The Ultimate Raspberry Pi Setup Guide

This is originally a PerfectPi post, a sister site to SideGamer. The content is still useful for gamers, especially if you’re planning on creating a retro gaming system, so we’ve transferred it over for you to use. Enjoy!

The Raspberry Pi is a cheap, small and powerful micro-PC with a loyal fanbase from hobbyists adults to curious kids. Unless you’ve bought a preconfigured SD card, however, it isn’t the easiest product to set up.

If you’ve just bought or been given a Raspberry Pi, you might not know where to begin. To help you out, here’s everything you need to do to get your Raspberry Pi running.

What You Need

You’ll need a few things before you have a fully working Raspberry Pi. Here’s a quick list for you to check off what you have (and what you’ll need to get):

    • Raspberry Pi. This should be fairly obvious, but you’ll actually need one of the models of Raspberry Pi currently on sale.
    • A secondary PC/Mac. You’ll need a PC or Mac to set your Pi up, unless you have a pre-configured NOOBS SD card.
    • SD Card. Depending on your Pi model, you’ll need an SD or micro-SD card. Aim for a class 4 8GB card or better.
    • SD Card reader. You’ll need an SD card reader for your PC to be able to flash it with a suitable operating system. The NOOBs installer should make this easy, but you can also install operating systems directly, including Raspbian, the popular Raspberry Pi Linux distribution.
    • Keyboard and Mouse. If you plan on using your Pi directly, you’ll need a keyboard and mouse. You can bypass this if you’re going to run your Raspberry Pi “headless” (without a screen, keyboard or mouse).
    • TV/ Monitor with HDMI input. As above, you’ll need a TV screen or monitor with HDMI connectivity, as well as an HDMI cable to make the connection. You can skip this for headless Pi setups.
    • High-quality power supply. You need a suitable power supply for your Raspberry Pi, typically with a 5-volt output. If it doesn’t, your Pi won’t work correctly, especially with any attached USB devices.
    • Internet connectivity. You’ll need internet connectivity to download a suitable Raspberry Pi operating system, as well as to update it later. That means a suitable method for connecting your Pi to the internet over ethernet or WiFi. Check the connectivity available on your Pi first.
    • Case (optional). You don’t need a Raspberry Pi case, but it’s recommended. It’ll keep your device safe, it’ll prevent dust from collecting, and (in our humble opinion) it just looks better.

If you have everything you need, let’s run through what you need to do to get your Raspberry Pi up and running.

1. Flash Your SD Card

Before you can assemble your Raspberry Pi, you’ll need to have an operating system installed on the SD/microSD card. If this terrifies you, don’t worry—it’s a simple process, but you can avoid it by buying SD cards with the NOOBS installer pre-flashed to it.

We’re going to update this article in the future with some initial set-up guides for flashing your SD card. We’ll cover common Linux distributions like Raspbian, Fedora, Ubuntu and more. We’ll also talk through how to use the NOOBS installer in greater depth.

In the meantime, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has a helpful NOOBs installation guide you can follow. There’s also a guide on how to install alternative Raspberry Pi OS images.

If you plan on using your Raspberry Pi as a headless server, you’ll need to enable SSH at this stage to allow further configuration after installation, as well as pre-configure your WiFi settings if you’re using a wireless connection.

2. Assemble Your Raspberry Pi

With an SD card ready, you can move onto the assembly process, which is pretty straightforward.

Unlike building a PC, you don’t have to deal with hundreds of different components. Your Raspberry Pi is already pre-built, with parts soldered onto the device directly.

That makes the process of getting your Pi up and running pretty simple. Insert your SD card to the Pi’s SD card slot. Some Raspberry Pi models use a spring ejection method, so this is the case, press down hard enough for your SD to lock into place.

If you’re not running a headless Pi, connect the peripherals like your keyboard and mouse to the USB ports, and connect to a monitor or TV using HDMI. If you’re using a wired internet connection, you’ll also need to connect your Pi to the network at this stage with an ethernet cable.

Connect the power supply and plug it into an outlet. Power it up, and you’re ready to begin.

3. Start Using Your Raspberry Pi

If you’ve installed Raspbian, the desktop environment will boot up automatically. You can log in using the default Raspbian username and password. This is pi (username) and raspberry (password).

You’ll need to change your password afterward using the passwd command. Open a terminal, type passwd, then follow the instructions to do this.

Headless Pi users will need to use an SSH client (like PuTTY on Windows) to connect to their Raspberry Pi and begin configuration. If you’re unsure what IP address you need to do, use an app like Fing to scan your network and identify the appropriate IP address.

Other operating systems will have their own post-installation instructions. We’ll cover some of these in the near future. In most cases, however, you should be able to start using your Raspberry Pi straight away at this point!

If you do encounter any problems or issues, however, we’d love to help, so drop a comment below.

Ben Stockton

Ben is a gamer and tech writer from the UK, writing for sites like How-To Geek, MakeUseOf, and others. He's now here to help turn his passion for gaming into a useful resource for other PC gamers.


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