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Setting Up Your New Raspi

Now that you have your new Raspberry Pi computer this article will show how to get it set up and operational.

  1. If you did not get a micro-SD card when you ordered your Raspberry Pi computer you will need to:

    1. Get a blank micro-SD card. He Minimum recommended is 8 GB.

    2. Download the operating system of your choice from https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/ to your desktop or laptop. Here you will have a choice of 3 versions of the Raspian operating system. These are Linux versions based on the Debian operating system. They are all available as a Torrent download or as a ZIP download. The versions available as of the date of this are:

      1. NOOBS

        This is known as: “New Out Of the Box Software” and consists of Raspian and well as several other operating systems. I have looked at it and would recommend not using it and instead use one of the below options.

      2. Buster Full

        This version contains over 35,000 additional applications that will increase your productivity while using your Raspberry Pi. The size of this file is 2530 MB.

      3. Buster Desktop

        This version contains fewer applications and the file 1136 MB. The application included provide for a general purpose computer system.

      4. Buster Lite

        The smallest of the files weighs in at only 434 MB. This version is designed to be used in the Headless Mode such as for a web server or an embedded system.

      5. Third Party Operating System Images

        Located at https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/ are 11 other operating systems that can be installed on your Raspberry Pi.

    3. Download and install Balena Etcher to your desktop or laptop. This is an application that will allow you to easily burn/copy the above software you have downloaded to your micro-SD card. The above link will tell you everything you need to know about the program and how to install and use it. By using this program you will NOT need to unzip the file before installing it on the card or memory stick. If you will be using your computer in the headless mode, before you remove it from your main computer create a empty file in the “/boot” directory called ssh. Just plain ssh without any extension or anything else.

    4. Once you have the software copied to the micro-SD card insert it in your Raspberry Pi computer. Then plug the PSU to the computer and the transformer to the electrical outlet.

    5. If using either option 2 or 3 at the top left will be a raspberry icon. Click on it and it will give you a menu list of options.

      1. On the “Localisation tab” you should set all 4 of the items for your local area. Today I discovered a problem with my Raspi is that if you live in any country other than the UK, you should NOT change the password first if you use special characters such as “#” or “!” in your password. You should first change “Location/Keyboard” from the Raspberry Pi Configuration or sudo raspi-config if in the terminal mode, to your current location and then change your password. The reason for this is that the default keyboard is set to a UK location and some of the keys are different on the UK keyboard from keyboards from other countries. I found this out the hard way as I changed my password and then the keyboard location and was NOT able to log in again as I use some special characters in my password. For information on how to do this see: Chapter 14.

      2. The next item you should select is “Change Password” and enter your own secure password.

      3. Another item you will see is “Boot”. This will allow you to select where you want it to boot to when it is turned on. It will be either “Desktop” or CLI which means “Command Line Interface”, or to the terminal. This option will only be available if you install Buster-Full or Buster-Desktop. Buster-Lite does not have a “Desktop” to start, only a CLI.

      4. On the “Interfaces tab” I generally select “SSH Enabled” so I can connect with my laptop to the Raspi. This is required if you plan to use your Raspi in the headless mode. If you have a camera attached to the Raspi you could also check the enabled button for that.

      5. You can go back to this menu option at any time in the future if you need to change any of the items.

      6. You might want to check out the other options presented on the menu. After you have made your changes it will ask if you want to reboot. In order for your changes to take effect it will require you to reboot so just select “Yes”.

    6. Also on the top line menu will be a small black box with a “>_” in it and if you mouse over it it should show the word “Terminal”. Click on this and it will open a terminal screen or more than one screen. I close all of the extra ones by clicking on the X in the upper right corner. You should then enter “sudo apt update”. It may ask for your password, if so enter it. It will then display a number of lines of text, which will scroll by too fast to be read so don’t worry about them. It will then show either a number of applications to be upgraded or say “All applications are up to date.”, which means you are good to go. If it shows a number to be upgraded enter “sudo apt upgrade -y”. It will then do the upgrade. If it is the first time this is done there will probably be a lot to upgrade so it will take awhile. These commands should be run on a regular basis as there are generally new upgrades being published. You can then close the terminal window and do whatever you need to do.

  2. As an additional security option you should perform the following in a terminal window

    1. Enter sudo add new user name. You will then be asked for a password. You should then enter sudo adduser new user name sudo. This will add the new user to the sudoers group so they can perform root actions. Then log out and log back in again as the new user. Then enter sudo visudo. The first time you run this command it will ask which editor you want to use. I generally choose “nano”. Scroll to the end of the file and enter new user name ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL Press CTL_X, Y and ENTER to close and save the file. When you enter a sudo command it will no longer ask for your password. This is optional as it will lessen security but will increase productivity.

      You should now delete the PI user with the following command: sudo userdel -r pi as this improves security if the bad guys try to log in as pi and it is no longer there.

Summary

You should now have your Raspi up and running with a lot to learn about it and how it can help you with your daily computer tasks. One thing to remember is the Raspi has a limited amount of memory and the processor is not as fast as your laptop or desktop computers. This means it could crash more often if you have a lot of windows open and any action will take longer due to the slower speed. Supposedly the model 4 has eliminated some of these problems.

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