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?
Latest RPi 4 Topics - Recent topics on Raspberry Pi 4 and the Pi OS
Advanced Setup - for more extensive information on setting up.
Trouble Shooting - some things to check if things don't work as expected.
INFO : If you are looking for any information related to SD Cards and setup look here There is some restructuring going on , we are sorry for the inconvenience.
About This Page - For Contributors
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 please create new wiki pages and link them here if there is information beginners will find useful (similarly any section which grows too much here, should be separated into new pages as and when needed)!
At the moment building up ideas of content of typical things beginners will want to know and the kind of things they will want to do first.
Where to start?
Any easy question to ask, but a very difficult one to answer!
- If you need to get a RPi, the see the Buying Guide.
- If you need to know what equipment you will need and how to set it up, see the Basic Hardware Setup page.
- If you need to install/setup an SD card see the Preload your Card section.
- If something is not working, check the Troubleshooting section.
- If you need help with Debian, try the Debian Wiki.
- If you've done all that, and you are wondering what next...welcome and read on!
References needed (idea for new section Living Without RPi, which can guide users or link to info to users who haven't got RPis) Link to emulation builds or live linux cds setup for beginners (RacyPy2 for example)
If you don't have a Raspberry Pi yet, you can still try things out, see xxxx for details.
What is Linux and why not use Windows?
Linux is an operating system just like Windows, however, unlike Windows (which needs a set hardware requirement to run i.e. One Size fits or 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 Windows due to its hardware, but there are plenty of Linux Distributions which fit nicely. In addition to this, most Distributions of Linux are free, however 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 modern TVs, Freeview and cable boxes to run things and ensure your recording of Inbetweeners or Prison Break gets done!
For more information about Linux see Wikipedia
Basic Debian RPi Setup
When you first turn on your Raspberry Pi with it's fresh Debian image on the SD card, you may have to make some minor adjustments to the OS configuration files to suit your location. The default location setting (locale) is the UK.
You can alter this with
sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales
There are quite a lot of options - most people will want to use the UTF-8 variant for their locale. This will also allow you to set anomalous cases like US keyboard but Dutch locale.
If you find that some keys are not working as expected, it is probably the keyboard mapping. To edit the mapping, you have to change it in the /etc/default/keyboard config file. Use sudo to obtain temporary root: use dpkg-reconfigure to reconfigure the keyboard settings. Many people will want a querty variant / quertz or similar. PC keyboard will also do for most people
sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-data
Changes will certainly be picked up at the next restart.
Change the Timezone
Unless you live in Great Britain, you'll have to change the default timezone. Use "sudo" to obtain temporary execute permissions.
sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata
Follow the prompts to finish the config. The change should be immediate.
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
Adding more software to your Raspberry Pi
You will probably want to add software to your Raspberry Pi. Here you can find out how to do it. Adding 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 Strawberry Pi
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.
Reference needed - a good guide on how to backup and restore cards or software to do this easily
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 done a article on this, which is worth a look, DesignSpark - Raspberry Pi goes to the movies
Reference needed - links to a specific wiki page covering this in detail or links to projects like OpenElec, CrystalBuntu, Raspbmc etc
While there are not any commercial games for the Raspberry Pi (yet) there are plenty ways to play games on it.
Many distributions will have games built into them, and some may well support emulation of other platforms so you can run those games.
Also, 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).
Reference needed - game section is empty at the moment!
See the Games Section for more details
Introducing Young Children To Computers
Reference needed - some kid friendly and fun stuff!
There is a huge number of groups, links and resources available within the Education section.
Reference needed - links to the learning pages, education links and school/university groups
Learn To Program
There is a huge selection to choose from (not just Python...) which should suit any ability and a range of purposes.
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 Debian, Python (+Pygame) and MIT Scratch are pre-installed.
Reference needed - links to the learning pages, recommended books?
Interface With Hardware
Reference needed - links to basic circuits tutorials and expansion boards
Word Processing/Internet Browsing etc
Yes, the Raspberry Pi can do the majority of the dull stuff too which other computers do.
Debian currently comes with Midori installed for web browsing and word processing programs be installed rather easily.
- Entering "sudo apt-get install openoffice.org" into a terminal will install OpenOffice.org, a free Microsoft Office-like application suite
- Entering "sudo apt-get install abiword-common" into a terminal will install AbiWord, a lighter weight but still fully functional word processor
More information needed
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.
You can install a version of Linux on most computers, and 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:
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.
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).