How to get started with a Raspberry Pi

If you’re looking to learn how to program a computer or create your own gadgets, a Raspberry Pi is a great way to start. They’re cheap, lightweight and it’s what they were designed for. Read on to discover more…

07 Mar 2016


The Raspberry Pi is one of the most popular computers in the world and you can by it for about £35. It’s a great tool to start learning how to create your own programs and is small enough to be used as the basis for machines and devices you build yourself. Sure, it’s not powerful enough to play the latest AAA games, but it’s got more than enough juice to let you create your own programmable robot. 

Learn more about Raspberry Pi.

What else do you need apart from a Raspberry Pi?

You don’t need much to get started with a Raspberry Pi. The minimum equipment you need is:

  • TV or monitor with HDMI
  • HDMI cable to connect the Pi to your TV or monitor
  • SD card. An 8GB class 4 SD card is recommended
  • USB keyboard and Mouse
  • 5V micro USB power supply

In addition, an internet connection and a pair of headphones will probably be useful. Use a standard Ethernet cable to connect the Pi to the internet so you can download software onto it.

If your computer doesn’t have one built in, you may also need to buy an SD card reader.

Any other equipment and components will depend on what you plan to use your Raspberry Pi for.

Downloading and installing your Raspberry Pi’s operating system

Before you start setting up your Raspberry Pi you’ll need to download the software that makes it run. The Raspberry Pi can run several different operating systems, but when you’re getting started we recommend you use a piece of software called NOOBS to install the operating system Raspbian.

Download NOOBS

Once NOOBS is downloaded, simply extract the folder then drag the files onto your SD card.


Setting up for the first time

  • Put the SD card into the slot on the Raspberry Pi
  • Attach the keyboard and mouse to the USB ports
  • Connect your HDMI cable to the Raspberry Pi and TV or monitor
  • Connect the power supply to the Raspberry Pi and turn it on

Your Raspberry Pi will begin to boot up and you will be presented with a list of operating systems that you can install.

  • Select Raspbian and press Install
  • The operating system will now install – this can take a little while
  • You will now see the configuration menu. Set the date and time then select Finish


Logging into your Raspberry Pi for the first time

Once the operating system is installed and everything is ready, you’ll see a login prompt.

By default, the username and password are:

  • Username: pi
  • Password: raspberry

You won’t see any writing appear while you type in the password – this is a built-in security feature.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see the command prompt pi@raspberrypi~$

  • Type startx and press enter

You’ll now be taken to the graphical interface of Raspberry Pi and are ready to get started.


What sort of things are people doing with the Raspberry Pi?

With a little imagination and some technical knowledge, the things you can create with your Raspberry Pi are almost limitless. There’s a large community of people creating projects with the Raspberry Pi who are only too happy to share their work with other users.

Some of our favourite projects include:

Create a media streamer or media centre for your TV

Create a retro gaming box 

Create a dedicated Minecraft computer 

Make a toy talk

Make a mobile phone

Meet up and work with other users at a Raspberry Jam 


Can't wait to get started? View our full range of Raspberry Pi products.