The Raspberry Pi is a multi-purpose credit-card-sized computer. You can use it to do many cool things. For example, you can host a website, a file server, or other servers on it. You can create a home surveillance system. You can set up a retro game system with emulators. Maybe you want to control a robot with the programmable pins. Or, you can just use it as a regular cheap desktop computer.
This guide will be focusing on setting up Raspbian. Some things may be a little bit different if you’re using another OS on your Raspberry Pi, however, many concepts will still apply.
Step 0: Pre-installation
Before we begin, you should be sure to have everything you will need. You will need one of each of these:
- Raspberry Pi, preferably the newest model. At the time of writing, that’s the Raspberry Pi 3.
- A Micro-USB power adapter which can handle at least 2.5A (at 5V DC or ~13W total).
- An HDMI cable, and an HDMI display, for displaying the desktop.
- A large Micro-SD card for storing the OS and any other files.
- You may need a Micro-SD card to USB adapter if your computer can’t read Micro-SD cards
- (Recommended) A case to place the device in, so it stays clean and safe.
Consider purchasing a “Starter kit” such as this one which includes a Raspberry Pi 3, a case, a power adapter, and heatsinks. This one doesn’t include a Micro-SD card, if you need one, you can buy a pack of them separately so that you can have extra Micro-SD cards for your phone and whatever else. Otherwise, you can buy a starter kit with a Micro-SD card included like this one.
Step 1: Downloading NOOBS
The recommended OS for the Raspberry Pi is called Raspbian. You can also install other operating systems on it, but regardless, the first thing you should do is download NOOBS, a tool to easily install various OSes on the Raspberry Pi.
- Download NOOBS here. Choose the non-LITE option.
- Plug in your Micro-SD card into your computer.
- Ensure the Micro-SD card is formatted as the FAT32 file system, as exFAT, NTFS, EXT4, etc are unsupported.
- Extract all the files from the NOOBS zip file onto the Micro-SD card.
- When the copy process is complete, eject the SD card from your computer.
Step 2: The Actual Installation
If you have a case for your Raspberry Pi, start by inserting the device into the case. Next, insert the Micro-SD card. You will also have to connect a keyboard/mouse and an HDMI display.
The last thing you should connect is the power. The Raspberry Pi powers on as soon as it receives power.
Once it boots up, the first thing you’ll want to do is select your language. The default is UK English.
Next, connect to Wi-Fi or Ethernet if available. This will give you more OS options.
Now you will see a list of what OSes are available. You can install multiple ones at once.
- You will probably want to install Raspbian, to have the recommended desktop experience available.
- If you want to run a home media center, install any of the media center OSes, such as OSMC or LibreELEC.
- If you want to have a retro emulation system, install any of the retro emulation ones, such as Recalbox or Lakka.
- The Windows 10 IoT isn’t what you think it is. Because this is ARM, not x86, you can’t run regular Windows programs, which are designed for x86. It also has a very minimal interface. You probably don’t want it.
Simply select which operating systems you want to install, and then click Install!
The installation will take awhile. Once the installation has finished, it will ask you to reboot.
If you chose multiple OSes, your Pi will present you with a tool that allows you to select which OS you want when your Raspberry Pi starts up.
Step 3: Post-Installation Configuration
Perform all updates.
- Open the software update menu and update your system. Do this for each OS you installed.
- On Raspbian, you can also open a terminal and manually type sudo apt update and then sudo apt upgrade to update the system. You will have to enter your password each time, the default is raspberry.
Enable SSH for each OS. One of the easiest ways to transfer files to each OS is to enable SSH access which allows you to connect to your Raspberry Pi as if it was a file server, and upload files from your regular computer using a program such as FileZilla.
- To set it up in Raspbian, read the SSH guide in the Raspberry Pi documentation.
- For other OSes, it’s somewhere in the menus. It varies depending on the OS.
- When connecting, the default username is pi and the default password is raspberry.
- You can either connect with PuTTY or a terminal to get CLI interface, or FileZilla or a Linux file manager for file transfer.
Step 4: Things To Keep In Mind
On Linux, most software is installed via the repositories. In most cases you will not be downloading new software from a web browser. When you do download software, you should look for a .deb package whenever possible
Since software is managed by the package manager, you can easily update your system. Regularly either use the built-in software updater tool or run sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y to keep your system updated.