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Raspberry Pi first look

March 9, 2013

UPS was kind enough to delivery my first Raspberry Pi on Thursday!  Why do I think this little SoC (System on a Chip) computer is going to be like a potato chip?  You can’t have just one.

raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi ~ one very small and cheap PC!

First up – downloading the latest version of Raspian (Debian 6 for the Raspberry Pi’s ARM1176 processor) and putting the image on an SDHC card.  Download is here: – I went with the standard “Wheezy” image.

Now to unzip it and dd it over the SD HC card I had selected.  This class 10 16 GB Card seemed to offer the most bang for the buck.  (There are other ways besides dd to get the image onto the SD card).  Assumptions here are:

  1. You know the device address of your SD card.  Instructions here if you do not.
  2. Your Raspian version is 2013-02-09-wheezy.  Adjust as needed.
  3. The file is downloaded into your user’s home folder under ‘Downloads’.  (default for many browsers)
unzip ~/Downloads/
dd bs=4M if=~/2013-02-09-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/sdb

NOTE: My SD card was located at /dev/sdb.  I’ve seen many located at /dev/sdd.  Make sure to strip off the partition number at the end.  i.e. if you see it a /dev/sdd1 then just use /dev/sdd

It should only take a few minutes to image the SD card.  dd doesn’t give any feedback until it’s done, so be patient.  Once imaged it’s time fire it up!  On first boot the Raspberry Pi will run raspi-config – a nice little utility to configure some settings.

raspi-config runs at first boot. You can run any time later too – just type ‘sudo raspi-config’ whenever you like.

Some suggested step here:

  1. Expand the root file system to fill the SD card.
  2. Set the keyboard layout.
  3. Change the password for the pi user.
  4. Change the locale and timezone.
  5. You can keep the memory split at 64MB if you like.  This is how much memory to take away from the CPU and give to the GPU.
  6. Enable SSH so you can get to it remotely.
  7. Disable the desktop (GUI / X Window) on boot.  You can start this easily from the command line by typing “startx”.
  8. If connected to the internet (ethernet cable and DHCP) let it update.

Once logged in you can also run the update this way:

sudu apt-get update
sudu apt-get upgrade

And all installed software will get updated from the Raspberry Pi repository.  Very cool stuff.

NOTE: To avoid corrupting the Raspian OS on the SD card you should always stop the little guy the right way:

sudo halt

Okay – now . . .  let’s try using the X11 system in OS X (MacBook) to forward the Raspian / Debian desktop over the Mac so we can play without having one too many monitors and keyboard on the desktop:

  1. First step is to enable internet sharing on the MacBook from the WiFi to the Ethernet port.
  2. Configure x11 on the Mac to use full-screen mode
  3. Then ssh over to the Raspberry Pi from the Mac’s terminal:
    ssh -X pi@

    (You’ll be prompted for the password you set on the RaspPi when you first booted it)

  4. Once on the Raspberry Pi just type:

    And your Raspian desktop should appear on the screen!  w00t!  No extra monitor or keyboard needed!

Raspberry Pi x11 forawrdsing to mac

Raspberry Pi with X11 forwarding to the MacBook

Dr. Chuck at the University of Michigan gives an awesome little tutorial on getting this working (and troubleshooting if it doesn’t work) via YouTube:

Okay – that’s it for today!  Will update once I get more seat time with the little guy   . . .

(Hey!  Idea!  Use QEMU on Ubuntu to boot Raspian)

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