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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Introduction

For the past couple of years I have been producing analysis guides for the top 10 Linux distributions as listed on Distrowatch.

The point of this article is to look at the top 10 Linux distributions as listed on Distrowatch for the year 2015 and analyse their suitability for the average Joe.
The criteria for an Everyday Linux distribution is as follows:
  1. Must be relatively easy to install
  2. Must have an intuitive desktop environment
  3. Must be easy to use
  4. Must have a standard set of applications pre-installed (i.e. web browser, audio player, media player)
  5. Must have a decent package manager in order to install further software
  6. Must be ready to use from the get go
The distributions are listed in the order they are in on Distrowatch.

Linux Mint






















There is a reason why Linux Mint is top of the list on Distrowatch and that is because it is about as close as you can get to the perfect distribution for the Everyday Linux User.

I reviewed Linux Mint 17.3 back in December, 2015 and I summarised it as being incredibly dependable.

Linux Mint is as easy to install as any other Linux distribution. After booting from the USB drive the steps for installing are to select the installation language, connect to the internet, accept the pre-requisites, select your installation type, choose your location, choose your keyboard layout, create a user and reboot.


The Linux Mint desktop works the way the majority of people became accustomed to for over 25 years. There is a panel at the bottom an intuitive menu and a set of system tray icons in the bottom right corner.

Linux Mint is definitely easy to use. It is definitely suitable for those people who like to point and click.

Linux Mint not only comes with a full set of applications to get you started, they are also arguably the best applications available for Linux. I say arguably because the browser is Firefox (although I personally prefer Google).

In addition to Firefox there is the Banshee audio player, Brasero disk creation tool, LibreOffice office suite, GIMP image editor, Thunderbird email client (although I prefer Evolution) and the VLC media player.

The package manager within Linux Mint is also one of the best available. The reason why it is the best is that it doesn't try and do too much. There aren't any adverts for other products and it always returns a good set of results when looking for applications.

Linux Mint is ready to go from the get go. It has all the multimedia codecs installed so you can browser the web, watch videos, listen to music and do all the basics without having to install further software.

Debian






















I reviewed Debian back in June 2015. I criticised the Debian website last year for being too difficult to navigate and I stand by that opinion.

Trying to find the ISO images for a standard 64-bit desktop with either GNOME, KDE or XFCE just isn't as simple as it could be. Compare the experience of finding the right ISO with Debian and Linux Mint by going to their respective websites and you will see what I mean.

The best way to install Debian is to use the net install option in the top right corner. The install process isn't too bad but it is long winded with multiple screens for setting up users and passwords for instance. It isn't difficult to install Debian but because it offers something for everyone some of the options may confuse a new user when they can just skip through certain screens.

I tried the GNOME version of Debian and it was a very good experience. I am a GNOME desktop fan so I find it very intuitive with great keyboard shortcuts.

Whilst Linux Mint has a traditional desktop it has to be said that many younger computer users are now growing up with a Windows 8 or Windows 10 desktop as well as Android phones. I therefore think that the younger generation will pick up on desktop environments like GNOME and Unity quickly.

Debian is fairly easy to use. You have to jump through a couple of extra hoops to install Flash but if you go for the net install you get a complete desktop environment and it is up to you whether you get a complete set of applications such as an audio player and video player.

The package manager in Debian is Synaptic which isn't particularly pretty but it is relatively easy to use and you can always find every package available within the repositories.

Ready from the get go? Not quite. As mentioned previously a new user will get the best out of Debian by going for the net install and choosing the components they want to install along the way.

Ubuntu



















Ubuntu is probably the most well known Linux distributions and I suspect that Ubuntu is only number 3 on the list because users do not need to go to Distrowatch to find out about it. They go direct to the Ubuntu website.

I back up my theory based on the statistics of my latest Ubuntu dual boot guide which is pulling in huge numbers of page views every day.

Ubuntu is as easy to install as Linux Mint. The installers are virtually the same.  The default desktop environment though is completely different. 

Ubuntu uses the Unity desktop which isn't far removed from the GNOME desktop. As I said previously in this guide I think that younger users who weren't brought up on pre-Windows 8 computers will find it easy to adopt.

Unity has great keyboard shortcuts, integrates the desktop with other applications very well and provides really simple navigation.

Ubuntu has a full enough set of applications for the Everyday Linux User including Firefox, LibreOffice and Thunderbird as well as the Rhythmbox audio player and the Shotwell photo manager.

The major let down within Ubuntu is the software manager which I believe is about to be retired in the next version. It just isn't as intuitive as other package managers and it omits results.

Ubuntu is ready to use out of the box but you do need to install third party components for Flash and MP3 audio.

OpenSUSE






















What can I say about openSUSE? Let's start with the major disappointment which is the installer. Out of all of the installers for the major Linux distributions is it the least intuitive.

There is just too much information at the point of partitioning all in long verbose text format rather than nice pretty pictures that the other distributions provide.

I reviewed openSUSE last in April 2015 and again I went for the GNOME version.

openSUSE itself is actually really nice and the main thing is that it is very stable. As mentioned previously GNOME is my favourite desktop environment and therefore I think this is definitely favourable to the Everyday Linux User.

Of course if you don't like GNOME there are other desktop environments available for openSUSE such as KDE.

openSUSE has a fairly large set of applications which come installed by default including the obvious ones like Firefox, LibreOffice, Rhythmbox and Shotwell. It also comes with GIMP for image editing and the Evolution email client. You basically have everything you need to get started.

With the GNOME version of openSUSE you get the GNOME package manager which is actually fairly decent.

Installing Flash and other proprietary components requires the installation of extra packages which are provided as 1 click installations. 

It isn't quite ready to go because of the Flash and proprietary stuff and the installer is a bit clumsy but once you have it installed it is as good as any other Linux distribution.

Fedora


Fedora is released fairly frequently so even though the version I reviewed last is only Fedora 21 it was only written back in March 2015.

Yet again I went for the GNOME desktop and the reason for that was to see how well Debian, openSUSE and Fedora compared when utilising the same environment.

I actually like the Anaconda installer that ships with Fedora. Click here for a guide showing how to install Fedora. It is almost a two step process. The first section gets you to set up the date and time, the keyboard layout, the installation location and hostname. The second stage gets you to do the user stuff. Partitioning is handled as well as it can be.

Fedora itself is very forward when it comes to implementing new ideas and as such the stability isn't always perfect. For instance whilst using the normal GNOME desktop it performed a little sluggishly but when switching to Wayland it flew but there were some application crashes.

Fedora comes with a fairly full set of applications installed and as with the other distributions you get things like Firefox, LibreOffice, Evolution, Rhythmbox and the Totem media player.

As with openSUSE, the GNOME package manager is the way to install software within the GNOME version of Fedora. If that isn't good enough you can always install Yum Extender.

Fedora isn't a completely ready to use system as you do have to install multimedia codecs and Flash if you need it.

Mageia






















Mageia is the distribution that has always loved to hate me and if I have disliked it in equal measures. That is up until Mageia 5 which totally redeemed itself.

I reviewed Mageia 5 in August 2015 and gave it the tag line "so much better than last time".

Mageia is now easy to install and the Mageia team have provided a decent installation guide.  

The GNOME desktop environment makes Mageia easy to use but there is a bit of kerfuffle when it comes to connecting to wireless networks. It isn't as intuitive as it perhaps could be. I am not sure why the developers didn't just leave it alone and let the GNOME network manager do the work.

A plus point is the Mageia control centre which lets you manage your whole system and it provides good hardware support.

The applications include similar applications to the other distributions on this list with Firefox, LibreOffice, GIMP and Evolution.

Mageia has its own graphical package manager which is actually very good and so installing software is easy enough.

This is a decent distribution but I did have a few troubles playing back MP4 videos which I'd like to explain how I fixed but it fixed itself.

Manjaro



I have to confess that I haven't tried Manjaro for quite some time. From what I know, Manjaro attempts to make it easier for the Everyday Linux User to get to grips with the Arch Linux distribution.

I have incorporated a video from the Linux Help Guy who really likes Manjaro.

I can't really comment on the ease of installation or indeed on much else about this distribution. Instead therefore I have incorporated comments from other bloggers.

First off here is how Dedoimedo summed up the KDE version of Manjaro last year.

How shall I put it? Let there be no doubt. Manjaro 0.8.11 is a better version than 0.8.5 that I tested a while back. But calling it the best and most awesomest KDE around, as I've seen here and there in various forums and social media sites is literally pushing it. Now, it does deserve a lot of praise, A LOT, regarding its visual appearance. However, that is not enough to distract from or reduce the impact of the underlying system bugs.

Desktop effects, printing, broken Steam packages, weird menu entries, misbehaving media player, an identity-confused collection of software, installation issues, missing swap use and very high memory consumption, all of these are big problems that the Manjaro dev team needs to address. But overall, the important thing here is progress.

But if you're asking me, the distro needs to simplify its mission statement, and focus on the core message of practicality. Hopefully, we will see that happen soon. Let's call it the emergence of Manjaro into its own rightful place. At the moment, it's trying to do so much, at the same time, it's like a juggler with one ball too many. Grade wise? Hmmm, well, something like 7.5-8/10, and I am being generous. However, if all else fails, it so damn beautiful. Definitely one of the top three. Imagine Plasma 5 there. Looking forward to the next version. Ciao!

For a ying to the yang here is a summary by the Hectic Geek:

 I love how Manjaro developers have presented the KDE Plasma 5.5 desktop. It’s a beautiful looking, responsive, power efficient, and a stable desktop. I’m also okay with it using a bit of memory as well. But you know, I can’t wait for 50+ seconds for an operating system to boot (again, part of that has to be blamed upon systemd developers) and 12.6 seconds of shutdown times is also a bit high for my taste, it just ain’t my cup of tea. I like lean & fast operating systems. But hey, that’s just me. And these days, one doesn’t get to see blisteringly fast booting KDE distributions either (in my short experience).

CentOS



I reviewed CentOS in September 2015 and it was the first time that I had tried it.

