Difference between revisions of "RPi Noob Guide to the Pi image"

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== Backup your work ==
== Backup your work ==
Look at the section about the [[RPi_Noob_Guide_to_the_Pi_image#Win32DiskImage|Win32DiskImage]]
Look at the section about the [[RPi_Noob_Guide_to_the_Pi_image#Win32DiskImager|Win32DiskImager]]

Revision as of 12:42, 4 April 2013

Heads up there have been loads of posts on the Forum caused by Power issues, Wireless and hub incorporated keyboards and incorectly seated SD cards (particularly where the SD card holder had a broken edge) if you are having problems check the Verified Hardware list If your SD holder is broken then contact your supplier re-returns (You should not be going to the back of the queue). If you can live with a bodge that seats your SD card then feel free but the recomendation is if it is broken out of the box seek a replacement from your supplier.

The intention of this page is to provide the detail of making a working SD card and some early hardware choices for a RaspberryPi keeping instructions and explanations jargon free as much as posible and explaining any neccessary jargon as it appears.

Also to provide some answers for the problems experienced by Noob users.

Getting an image

What is an image.

An image is a file you download that contains the bare minimum to setup a RaspberryPi SD card. The SD card is that bit of plastic you can put in your camera to store pictures and it is more than capable of acting as the primary disk for your RaspberryPi

The absolute minimum to load a Wheezy image is a 2 Gig (Gigabyte) SD card (there are images that will fit on a 1 Gig but not Wheezy) but you will not have much space so I reccomend a 4 Gig and as a noob have two if you can.

You can move to bigger ones later I started with a 2 Gig I extracted from an old camera and a 4 Gig I scrounged from an old MP3 player

If you have a camera that takes SD cards use the cameras format option its quick and usually works.

Ok most of this page will work around the Wheezy images but should work for any image but your going to need to get an image.

The Wheezy image at this time has two versions and each has two download methods

The older version Wheezy 2012-06-18 Beta is available here Note This does not work with the newer 512 "B" RPi's but it is fine on the 256 Rpi's

The current one Wheezy-Raspbian-2012-12-16 is on the main download page here This works on 256 & 512 RPi's

Both give the option of a direct browser download or a download using Torrent.

I am given to understand there's issues using these older images with the new 512 RPi's but not the other way the new image appears to work with the older 256 Rpi's (it works for mine at least).

Torrent is better for the community if you know how to use it but if you do not just let your browser do the work and take the Direct Download either way you will end up with a zip file.

Do not unzip yet you need to do a check on this zip file before you unpack (unzip) it.

The checksum and using it

On the download page you will see a long string with the name SHA-1 this is the checksum if you think any computer file is a sequence of numbers if you were to add all of those together you would get a result an answer.

Get one of the numbers wrong and the answer is wrong well the SHA-1 is a hexadecimal (base16) total for the zip file you downloaded.

This is actually a lie SHA1 is actually a fancy algorithim called a Secure Hash Algorithm but of which there are four. As a noob don't worry it is all done for you.

There is a little program SHA1SUM.exe that if you feed it your zip file will calculate an SHA-1 number and if that number is the same one on the download page you can be confident the download worked correctly.

A simple place to get sha1sum.exe this is cute because it comes with its own SHA1 checksum.

Highlight and copy the checksum create a new text file (I use wordpad) and paste the checksum into it, it may add some leading space so delete that highlight and copy it with the leading spaces removed save the file and when asked for the file name paste in the checksum followed by .txt

you now have a text file that has the checksum as the name and it contains the checksum this is slightly safer than writing it down. Also if you feel inclined it is easy to print a hard copy.

So you should now have copy of sha1sum.exe and a copy of its checksum

Double click sha1sum.exe you should get a pop-up window (you may get the unknown publisher one first and if you are running vista or Windows7 you will need to run as administrator)

The resuting window has two boxes and two buttons [select file] and [exist] (an unusual spelling of exit) click select file and browse to yor sh1sum.exe file and click. There should now be the file name in the top window and a value in the bottom window and because you used the checksum as a file name it will be fairly easy to compare the two if they are the same then you know sha1sum.exe is good.

