boot to cover rest of the SD card capacity.

If you flash balena device images, you’ll end up with fat32 partition followed by couple of extFS partitions. If you flash any other image, like mentioned libreelec, you can end up with different partitions and different partition types (fat, ntfs, fat32, extfs, …).

In other words - partitions, types, data, … all this information is provided by the image.

If you’re on macOS, you can check what’s inside an image with Disk Utility. Open it, choose File -> Open Disk Image…


It means that if you’d like to have fat32 instead of fat, you have to provide another image with this type of partition. As I explained, balenaEtcher just copies the image as it is.

I’m sure that there are other tools for Linux / Windows platforms that will allow you to check what’s inside the disk image you’d like to flash.

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I just checked the libreelec LibreELEC-RPi2.arm-9.0.2.img image from this archive http://libreelec.reloumirrors.net/LibreELEC-RPi2.arm-9.0.2.img.gz.
It contains 2 partitions:

  • a 512MiB fat16 partition
  • a 32MiB ext4 partition

That is what you should see after flashing this image to an SD card.
If you’re on Windows, you’ll only see the fat16 partition as it can’t read ext4 partitions.