The installer for CentOS is the same one that ships with Fedora and so it is reasonably easy to install. When I booted CentOS for the first time it went straight to the GNOME classic desktop which is ok but looks a bit old hat. (old Red Hat?)

Switching to the normal GNOME desktop makes for a very pleasant experience.  Basically with CentOS you get the stability that Fedora doesn't offer.

The software installed is much the same as the other distributions in this list with Firefox, Evolution and you know the rest.

Multimedia codecs requires a few extra steps to get installed but there is a good wiki page showing how to do this and I have linked to good guides in my review of CentOS for creating the perfect CentOS desktop.

The GNOME package manager is used to install applications but you could always install Yum Extender if you wanted to.

CentOS has really good hardware support and it found my printer and network storage easily. I would recommend CentOS over Fedora for the Everyday Linux User.

Arch

I am not an Arch user. I am not sure that it fits at all with the ethos as being for the Everyday Linux User.

You need to follow an installation guide to install the distribution and it isn't point and click as it is with the other distributions on this list.

I can't really comment on the rest of Arch because I am not and never have been a user.

Interestingly it is hard to find decent reviews of Arch because other bloggers also seem to steer clear of it.

Arch is popular because of the power it puts into your own hands.

I can neither promote or dismiss Arch as I'm not qualified to. I have installed it once as a virtual machine but I wouldn't say that it is for the Everyday Linux User.

Android





























Oddly at number 10 on the list is Android x86. Should we be surprised though that people want to run Android as their desktop operating system.

Android works very well on tablets and smartphones and it is even very decent when used on gaming systems such as the NVidia Shield.

I tried Android x86 on a standard laptop and it really doesn't live up to being an operating system you could use on a daily basis.

It has too many little flaws such as screen rotation issues and it is built for a touchscreen and not a standard mouse or trackpad.

Summary

Hopefully you have found this guide useful. If you have any comments to make please feel free to do so.

More reviews will be appearing shortly on this site now that the year is finally in full swing.

Thankyou for reading.

Analysis Of The Top 10 Linux Distributions Of 2015

Introduction

For the past couple of years I have been producing analysis guides for the top 10 Linux distributions as listed on Distrowatch.

The point of this article is to look at the top 10 Linux distributions as listed on Distrowatch for the year 2015 and analyse their suitability for the average Joe.
The criteria for an Everyday Linux distribution is as follows:
  1. Must be relatively easy to install
  2. Must have an intuitive desktop environment
  3. Must be easy to use
  4. Must have a standard set of applications pre-installed (i.e. web browser, audio player, media player)
  5. Must have a decent package manager in order to install further software
  6. Must be ready to use from the get go
The distributions are listed in the order they are in on Distrowatch.

Linux Mint






















There is a reason why Linux Mint is top of the list on Distrowatch and that is because it is about as close as you can get to the perfect distribution for the Everyday Linux User.

I reviewed Linux Mint 17.3 back in December, 2015 and I summarised it as being incredibly dependable.

Linux Mint is as easy to install as any other Linux distribution. After booting from the USB drive the steps for installing are to select the installation language, connect to the internet, accept the pre-requisites, select your installation type, choose your location, choose your keyboard layout, create a user and reboot.


The Linux Mint desktop works the way the majority of people became accustomed to for over 25 years. There is a panel at the bottom an intuitive menu and a set of system tray icons in the bottom right corner.

Linux Mint is definitely easy to use. It is definitely suitable for those people who like to point and click.

Linux Mint not only comes with a full set of applications to get you started, they are also arguably the best applications available for Linux. I say arguably because the browser is Firefox (although I personally prefer Google).

In addition to Firefox there is the Banshee audio player, Brasero disk creation tool, LibreOffice office suite, GIMP image editor, Thunderbird email client (although I prefer Evolution) and the VLC media player.

The package manager within Linux Mint is also one of the best available. The reason why it is the best is that it doesn't try and do too much. There aren't any adverts for other products and it always returns a good set of results when looking for applications.

Linux Mint is ready to go from the get go. It has all the multimedia codecs installed so you can browser the web, watch videos, listen to music and do all the basics without having to install further software.

Debian






















I reviewed Debian back in June 2015. I criticised the Debian website last year for being too difficult to navigate and I stand by that opinion.

Trying to find the ISO images for a standard 64-bit desktop with either GNOME, KDE or XFCE just isn't as simple as it could be. Compare the experience of finding the right ISO with Debian and Linux Mint by going to their respective websites and you will see what I mean.

The best way to install Debian is to use the net install option in the top right corner. The install process isn't too bad but it is long winded with multiple screens for setting up users and passwords for instance. It isn't difficult to install Debian but because it offers something for everyone some of the options may confuse a new user when they can just skip through certain screens.

I tried the GNOME version of Debian and it was a very good experience. I am a GNOME desktop fan so I find it very intuitive with great keyboard shortcuts.

Whilst Linux Mint has a traditional desktop it has to be said that many younger computer users are now growing up with a Windows 8 or Windows 10 desktop as well as Android phones. I therefore think that the younger generation will pick up on desktop environments like GNOME and Unity quickly.

Debian is fairly easy to use. You have to jump through a couple of extra hoops to install Flash but if you go for the net install you get a complete desktop environment and it is up to you whether you get a complete set of applications such as an audio player and video player.

The package manager in Debian is Synaptic which isn't particularly pretty but it is relatively easy to use and you can always find every package available within the repositories.

Ready from the get go? Not quite. As mentioned previously a new user will get the best out of Debian by going for the net install and choosing the components they want to install along the way.

Ubuntu



















Ubuntu is probably the most well known Linux distributions and I suspect that Ubuntu is only number 3 on the list because users do not need to go to Distrowatch to find out about it. They go direct to the Ubuntu website.

I back up my theory based on the statistics of my latest Ubuntu dual boot guide which is pulling in huge numbers of page views every day.

Ubuntu is as easy to install as Linux Mint. The installers are virtually the same.  The default desktop environment though is completely different. 

Ubuntu uses the Unity desktop which isn't far removed from the GNOME desktop. As I said previously in this guide I think that younger users who weren't brought up on pre-Windows 8 computers will find it easy to adopt.

Unity has great keyboard shortcuts, integrates the desktop with other applications very well and provides really simple navigation.

Ubuntu has a full enough set of applications for the Everyday Linux User including Firefox, LibreOffice and Thunderbird as well as the Rhythmbox audio player and the Shotwell photo manager.

The major let down within Ubuntu is the software manager which I believe is about to be retired in the next version. It just isn't as intuitive as other package managers and it omits results.

Ubuntu is ready to use out of the box but you do need to install third party components for Flash and MP3 audio.

OpenSUSE






















What can I say about openSUSE? Let's start with the major disappointment which is the installer. Out of all of the installers for the major Linux distributions is it the least intuitive.

There is just too much information at the point of partitioning all in long verbose text format rather than nice pretty pictures that the other distributions provide.

I reviewed openSUSE last in April 2015 and again I went for the GNOME version.

openSUSE itself is actually really nice and the main thing is that it is very stable. As mentioned previously GNOME is my favourite desktop environment and therefore I think this is definitely favourable to the Everyday Linux User.

Of course if you don't like GNOME there are other desktop environments available for openSUSE such as KDE.

openSUSE has a fairly large set of applications which come installed by default including the obvious ones like Firefox, LibreOffice, Rhythmbox and Shotwell. It also comes with GIMP for image editing and the Evolution email client. You basically have everything you need to get started.

With the GNOME version of openSUSE you get the GNOME package manager which is actually fairly decent.

Installing Flash and other proprietary components requires the installation of extra packages which are provided as 1 click installations. 

It isn't quite ready to go because of the Flash and proprietary stuff and the installer is a bit clumsy but once you have it installed it is as good as any other Linux distribution.

Fedora


Fedora is released fairly frequently so even though the version I reviewed last is only Fedora 21 it was only written back in March 2015.

Yet again I went for the GNOME desktop and the reason for that was to see how well Debian, openSUSE and Fedora compared when utilising the same environment.

I actually like the Anaconda installer that ships with Fedora. Click here for a guide showing how to install Fedora. It is almost a two step process. The first section gets you to set up the date and time, the keyboard layout, the installation location and hostname. The second stage gets you to do the user stuff. Partitioning is handled as well as it can be.

Fedora itself is very forward when it comes to implementing new ideas and as such the stability isn't always perfect. For instance whilst using the normal GNOME desktop it performed a little sluggishly but when switching to Wayland it flew but there were some application crashes.

Fedora comes with a fairly full set of applications installed and as with the other distributions you get things like Firefox, LibreOffice, Evolution, Rhythmbox and the Totem media player.

As with openSUSE, the GNOME package manager is the way to install software within the GNOME version of Fedora. If that isn't good enough you can always install Yum Extender.

Fedora isn't a completely ready to use system as you do have to install multimedia codecs and Flash if you need it.

Mageia






















Mageia is the distribution that has always loved to hate me and if I have disliked it in equal measures. That is up until Mageia 5 which totally redeemed itself.

I reviewed Mageia 5 in August 2015 and gave it the tag line "so much better than last time".

Mageia is now easy to install and the Mageia team have provided a decent installation guide.  

The GNOME desktop environment makes Mageia easy to use but there is a bit of kerfuffle when it comes to connecting to wireless networks. It isn't as intuitive as it perhaps could be. I am not sure why the developers didn't just leave it alone and let the GNOME network manager do the work.

A plus point is the Mageia control centre which lets you manage your whole system and it provides good hardware support.

The applications include similar applications to the other distributions on this list with Firefox, LibreOffice, GIMP and Evolution.

Mageia has its own graphical package manager which is actually very good and so installing software is easy enough.

This is a decent distribution but I did have a few troubles playing back MP4 videos which I'd like to explain how I fixed but it fixed itself.

Manjaro



I have to confess that I haven't tried Manjaro for quite some time. From what I know, Manjaro attempts to make it easier for the Everyday Linux User to get to grips with the Arch Linux distribution.

