Let's work on getting the Raspberry Pi ready, so that we can explore some of its functionality.
You will need a microSD card and you should format it. You should also obtain an image of the UNIX operating system so you can write it to the card. For Windows you can use a program called SD Formatter 4.0.
Download the NOOBS Operating System from here. Install SD Formatter 4.0 and then format your SD Card. SDFormatter
Once you have done this, unzip the NOOBS operating system to a folder, highlight all the files and drag them to your microSD Card. You are now ready to boot up the Pi. Connect up your keyboard, mouse (optional at this stage), HDMI cable and ethernet network connection. Make sure the microSD card is inserted correctly underneath the Raspberry Pi. Apply power by plugging in your 5V 2A plugpack and you should see the Pi start to boot up.
You will encounter a splash screen which will ask you to select a few options. Click on the recommended option Raspbian. Down the bottom you will see language and keyboard options. It's important here to select the correct country and keyboard. This is important, if you are outside of the UK you need to select the option thats local for you. Most of the time, it's fine to just chose the US keyboard settings.
Once you have selected your options, then click Install.
This process will take a while, it depends on the speed and size of your microSD card. The operating system will now be installed
on your microSD card.
If you notice a rainbow coloured square in the top right hand corner of your screen, this indicates that the Raspberry Pi is not getting enough power.
You need to ensure that the power supply you are using is capable of delivering 5V @ 2A. Some of the chargers you get for an Android mobile phone or tablet are good for this
purpose as they already have the right miniUSB connector on the end of the cable.
Once the OS is installed you will then be prompted to reboot the system.
After an initial boot and a lot of boot info scrolling down the screen, you will be shows a config screen called raspi-config.
No need to worry about this too much for now, as we can always call it up later. You could change the default password now, but we can also do that from the UNIX prompt itself.
Just click on Finish, you may need to use the keyboard arrow keys/tab to get to the Finish button.
You should now be automatically logged in, if you are not, the default credentials are:
* Username: pi
* Password: raspberry
The default password should be changed to something that you will remember and it's very easy to do.
Just type passwd and hit enter
You will be prompted for the existing password, and then you will get to enter your new password, twice.
It won't be visible on the screen, so if you make a mistake you could backspace, or just hit enter a couple of times and try again.
Once you have changed your password you should now update and refresh the operating system.
You do this by typing the following:
Ok this generated an error, how do we correct this problem?
This command needs to be run as root which is why we will use sudo (stands for superuser do), so try this instead:
sudo apt-get update
What this command does is download the latest list and versions of packages from the Raspbian repositories. That means anything new that is installed is up to date with this OS release.
If you are in a hurry to get going you can skip the next couple of steps for upgrading the existing packages and the distriubtion.
We run this command to get an update on any existing packages that we have installed.
sudo apt-get upgrade
This can include libraries and all sorts of other programs that are installed. This command is worth running although
it may take a while as some of the files are reasonably large.
We could also update the operating system by entering
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Again this can take a while, so perhaps run it overnight.
Let's install a couple of simple unix programs just to see how its done.
Run a command called top. You will see it looks pretty boring. Press q to exit from top.
A more elegant version of top is called htop.
So to install it, type sudo apt-get install htop
once its done installing type htop.
As you can see it looks a lot better and also shows us all our cpu cores and how they are doing.
Just like top, hit q to exit htop.
All these commands are common UNIX commands, you can use them on systems like Debian or Ubuntu, just as easily as on the Raspberry Pi.
At this point if you want to, you can install all sorts of applications onto your Raspberry Pi.
You might want to setup a web server, or an FTP file server. Anything that a regular UNIX system can
do, your PI can also do. This is what makes the Pi such a great low powered device to use, you can run mulitple devices and all of them can perform a different piece of functionality in your home or business.
So far everything we have seen has been text based, with a hint of some graphics capability. The OS that you installed also has a graphics capability.
type startx and you'll be greeted by the graphical interface.
From the Menu you will find you have access to all types of programs.
So start exploring!
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