RPi Beginners

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Getting Started:

Buying Guide - for advice on buying the Raspberry Pi.

SD Card Setup - for information on how to prepare the SD Card used to boot your Raspberry Pi.

Basic Setup - for help with buying / selecting other hardware and setting it up.

Beginners Guide - you are up and running, now what can you do?

Advanced Setup - for more extensive information on setting up.

Trouble Shooting - some things to check if things don't work as expected.

Where to start?

Any easy question to ask, but a very difficult one to answer!

  1. If you are looking for any information related to SD Cards and setup look here.
  2. If you need to get a Raspberry Pi then see the Buying Guide.
  3. If you need to know what equipment you will need and how to set it up, see the Basic Hardware Setup page.
  4. If you need to install/setup an SD card see the Preload your Card section.
  5. If something is not working, check the Troubleshooting section.
  6. If you have imaged a SD card with the Raspbian image and started your RPi here's some help with what you need first - the raspi-config menu RPi_raspi-config.
  7. If you don't have a composite monitor or HDMI then it may be worth you looking at Blind Login Method.
  8. VNC connection for remote access VNC for remote access; a GUI when using the Blind Login.
  9. If you've done all that, and you are wondering what next... welcome and read on!

If you don't have a Raspberry Pi yet, you can still try things out, see Windows RPi Emulator for details.

What is Linux and why not use Windows?

Linux is an operating system just like Microsoft Windows, however, unlike Windows (which has a minimum hardware requirement to run i.e. if it does not fit, get different hardware), Linux comes in many varieties and configurations which means you can usually find a flavour (or Distribution) which fits your hardware big or small / fast or slow.

The Raspberry Pi is not suited to running Microsoft Windows due to its hardware, but there are plenty of Linux Distributions which do fit nicely. In addition to this, most Distributions of Linux are free, however Microsoft Windows can cost many times the price of the Raspberry Pi itself.

Chances are you already have Linux running in your home without you even knowing it, since it is commonly used in Kindle ebook readers, Android smartphones, modern TVs, Freeview and cable boxes to run things.

For more information about Linux see the Wikipedia page.

Also see Running XXX on the RPi

Basic Raspbian Setup

When you first turn on your Raspberry Pi with it's fresh Raspbian image on the SD card, you will likely want to tweak the system settings. There's a tool called raspi-config which makes everything super-easy to set up. This automatically launches when you first boot Raspbian up (depending on the version and configuration).

If you want to access the setup screen again, just type:

 sudo raspi-config

in the terminal (LXTerminal in the desktop UI).

Intro to the CLI (Command Line Interface)

You will need to use the Command Line Interface at some point in your management of the RPi. The command line interface is a powerful way to interact with the Raspberry Pi and is well worth learning some basic commands to get started with.

For an introductory guide to some basic commands please see: Command Line Interface "Must Have" Commands. For general Linux commands, try this site for "learning the shell"

Your SD card may boot into a GUI, if not and you are done with the text interface and want to use a graphical one instead, run:


Remote Access

Your default install probably has a ssh (secure shell) "daemon" running. This means that you can run everything on your RPi with only the network attached. Provided you know which IP address it has. With appropriate software installed on your Windows, Mac or Linux PC, you can also run a terminal, GUI or other program remotely.

More details about remote access (including remote GUI are at RPi Remote Access.

Installing and updating software to your Raspberry Pi

You will probably want to add software to your Raspberry Pi, as well as keep the current packages up to date. With Raspbian this is performed using apt-get. The most common commands can be found in the adding software page. It is good practice to regularly ensure you run the update and upgrade commands detailed in the guide to ensure you have the most up to date software packages.

The apt-get package for Raspbian will also keep the GPU firmware updated to the latest stable release. If you'd like to try the bleeding edge releases you can read more on the RPi Software.

Adding USB Storage to Your Raspberry Pi

Sooner or later, you're going to run out of room on the SD card used to boot up your Raspberry Pi. For a tutorial on how to connect USB flash drives and hard drives to your Pi to expand storage, see: Adding USB Drives to a Raspberry Pi.

Beginner Projects

Here are a few things you can try out with your Raspberry Pi, in most cases all you'll need is your SD Card loaded with a particular preconfigured OS Distribution.

It will be worth getting a few spare SD Cards if you think you will switch between setups regularly or become familiar with how to back up and restore your card.

