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Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi

2012 June 1
by Tedb0t

The Raspberry Pi is a very low-cost, very small computer capable of running Linux that also provides GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output).  As such, it’s something of a hacker’s dream and there’s been a ton of buzz around it.  I ordered two a couple of months ago and just got them in.  Here’s what you need to get started.

First off, you’ll need a power supply that supplies at least 1A reliably.  They say it’ll run on less, but I tried with an older supply and the ethernet kept cutting out.  I ended up using this USB adapter with a USB micro cable.  For storage you’ll need an SD card that’s at least Class 6 (I used this one and it’s working great so far). Other cards can work well too, check their Verified Peripherals wiki.

Next, you need to get an operating system on your SD card.  I’m using the suggested Debian Squeeze package via a very easy and convenient python script called RaspPiWrite (OSX and Unix only as of writing).  Follow the instructions there and you’ll have a R-Pi-ready OS in about half an hour or less.

Stick your SD card in your Pi, attach a monitor & keyboard (I used an old CRT TV that was nearby since the R-Pi only has HDMI or component video out), and plug the power in, and you’ll see the glorious spew of a linux boot sequence!  Your login is pi / raspberry.

Since I don’t want to keep my Pi connected to a keyboard and monitor, I need to be able to SSH into it.  They made this easy. Just connect some ethernet and do:

sudo mv /boot/boot_enable_ssh.rc /boot/boot.rc

Then reboot (

sudo reboot

) and towards the end of the boot sequence, when it starts SSHd, it should tell you the R-Pi’s IP address.  At any other time you can do

ip addr

or even

ip addr | grep -e 'inet .* eth0'


Let me know if this worked for you, and happy hacking! This is only the tip of the iceberg, so look forward to more Raspberry Pi tutorials!

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  • RGP

    If this is a guide for beginners, how about defining “SSH”

    • leolodreamland

      Just click the link.

  • David Rolfe

    You state that an SD card of at least Class 6 is required, yet many people have found that their Class 4 cards (which are probably more commonly available) work fine with the Raspberry Pi.

    A lot have experienced problems with Class 10 cards though.

    • Ted Hayes

      True, there are a number of cards that work well and many that don’t, of all classes.  There’s a compendium of SD card results here:  I’ve updated the post with this information.

  • leolodreamland

    What’s the root folder for the os?

    • Ted Hayes

      What do you mean?  The home directory for the pi account is /home/pi.

      • Leon Trimble

        i copied a file to the root of the sd card and couldn’t see it in the file browser

      • Leon Trimble

        this is when i have the sd card inserted into my mac. there are no folders/file structure/how do i get into that?

        • T3db0t

          The filesystem on the SD card is ext4, which can only be ‘seen’ by Linux.

  • Ted Hayes

    What do you mean?  The home directory for the pi account is /home/pi.

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  • none

    RasPiWrite is for Apples.

  • Hsyntsy

    What’s the password for SSH which is asking when we use PuTTY?

    • Hsyntsy

      And what will we choose the IP adsress when using PuTTY?

  • Dan Kaufman

    I get “mv: cannot stat `/boot/boot_enable_ssh.rc’ : No such file or directory”

  • Mark Leone

    This seems to have been abandoned. There are over 40 pull requests on github with no action, fixing a syntax and indentation error. And the domain hosting the xml file that the script tries to parse is now up for sale. Some helpful information here, but you’ll have to use the Unix dd command as explained in the Ras Pi Downloads page to get the OS installed onto the SD card.