Updating and upgrading Pi-Star

Revised: Jun 2021, CC BY-SAOpen in new tab regular; PDFsOpen in new tab regular
As of Jan 1, 2024, this site is no longer being updated. It will remain available for some time for legacy reference.
Most up-to-date version: amateurradionotes.com/pi-star-updates.htm

Note: These are extracts from the Playing with Pi-Star and Pi-Star notes articles.

8) Updating Pi-Star

Pi-Star update version
Related article: Updating hotspot firmware via Pi-StarOpen in new tab regular

One of the nice things about Pi-Star is that it's updated on a regular basis to add new features, options, and fixes, as well as to add hostfile updates that have been pulled from upstream sources (to view the changes, see GitHubOpen in new tab regular). There are three ways to update Pi-Star: one automated and two manual:

9) Upgrading Pi-Star

Pi-Star upgrade version
Related article: Updating hotspot firmware via Pi-StarOpen in new tab regular
Upgrading from V3 to V4? See Upgrading to Pi-Star V4 (below)

The less frequent Pi-Star version upgrades makes operating system-level changes to the system services and packages required to support new features. Both the update and upgrade processes automatically switch Pi-Star into Read-Write mode, so there's no need to switch manually.

  1. Use an app to SSH into Pi-Star and log in. Or you can use the Update and Upgrade links in the Expert Editor.
  2. Begin with an update of the dashboard and binaries.
    In the SSH window:
    sudo pistar-update
    Or, click the Expert Editor's Update link.
    Allow the update process to run until you see:
    Updates complete, sleeping for a few seconds before making the disk Read-Only
  3. Next, upgrade the operating system, services, and packages.
    In the SSH window:
    sudo pistar-upgrade
    Or, click the Expert Editor's Upgrade link.
  4. Beginning with Pi-Star version 4.1.5 / Dashboard version 20210619: It's only necessary to run the Upgrade process once; the process now automatically upgrades all the way to the most recent version.
    Prior versions: Run the upgrade process as many times as needed until the system reports you are on the most recent version:
    You are already running the latest version…
    Sleeping a few seconds before making the disk Read-Only…
  5. It's a good idea to reboot the hotspot after upgrading.
    In the SSH windows:
    sudo reboot
    Or, open the Power view, and then click Reboot.
  6. The dashboard displays the current version number, for example, 3.4.16.

For more info about what's included in an upgrade: On the Pi-Star Downloads pageOpen in new tab regular, scroll down to the Change Log section.

21) Upgrading to Pi-Star V4

If you're upgrading an existing hotspot from Pi-Star V3.#.## to Pi-Star V4: Due to the complexity of the OS upgrade, you can't just click the Upgrade link or run sudo pistar-upgrade. (Yep, Andy has spoiled us!) However, there's a shortcut that can make the upgrade easier. Just watch this short (3 min) tutorial video by Craig, W1MSG: Upgrade to 4.0Open in new tab regular.

I've tested this on Mac and Windows 10, and it worked well. Here are the steps:

  1. Backup the Pi-Star configuration on your existing hotspot. For more info, see Backing up and restoring Pi-StarOpen in new tab regular
  2. Download the Pi-Star V4 image:
  3. Insert a microSD card into your computer and flash a download of the Pi-Star V4 image to a microSD card. For more info, see Flashing Pi-StarOpen in new tab regular
    Note: If using Windows, dismiss the system Format Disk message.
  4. After flashing the Pi-Star image to the microSD card, eject it, and then reinsert it.
    Note: If using Windows, once again dismiss the Format Disk message.
  5. Copy the backup zip file to the boot partition of the freshly imaged microSD card, and then eject it again.
  6. Insert the microSD card into the RPi and power it up. The first boot up will take a bit longer than usual because V4 now automatically expands the filesystem (sweet!) and then unpacks and restores your backed up configuration. The good news is that subsequent boot ups are even quicker than they were previously.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Hint (thanks to Larry, KF7L): If the image doesn't connect to your WiFi network and instead goes into Auto AP mode, the issue could be because your router doesn't broadcast SSIDs. In that case, you might want to try adding:
    to the /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf file, between ssd and psk:
       ssid=576972656c …
       psk=364b8070f60 …
  7. Log into Pi-Star in order to open the Configuration page.
    • User Name – This your hotspot's hostname, either the default, pi-star, or whatever you changed it to in your backed up configuration.
    • Password – Even if you used your own Remote Access Password in the configuration you backed up, for security reasons, the Pi-Star backup does not back up this password, so you must use the default password to log in: raspberry.
  8. It's a good idea to double-check your configuration settings. Some settings are not backed up, so if you changed them to something other than the default, you'll find that they are back on the default settings of a new install, for example:
    • General Configuration – Dashboard language (default English_uk)
    • D-Star Configuration – Time Announcements (default: On) and Use DPlus for XRF (default: Off). If you change the Use DPlus for XRF setting, you must run a Pi-Star Update to put the new setting into effect.
    • Firewall Configuration – Auto AP (default: On)
    • Remote Access Password – Since Pi-Star backup does not back up this password, if you want to use your own password, which is a good idea, you'll need to enter your own password.
  9. It's also a good idea to make a new backup of your Pi-Star V4 configuration. For more info, see Backing up and restoring Pi-StarOpen in new tab regular.