I have incorporated a video from the Linux Help Guy who really likes Manjaro.

I can't really comment on the ease of installation or indeed on much else about this distribution. Instead therefore I have incorporated comments from other bloggers.

First off here is how Dedoimedo summed up the KDE version of Manjaro last year.

How shall I put it? Let there be no doubt. Manjaro 0.8.11 is a better version than 0.8.5 that I tested a while back. But calling it the best and most awesomest KDE around, as I've seen here and there in various forums and social media sites is literally pushing it. Now, it does deserve a lot of praise, A LOT, regarding its visual appearance. However, that is not enough to distract from or reduce the impact of the underlying system bugs.

Desktop effects, printing, broken Steam packages, weird menu entries, misbehaving media player, an identity-confused collection of software, installation issues, missing swap use and very high memory consumption, all of these are big problems that the Manjaro dev team needs to address. But overall, the important thing here is progress.

But if you're asking me, the distro needs to simplify its mission statement, and focus on the core message of practicality. Hopefully, we will see that happen soon. Let's call it the emergence of Manjaro into its own rightful place. At the moment, it's trying to do so much, at the same time, it's like a juggler with one ball too many. Grade wise? Hmmm, well, something like 7.5-8/10, and I am being generous. However, if all else fails, it so damn beautiful. Definitely one of the top three. Imagine Plasma 5 there. Looking forward to the next version. Ciao!

For a ying to the yang here is a summary by the Hectic Geek:

 I love how Manjaro developers have presented the KDE Plasma 5.5 desktop. It’s a beautiful looking, responsive, power efficient, and a stable desktop. I’m also okay with it using a bit of memory as well. But you know, I can’t wait for 50+ seconds for an operating system to boot (again, part of that has to be blamed upon systemd developers) and 12.6 seconds of shutdown times is also a bit high for my taste, it just ain’t my cup of tea. I like lean & fast operating systems. But hey, that’s just me. And these days, one doesn’t get to see blisteringly fast booting KDE distributions either (in my short experience).

CentOS



I reviewed CentOS in September 2015 and it was the first time that I had tried it.

The installer for CentOS is the same one that ships with Fedora and so it is reasonably easy to install. When I booted CentOS for the first time it went straight to the GNOME classic desktop which is ok but looks a bit old hat. (old Red Hat?)

Switching to the normal GNOME desktop makes for a very pleasant experience.  Basically with CentOS you get the stability that Fedora doesn't offer.

The software installed is much the same as the other distributions in this list with Firefox, Evolution and you know the rest.

Multimedia codecs requires a few extra steps to get installed but there is a good wiki page showing how to do this and I have linked to good guides in my review of CentOS for creating the perfect CentOS desktop.

The GNOME package manager is used to install applications but you could always install Yum Extender if you wanted to.

CentOS has really good hardware support and it found my printer and network storage easily. I would recommend CentOS over Fedora for the Everyday Linux User.

Arch

I am not an Arch user. I am not sure that it fits at all with the ethos as being for the Everyday Linux User.

You need to follow an installation guide to install the distribution and it isn't point and click as it is with the other distributions on this list.

I can't really comment on the rest of Arch because I am not and never have been a user.

Interestingly it is hard to find decent reviews of Arch because other bloggers also seem to steer clear of it.

Arch is popular because of the power it puts into your own hands.

I can neither promote or dismiss Arch as I'm not qualified to. I have installed it once as a virtual machine but I wouldn't say that it is for the Everyday Linux User.

Android





























Oddly at number 10 on the list is Android x86. Should we be surprised though that people want to run Android as their desktop operating system.

Android works very well on tablets and smartphones and it is even very decent when used on gaming systems such as the NVidia Shield.

I tried Android x86 on a standard laptop and it really doesn't live up to being an operating system you could use on a daily basis.

It has too many little flaws such as screen rotation issues and it is built for a touchscreen and not a standard mouse or trackpad.

Summary

Hopefully you have found this guide useful. If you have any comments to make please feel free to do so.

More reviews will be appearing shortly on this site now that the year is finally in full swing.

Thankyou for reading.

Posted at 20:51 |  by Gary Newell

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Introduction

This guide will show you how to set up the Raspberry PI Zero. The Raspberry PI Zero is an amazing little single card computer which retails for about the same price as a couple of pints of beer.


The above image shows you just how small the Raspberry PI Zero is. As you can see it is around about half the size of a credit card or in this case an Asda giftcard.

The Raspberry PI Zero was launched with much fanfare and was even given away for free on the cover of the MagPI magazine.

The specifications for the Raspberry PI Zero are as follows:

  • CPU - Broadcom BCM2835 - runs up to 1 Ghz
  • 512 megabytes of RAM
  • Power - 5V via micro USB drawing 160mA
  • Video/Audio - 1080P HD video output. audio output via mini HDMI connector
  • Storage - Micro SD
Whilst the Raspberry PI Zero isn't going to win any awards for power or performance it works well with the Raspbian operating system.

Setting up the Raspberry PI Zero has various challenges that you need to overcome to be able to use it and that is why this guide has been written.

With this guide you will find out how to set up the SD card, how to connect all the components and how to boot the Raspberry PI Zero and connect to the internet.

What You Will Need























Whilst the Raspberry PI Zero is available for less than £10 there are various components you will need in order to use it and the above image shows most of what you will need. 

I have listed the items you will need below along with links where you can buy them from. You can of course buy the items from many other locations and the links are provided just to make it easier for you.

In the top left corner is a Raspberry PI power supply. You can buy one of these for £6.30. Most mobile phone power supplies will also work with the Raspberry PI Zero.

Below the power supply is a standard USB computer keyboard and below that a standard USB mouse.

Next to the mouse is a micro SD card. You can buy one of these with an adapter for £4.99 on Amazon. If your computer doesn't have an SD card reader then you will need to buy one of these as well. 

Adjacent to the Micro SD card is the Raspberry PI Zero itself which you can buy from the PI Swag store.

The most important item is next to the Raspberry PI Zero in the image above. It converts the micro USB slot into a standard USB slot. This makes it possible to connect the Raspberry PI to a standard USB hub which you will use to connect the keyboard, mouse and wireless USB dongle.

The little white thing next to the keyboard is a wireless USB dongle and this makes it possible for you to connect the Raspberry PI Zero to the internet.

Above the wireless dongle is a USB powered hub which provides more ports for connecting the keyboard and the mouse. Next the the USB hub is the power supply which should ship with the hub.



The final thing that you will need which is shown in the above image is a micro HDMI to HDMI cable for connecting the Raspberry PI zero to a monitor or TV.

How To Get Raspbian

Before setting up the Raspberry PI Zero itself you need to download and install the Raspbian operating system to the Micro SD card.






















You can download Raspbian from https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/.

Click on the "Download ZIP" link below Raspbian Jessie as this is the latest version.

How To Install Raspbian To An SD Card Using Windows

Double click on the downloaded Raspbian ZIP file  and extract the contents.



You will now need to download a piece of software called Win32 Disk Imager from http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/.

Click on the green download link.

Insert the micro SD card into an SD adapter and insert the adapter into your computer's SD card reader. If your computer doesn't have an SD card reader you will need an external one as mentioned previously.

Click on the downloaded Win32 Disk Imager file which will be located in your downloads folder.


When the welcome screen appears click "Next".


Accept the license agreement and click "Next".


Click "Next" to select the default install location. (You can of course change the installation path if you wish to).


Click "Next" to allow Win32 Disk Imager to create a start menu folder.


Leave the "Create a desktop icon" box ticked and press "Next".


Finally click the "Install" button to start the installation.


When the installation has completed untick the "View README.txt" checkbox but leave the "Launch Win32DiskImager" ticked.

Press "Finish".


Hopefully now the above screen should have appeared. If it doesn't show up click on the icon on the desktop for Win32 Disk Imager.

To create the SD card press the folder icon and navigate to the downloads folder. Click on the Raspbian image that you extracted earlier.

Change the device dropdown so that it points to the drive letter that matches the SD card.

Click "Write".

The process takes a few minutes to complete.

When it has finished click "Exit".

Create Raspbian SD Card Using Linux

To create the Raspbian SD Card using Linux insert the Micro SD card into an SD card adapter and insert that into your computer's SD Card reader (either internal or external).

Open up a terminal window and type the following commands:

cd ~/Downloads
unzip 2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.zip
sudo dd if=2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=8m 

These commands cannot necessarily be typed verbatim. You might need to adjust them.

The first line changes your current working directory to be the Downloads folder under your home folder. If your downloaded zip file is in a different location then you need to cd to the relevant location.

The zip file is correct at the moment but for future releases the date will of course change and it might not be called raspbian jessie anymore therefore you need to replace the unzip command with the correct zip file name.

The final line writes the raspbian image to the SD card. There are many things that might need to change on this line.

For instance not all distributions use sudo. If sudo is not installed on your computer you will need to use an account with the appropriate permissions to run the dd command and with permissions to write to an SD card.

The .img file name may also be different and so you might need to amend this in the future. (This is the bit after if=).

The of= section chooses the output location for the image to be written. If your SD card isn't located in /dev/mmcblk0 then you need to amend it to be the correct location.

Setting Up The Raspberry PI Zero



The above image is a side view of the Raspberry PI zero. The first port from the left is a mini HDMI port.

The two sockets on the right are micro USB ports.


The first thing you need to do is take the micro USB to USB converter as shown in the image above and insert it into the micro USB socket closest to the mini HDMI port as shown in the image below.


The micro USB to USB converter is very useful as now you can connect your Raspberry PI Zero easily to a 4 port USB hub.


A 4 port USB hub is required for attaching a keyboard, mouse and wireless dongle (ok, so maybe a 3 port hub would suffice but they are less commonly available).



The images above connect a micro USB cable from the hub to the Raspberry PI Zero via the micro USB converter.


Now insert the keyboard, mouse and wireless dongle into the 4 port hub. If the hub has a power supply attach it to the hub.