So you now need to do the same for your downloaded image zip file. (NOTE the zip file not the extracted image file). it may be worth doing the little text file trick for your Wheezy image sha1 check value.

This is where this may sound patronising but remember each file has its own sha1 value.

If the values come out the same you can be confident the download was a sucess and it will be safe to unzip the downloaded file.

Unzipped you will end up with a file that ends .img this is the file you are going to build into your SD card but first you need a program to do this.

Image writers

Image writers are programs used to stuff a .img file onto an SD card or a pen drive.

There are two options in Linux

dd which is command line and not the easiest for the noob feel free to investigate but the following is the command line description for running dd

dd bs=1M if=[debian .img file] of=[path to your SD card]


There is a gui tool under the Ubuntu banner called ImageWriter (To use this you will need to add this into Ubuntu and it can be found in the Ubuntu Software Centre under Accessories) This is intuitive compared to dd.

One easy one for Windows

This is Win32DiskImage there are a number of locations you can get this

Win32DiskImage Note this kicks off an automatic download of the zip.

This is the same download you will get by following the link on the RaspberryPi Download page. This should work for all versions of windows but you should note that as usual that in Vista and Windows7 you will need to run as administrator. I have been told there is a special version for 64bit instalations but there appears to be no obvious link for this.

Various Mac options you can find here. Advice in the forum recomended a change to this link if you notice any problems feel free to update the wiki or just post in the forum although they harder to catch there.

I make no pretentions to know how to do this onna Mac I hope we can find a Mac punter to come and expand on the Mac options maybe even write its own dedicated wiki page for the Mac noob.

Linux dd

I am not going to pretend that the linux command line and the dd method is the easiest environment for a noob.

The following link to dd is the wikipedia page for dd this is a comprhensive page that has the answers but I would suggest that you save this for the time when your RPi is running and you can play with it there.

Ubuntu ImageWriter

The Ubuntu ImageWriter is as instinctive as it gets if you are working from a Linux Desktop I need to confifm other Distro's (Distributions = Flavours of Linux)

One thing to note with ImageWriter is that you cannot select the target till you have selected an image to write.

MAC Users

Link to image writer pages for the mac



This is the Windows tool used to write your .img file to your SD card this like the ubuntu tool is an instinctive in its use.

Unlike the Ubuntu tool you can select the SD card before you select your .img file some people have had issues with SD card readers particularly in built ones it has to be worth noting that good results have been achieved with the cheapest of card writers (for me poundland).

One advantage of the Win32DiskImage is that it can be easily used to read as well as write a disk image.

As a noob you may wonder what is the purpose of this?

Once you have installed your RPi image and done your customisation you can then use Win32DiskImage [Read] button to create your own image that you can use as a backup. But note you do need to give it a new name you do not want to overwrite your master image. (If you do there is nothing to stop you re-downloading if you do.

As a noob you can ignore the MD5 Hash option.

I am not suggesing you should ignore this forever but while you consider yourself still to be a noob just put it on the back burner.

Do not expect it to be a quick process and if you choose to backup your SD card after using something like the rsapi-config script and the the EXPAND-ROOTFS to use all of your SD card the image will be tailored to the size of card you have pulled it from.

If you want it to fit in a smaller card you will need to do some image reduction and to be fair thats not really a noob subject enough said it may be somthing for futher study once you gain confidence.

dd can also be used for backup but as I say dd is not for the faint hearted.

The .img file selection box has a browse button selecting your file may seem counterintutive for the noob because the actual select button says save its the way it is like a lot of Microsoft stuff. (Just think of the use of the start button to shut down in XP).

Live with it and click save then to write your SD card click write at this point you will be presented with a dialoge that you aregoing to overwrite everything on the card this is just a check to make sure you understand you are going to wipe your SD card. Then its a wait. Even for the smaller SD card images it will take a while one consideration is the job can be minimised to continue as a background operation.

