Getting started with the Raspberry Pi

From their FAQ: “The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard”. The RasPi is an ultra-cheap, energy-efficient Linux computer.

Preparing the SD card on Mac OS X

  • Get a supported SD card for the OS installation (I’m using a Kingston 8GB class 4 SD card)
  • Download the Raspbian ZIP-file from http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads (I use the most recent Raspbian “wheezy”, 2012-12-16), unzip to get at the .IMG file
  • Open Terminal on OS X
    • Insert the empty SD card and determine it’s disk name (my card was mounted at /dev/disk4s1; use “df” before and after inserting to determine the name)
    • Run “sudo diskutil unmount /dev/disk4s1” to unmount any partitions on the SD card
      (verify that disk name!)
    • Run “sudo dd if=2012-12-16-wheezy-raspbian.img of=/dev/rdisk4 bs=1m” to write the image to the raw disk device
      (again, verify that disk name!)
    • Run “sudo diskutil eject /dev/rdisk4” after the image is written to SD card.
  • Remove the SD card from your Mac – done!

The Raspberry Pi lives!

Insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi. Connect a monitor (I use an HDMI-to-DVI cable), USB mouse and keyboard. Optionally, connect it to the network. Once you power on the Raspberry Pi, you should be greeted with a familiar Linux boot sequence. After answering a couple of questions you should see a graphical desktop environment. It has a web browser, terminal etc. just like any other Linux computer.

Since I’ll be using the Raspberry Pi mostly as a small headless server, I’ve used “raspi-config” to disable the desktop and enable SSH.

Software updates and additional packages

To install any available software updates, run “sudo aptitude update; sudo aptitude upgrade”.

If you want to use the I/O pins (for your electronics projects), you will want the WiringPi and WiringPi-Python libraries installed.

sudo apt-get install git-core
git clone git://git.drogon.net/wiringPi
cd wiringPi
./build
sudo apt-get install python-setuptools
git clone https://github.com/WiringPi/WiringPi-Python.git
cd WiringPi-Python
git submodule update --init
sudo python setup.py install

You can now access the GPIO pins using Python, or using the ‘gpio’ commandline tool.