How I set up my Raspberry Pi

XRoar Dragon emulator Nyan Cat running of Raspberry Pi

Although I got up early for the infamous scramble to bagsy one of the first Raspberry Pi available back in February, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones so had a rather long wait and was really excited when mine was finally delivered in July by the postman some months after many of my pals got theirs.

Raspberry Pi in my paws!

Below is a quick overview of how I got my Raspberry Pi up and running, you’ll notice straight away, this is different from playing with an Arduino or mbed as you’ll need to upload an operating system, as the Raspberry Pi is a small computer on a board and not a microcontroller which will run a single sketch. It doesn’t come pre-loaded with any software, so I’ve used Raspbian ‘wheezy’, a version of Debian Linux OS for my Pi.

If you’re just starting out with programming and the Raspberry Pi, you might find the links at the bottom of this page useful for more thorough information on how to set up and what to do with your Pi.

Getting started kit list:

The Raspberry Pi doesn’t come with anything and I forgot to order a bespoke power cable, but luckily my HTC phone’s power cable has the right micro USB to plug into its power socket. You shouldn’t power it from your computer as the current it draws is a bit too high for across USB! Other cables I used were a HDMI cable (you could use composite video, but either depends on your monitor), ethernet cable, USB keyboard, USB mouse, headphone jack for sound and finally I needed an SD card that I’d backed up and didn’t mind blatting all the content off and reformatting.

Raspberry Pi plugged into USB Happy Hacker keyboard & USB mouse

What I did to get Raspbian image onto an SD card via my Mac:

1. Download Raspbian from and unzip
2. Insert SD card into my Mac and open Terminal (command line interface)
3. Overwrite the FAT32 file system on SD card by doing the following…
4. Find the image in downloads by typing the following into Terminal
‘cd Downloads’ (hit return)
5. Then… ‘ls *.img’ (hit return)
6. Type ‘mount’ (hit return) to see where the SD card has mounted
7. Then ‘diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk1’ or wherever your disk 1 (which is your SD card) turned out to be when you typed ‘mount’
8. Write image to disk ‘sudo dd if=2012-07-15-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/rdisk1 bs=32768’ – this may take a while
9. Eject SD card

Loading Raspbian OS onto Raspberry Pi:

1. Pop SD card into Raspberry Pi and have a monitor plugged into it via HDMI or composite video, plus a USB keyboard and mouse to input to the Pi once the Raspi-config screen comes up and anything else such as Ethernet & I used my HTC charger for power as it has a micro usb on one end.
2. After a short while of loading you’ll be asked for a login which (at the moment) is login: pi and password: raspberry
3. When the Raspberry Pi has finished loading a screen of options will be left on screen – I selected expand root partition, as you need this to store more stuff on it – it will say on the next screen that it’ll implement this selection next time the Pi is booted
4. When one goes back to the Raspi-config screen, you may or may not want to set your keyboard – I set mine acordingly to Happy Hacker
5. Set locale & time zone – this is optional
6. I set boot_behaviour so it starts the desktop on boot
7. Tab to finish, I was done for now and so rebooted
8. I expanded the root partition, so had to wait a little while on reboot for it to do this!

Raspberry Pi: Raspbian set up - HH keyboard

XRoar Dragon emulator running on Raspberry Pi

HDMI above ^^^ vs. composite video below vvv

How Rasberry Pi desktop looks via composite video

If this has all worked okay, when you reboot you’ll have the Raspbian desktop and access to Midori browser which should work if you’ve got your ethernet cable plugged in and a few apps such as Scratch, a fun drag and drop app for programming for kids (big and small) and a Python programming compiler.

I’ve got XRoar Dragon (retro pooter) emulator running on mine and have been playing some old games such as Manic Miner and Frogger! I’ve also had Dragon Nyan Cat on my Pi.

Browser (my blog) & messing about with Scratch on Raspberry Pi desktop

Update! (5th Aug ’12)

Thought I’d post a screenshot of Terminal with the commands for getting the distro image on the SD card as I was having a look at Adafruit’s Occidentalis version of Raspbian ‘wheezy’ on my Raspberry Pi, which has some extra goodies such as support for Bonjour, I2C and hardware SPI, sshd on boot and ssh keygen.

Terminal window putting Occidentalis image on SD card for Raspberry Pi

Adafruit's Occidentalis version of Raspbian 'wheezy' on my Raspberry Pi

Adafruit's Occidentalis version of Raspbian 'wheezy' on my Raspberry Pi

Links for setting up your Raspberry Pi and things to do with it:

Instructions for SD card set up for various operating systems

Raspberry Pi Linux distro downloads

Raspberry Pi blog, with various projects

Adafruit’s Occidentalis version of Raspbian ‘wheezy’ distro

Manic Miner on Raspberry Pi via XRoar Dragon emulator


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