The above image shows the mini HDMI to HDMI cable. Insert the mini HDMI end of the cable into the mini HDMI port on the Raspberry PI Zero and the HDMI cable into a HDMI socket on a monitor or TV as shown by the image below.


Almost there now.


At the HDMI port end of the Raspberry PI Zero is a slot for the micro SD card. Insert it as far as it goes into the slot.


Finally insert the Raspberry PI power supply into the remaining micro USB port and plug it into a wall. Flick the power switch and the Raspberry PI should begin to boot and you should see a display on the screen as shown below.


Setting Up Raspbian
























First things first, lets start with connecting to the internet.

Click on the network icon in the top right corner and choose the appropriate wireless network. Enter the security key when it is requested. (Assuming your network is secure).
























Now open up the Raspberry PI settings screen by clicking the menu icon in the top left corner and selecting "Preferences" and then "Raspbian Configuration".
























When the Raspberry PI Configuration screen appears click on the "System" tab (if it is not selected by default) and click the "Expand Filesystem" button. This allocates the entire SD card to the operating system.

Click the "Change Password" button and choose a new password. You don't want to leave it as the default. It is the same as people who leave routers with the admin password set to admin.

What Next?

Now that you have set up your Raspberry PI Zero you might decide to use it as a headless server because it is so small and can be plugged in anywhere. 

Follow this guide for setting up SSH on the Raspberry PI

In the coming weeks I will be writing more guides dedicated to the Raspberry PI and updating existing guides.

How To Set Up The Raspberry PI Zero

Introduction

This guide will show you how to set up the Raspberry PI Zero. The Raspberry PI Zero is an amazing little single card computer which retails for about the same price as a couple of pints of beer.


The above image shows you just how small the Raspberry PI Zero is. As you can see it is around about half the size of a credit card or in this case an Asda giftcard.

The Raspberry PI Zero was launched with much fanfare and was even given away for free on the cover of the MagPI magazine.

The specifications for the Raspberry PI Zero are as follows:

  • CPU - Broadcom BCM2835 - runs up to 1 Ghz
  • 512 megabytes of RAM
  • Power - 5V via micro USB drawing 160mA
  • Video/Audio - 1080P HD video output. audio output via mini HDMI connector
  • Storage - Micro SD
Whilst the Raspberry PI Zero isn't going to win any awards for power or performance it works well with the Raspbian operating system.

Setting up the Raspberry PI Zero has various challenges that you need to overcome to be able to use it and that is why this guide has been written.

With this guide you will find out how to set up the SD card, how to connect all the components and how to boot the Raspberry PI Zero and connect to the internet.

What You Will Need























Whilst the Raspberry PI Zero is available for less than £10 there are various components you will need in order to use it and the above image shows most of what you will need. 

I have listed the items you will need below along with links where you can buy them from. You can of course buy the items from many other locations and the links are provided just to make it easier for you.

In the top left corner is a Raspberry PI power supply. You can buy one of these for £6.30. Most mobile phone power supplies will also work with the Raspberry PI Zero.

Below the power supply is a standard USB computer keyboard and below that a standard USB mouse.

Next to the mouse is a micro SD card. You can buy one of these with an adapter for £4.99 on Amazon. If your computer doesn't have an SD card reader then you will need to buy one of these as well. 

Adjacent to the Micro SD card is the Raspberry PI Zero itself which you can buy from the PI Swag store.

The most important item is next to the Raspberry PI Zero in the image above. It converts the micro USB slot into a standard USB slot. This makes it possible to connect the Raspberry PI to a standard USB hub which you will use to connect the keyboard, mouse and wireless USB dongle.

The little white thing next to the keyboard is a wireless USB dongle and this makes it possible for you to connect the Raspberry PI Zero to the internet.

Above the wireless dongle is a USB powered hub which provides more ports for connecting the keyboard and the mouse. Next the the USB hub is the power supply which should ship with the hub.



The final thing that you will need which is shown in the above image is a micro HDMI to HDMI cable for connecting the Raspberry PI zero to a monitor or TV.

How To Get Raspbian

Before setting up the Raspberry PI Zero itself you need to download and install the Raspbian operating system to the Micro SD card.






















You can download Raspbian from https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/.

Click on the "Download ZIP" link below Raspbian Jessie as this is the latest version.

How To Install Raspbian To An SD Card Using Windows

Double click on the downloaded Raspbian ZIP file  and extract the contents.



You will now need to download a piece of software called Win32 Disk Imager from http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/.

Click on the green download link.

Insert the micro SD card into an SD adapter and insert the adapter into your computer's SD card reader. If your computer doesn't have an SD card reader you will need an external one as mentioned previously.

Click on the downloaded Win32 Disk Imager file which will be located in your downloads folder.


When the welcome screen appears click "Next".


Accept the license agreement and click "Next".


Click "Next" to select the default install location. (You can of course change the installation path if you wish to).


Click "Next" to allow Win32 Disk Imager to create a start menu folder.


Leave the "Create a desktop icon" box ticked and press "Next".


Finally click the "Install" button to start the installation.


When the installation has completed untick the "View README.txt" checkbox but leave the "Launch Win32DiskImager" ticked.

Press "Finish".


Hopefully now the above screen should have appeared. If it doesn't show up click on the icon on the desktop for Win32 Disk Imager.

To create the SD card press the folder icon and navigate to the downloads folder. Click on the Raspbian image that you extracted earlier.

Change the device dropdown so that it points to the drive letter that matches the SD card.

Click "Write".

The process takes a few minutes to complete.

When it has finished click "Exit".

Create Raspbian SD Card Using Linux

To create the Raspbian SD Card using Linux insert the Micro SD card into an SD card adapter and insert that into your computer's SD Card reader (either internal or external).

Open up a terminal window and type the following commands:

cd ~/Downloads
unzip 2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.zip
sudo dd if=2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=8m 

These commands cannot necessarily be typed verbatim. You might need to adjust them.

The first line changes your current working directory to be the Downloads folder under your home folder. If your downloaded zip file is in a different location then you need to cd to the relevant location.

The zip file is correct at the moment but for future releases the date will of course change and it might not be called raspbian jessie anymore therefore you need to replace the unzip command with the correct zip file name.

The final line writes the raspbian image to the SD card. There are many things that might need to change on this line.

For instance not all distributions use sudo. If sudo is not installed on your computer you will need to use an account with the appropriate permissions to run the dd command and with permissions to write to an SD card.

The .img file name may also be different and so you might need to amend this in the future. (This is the bit after if=).

The of= section chooses the output location for the image to be written. If your SD card isn't located in /dev/mmcblk0 then you need to amend it to be the correct location.

Setting Up The Raspberry PI Zero



The above image is a side view of the Raspberry PI zero. The first port from the left is a mini HDMI port.

The two sockets on the right are micro USB ports.


The first thing you need to do is take the micro USB to USB converter as shown in the image above and insert it into the micro USB socket closest to the mini HDMI port as shown in the image below.


The micro USB to USB converter is very useful as now you can connect your Raspberry PI Zero easily to a 4 port USB hub.


A 4 port USB hub is required for attaching a keyboard, mouse and wireless dongle (ok, so maybe a 3 port hub would suffice but they are less commonly available).



The images above connect a micro USB cable from the hub to the Raspberry PI Zero via the micro USB converter.


Now insert the keyboard, mouse and wireless dongle into the 4 port hub. If the hub has a power supply attach it to the hub.


The above image shows the mini HDMI to HDMI cable. Insert the mini HDMI end of the cable into the mini HDMI port on the Raspberry PI Zero and the HDMI cable into a HDMI socket on a monitor or TV as shown by the image below.


Almost there now.


At the HDMI port end of the Raspberry PI Zero is a slot for the micro SD card. Insert it as far as it goes into the slot.


Finally insert the Raspberry PI power supply into the remaining micro USB port and plug it into a wall. Flick the power switch and the Raspberry PI should begin to boot and you should see a display on the screen as shown below.


Setting Up Raspbian
























First things first, lets start with connecting to the internet.

Click on the network icon in the top right corner and choose the appropriate wireless network. Enter the security key when it is requested. (Assuming your network is secure).
























Now open up the Raspberry PI settings screen by clicking the menu icon in the top left corner and selecting "Preferences" and then "Raspbian Configuration".
























When the Raspberry PI Configuration screen appears click on the "System" tab (if it is not selected by default) and click the "Expand Filesystem" button. This allocates the entire SD card to the operating system.

Click the "Change Password" button and choose a new password. You don't want to leave it as the default. It is the same as people who leave routers with the admin password set to admin.

What Next?

Now that you have set up your Raspberry PI Zero you might decide to use it as a headless server because it is so small and can be plugged in anywhere. 

Follow this guide for setting up SSH on the Raspberry PI

In the coming weeks I will be writing more guides dedicated to the Raspberry PI and updating existing guides.

Posted at 20:59 |  by Gary Newell

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Introduction

This is a guest post by Graeme Caldwell.

About Graeme Caldwell -- Graeme works as an inbound marketer for InterWorx, a revolutionary web hosting control panel for hosts who need scalability and reliability. Follow InterWorx on Twitter at @interworx  and check out their blog, http://www.interworx.com/community.

Many businesses have the need to integrate web hosting into the mix of services they offer. CMS professionals, web developers and designers, eCommerce consultants, and marketing agencies, often find that the best way to integrate web hosting with existing services is not to use an established hosting company’s reseller accounts but to develop a hosting platform over which they have complete control. It’s not as difficult as you might think — if you can handle Linux server administration and choose a good web hosting control panel, all you need is the server.

With the plethora of physical and cloud server hosting options available, the infrastructure itself isn’t a problem. But before installing a web control panel and starting to sell hosting, vendors have a decision to make: which operating system is the best option?

The answer to that question will almost always be Linux, but there are any number of Linux distributions to choose from. We can rule out desktop Linux operating systems immediately — although it’s perfectly possible to build a hosting platform on a desktop-focused distro like Linux Mint, that’s not what they are designed for. I’d also advise that, for most hosting scenarios, prospective web hosts put aside distributions with complex installation procedures — Gentoo and Arch Linux come to mind. Again, both are perfectly feasible options in the hands of experts, but they’re not ideal for fast installation and easy management.

