Raspberry Pi FAQ - Everything You Need To Know

New to the Raspberry Pi? Start here.
Ash Ash (362)

Are you new to the Raspberry Pi? This FAQ will walk you through everything you need to get started—from understanding what it is to practical applications and uses.

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The Raspberry Pi Foundation produces a line of single-board computers (or SBCs) named Raspberry Pi. There have been several editions released over time, but each model name is prefaced with Raspberry Pi.

They are notorious for having a small form factor, close to the size of a credit card. The Raspberry Pi Zero is even smaller. It runs Linux-based operating systems and is ideal for isolated tasks or simple computing needs.

We think the Raspberry Pi is so important that we put it on our list of the most life-changing inventions of all time.

Raspberry Pis are essentially tiny computers. The Raspberry Pi Foundation created a Linux-based operating system just for it called Raspberry Pi OS. It has a full desktop environment or it can operate headlessly.

You can use languages like Python to develop apps, control hardware, and interface with existing APIs. The Raspberry Pi has GPIO pins, making it easy to connect hardware like sensors, buttons, and LEDs.

If you're not sure what to do with a Raspberry Pi, you can always look online to get a few ideas. Many makers use their Raspberry Pi to create a retro gaming rig as the Pi is well known for its emulation capabilities.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has aimed to sell the newest base Pi model for $35 since 2012. You can currently get the 2 GB Raspberry Pi 4 edition for $35.

This price only includes the cost of the board. You will need a power adapter and case for most projects.

Raspberry Pis are available through specific retailers. You can also find kits on Amazon that include all of the accessories you need to protect and power the unit.

The Raspberry Pi supports Linux-based operating systems. The official Raspberry Pi OS release is Debian-based. It functions like most other Linux environments. Python is a common choice when it comes to writing scripts on the Raspberry Pi.

Micro SD cards can only be recognized by the Raspberry Pi if they're formatted with a FAT16 or FAT32 filesystem. You can use the Raspberry Pi Imager to write an image file to your SD card.

Setting up a new Pi usually involves installing the OS, establishing a way to connect to it, and programming it to your project needs. Your setup requirements will vary depending on the project you're working on and what kind of Pi you have. Check out our guide on how to set up a new Raspberry Pi to get started.

The Raspberry Pi is designed to receive input from a 12V power source. To turn it on, plug in the adapter. A safe power switch can be manually set up and installed. This is often preferred as abruptly disrupting the power connection can damage the Pi or micro SD card. You can safely power off the Pi using a terminal window and shutdown command.

Run this command to download and install any pending updates:

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

Visit our guide on how to update your Raspberry Pi for more detailed steps and an explanation for the command listed above.

SSH can be enabled under the Raspberry Pi Configuration settings. These options are easy to get to from the main menu, but if you don't have a screen, things get trickier. Check out our instructions for enabling SSH on a headless Raspberry Pi for help.

You can SSH into the Raspberry Pi using a terminal or command-line application. Mac users can use Terminal while Windows users can use Command Prompt.

Use the IP address of the Raspberry Pi to connect. When prompted, enter the username and password for your Raspberry Pi account.

If the Raspberry Pi model you're using has Wi-Fi support, you can connect to wireless networks. If your Pi is connected to a screen and using the latest edition of Raspberry Pi OS, use the network icon in the taskbar to connect to Wi-Fi.

If you're using a headless setup, you'll need to configure your Wi-Fi information on the micro SD card before loading it into the Pi. Visit our guide on how top set up Wi-Fi on a Raspberry Pi without a monitor.

There is an official image for the Raspberry Pi released by Microsoft called IoT Core. You can find download setup information on the Microsoft website. This is a light OS designed for basic IoT functions. There is no full Windows desktop environment release for the Raspberry Pi.

The most common way to connect to your Raspberry Pi is using the IP address. You can use it to SSH into the Pi, some applications can even be accessed with a web browser. Other applications use a custom URL for access.

You can use terminal commands to find the IP address of your Raspberry Pi. SSH into the Pi or open the Terminal application in Raspberry Pi OS. Enter ifconfig and look for the IP address in the results.

Alternatively, you can log in to your router and look for the Raspberry Pi device to find the IP address. If you want to use a specific IP address, visit our guide on how to create a static IP on the Raspberry Pi.

The official operating system, Raspberry Pi OS, has both a desktop and command-line interface. You can choose to automatically boot into the Raspberry Pi desktop or use CLI.

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