Once upon a time, the computer used to be as big as your entire room and comes with the memory less than your home printer. And look at them now. It’s smaller than the palm of your hand and can process thousands of instruction under one second.
No. I am not talking about smartphones but an actual computer- you know the one with a keyboard, mouse and monitor etc.
So finally you brought a Raspberry Pi- the popular $25 credit-card sized computer. Basically, it’s a small chip with built-in processor and RAM. However, to use it as fully fledged computer you will have to add other accessories like monitor, keyboard, mouse, hard drive (aka SD cards) in the slots provided.
Booting your Raspberry pi for the first time is not a rocket science. In fact, with NOOBS (new out of the box OS for raspberry pi) even a non-technical person can set up Raspberry Pi. It’s that easy. However, this step-by-step guide will give you a better overview of the entire process and save you some time. So let’s get started.
Before we start, you will need
1. Raspberry Pi– I have the b+ model, but this guide should work for all the versions.
2. Micro-USB power supply– your android mobile charger will work fine. However, it ‘s better to use a tablet charger instead, as it carries more power
3. Micro SD card– it should be minimum 2GB and will act as a hard drive containing OS for your raspberry pi. (for b+ and later model you need the small SD card or the memory card that we use in smartphones)
4. Monitor (or a TV with HDMI port) for output screen and a keyboard and mouse for input. Wireless ones work fine as well.
5. HDMI cable to connect the monitor and Raspberry Pi.
6. And finally a computer to download Rasberiean OS and SD card reader to put that on SD card
Setup Raspberry Pi for the First Time
From your computer connected to the internet, download NOOBS — a user-friendly operating system for the raspberry pi. There is two version of it on the website: NOOBS (742 MB) and NOOBS lite (21 MB).
The smaller one is an installer and lets you select the individual operating systems during the installation process. However, I suggest you go with the bigger one i.e. NOOBS as it’s a complete package and you do not need an active internet connection while installing OS.
Next download SD Formatter 4.0 for your operation system and install it.
Then plugged-in your SD card in the computer, run the program and format the card. From the options, make sure format size adjustment is ON and format type is set quick.
Once the NOOBS file is downloaded, unzip it and copy paste all its content in the memory card. Then safely remove your card.
Your SD card should look like the image below.
Carefully insert your SD card to your raspberry pi and then connect all the other accessories like mouse, keyboard, HDMI cable, and power cable etc
Power ON the Rasberry Pi. You will notice the light blinking on the circuit board. And on the screen you will see a small window with different OS suggestion. Select Raspbian from the list using your mouse or keyboard and click install on the top.
The installation process will start immediately. However, it may take some time depending on your SD card class and space. For me, it took 15-20 minutes on 16GB class 10 SD card.
Once the installation is complete you will see a configuration windows with a bunch of options like date and time step-up, change username and password, modify clock speed etc.
Use the arrow key on your keyboard and make changes you like. The interface is self-explanatory. However, I suggest you go to third option and set the default boot to GUI. Use the tab key on your keyboard to go to finish and hit enter.
This will restart your system to GUI and from now on you will see this screen when you power on your Raspberry pi.
Things you should know
The default username for Raspberry is pi with the password raspberry. To go to GUI from terminal type in the command startx.
NOOBS comes with some basic software (like web browser, text editor, Minecraft etc) built-in. However, you can also find most major software from the store or check this list of projects from the official websites.
Though you can use Raspberry pi as your regular personal computer, it’s more suitable for personal DIY projects, alternative to always ON computer, or to understand how a computer work at a core level.