When the program cfinishes you will get a popup Complete window with the message "Write sucessful."

Before you pull the SD card or the writer you should use your "safely remove hardware" option (This will probably not harm your SD card if you don't but it is considered good practice and if you dont and your SD get's corrupted you are only going to need to do it again.

There has been some comment about using up SD card write cycles but if you go and look at the wiki page for SD cards you will see that the usual number of write cycles for an SD card is about 100,000 even by a conservative estimate that is a fair life.

SD image size concerns

Having completed an install of an image on your SD card of choice at any point you can insert the card in any reader now if you view the card from Linux you can see the Raspberry partition but from Windows you can only see 12 files for both of the Wheezy installs.

A lot of noob users are concerned upon loading their image file to a larger card say 32Gig then looking at the image with windows only seeing a 58 meg partition do not worry there is a larger second part that is just not visible from Windows and once installed into a RaspberryPi this will come into force and even looking at the SD card with Linux it will look like it is not using all of the card.

Upon starting Wheezy with a Coposite or HDMI screen the script raspi-config will run automaticaly

If you choose there is the option of doing a Blind Login using Putty or another ssh login information here RPi_A_Method_for_ssh_blind_login if you choose this option you have to run raspi-config manually.

raspi-config also has the EXPAND-ROOTFS option which sets up the SD to Expand the root file system to make maximum use of the available space on the SD card next time it's booted and that reboot will take a couple of minutes longer.

SD Card Lock a heads up

The lock the little tab on one side of the SD card is not sensed or used by the RaspberryPi so it can write to the card even if the lock is on so let's follow this scenario

  1. You image your card sucessfully
  2. You accidentaly lock the card
  3. You boot from the card and realise you want to make changes to the config.txt (next section)
  4. You put your card into your PC, Mac, whatever reader
  5. You can't change anything you can not re-image you can't format but you can still change stuff when it's in your RPi

All because you accidentaly moved that little slide switch on the side of your SD Card.....

Broken SD Card holder

A couple of people have reported broken SD Card holders out of the box/packet.

This is a fit for purpose return but if you have had your RPi a few weeks you may have a problem registering for a return.

Replacement holders can be bought online but there is an alternative if you are soldering iron confident.

Poundland in the UK has card readers for a (you guessed it) a pound some of these come in clear cases so it's fairly easy to see if the holder is intact and is not part of the case.

I appreciate this may not be viable outside the UK.

Thanks to grahamed in the forum for this one.

Another option may be to glue in a micro SD adaptor and go to micro SD Cards.

Ther's a cool guide to be found here How to fix a broken SD slot


The only file of issue is the config.txt from Windows you need to open this with Wordpad (not notepad) this is the setup editble file and there is now a fully commented version available here commented config.txt

There are a lot of options in the config.txt file and activation usually consists of removing the # (hash) from the beginning of a line the promote the line from being a comment to being active.

If you have been reading the forum and your told to edit this file as an option this is the way. Once you have edited remember to save and to retain the name config.txt and if you end up lost by what changes you have made and want to revert to the original just re-image your SD card.

This is the configuration file that is accessed at start up for most installs you will not need to change this and if you are in any doubt it will be worth reading the fully commented version linked earlier.

Cable connections

The following sections cover some of the options for connecting your RaspberryPi

Link to Verified Hardware Page

RPi VerifiedPeripherals

Power to the RPi

A lot of noob problems can be linked back to power supply of which you have a vast number of options.

The primary and probably the easiest is to use a phone charger with a micro SD plug.

Second choice would be using a cable with a USB Male "A" type on one end and a Micro USB on the other and there are a number of ways of using this cable.

The first option I tried was using a USB from my PC on the USB "A" end and the Miro USB into the RaspberryPi. There have been issues with this as a connection from a laptop but a USB 3 port on a PC is considered more than adequate. And my USB 2 worked ok.

Third choice is a plug that has a USB socket in place of the cable these appear to work well and there are a lot of mobile phones that come with these as standard.

