Where to start?
Any easy question to ask, but a very difficult one to answer!
- If you are looking for any information related to SD Cards and setup look here
- 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 have imaged a SD with the Debian Wheezy image and started your RPi here’s some help with what you see first – the raspi-config menu RPi_Wheezy_raspi-config
- Help for Noob’s with a quizical disposition and Wheezy or Raspbian instalations here
- If you don’t have a composite monitor or HDMI then it may be worth you looking at Blind Login Method
- Build yourself a Wheezy LAMP webserver.
- VNC connection for the monitorily challenged Noob VNC for a wheezy install (noobs that are using the Blind Login)
- If you’ve done all that, and you are wondering what next…welcome and read on!
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 will likely want to tweak the system settings.
Default login and password
See the default login section of distributions page to access your Pi.
By configuring the locale settings, you can change the language and country settings (e.g. to get correct sorting behaviour) for much of the software available for the RPi. The default RPi locale is English/Great Britain (“en_GB”).
You can alter this with
sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales
You will get a very long list of possible locales. You can enable/disable a locale by pressing the spacebar (not Enter), and scroll through the list using the arrow keys or PgUp/PgDn.
Selecting “All locales” will generate all possible locales, taking a very long time and using a great deal of space. Select only those you wish to use.
It is highly recommended to stick to the UTF-8 locales, and to leave the en_GB.UTF-8 locale enabled, in addition to any other locales you enable.
When you’re done picking locale(s), press Enter. You will be prompted to select a default locale as well.
If different letters appear on-screen from that which you typed, you need to reconfigure you keyboard settings. In Debian, from a command line type:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration
Follow the prompts.
Or: From the command line type:
sudo nano /etc/default/keyboard
Then find where it says
Also, see the Troubleshooting Guide for more information about remapping the keyboard.
You may need to restart for the changes to take effect.
If you get a very long delay during the keyboard mapping at startup, type the following once on the command line after you have logged in:
If the selected keyboard layout is not applied in the console (that is, when not running under X), try:
sudo apt-get install console-data
Unless you live in Great Britain, you’ll have to change the default timezone:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata
Select geographic area – Europe, America or whatever. Etc gives UNIX compatible time zones including CUT, GMT, UTC
Follow the prompts to finish the config. The change should be immediate.
Create a new user with sudo-privileges
You may want to create a new user account for yourself.
Type in following command in the terminal to create a new user:
sudo adduser username
Follow the steps.
To allow the newly created user to use the “sudo” command, type:
Add following line under the “root ALL=(ALL) ALL” Line:
yourUsername ALL=(ALL) ALL
Now press CTRL+K, X to save and exit the editor.
Alternatively instead of adding the user to the sudoers list, you can add your user to the sudo group with the following command:
adduser <username> sudo
Debian Wheezy, using raspi-config
Debian Wheezy has a menu that will do some of the above and more RPi_Wheezy_raspi-config
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.
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:
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 Winodws, Mac or Linux PC, you can also run a gui remotely.
Prior to your initial remote access it is recommended that you regenerate unique host public/private ID keys with the following command
rm /etc/ssh/ssh_host_* && dpkg-reconfigure openssh-server
More details about remote access (including remote GUI are at RPi Remote Access
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 Raspberry 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.
For Windows users the ‘Raw HDD Copy Tool’ from HDD Guru works well to backup and restore your SD card between proejcts. 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.
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
There is a huge number of groups, links and resources available within the Education section.
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
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 chromium-browser” into a terminal will install Chromium which is generally a faster and more featured browser than Midori
- 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
- 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.
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).