How to set up a Raspberry Pi B+

Read our absolute beginners guide to how to set up a Raspberry Pi B+

13 Nov 2014
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Back in 2012, the Raspberry Pi Foundation shocked the tech community by releasing the Raspberry Pi, a fully-functional credit card-sized computer that costs under £30. While the Cambridge-based foundation originally intended it as an educational tool designed to encourage people towards programming, computing and robotics as a hobby, it also works as a standard desktop (albeit a somewhat simplistic, underpowered one).

With the launch of the new and improved Raspberry Pi A+ and B+ this month, we take you through how to set up your very own microcomputer, perfect for kids or aspiring hobbyists. Read our absolute beginners guide to how to set up a Raspberry Pi B+, and you can have your pint-sized, pocket money technical marvel running in no time.

How to set up a Raspberry Pi B+: Step 1

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

As opposed to the SD card used in previous iterations of the Raspberry Pi, the newer A+ and B+ models instead use a MicroSD card in place of a hard drive. This means you’ll need to prepare one for use in your new machine.

You can format an old card for use with your Pi using prepackaged tools in both Windows and Mac OSX, if you don't have a blank one available. The Raspberry Pi Foundation recommend 8GB or larger, and it’s worth splashing out for some more storage space if you want to use it for more data-intensive tasks like using it as a media center.

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

How to set up a Raspberry Pi B+: Step 2

Once you have your blank card at the ready, you need to download an operating system that your Raspberry Pi can run on. Since the Pi is such a tiny machine, it can’t run any Windows or Mac operating systems. Instead runs on much less resource-heavy distributions (or ‘distros’) of the open source Linux OS.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has purpose built a package for novice users called NOOBS (New Out Of Box System) containing a purpose-built operating system called Raspbian and a simple wizard to guide you through installing it.

This is perfect for those who are unfamiliar with Linux, or with installing operating systems in general, and can be downloaded here.

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

Once you’ve downloaded the NOOBS zip file, extract the contents. Insert your MicroSD card into your computer - either through an inbuilt port on your PC or through an adapter - and copy the files you just extracted onto the blank card. Once they’re done, you’re ready to install Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi.

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

How to set up a Raspberry Pi B+: Step 3

Start off by plugging everything in. All that exposed circuitry can be intimidating, but it’s surprisingly simple. First insert your MicroSD card into the reader slot, located on the board’s underside, followed by your monitor.

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

The new B+ model has done away with the older version’s RCA video input, meaning you’ll have to connect via the HDMI port. However, if you’ve got an older monitor with DVI input, you can buy adapters fairly cheaply.

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

Next, plug your keyboard and mouse into one of the B+’s newly-bolstered 4 USB ports, and finally, the power lead. The Raspberry Pi does not come with it’s own power cable, but it runs off MicroUSB, so any standard Android smartphone or tablet charger can be used.

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

How to set up a Raspberry Pi B+: Step 4

Once plugged in, the Pi will automatically turn on and the NOOBS installer will boot up, presenting you with a list of potential installations to choose from.

For simplicity, we’ll choose the recommended Raspbian package, which is the first on the list. Select it, and press install. The wizard will guide you through the installation process, the vast majority of which will be taken care of without needing any input from you.

Once the installation is finished, the command line will start churning out Matrix-like strings of data.

How to set up a Raspberry Pi B+: Step 5

When this is done, you’ll be presented with a dialogue box giving you a list of further options.

If you like, you can tinker with settings such as overclocking and memory allocation for the GPU, but the only one you need to worry about is number three, 'enable boot to desktop/Scratch', which allows you to change whether your desktop boots into the command line, scratch or the desktop interface by default.

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

You don’t want to get stuck dealing with the command line every time you fire up your Pi, so go into this option and select the second one down, ‘desktop log in as user ‘Pi’. This ensures that it’ll take you back to the comfortable, familiar desktop every time you boot it up.

How to install Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi

After you’ve enabled this, go down to the finish option; select it, and the Raspberry Pi will ask you if you want to reboot now. Select yes, and after a quick restart, your Raspberry Pi B+ will boot to the Raspbian desktop. Raspbian comes preloaded with a bunch of programs, including web browsers, coding and programming software, and even Minecraft, so you'll be ready to start using your new microcomputer right away!

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