Headless OS Reinstall Using NOOBS
If you run a headless Raspberry Pi then its not always convenient to connect it up to a keyboard, mouse and monitor if you wanted to reinstall the operating system on it. Provided you have installed the operating system using NOOBS and still have access to SSH then the below instructions can be used to get back to a clean install.
Mount the SD Card Root
Open up an SSH session and create an empty directory: sudo mkdir n00bs
Mount the root of the SD card to this folder: sudo mount /dev/mmcblk0p1 n00bs/
Open up the file in your preferred text editor (in this case I’m using nano): sudo nano n00bs/recovery.cmdline
The file should contain something similar to:
quiet vt.cur_default=1 elevator=deadline
Add vncinstall forcetrigger to the end of the line and save the file. This tells NOOBS to direct the GUI to a VNC instance and forces it to start the install screen as if shift had been held down at reboot.
You can now unmount the root of the SD card sudo umount n00bs/ and reboot sudo reboot
Use your favourite VNC client to connect to the IP address of the Raspberry Pi where you can continue the reinstall process.
Once the installation is complete, you’ll need to log back into the Pi using SSH. Use the steps above to mount the SD card root again and remove the vncinstall forcetrigger from the recovery.cmdline file. This is necessary to prevent your Pi from stopping at the NOOBS install screen every time it restarts.