That leaves us with Linux distributions specifically designed to be used on the server and easy to install. There are many options in this category, but for web hosting I’d suggest either CentOS or Ubuntu Server.

Ubuntu Server Or CentOS?

Ubuntu Server is the server-focused version of the hugely popular desktop distribution. Ubuntu is based on Debian, which means that it uses the APT package manager. If you choose Ubuntu, the most sensible option is to opt for a Long Term Support release of Ubuntu Server. On the server, LTS releases are supported for five years. That matters to hosts who value stability over novelty — you don’t want to have to upgrade the entire operating system frequently.

CentOS is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and uses the YUM package manager. Originally, CentOS was a free clone of RHEL created to provide a RHEL-compatible operating system without the Red Hat support price tag. In recent years, CentOS has been sponsored by Red Hat, the organizations work closely together, and most of CentOS’ lead developers work for Red Hat, but CentOS does not have official Red Hat support.

CentOS has a longer support schedule than Ubuntu. The current CentOS release is fully supported until 2020 with maintenance releases to 2024.

If you were to survey the web hosting industry, you’d find that almost all web hosting companies use CentOS. There are various reasons for the popularity of CentOS — its perceived stability; its compatibility with RHEL, which is heavily used in enterprise; and its long support cycles.

A consequence and cause of CentOS’s popularity among web hosting companies is that many software packages aimed at web hosts have exclusive or enhanced support on CentOS. That’s of most importance for companies that intend to use a web control panel like InterWorx or CPanel, both of which only have official support for CentOS.

Because of CentOS’s longer release cycles and focus on stability, it tends not to have the newest versions of software available. That’s not usually a concern for web hosts who prefer tried-and-tested stability — no one wants their web hosting taken down by a software bug. It is possible to add third-party repositories with more up-to-date packages, but if you want newer packages out of the box, Ubuntu Server is a reasonable choice.

Ultimately, both CentOS and Ubuntu Server would make a good choice for a company intending to deploy a dedicated server or small cluster of servers for web hosting, but the longer support cycles, the obsessive focus on stability, and the availability of software like control panels makes CentOS the superior choice. CentOS isn’t better than Ubuntu Server, but in the use-case we’re considering here, it’s most pragmatic choice.

How To Choose The Best Linux OS For Your Web Hosting Server

Introduction

This is a guest post by Graeme Caldwell.

About Graeme Caldwell -- Graeme works as an inbound marketer for InterWorx, a revolutionary web hosting control panel for hosts who need scalability and reliability. Follow InterWorx on Twitter at @interworx  and check out their blog, http://www.interworx.com/community.

Many businesses have the need to integrate web hosting into the mix of services they offer. CMS professionals, web developers and designers, eCommerce consultants, and marketing agencies, often find that the best way to integrate web hosting with existing services is not to use an established hosting company’s reseller accounts but to develop a hosting platform over which they have complete control. It’s not as difficult as you might think — if you can handle Linux server administration and choose a good web hosting control panel, all you need is the server.

With the plethora of physical and cloud server hosting options available, the infrastructure itself isn’t a problem. But before installing a web control panel and starting to sell hosting, vendors have a decision to make: which operating system is the best option?

The answer to that question will almost always be Linux, but there are any number of Linux distributions to choose from. We can rule out desktop Linux operating systems immediately — although it’s perfectly possible to build a hosting platform on a desktop-focused distro like Linux Mint, that’s not what they are designed for. I’d also advise that, for most hosting scenarios, prospective web hosts put aside distributions with complex installation procedures — Gentoo and Arch Linux come to mind. Again, both are perfectly feasible options in the hands of experts, but they’re not ideal for fast installation and easy management.

That leaves us with Linux distributions specifically designed to be used on the server and easy to install. There are many options in this category, but for web hosting I’d suggest either CentOS or Ubuntu Server.

Ubuntu Server Or CentOS?

Ubuntu Server is the server-focused version of the hugely popular desktop distribution. Ubuntu is based on Debian, which means that it uses the APT package manager. If you choose Ubuntu, the most sensible option is to opt for a Long Term Support release of Ubuntu Server. On the server, LTS releases are supported for five years. That matters to hosts who value stability over novelty — you don’t want to have to upgrade the entire operating system frequently.

CentOS is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and uses the YUM package manager. Originally, CentOS was a free clone of RHEL created to provide a RHEL-compatible operating system without the Red Hat support price tag. In recent years, CentOS has been sponsored by Red Hat, the organizations work closely together, and most of CentOS’ lead developers work for Red Hat, but CentOS does not have official Red Hat support.

CentOS has a longer support schedule than Ubuntu. The current CentOS release is fully supported until 2020 with maintenance releases to 2024.

If you were to survey the web hosting industry, you’d find that almost all web hosting companies use CentOS. There are various reasons for the popularity of CentOS — its perceived stability; its compatibility with RHEL, which is heavily used in enterprise; and its long support cycles.

A consequence and cause of CentOS’s popularity among web hosting companies is that many software packages aimed at web hosts have exclusive or enhanced support on CentOS. That’s of most importance for companies that intend to use a web control panel like InterWorx or CPanel, both of which only have official support for CentOS.

Because of CentOS’s longer release cycles and focus on stability, it tends not to have the newest versions of software available. That’s not usually a concern for web hosts who prefer tried-and-tested stability — no one wants their web hosting taken down by a software bug. It is possible to add third-party repositories with more up-to-date packages, but if you want newer packages out of the box, Ubuntu Server is a reasonable choice.

Ultimately, both CentOS and Ubuntu Server would make a good choice for a company intending to deploy a dedicated server or small cluster of servers for web hosting, but the longer support cycles, the obsessive focus on stability, and the availability of software like control panels makes CentOS the superior choice. CentOS isn’t better than Ubuntu Server, but in the use-case we’re considering here, it’s most pragmatic choice.

Posted at 21:55 |  by Gary Newell

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Introduction

Last week I released a guide to setting up the Raspberry PI 2 Model B. Of course, as my age is kicking in, it obviously slipped my mind that I had already released another guide showing how to do the same thing back in March 2015. At least they both show how to do it in different ways.

The new guide simply shows how to install the latest version of Raspbian whereas the guide back in March showed how to install NOOBs.

In this guide I am also covering a bit of old ground but it is updated for the Raspberry PI 2.

Today's tutorial will show you how to connect to the Raspberry PI command line using Linux, Windows and Android.

Turn On The Raspberry PI SSH Server





















The first step is to turn on the Raspberry PI. Hopefully you should see the Raspbian screen as shown above.

If your Raspberry PI boots straight to the command line type startx.

Click the menu in the top left of the screen, select preferences and then Raspberry PI Configuration.


The Raspberry PI Configuration settings screen will appear.

There are four tabs:

  • System
  • Interfaces
  • Performance
  • Localisation.
IMPORTANT: 

Take a note of the hostname on the system tab (or remember it if you can)

Also take a note of the auto login user (i.e. auto login as 'pi')

Click on the Interfaces tab.


The SSH option is the 2nd item down on the list. Make sure the "Enabled" radio button is selected.

Click "OK".

If asked to do so reboot the Raspberry PI.

Connect Raspberry PI To The Internet



You will need to make sure the Raspberry PI is connected to a network. If you are at home connecting the Raspberry PI to the internet will achieve this aim.

Click on the network icon in the panel as shown in the image above and choose a wireless network to connect to. You will need to enter your wireless network's security key.

If your Raspberry PI is connected via ethernet cable you don't need to do this as it should already be connected.

SSH To The Raspberry PI 2 From Linux 

To connect to the Raspberry PI 2 from a computer running Linux such as Ubuntu, Mint, Elementary, Debian, Fedora etc open up a terminal window.

To connect to the Raspberry PI 2 enter the following command:

ssh pi@raspberrypi

In the above command replace the word pi with the name of the user you use to connect to the Raspberry PI 2 and the hostname of your Raspberry PI 2.

A message may appear asking whether you want to continue. If it does type yes.

You will now be asked for your Raspberry PI password.

At this point you will now be logged in to the Raspberry PI from the command line and you can run command line software and scripts.

SSH To The Raspberry PI 2 From Windows 10

Windows is supposed to be easier than Linux isn't it? Actually in this case it is a little bit more difficult.

Within Linux all you have to do is open a terminal and type ssh pi@raspberrypi. In Windows there isn't a default ssh client.

There is also the problem that it is more difficult to find the Raspberry PI or its IP address on the network.

The method I am going to show isn't the most efficient but it is the easiest.

First of all on your Raspberry PI open a terminal window. You can do this by clicking the 3rd icon on the panel along from the menu button. (the little computer symbol next to the file manager).

Now within the terminal type the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install samba
sudo reboot now

Wait for the Raspberry PI to reboot.

It is now time to get around to installing a tool for connecting via SSH to the Raspberry PI.

Open the Windows 10 Store (It is the little shopping bag icon on the panel).

Type "ssh" into the search bar. Click on the option for "Remote Terminal" (it is a free application).



After Remote Terminal has installed open the application.


There are a number of different options available. Let's go for the "Quick Connect" option first.


Choose "SSH" as the type and type "raspberrypi" into the host (or your Raspberry PI's hostname that you wrote down earlier).

Enter "pi" as the username (or your Raspberry PI's username that you wrote down earlier).

Leave the authentication method as "Password".

Click "Connect".


A message will appear asking whether you wish to continue. Press "Y".

Another message will appear asking whether you want to store the host in the cache. Again press "Y".

Now enter the password for your Raspberry PI user.

You should now be connected to the Raspberry PI.


After trying the quick connect option you should try the add option. This gives you the option of creating a saved connection so that you can get to the Raspberry PI more quickly in the future.

Enter a name such as Raspberry PI and leave the type as "SSH". 

Finally enter the hostname and username for the PI as you did for the quick connect option. Leave the authentication method as password.