Fourth and probably best option is a Powered USB Hub and there is a rather nice circular option in that the Hub can power your RaspberryPi but then your RaspberryPi USB port can be used to distribute your usb options by connecting your hub with a USB "A"-"B" cable.

I am now using this method with a Belkin 7 port USB Hub model F5U010 this is not the only hub option it just happens to be the one that works for me.

There have been a few questions in the forum by noobs getting a colour rainbow flash (the initalising graphics chip) and then sometimes some text at which point the RaspberryPi appears to shut down with a black screen and then appears to start again.

This is almost certainly a power issue but the cause may not be the power supply there are a number of keyboards particularly those with LED's or integral USB hubs which try to draw too much power from the USB port.

There is an argument for having the cheapest and simplest Keyboard and Mouse for a first time start.


There are a lot of calls for help with wi-fi networking at this time there are some USB wi-fi solutions a lot of these users with wireless routers if they go back to the box (assuming they still have it will probably find an ethernet 10baseT RJ45 cable that came with their router.

Until the wireless solutions are in place your best startup will be by using a network cable.

Most (note not all) Netgear routers/hubs the DHCP embedded in the router/hub software should issue IP addresses that follow this pattern.

192.168.0.x If this is the case the hub probably uses 1 in place of the x as it's own address. Making the hub address

The primary computer will probably use 2 giving it the address of and the then the later ones will follow in sequence.

Other brand routers follow their own pattern for example I happen to know that a "Zoom X6 ADSL Router" uses an address of so a Warning here if the method using 192.168.0.x does not work and your router/hub is not Virginmedia (re-badged netgear) or Netgear or some other re-badged Netgear then its likely that your router IP addresses lie in some other range.

You may have to resort to reading the manual (shock horror) for your router/hub.

Its worth noting that you can test your RaspberryPi with just the network cable and a power connection then using an ssh remote login theres a whole section on this Blind Login Here.

This can eliminate a cycling restart caused by a flaky keyboard.

USB 1 & 2 & now 3

Your RaspberryPi has two USB ports without a USB hub you are limited to two so with a Mouse and Keyboard of course if you are choosing to run as command line and forgoing the gui screen startx then not having a mouse.

If you are set on learning the nuts and bolts of Linux command line is a good way to start.

If you are wanting to explore the options of the RaspberryPi Gui with minimal intrusion then the easiest option is a mouse and keyboard and ethernet and explore the vagaries of wi-fi attaching pen-drives or even printers you really do need to be exploring options using powered USB hubs.

USB 3 hubs will work with the RPi but a lot of these hubs do not support USB 1.1 which is typicaly used by the Keyboards and Mice we are investigating a simple work around using unpowered USB 2 Hub daisy chained onto the USB 3 hub we will update the wiki when we have any more information.

Till then the recomendation is a powered USB 2 with a meaty PSU

Update We have had feedback from DanG on the forum he has daisy chained a dumb USB 2 hub onto a USB 3 Hub and it has been able to support USB 1.1 Keyboard aand Mouse so we do have a fix. Thread here [1]


There are a lot of questions about using VGA Monitors and you can using a converter but they are not cheap this is not simply a case of a cable VGA is Analogue and HDMI is Digital its like AM and FM radio.

It is by far a cheaper option of picking up an old (not too old) TV with a Scart or an RCA AV input socket. For a Scart you will need a conversion plug to change the RCA Composite to Scart although these are relativly cheap and if the TV has an AV (normally yellow) Phono input it will be even cheaper.

HDMI to DVI Is an option and valid if you have a DVI monitor allready but the best fix is try and source a TV with HDMI.


Given the HDMI solution cables can be bought at the budget end for as little as 1GBP yes a quid at Poundland. I have two of these and both are up to the task.

The Default font with the Wheezy install is small and this is not an issue if you jump to startx and the gui screen but if you are planning to engage with the command line I would recommend you follow this Link this will tell you about a quick way of changing the Default FontFace and FontSize.

This is not the only way but it is quick and easy to understand. Always a consideration for the noob user.

