Getting started with Raspberry Pi
This is a short tutorial about how to get Raspberry Pi running as a desktop computer: What items are needed with detailed instructions.
This is my recommended list of items to have for this tutorial. See detailed explanations below for some alternative options.
- Computer with internet connection and microSD reader
- Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
- Official Raspberry Pi 3 Universal Power Supply
- microSD card (8 GB or larger)
- USB keyboard
- USB mouse
- HDMI cable
- HDMI display or TV with HDMI input
- (optional) Ethernet cable
- (optional) case for Raspberry Pi
Computer with internet connection and microSD reader
Raspberry Pi uses microSD card to store its operating system.
While you can buy microSD cards which already have operating system installed and are ready to be used with Raspberry Pi,
I recommend that you learn how to download operating system from internet and flash it to microSD card.
This has the huge benefit that you can freely experiment with Raspberry Pi,
and if you manage to mess up the operating system, you just need to re-flash it to microSD card and start over.
To do this you will need an existing computer with internet connection and microSD reader.
Some computers have build-in microSD reader but you can also use external microSD reader which connects to USB port.
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
I recommend Raspberry Pi 3 Model B as your first Raspberry Pi for the following reasons (some of these are also found in other models):
- 4 USB ports which allows you to connect keyboard and mouse with two ports free for other uses (e.g. USB stick)
- WiFi built-in, so you don't need USB adapter to use wireless networks
- Ethernet port, in case you use ethernet network
- Most powerful model (as of January 2017), which best allows you to test if
Raspberry Pi is powerful enough for your particular use case
Official Raspberry Pi 3 Universal Power Supply
One of the most common problems with Raspberry Pi is insufficient voltage from power supply.
This is often caused by voltage dropping so much in USB cable, that Raspberry Pi doesn't get enough.
Using official power supply with its built-in cable guarantees proper power to your Raspberry Pi.
Most significant difference between official power supply and usual USB power supplies is that
official power supply does not output just 5 volts but a bit more, to make sure that voltage is sufficient.
All USB devices can be used with voltage of up to 5.25 volts so this is safe to do.
Official power supply also has proper cable which minimizes voltage loss by being thick enough.
There are also other power supplies designed with Raspberry Pi in mind which gives higher voltage
than normal 5 volts (up to 5.25 volts is safe). If you can't get official one, try to get one of these instead.
Also try to get a USB cable which is short and uses thick power wires.
There are even special USB cables which just have the two power wires instead of all four (power + data).
Any microSD card of 8 GB or larger should work with Raspberry Pi.
As mentioned above, you can also buy microSD cards meant specifically for Raspberry Pi,
with operating system already installed.
These are a bit more expensive than normal microSD cards,
but will save you from needing to download an operating system and flash it to microSD card.
Flash operating system to microSD card
If you have microSD card which already has operating system installed, you can skip this step.
Still even in that case this will be useful if you ever mess up the operating system
and need to start over (without buying another microSD card).
I recommend using full Raspbian as your first operating system on Raspberry Pi.
This is quite large download, but includes many useful programs
so you can start using Raspberry Pi immediately without needing to install more.
- Go to www.raspberrypi.org
- Select Downloads at top
- Select Raspbian from the list of available operating systems
- Under the full version on left (NOT the lite version), click 'Download ZIP' and save it to somewhere.
- File will be named something like 2016-11-25-raspbian-jessie.zip (it is an archive, but don't extract it, just leave it as is)
Download and install etcher
You can't just copy operating system to microSD card, but need to use a special program to flash it.
etcher is the most simple I've found so far, and free to use.
- Go to etcher.io
- Click the green Download for ... button to download
(or click the little triangle on right to see all options)
- Depending on the version, you might (or might not) need to install etcher.
So run the program you downloaded, and if it starts an installer, follow the instructions to install etcher.
(Otherwise move on to next step).
- Start etcher (depending on version, either the file you downloaded, or the etcher you installed)
- Click 'Select image' and find the operating system you downloaded (named something like 2016-11-25-raspbian-jessie.zip)
- Connect microSD card to computer (either directly if your computer has microSD reader, or via USB microSD reader)
- Click 'Flash!' to start writing operating system to microSD card
- etcher first writes to microSD card and then verifies that writing succeeded
- When you get 'Flash Complete' message, quit etcher and remove the microSD card
Raspberry Pi doesn't have a power button,
so first connect everything except power (microSD card, USB keyboard, USB mouse, HDMI display)
and then connect power to MicroUSB.
- finish text of initial version
- add some images
- perhaps expand a bit later on