Press save.


Now when you run the Remote Terminal application you will see an option for the Raspberry PI. 

SSH To The Raspberry PI From Android

You will need an Android tablet or phone for this. (I recommend a tablet because how are you going to type into the SSH terminal within a tiny phone).

Within the Play Store search for and install ConnectBot.





















Open the ConnectBot app.

Press the button to bring up the menu on your tablet or phone and select "settings".

Click on "Emulation Mode":

The options for emulation mode are as follows:


  • xterm-color
  • xterm-256color
  • xterm
  • vt100
  • ansi
  • screen
Choose the xterm option. 

Exit the settings screen and you should see the screen with the message "Use the quick-connect box below to connect to a host" displayed.


In the ssh box at the bottom type pi@raspberrypi

You will be asked if you want to continue due to the authenticity of the host not being established, Click "Yes".

Enter the Raspberry PI password.

You will now be connected via ssh to the PI.

Summary

You can now connect to the Raspberry PI for all tasks that don't require a graphical user interface. 

In the next guide I will show you how to connect via VNC so that you don't need your Raspberry PI connected to a physical screen any more.


How To Connect To The Raspberry PI 2 Using SSH from Linux, Windows and Android

Introduction

Last week I released a guide to setting up the Raspberry PI 2 Model B. Of course, as my age is kicking in, it obviously slipped my mind that I had already released another guide showing how to do the same thing back in March 2015. At least they both show how to do it in different ways.

The new guide simply shows how to install the latest version of Raspbian whereas the guide back in March showed how to install NOOBs.

In this guide I am also covering a bit of old ground but it is updated for the Raspberry PI 2.

Today's tutorial will show you how to connect to the Raspberry PI command line using Linux, Windows and Android.

Turn On The Raspberry PI SSH Server





















The first step is to turn on the Raspberry PI. Hopefully you should see the Raspbian screen as shown above.

If your Raspberry PI boots straight to the command line type startx.

Click the menu in the top left of the screen, select preferences and then Raspberry PI Configuration.


The Raspberry PI Configuration settings screen will appear.

There are four tabs:

  • System
  • Interfaces
  • Performance
  • Localisation.
IMPORTANT: 

Take a note of the hostname on the system tab (or remember it if you can)

Also take a note of the auto login user (i.e. auto login as 'pi')

Click on the Interfaces tab.


The SSH option is the 2nd item down on the list. Make sure the "Enabled" radio button is selected.

Click "OK".

If asked to do so reboot the Raspberry PI.

Connect Raspberry PI To The Internet



You will need to make sure the Raspberry PI is connected to a network. If you are at home connecting the Raspberry PI to the internet will achieve this aim.

Click on the network icon in the panel as shown in the image above and choose a wireless network to connect to. You will need to enter your wireless network's security key.

If your Raspberry PI is connected via ethernet cable you don't need to do this as it should already be connected.

SSH To The Raspberry PI 2 From Linux 

To connect to the Raspberry PI 2 from a computer running Linux such as Ubuntu, Mint, Elementary, Debian, Fedora etc open up a terminal window.

To connect to the Raspberry PI 2 enter the following command:

ssh pi@raspberrypi

In the above command replace the word pi with the name of the user you use to connect to the Raspberry PI 2 and the hostname of your Raspberry PI 2.

A message may appear asking whether you want to continue. If it does type yes.

You will now be asked for your Raspberry PI password.

At this point you will now be logged in to the Raspberry PI from the command line and you can run command line software and scripts.

SSH To The Raspberry PI 2 From Windows 10

Windows is supposed to be easier than Linux isn't it? Actually in this case it is a little bit more difficult.

Within Linux all you have to do is open a terminal and type ssh pi@raspberrypi. In Windows there isn't a default ssh client.

There is also the problem that it is more difficult to find the Raspberry PI or its IP address on the network.

The method I am going to show isn't the most efficient but it is the easiest.

First of all on your Raspberry PI open a terminal window. You can do this by clicking the 3rd icon on the panel along from the menu button. (the little computer symbol next to the file manager).

Now within the terminal type the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install samba
sudo reboot now

Wait for the Raspberry PI to reboot.

It is now time to get around to installing a tool for connecting via SSH to the Raspberry PI.

Open the Windows 10 Store (It is the little shopping bag icon on the panel).

Type "ssh" into the search bar. Click on the option for "Remote Terminal" (it is a free application).



After Remote Terminal has installed open the application.


There are a number of different options available. Let's go for the "Quick Connect" option first.


Choose "SSH" as the type and type "raspberrypi" into the host (or your Raspberry PI's hostname that you wrote down earlier).

Enter "pi" as the username (or your Raspberry PI's username that you wrote down earlier).

Leave the authentication method as "Password".

Click "Connect".


A message will appear asking whether you wish to continue. Press "Y".

Another message will appear asking whether you want to store the host in the cache. Again press "Y".

Now enter the password for your Raspberry PI user.

You should now be connected to the Raspberry PI.


After trying the quick connect option you should try the add option. This gives you the option of creating a saved connection so that you can get to the Raspberry PI more quickly in the future.

Enter a name such as Raspberry PI and leave the type as "SSH". 

Finally enter the hostname and username for the PI as you did for the quick connect option. Leave the authentication method as password.

Press save.


Now when you run the Remote Terminal application you will see an option for the Raspberry PI. 

SSH To The Raspberry PI From Android

You will need an Android tablet or phone for this. (I recommend a tablet because how are you going to type into the SSH terminal within a tiny phone).

Within the Play Store search for and install ConnectBot.





















Open the ConnectBot app.

Press the button to bring up the menu on your tablet or phone and select "settings".

Click on "Emulation Mode":

The options for emulation mode are as follows:


  • xterm-color
  • xterm-256color
  • xterm
  • vt100
  • ansi
  • screen
Choose the xterm option. 

Exit the settings screen and you should see the screen with the message "Use the quick-connect box below to connect to a host" displayed.


In the ssh box at the bottom type pi@raspberrypi

You will be asked if you want to continue due to the authenticity of the host not being established, Click "Yes".

Enter the Raspberry PI password.

You will now be connected via ssh to the PI.

Summary

You can now connect to the Raspberry PI for all tasks that don't require a graphical user interface. 

In the next guide I will show you how to connect via VNC so that you don't need your Raspberry PI connected to a physical screen any more.


Posted at 22:43 |  by Gary Newell

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Introduction

This article is fairly late onto the scene but my original articles about the Raspberry PI are all becoming a little bit long in the tooth and so it is time to revisit them and make them relevant for 2016 and beyond.

In this guide I will show you how to buy a Raspberry PI, introduce you to some key accessories, introduce you to some non-key accessories and also show you how to set up the operating system.

Other guides will be following on from this to show how to connect using SSH and via VNC so that you don't need it plugged into a monitor/television.

What Is The Raspberry PI 2?

The Raspberry PI 2 Model B is the most powerful Raspberry PI on the market. Recently a new model called the Raspberry PI Zero was released to the market for an incredible £5 but the Raspberry PI 2 is the one that is most suitable for the average person. 

The Raspberry PI Model B is a single board computer with the following specifications:

  • A 900 MHz quad core ARM Cortex-A7 processor
  • 1 gigabyte of RAM
  • 4 USB ports
  • 1 HDMI port
  • 1 Micro SD Card slot
  • 40 GPIO pins
  • 1 Ethernet port
  • 3.5 mm audio and video jack combined
  • Camera interface
  • Display interface
  • Videocore IV 3D Graphics Core
The beauty of the Raspberry PI is that the price point is very low at around the £30 mark. The processor isn't the fastest and the amount of RAM is fairly meagre.

The Raspberry PI is an entry point computer which was initially launched for educational purposes but which has grown beyond the inventors' wildest imaginations.

I think the people that will benefit most from Raspberry PIs are children, especially older children or young teenagers.

When I was young I was given a Sinclair Spectrum +2 computer for Christmas and it was the best present I ever received as a child.

As with the Raspberry PI it wasn't the most powerful computer available but it introduced me to computers and also to programming.

I am now in my forties and I have to say that without the Sinclair Spectrum I may never have become a software developer and I probably wouldn't be writing this blog today.

The Raspberry PI will allow your children to learn basic electronics and it will also allow them to learn to program in a number of different programming languages such as Python and C.

With a Raspberry PI you can be safe in the knowledge that if the kids mess up the operating system you can always recreate it and install it again without having to buy a new disk or get expert help to fix it for you and viruses aren't even on the radar.

If you are an adult and you are wondering what a Raspberry PI can do for you then it really depends on your imagination. At its very basic form you can use it as a small desktop computer, an audio server, a file server, a mini web server, a way to make your TV smart or a retro games console.

How Can I Get A Raspberry PI 2?

You can buy the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Desktop (Quad Core CPU 900 MHz, 1 GB RAM, Linux) on its own from Amazon for £25.99.

In reality though you will definitely need the following:


  • A powered USB hub
  • A USB keyboard
  • A USB mouse
  • An HDMI cable
  • A micro SD Card 
  • A screen (either a monitor or TV with a HDMI port)
  • A USB WIFI dongle
You will probably also want to have the following:
  • A power supply
  • A Case
Amazon have a Raspberry Pi 2 8 GB Desktop Starter Kit (Exclusive to Amazon) which contains the following:


  • Raspberry PI 2 Model B
  • SD Card with NOOBS pre-installed
  • A power supply
  • A case
  • An ethernet cable
  • An HDMI cable
The price of the starter kit is £50.

Is that a good deal? Let's break it down and try and get the whole wish list and see how much you can reasonably get it all for.

As I have shown you can get the Raspberry PI 2 Model B for £25.99.

 

An HDMI cable can be bought in most pound shops or supermarkets. If you want to buy it from Amazon it will cost £2.26.

If you want to keep the Raspberry PI next to your router then you can use an ethernet cable but personally I think a WIFI USB dongle is more useful.



It is worth getting the official Raspberry PI WIFI dongle so that you don't end up with driver issues. This one costs £8.