There can arise a situation where you plug in an HDMI monitor and get a no signal response on your TV.

This can quite often be because the HDMI line was not active at start up you need your TV on and the HDMI live otherwise it defaults to Composite but there is a fix in the config.txt mentioned earlier remove the # (hash) from the start of the


line this wil make your RPi believe it has found the active signal on the HDMI socket.


This is the yellow phono plug oposite the HDMI a lot of TV's these days have a yellow phono socket often labled AV you can also get whats affectionaly called an RCA Scart In (Maplin code L83BA) There are cheaper suppliers(saw one in poundland last weekend). This converts a Scart socket to three phonos one is Composite Video and the other two are left and right audio.

The default setting for the composite output uses the american standard from the three widley available globaly these are

PAL = Phase Alternating Line (British)

SECAM = quentiel couleur à mémoire (French)

NTSC = National Television System Committee (American)

Map of who uses which

Setting this up is one of the lines in the config.txt file mentioned earlier.

For this the line you need to change is this


Remove the # (hash)

and choose the number from this list

0        Normal NTSC (Default)
1        Japanese version of NTSC - no pedestal
2        Normal PAL
3        Brazilian version of PAL - 525/60 rather than 625/50, different subcarrier

Conversation Capture from the forum


Running raspbian and using composite out to an old tv.
The problem im having is the bottom text of menus (usually with the ok and close buttons on them) is getting cut off. 
I dont mean cut off the bottom of the screen I mean cut off like all menus are too big and get cut off behind the taskbar. 
I went through dpi settings and every other setting i could find but couldnt find a way to shrink any menus


Most applications assume a minimum screen size, normally 640x480 or maybe larger. This causes a problem with composite monitors with a lower resolution.
If the window or menu is too large to fit on screen, press the Alt key while holding down the left mouse button and moving the mouse. 
This will move the window on the screen. Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing.


The other option is to increase the resolution in X. You can do this with (in config.txt)

Detail on dom's option here RPi config.txt


There are a few options for sound and as a noob exploring command line you are probably a fair way from using it in anger but if you are going down the startx gui screen then you are probably going to want to explore sound.

The sound port of the RaspberryPi is the small jack socket next to the yellow composite phono If you are going the composite Scart/AV route then a stereo jack to twin phono lead see Maplins N12GW or N04JZ will work or even use an L42AU then a couple of standard male phono leads. These aree not the only Maplin numbers there are lots of variations even gold plated.

Getting sound from an HDMI requires you piggy back the sound on the HDMI signal.

I know this works with a PC using HDMI and I can't see why it will not work for the RaspberryPi but none of the config.txt settings obviously support this and I have been aware of a lot of forum chatter on this subject.

For the time being as a noob plug some PC external speakers into the socket next to composite it's far easier.

The SD Card slot

There is a massive list of SD cards compatable with the RaspberryPi

If you have an SD Card capacity bigger than 2gig prefered minimum 4gig and it's spare and you don't mind blanking it then you can image it with Wheezy and if it does not work so be it.

I have several and 3 are 4gig SDHC and every card I have tried to date has worked.

The Wheezy Login and The tidy shutdown

We have to assume that early on in the playground that is a functioning RaspberryPi you will want to start and shut down and just like your PC or Mac it is best that this is done in an orderly fasion

We are assuming you are using Wheezy Login = pi password = raspberry

Till you change it, probably in raspi-config

To do the shutdown you need to be logged in and at the command line enter the following

sudo halt

If you are using a screen it will go off but if you are using a blind login or have failed to get a screen running and are running on guess work (prtending you can see what you are typing. A sucessfull halt (shutdown) will leave you with only the red power (PWR) led lit.

At this point feel free to unplug.

Hey look LED's

On your RaspberryPi in the corner you have five surface mount LED's labled as follows

  1. Green OK
  2. Red PWR
  3. Green FDX
  4. Green LNK
  5. Yellow 10M

With the fifth one nearest the corner.

Backup your work

Look at the section about the Win32DiskImager