Everything You Need to Know About Getting Started with the Raspberry Pi

Configuring Raspbian on Your Pi

Now that you’re up and running, it’s time to configure your network, update the software, and otherwise get Raspbian ready for use in your projects.

Connecting to Wi-Fi

If you’re connected to your home network via Ethernet, jump to the next section “Testing the network”. If you need to configure the wireless connection, look for the networking icon in the upper right corner of the screen and click on it:

Select the wireless network you wish to connect to from the drop down menu.

Enter your Wi-Fi password in the pop up box and then confirm that the network icon changes from the no connection icon to the Wi-Fi icon.

Time to double check the network connection by confirming we can connect to the web.

Testing the Network

Now that you have configured the Wi-Fi connection (or jumped right to this section because you’re using Ethernet) it’s time to test your connection. What better way to test the connection than to fire up the browser and visit How-To Geek?

From the desktop, click on the Raspberry Pi menu icon located in the upper left corner, then navigate to Internet > Chromium Web Browser.

Launch Chromium by clicking on it and then type in www.howtogeek.com:

Success! Not only do we have network connectivity, but How-To Geek look just as good on the lightweight Pi as it does on a full-fledged desktop. This will likely be the first of many times you are surprised and pleased with just how capable your new little microcomputer is.

Updating the Software

Before you start digging into your Pi, it’s a good idea to do a basic software update. We have setup the network, we have tested the connection, and now is a perfect time to do a system-wide software update.

Although the interface as come a long way on the Pi and Pixel is absolutely beautiful compared to the old desktop, you still need to get your hands dirty now and then in the terminal–and updating is one of those times. Click on the terminal icon in the upper left corner of the screen to launch the terminal.

At the terminal, enter the following command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

This combination command instructs Raspbian to search available software repositories for system and software updates and upgrades. As any such updates are discovered, you will be prompted to approve or disapprove the changes with the Y and N keys.

Unless you have a compelling reason to skip an update (which at this point in the game we don’t), just hit the Y key to confirm all the changes as they appear. Even on a brand new installation where you’re using the newest image from the Raspberry Pi foundation, expect to kill a good 20-30 minutes as Rasbian churns through relevant updates.

Additional Raspberry Pi Resources and Projects

Over the years since we wrote the original version of this Raspberry Pi guide, we’ve had a ton of fun using the Raspberry Pi as the foundation of dozens of projects. At any given time, we typically have at least a half dozen Pi units up and running. You can search through the How-To Geek Raspberry Pi archives for the full run down, but here’s a taste of some of our favorite projects.

Hands down, we’ve gotten the most mileage out of the Pi by turning it into a media center for our all local and streaming media needs. Every TV in our entire house (guest room included!) has a Pi hooked up to it.

Want to play the beefy video games your desktop computer can handle but on your living room TV instead of at your desk? You can do that too by rolling a Pi into a streaming Steam Machine. Need a more practical project? You can turn a Pi and an external hard drive into a networked backup station for all your local file backup needs.

But really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg and we’re sure you’ll find plenty of ideas both in the HTG archive and by searching the web.

If you want some further reading, here are some excellent links related to the Raspberry Pi:

  • The Official Raspbian Documentation: From tweaking your config.txt to installing media players, Raspbian’s user documentation is a handy reference.
  • The Official Raspberry Pi Blog: If you keep an eye on nothing else Raspberry Pi related, keep an eye on the official blog. They’re constantly posting updates on new Pi developments, fun projects Pi fans have sent in, and other pieces of interest to Pi enthusiasts. While you are checking out the blog, don’t forget to make a stop at the Official Forums.
  • MagPi: The Unofficial Raspberry Pi Magazine: Published around eight times a year, MapPi is a free and polished electronic magazine for Pi hobbyists.
  • Raspberry Pi Disk Images: Experimenting with Raspberry Pi distributions is as simple as grabbing another cheap SD card and loading it up with a fresh image. Raspberry Pi Disk Images is a handy index of current Pi-friendly Linux and Android distributions.
  • eLinux.org’s Verified Peripheral List: Although we mentioned this one earlier in our tutorial, it’s worth mentioning again. If you are trying to figure out why an existing piece of hardware won’t work with the Pi or would like confirmation that a piece of hardware you’re looking at will likely work with your Pi, it’s an invaluable resource.

Have a Raspberry Pi project to share? Have a request for a Pi-oriented tutorial? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com or sound off in the comments.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.