You will need a class 10 Micro SD Card for the Raspberry PI 2. These are more expensive than the class 4 SD cards which are found in most supermarkets but I bought one from Tesco with 16 gigabytes for £4.50 during their Christmas sale.


You can get a blank one on Amazon with 32 gigabytes of space for £6.43. This is blank and you will have to install the operating system yourself but you can read the rest of this guide to find out how. It really isn't very difficult and there is a good reason to do it yourself which I will get to later on.

Generally the Raspberry PI can be powered with a mobile phone charger similar to the ones that come with a Samsung Galaxy phone.



The official Raspberry PI site has recommended power supplies and you can buy one on Amazon for £5.87.


Finally there is the USB keyboard and mouse. On Amazon you can shop around and get them for as little as £8.91.

The final total therefore for everything you need is £57.46.

It is worth noting that whilst this puts the cost of buying a Raspberry PI in the initial stages more expensive than the £30 often touted you will only buy the additional items once. If you buy a second PI at a later stage because for whatever reason it breaks or because a newer model is released you won't need to buy the additional extras again.



A case can be bought for as little as £6.29 but you can again shop around and find one that you like.



The power from a single power supply will power the Raspberry PI but when you have a WIFI dongle, keyboard and mouse connected there might not be quite enough power to run them all.

For this reason it is worth getting a powered USB hub. If you intend to run the Raspberry PI as a headless server then you might not need the USB hub as the power supply is capable of running the Raspberry PI and a WIFI dongle.

Many of the components listed above can also be bought from the following sites:




Choosing An Operating System

This guide will focus on installing Raspbian. There are a number of other options available.

For example:

  • Ubuntu MATE
  • Ubuntu Snappy Core
  • Windows 10 IOT Core
  • OSMC
  • OpenELEC
  • PINET
  • RiscOS
I will write future guides about the other operating systems but for now lets concentrate on Raspbian because it is the best place to start.

How To Download Raspbian
























You will see options for:

  • NOOBS
  • Raspbian
NOOBS is the one recommended for most users but I am going to tell you to download Raspbian and there is a good reason why.

If later on you decide to buy the 7 inch touchscreen display then NOOBS will not work and so by choosing the right operating system now and the right image you are protecting yourself in case you buy add-ons later on which will definitely work with Raspbian but which are not guaranteed to work with other setups.

Click on the Raspbian link or alternatively visit https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/























There are three versions available. The latest full version is Raspbian Jessie. Click on the Download Zip file.

Create Raspbian SD Card Using Windows

Double click on the zip file and extract the contents to the downloads folder.



To create the SD card your computer will need an SD card reader. If there isn't one built in then you can buy a card reader from most electrical and computing shops and even some supermarkets.


Insert the SD card into the SD card slot on your computer or into your SD card reader.



You will also need a program called Win32 Disk Imager which you can download from http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/.

Click on the download link to download the file and save the file in your downloads folder.


Click on the downloaded file to start the setup wizard. Click "Next" to get past the welcome message.


Accept the license agreement and click the "Next" button.


Click "Next" to choose the default location for installing Win32 Disk Imager.


Click "Next" again to allow the default start menu folder to be created.


Click "Next" again to create a desktop icon.


Click "Install" to begin the installation of Win32 Disk Imager.


Uncheck the "View README.txt" box but leave the launch Win32DiskImager box checked.

Click "Finish".


Click on the folder icon and then click on the Raspbian img file in the downloads folder. The filename will appear in the image file text box next to the folder icon.

Choose the device for the SD card in the dropdown under Device.

Click "Write".

The process takes a few minutes to complete. 

Click "Exit" to finish.

Create Raspbian SD Card Using Linux

To create the SD card your computer will need an SD card reader. If there isn't one built in then you can buy a card reader from most electrical and computing shops and even some supermarkets.

Insert the SD card into the SD card slot on your computer or into your SD card reader.



Open a terminal and navigate to the Downloads folder.

Look for the image by typing ls *.zip 

To unzip the Raspbian image type the following:

unzip 2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.zip

(Replace the 2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.zip with the name of the downloaded file)

























An image file will be extracted from the zip file and this needs to be copied to the SD card.

To do so type the following:

sudo dd if=2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=8m

Replace the 2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.img with the name of the img file extracted from the zip file and change the /dev/mmcblk0 to the destination SD card.



If you are using Ubuntu you can find the destination by running the disks application. 

Click on SD Card Reader and the name of the device will be shown.

Setting Up The Raspberry PI 2





















The image above shows the Raspberry PI 2 with all the ports listed.

To set up your Raspberry PI 2 insert your keyboard, mouse and USB WIFI dongle into the USB ports.

Insert one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI port and the other end into the same shaped port on your television or monitor.

Insert the power cable into the power port. 

The Raspberry PI 2 does not have a power switch so unless your plug socket has a power switch the Raspberry PI 2 will attempt to boot as soon as you have attached the power cable. I recommend using a plug socket with a switch.






















The final step is to insert the micro SD card into the slot as indicated in the image above.

Make sure your monitor or television is on the appropriate HDMI channel and flick the power switch.

Your Raspberry PI should now boot into Raspbian.

Raspbian
























If everything has gone to plan you should now see a screen similar to the one above. 

Raspbian by default uses the LXDE desktop environment. It is fairly basic but that makes it lightweight and it complements the Raspberry PI perfectly.

At the top there is a single panel with a menu icon, web browser icon, file manager icon, terminal icon, Mathematica icon and Wolfram icon.

On the right side of the panel there are icons for connecting to the internet, adjusting audio settings and a memory usage bar. There is also a customary clock.
























To connect to the internet click on the wireless network symbol as shown above and select the network you wish to connect to.

You will need to enter the security key for the wireless network.

To browse the web click the icon next to the menu icon on the panel.

The web browser is fairly basic but it will let you view most web pages. You can install more powerful web browsers but they use more memory.
























Before doing anything else you should enter the Raspberry PI Configuration settings. To do so click the menu, navigate to preferences and then click on Raspberry PI Configuration.
























There are four tabs of Raspberry PI configuration settings:

  • System
  • Interfaces
  • Performance
  • Localisation
The very first setting is important as it allows you to use the whole of your SD card with Raspbian. Click the "Expand Filesystem" button and reboot your system.

Also within the system settings you can change the password for the PI user to something that suits you. You can also give your Raspberry PI a new name to make it more recognisable when connecting from another machine.

The other setting you may find useful on the settings tab is whether to show the GUI desktop at startup or go straight to the console.

If you accidentally find yourself going to the terminal when you boot run the command startx to show the desktop.
























The interfaces tab lets you enable the camera interface (if you have bought the Raspberry PI camera) and you can enable SSH.

SSH is great because it allows you to connect to the Raspberry PI from another computer. This means you don't need it connected to a television or monitor and you can place the Raspberry PI anywhere as long as you have power and a WIFI connection.

Installing Software
























To install software select the Add/Remove software option from the preferences sub menu.

You can now browse the categories to find the software you would like to install or search for a package using the search tool.

To install a package check the box next to it and click Apply.

Applications

The Raspbian operating system is minimal in nature but it does come with the LibreOffice suite and it performs reasonably well despite the limited RAM available.

Also included is Scratch which is a rudimentary system for teaching children about programming techniques. It is much better on the Raspberry PI 2 than it was on the original Raspberry PI. It was very sluggish the first time around but now it performs reasonably well.

Python is included and there are a couple of Java IDEs available for practising on more serious programming languages.

Claws is included as an email client and to be honest it isn't my favourite (by any stretch of the imagination and I would recommend installing something better).

As mentioned previously there is a web browser called Epiphany installed which is basic but functional.

There are some basic games available written in Python. This will give you some inspiration when starting to make your own.

Finally there are basic accessories such as a file manager for navigating around the file system, an image viewer, a PDF document viewer and a text editor.

What Next?

In the next few weeks I will be writing guides showing how to connect to the Raspberry PI from your Windows computer, Linux computer and Android tablets.

I will also show some of the peripheral devices such as the touchscreen and Raspberry PI camera.

There will also be reviews of the other Raspberry PI operating systems and a little bit about Python programming.


How To Set Up The Raspberry PI 2 Model B

Introduction

This article is fairly late onto the scene but my original articles about the Raspberry PI are all becoming a little bit long in the tooth and so it is time to revisit them and make them relevant for 2016 and beyond.

In this guide I will show you how to buy a Raspberry PI, introduce you to some key accessories, introduce you to some non-key accessories and also show you how to set up the operating system.

Other guides will be following on from this to show how to connect using SSH and via VNC so that you don't need it plugged into a monitor/television.

What Is The Raspberry PI 2?

The Raspberry PI 2 Model B is the most powerful Raspberry PI on the market. Recently a new model called the Raspberry PI Zero was released to the market for an incredible £5 but the Raspberry PI 2 is the one that is most suitable for the average person. 

The Raspberry PI Model B is a single board computer with the following specifications:

  • A 900 MHz quad core ARM Cortex-A7 processor
  • 1 gigabyte of RAM
  • 4 USB ports
  • 1 HDMI port
  • 1 Micro SD Card slot
  • 40 GPIO pins
  • 1 Ethernet port
  • 3.5 mm audio and video jack combined
  • Camera interface
  • Display interface
  • Videocore IV 3D Graphics Core
The beauty of the Raspberry PI is that the price point is very low at around the £30 mark. The processor isn't the fastest and the amount of RAM is fairly meagre.

The Raspberry PI is an entry point computer which was initially launched for educational purposes but which has grown beyond the inventors' wildest imaginations.

I think the people that will benefit most from Raspberry PIs are children, especially older children or young teenagers.

When I was young I was given a Sinclair Spectrum +2 computer for Christmas and it was the best present I ever received as a child.

As with the Raspberry PI it wasn't the most powerful computer available but it introduced me to computers and also to programming.

I am now in my forties and I have to say that without the Sinclair Spectrum I may never have become a software developer and I probably wouldn't be writing this blog today.

