Raspberry Pi is a small, low cost, energy efficient, powerful computer that runs a version of the Linux operating system. This page is a portal to Raspberry Pi news and resources available on this site and elsewhere.
When you setup a Raspberry Pi computer, the system will start from an SD card that is inserted in the device. It’s a good idea to keep your own files on an external USB drive in case you have problems with your Raspberry Pi. Having your primary files on an external drive makes it possible to easily use another computer. An external flash drive formatted as MS-DOS (FAT-32) which ensures it can be used on Raspberry Pi (Linux), Windows, and Apple. Keeping your Raspberri Pi as simple as possible, using mostly the included software, ensures that you would have a fairly simple recovery process.
To get started with a Raspberry Pi computer, you will want to purchase a kit that includes the parts and accessories that can be easily assembled following the included instructions. The Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB RAM will provide a fast user experience. [View or Buy]
In addition to the computer kit, you will need a keyboard, mouse, and a display (or two). A modern television or computer display capable of HDMI input will work. If your kit doesn’t include a mini-HDMI to standard-HDMI cable, you will need to purchase one (or two). Once the hardware is assembled, you will follow some instructions to install the Raspberry Pi operating system.
For detailed setup instructions, read the Raspberry Pi OS Installation and Setup Guide. [View]
Raspberry Pi Quick Setup
Follow these steps for a quick and easy setup.
- DRIVE IMAGE — Get the Raspberry Pi imager software. [View] The version of the imager from 4 Apr 2022 creates a bootable SD card that will provide a guided first-time setup. You will put the micro SD card into your Raspberry Pi system. On startup, the country, language, and keyboard will be selected automatically. The time zone may need to be adjusted. You will be prompted to enter a username (the default username of “pi” is no longer provided automatically). Restart the Raspberry Pi after the initial setup.
- SCREEN RESOLUTION — If you have a 4K display connected, you may notice the mouse pointer is slow to respond due to the 30 Hz default configuration for 4K resolution. Change the display resolution by going to the Raspberry Pi menu (top left) and from the menu choose Preferences > Screen Configuration. From the Screen Configuration utility window, choose the Configure menu > Screens > HDMI-1 > Resolution > and select 1920×1080. This assumes you are using HDMI-1. Selecting the option for 1920x1080i (interlaced mode) may result in an error, so consider using just the 1920×1080 standard mode. Click on the green checkmark to apply the change of settings. You will be prompted to restart the computer.
- APPEARANCE — Right click on the desktop area and select Appearance Settings. For Layout select No Image. For color select black to provide the highest contrast for the white text labels of the desktop icons.
- SCREEN CAPTURE — Install the Gnome Screen Capture software. [View Instructions] This is typically done by entering the following command in the terminal interface: sudo apt install gnome-screenshot
Other optional software setup and system configurations are provided below.
Raspberry Pi Support Guides
Here are some essential links for getting started.
- CASES — Best Kits, Enclosures, Cases, and Cooling [View]
- COOLING — Cooling and Thermal Management [View]
- EMAIL — Installing the Thunderbird Email Client Software [View]
- LINUX — Helpful Linux Commands [View]
- PORTABLE — Portable Tablet, Display, and Laptop Enclosures [View]
- PRINT — Setup Your HP Printer [View]
- RASPBERRY PI 400 — A guide to the benefits and features of the Raspberry Pi 400 [View]
- REMOTE SUPPORT — Installing TeamViewer for Remote Tech Support [View]
- SCREEN CAPTURE — Installing Screen Capture Snipping Utility [View]
- SPREADSHEET — LibreOffice Calc Spreadsheet Timestamp – Entering The Current Date and Time [View]
- UPDATE — Update Raspberry Pi OS [View]
The Raspberry Pi system starts and runs the operating system, program files, and some user data files from a primary microSD card. The card typically included with the Raspberry Pi kit is a slower microSD card. You will likely want to purchase a faster microSD card. Examples would include the SanDisk 64GB Extreme [View] or SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB [View] which would both provide much faster startup and running.
One benefit of using a Raspberry Pi computer is energy efficiency. The computer uses about 3 watts of power. By comparison, a typical desktop computer may use 300 watts of power. The reduced power consumption makes the Raspberry Pi a good choice for those wanting to use renewable energy sources. A single standard-sized solar panel produces 100 watts at peak. Portable battery packs can provide 100 watts of power at 5 volts for an hour, or 3 watts of power for several days. [Learn More]
The official CanaKit power adapter is rated at 5 volts and 3.5 amps of power, which calculates to 17.5 watts. It’s a fairly large power block with a non-removable USB C power cord which makes it bulky. The cost is about $10 to $13 depending on sale pricing. [View]
A more compact power adapter would be something like the Anker 20W folding plug charger for about $15 [View] The folding plug allows for folding down into a small cube size. The power cord would be separate, but could be any length that serves your needs.
Anker also makes some fast iQ chargers with variable output for improved high speed charging with some smartphones. [View Example] These may work okay with the Raspberry Pi, but the variable power option could cause a problem. It depends on how well the smart power output sensors and controls work. So, the simpler PD (rather than iQ) chargers are probably a better option.
Note: As of 2 Sep 2022, the description on Amazon for the KanaKit power adapter indicates 500 watts, which is a typo. It should say 17.4 watts. A request to correct this has been submitted.
Raspberry Pi computers are typically used with approved power cords that offer the proper voltage and amps. However, it is possible to use a battery pack to run your Raspberry Pi. Using a USB A to USB C cord for the Raspberry Pi 4, a power pack could run the system for many hours. [View on Amazon]
Early versions of the Raspberry Pi computers had less computing and graphics power, so it was possible to run them with limited thermal management. The tasks assigned to them were also relatively easy to perform so processors were not running at their maximum capacity, nor were they overclocked.
Today’s Raspberry Pi 4 models can get very hot if not cooled properly. Heat sinks are metal fins that help naturally dissipate heat. Sometimes a fan is added to increase the cooling efficiency. However, most Raspberry Pi fans and cooling assemblies, while adequate, have limitations.
For example, the standard small cooling fan that comes with the CanoKit packages will be a bit noisy even when running at the slower speed. The logo design eteched into the top cover doubles as an air intake or exhaust (depending on what direction you install the fan), but it is obstructed and too small to permit optimal airflow.
The best cooling solution for a Raspberry Pi is to use a USB-powered quiet 9-inch fan that blows over the top of the open case to completely move the warm air away from the device, and allow cooler air to replace the warm air. [View on Amazon]
These are some topics with some having links to articles here and elsewhere.
- SD Card Speed. The Raspberry Pi starts up from an SD memory card as its primary hard drive. There is some concern about varying speeds depending on which SD brand and standard are used. The official Raspberry Pi blog has a good article about this topic from March 2020. [View]
- TABLET — SunFounder RasPad 3.0 – an All-in-One Raspberry Pi 4B Tablet with a Built-in Battery and 10.1″ Touchscreen. [Learn More]
- Video Display – 4K. If you are using a 4K video display for your Raspberry Pi you may notice it connects at 30 frames per second (fps). This can result in poor video quality or mouse tracking. To switch to 1920 x 1080 with 60fps, go to the Raspberry Pi menu > Preferences > Screen Configuration. From the Configure menu, choose Screens > HDMI1 > Resolution > 1920×1080. Your display may flicker or need to be reset for proper framing of the new resolution.
The video below from Jeff Geerling offers a good introduction to the Raspberry Pi 400 which is a keyboard version of the computer. (Video Date: 2 Nov 2020)
The video below, also from Jeff Geerling, shows the internal parts of the Raspberry Pi 400. (Video Date: 2 Nov 2020)