Backup your SD card

For Windows users the 'Raw HDD Copy Tool' from HDD Guru works well to backup and restore your SD card between projects. This can backup and restore the entire card sector by sector to/from an img file, and doesn't care which file system is on the card.

Raw HDD Copy Tool

Linux and Mac OS(X) users can use the dd tool that comes with most versions of Linux (including Raspbian) to save the contents of an SD card as an image file. Warning: be sure to use this tool carefully as accidentally choosing your hard drive as the output will destroy all data on it.

Mac OSX users can use PiCloner. The PiCloner app is easy to use and will help you detect your SD card, back it up to an img file and is able to compress the img using GZIP to decrease backup size. PiCloner is Free Open Source Software (FOSS) released under a BSD License so it's Free as in; Free Beer!

Media Player

With this configuration you will typically have the Raspberry Pi connected to a TV or large monitor and a source of videos/music/photos etc you wish to play (i.e. Internet/hard-drive/local network etc).

DesignSpark have written an article on this, which is worth a look, DesignSpark - Raspberry Pi goes to the movies

You can download an installer from www.raspbmc.com which will install to your desktop (IOS, Windows, Linux) and write the latest install to your SD card. You then boot your Pi with the card and go through the config steps.

There is a brief video basic tutorial here: http://www.instructables.com/id/RaspberryPi-Media-center-XMBC/

Play Games

There are plenty of ways to play games on the Raspberry Pi. Check the RPi Games page.

Many distributions will have games built into them, and some may well support emulation of other platforms so you can run those games.

A lot of Raspberry Pi users will be writing simple games which will be available for others to enjoy (and if desired added to or modified).

Introducing Young Children To Computers

Several resources exist for introducing children to computers using the Raspberry Pi. Check the Raspberry Pi Foundation's website.


There is a huge number of groups, links and resources available within the Education section, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation's website.

Learn To Program

There is a huge selection of programming languages which you can use to write interesting programs, games, applications and utilities. There are also more great links within the Education section.

If you are new to programming, there are plenty of tutorials for getting started in the Tutorials Section.

Books about programming can be found in the Books Section.

In the latest Raspbian, Python and Scratch are pre-installed.

Interface With Hardware

See Easy GPIO Hardware & Software

Word Processing/Internet Browsing etc

Yes, the Raspberry Pi can do the majority of the dull stuff too which other computers do.

Raspbian currently comes with Midori installed for web browsing and LibreOffice for word processing and spreadsheet (office); other programs be installed rather easily.

  • Entering "sudo apt-get install chromium-browser" into a terminal will install Chromium which is generally a faster and more featured browser than Midori
  • Entering "sudo apt-get install abiword-common" into a terminal will install AbiWord, a lighter weight but still fully functional word processor
  • Entering "sudo apt-get install gnumeric" into a terminal will install Gnumeric, a lighter weight but still fully functional spreadsheet

Your Own Pet Project!

The sky is the limit really, with some time and effort any number of projects can be achieved.

Even if you don't have the skill to do it yourself, you can join like minded people by getting involved with one of the numerous groups in the Community Section, also within the Education pages or learn what you need in from the Guides & Tutorials sections.

Of course, if you do anything interesting then please let us know in the Projects section.

Living Without RPi

Even if you do not have any Raspberry Pi hardware there are a number things you can do to learn about Linux, programming or even controlling hardware.

Using Linux

You can install a version of Linux on most computers, and on many you will be able to "try out" Linux by using a "Live CD" - this will start your computer up running from a CD or DVD and run Linux (without installing anything to the computer itself).

RacyPy - This is a simple LiveCD of Puppy Linux which includes some basic programming languages and a light-weight graphical user interface (GUI). You can get it from here: teampython RacyPy

Trying Programming

Many of the programming languages you can use on the Raspberry Pi can be installed on a Windows or Mac machine. Just visit the websites of the languages you are interested in and see if they have an installer for your operating system.

Controlling Hardware

As discussed in the Easy GPIO Hardware & Software tutorials, there are lots of alternative hardware you can use to experiment with (some as little as $5).

About This Page

The intention of this page is to provide a starting point for beginners and to direct them to the kind of information a person would need in order to start doing something useful or interesting with a Raspberry Pi.

It is not intended to contain or replicate much of the information already available on-line or elsewhere in the wiki, however new wiki pages can be linked here if there is information beginners will find useful.