The Raspberry PI will allow your children to learn basic electronics and it will also allow them to learn to program in a number of different programming languages such as Python and C.

With a Raspberry PI you can be safe in the knowledge that if the kids mess up the operating system you can always recreate it and install it again without having to buy a new disk or get expert help to fix it for you and viruses aren't even on the radar.

If you are an adult and you are wondering what a Raspberry PI can do for you then it really depends on your imagination. At its very basic form you can use it as a small desktop computer, an audio server, a file server, a mini web server, a way to make your TV smart or a retro games console.

How Can I Get A Raspberry PI 2?

You can buy the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Desktop (Quad Core CPU 900 MHz, 1 GB RAM, Linux) on its own from Amazon for £25.99.

In reality though you will definitely need the following:


  • A powered USB hub
  • A USB keyboard
  • A USB mouse
  • An HDMI cable
  • A micro SD Card 
  • A screen (either a monitor or TV with a HDMI port)
  • A USB WIFI dongle
You will probably also want to have the following:
  • A power supply
  • A Case
Amazon have a Raspberry Pi 2 8 GB Desktop Starter Kit (Exclusive to Amazon) which contains the following:


  • Raspberry PI 2 Model B
  • SD Card with NOOBS pre-installed
  • A power supply
  • A case
  • An ethernet cable
  • An HDMI cable
The price of the starter kit is £50.

Is that a good deal? Let's break it down and try and get the whole wish list and see how much you can reasonably get it all for.

As I have shown you can get the Raspberry PI 2 Model B for £25.99.

 

An HDMI cable can be bought in most pound shops or supermarkets. If you want to buy it from Amazon it will cost £2.26.

If you want to keep the Raspberry PI next to your router then you can use an ethernet cable but personally I think a WIFI USB dongle is more useful.



It is worth getting the official Raspberry PI WIFI dongle so that you don't end up with driver issues. This one costs £8.

You will need a class 10 Micro SD Card for the Raspberry PI 2. These are more expensive than the class 4 SD cards which are found in most supermarkets but I bought one from Tesco with 16 gigabytes for £4.50 during their Christmas sale.


You can get a blank one on Amazon with 32 gigabytes of space for £6.43. This is blank and you will have to install the operating system yourself but you can read the rest of this guide to find out how. It really isn't very difficult and there is a good reason to do it yourself which I will get to later on.

Generally the Raspberry PI can be powered with a mobile phone charger similar to the ones that come with a Samsung Galaxy phone.



The official Raspberry PI site has recommended power supplies and you can buy one on Amazon for £5.87.


Finally there is the USB keyboard and mouse. On Amazon you can shop around and get them for as little as £8.91.

The final total therefore for everything you need is £57.46.

It is worth noting that whilst this puts the cost of buying a Raspberry PI in the initial stages more expensive than the £30 often touted you will only buy the additional items once. If you buy a second PI at a later stage because for whatever reason it breaks or because a newer model is released you won't need to buy the additional extras again.



A case can be bought for as little as £6.29 but you can again shop around and find one that you like.



The power from a single power supply will power the Raspberry PI but when you have a WIFI dongle, keyboard and mouse connected there might not be quite enough power to run them all.

For this reason it is worth getting a powered USB hub. If you intend to run the Raspberry PI as a headless server then you might not need the USB hub as the power supply is capable of running the Raspberry PI and a WIFI dongle.

Many of the components listed above can also be bought from the following sites:




Choosing An Operating System

This guide will focus on installing Raspbian. There are a number of other options available.

For example:

  • Ubuntu MATE
  • Ubuntu Snappy Core
  • Windows 10 IOT Core
  • OSMC
  • OpenELEC
  • PINET
  • RiscOS
I will write future guides about the other operating systems but for now lets concentrate on Raspbian because it is the best place to start.

How To Download Raspbian
























You will see options for:

  • NOOBS
  • Raspbian
NOOBS is the one recommended for most users but I am going to tell you to download Raspbian and there is a good reason why.

If later on you decide to buy the 7 inch touchscreen display then NOOBS will not work and so by choosing the right operating system now and the right image you are protecting yourself in case you buy add-ons later on which will definitely work with Raspbian but which are not guaranteed to work with other setups.

Click on the Raspbian link or alternatively visit https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/























There are three versions available. The latest full version is Raspbian Jessie. Click on the Download Zip file.

Create Raspbian SD Card Using Windows

Double click on the zip file and extract the contents to the downloads folder.



To create the SD card your computer will need an SD card reader. If there isn't one built in then you can buy a card reader from most electrical and computing shops and even some supermarkets.


Insert the SD card into the SD card slot on your computer or into your SD card reader.



You will also need a program called Win32 Disk Imager which you can download from http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/.

Click on the download link to download the file and save the file in your downloads folder.


Click on the downloaded file to start the setup wizard. Click "Next" to get past the welcome message.


Accept the license agreement and click the "Next" button.


Click "Next" to choose the default location for installing Win32 Disk Imager.


Click "Next" again to allow the default start menu folder to be created.


Click "Next" again to create a desktop icon.


Click "Install" to begin the installation of Win32 Disk Imager.


Uncheck the "View README.txt" box but leave the launch Win32DiskImager box checked.

Click "Finish".


Click on the folder icon and then click on the Raspbian img file in the downloads folder. The filename will appear in the image file text box next to the folder icon.

Choose the device for the SD card in the dropdown under Device.

Click "Write".

The process takes a few minutes to complete. 

Click "Exit" to finish.

Create Raspbian SD Card Using Linux

To create the SD card your computer will need an SD card reader. If there isn't one built in then you can buy a card reader from most electrical and computing shops and even some supermarkets.

Insert the SD card into the SD card slot on your computer or into your SD card reader.



Open a terminal and navigate to the Downloads folder.

Look for the image by typing ls *.zip 

To unzip the Raspbian image type the following:

unzip 2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.zip

(Replace the 2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.zip with the name of the downloaded file)

























An image file will be extracted from the zip file and this needs to be copied to the SD card.

To do so type the following:

sudo dd if=2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=8m

Replace the 2015-11-21-raspbian-jessie.img with the name of the img file extracted from the zip file and change the /dev/mmcblk0 to the destination SD card.



If you are using Ubuntu you can find the destination by running the disks application. 

Click on SD Card Reader and the name of the device will be shown.

Setting Up The Raspberry PI 2





















The image above shows the Raspberry PI 2 with all the ports listed.

To set up your Raspberry PI 2 insert your keyboard, mouse and USB WIFI dongle into the USB ports.

Insert one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI port and the other end into the same shaped port on your television or monitor.

Insert the power cable into the power port. 

The Raspberry PI 2 does not have a power switch so unless your plug socket has a power switch the Raspberry PI 2 will attempt to boot as soon as you have attached the power cable. I recommend using a plug socket with a switch.






















The final step is to insert the micro SD card into the slot as indicated in the image above.

Make sure your monitor or television is on the appropriate HDMI channel and flick the power switch.

Your Raspberry PI should now boot into Raspbian.

Raspbian
























If everything has gone to plan you should now see a screen similar to the one above. 

Raspbian by default uses the LXDE desktop environment. It is fairly basic but that makes it lightweight and it complements the Raspberry PI perfectly.

At the top there is a single panel with a menu icon, web browser icon, file manager icon, terminal icon, Mathematica icon and Wolfram icon.

On the right side of the panel there are icons for connecting to the internet, adjusting audio settings and a memory usage bar. There is also a customary clock.
























To connect to the internet click on the wireless network symbol as shown above and select the network you wish to connect to.

You will need to enter the security key for the wireless network.

To browse the web click the icon next to the menu icon on the panel.

The web browser is fairly basic but it will let you view most web pages. You can install more powerful web browsers but they use more memory.
























Before doing anything else you should enter the Raspberry PI Configuration settings. To do so click the menu, navigate to preferences and then click on Raspberry PI Configuration.
























There are four tabs of Raspberry PI configuration settings:

  • System
  • Interfaces
  • Performance
  • Localisation
The very first setting is important as it allows you to use the whole of your SD card with Raspbian. Click the "Expand Filesystem" button and reboot your system.

Also within the system settings you can change the password for the PI user to something that suits you. You can also give your Raspberry PI a new name to make it more recognisable when connecting from another machine.

The other setting you may find useful on the settings tab is whether to show the GUI desktop at startup or go straight to the console.

If you accidentally find yourself going to the terminal when you boot run the command startx to show the desktop.
























The interfaces tab lets you enable the camera interface (if you have bought the Raspberry PI camera) and you can enable SSH.

SSH is great because it allows you to connect to the Raspberry PI from another computer. This means you don't need it connected to a television or monitor and you can place the Raspberry PI anywhere as long as you have power and a WIFI connection.

Installing Software
























To install software select the Add/Remove software option from the preferences sub menu.

You can now browse the categories to find the software you would like to install or search for a package using the search tool.

To install a package check the box next to it and click Apply.

Applications

The Raspbian operating system is minimal in nature but it does come with the LibreOffice suite and it performs reasonably well despite the limited RAM available.

Also included is Scratch which is a rudimentary system for teaching children about programming techniques. It is much better on the Raspberry PI 2 than it was on the original Raspberry PI. It was very sluggish the first time around but now it performs reasonably well.

Python is included and there are a couple of Java IDEs available for practising on more serious programming languages.

Claws is included as an email client and to be honest it isn't my favourite (by any stretch of the imagination and I would recommend installing something better).

As mentioned previously there is a web browser called Epiphany installed which is basic but functional.

There are some basic games available written in Python. This will give you some inspiration when starting to make your own.

Finally there are basic accessories such as a file manager for navigating around the file system, an image viewer, a PDF document viewer and a text editor.

What Next?

In the next few weeks I will be writing guides showing how to connect to the Raspberry PI from your Windows computer, Linux computer and Android tablets.

I will also show some of the peripheral devices such as the touchscreen and Raspberry PI camera.

There will also be reviews of the other Raspberry PI operating systems and a little bit about Python programming.


Posted at 12:12 |  by Gary Newell
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