Raspberry Pi Initial Setup Guide

When conceiving an electronic project, the Raspberry Pi might be your ideal choice to embark on realizing your goals. Once you’ve purchased a Raspberry Pi and installed the supported operating system, the crucial step of the first boot awaits. A series of initialization settings is required to ensure the Raspberry Pi is prepared for your project. In this article, TechSparks will provide you with detailed guidance on the initial steps needed for booting up your Raspberry Pi.

Table of Contents


This refers to the process of writing the image file of your Raspberry Pi operating system onto an SD card, enabling the Raspberry Pi to boot and operate from that SD card.

Firstly, you need to download and install a burning tool; here, we’re using Win32DiskImager. It provides an interface allowing you to select the image file of the operating system and write it to the SD card.

Burning tools used when setting up the Raspberry Pi

Insert the purchased SD card into the card reader, and then plug the card reader into a USB port on your computer. At this point, the computer will recognize the SD card as a writable storage device.

Inserting the SD card when setting up the Raspberry Pi

In the burning tool, select the image file of the Raspberry Pi operating system you downloaded (usually a file with a .img extension) and choose the target drive letter for the SD card.

Write to Raspberry Pi to SD card

Click the “Write” button on the burning tool to start writing the image file to the SD card. This process takes some time, and the duration depends on the size of the image file and the performance of your computer.

Boot up Raspberry Pi

Booting up the Raspberry Pi is a straightforward process; you simply connect the power supply and flip the switch. For convenient observation and operation, you need to connect the Raspberry Pi to a display device, which can be a computer monitor or a TV. Most display devices support HDMI interfaces, making it the most convenient scenario.

If you’re using a VGA monitor, you’ll need an HDMI to VGA adapter cable. For the Raspberry Pi 4B, please note that its HDMI port is of the mini type, so you’ll also need a corresponding adapter.

Set up the Raspberry Pi to boot

Setting Up Usernames and Passwords

The Raspberry Pi you purchase will come with an initial username and password, and you have the option to reset it. After booting up the Raspberry Pi, you can log in through SSH or physically connect it to a display and keyboard. SSH is recommended, as it is a network protocol used to securely connect to a remote computer over an encrypted channel.

Connect SSH to the Raspberry Pi using terminal software.

Enter the following command in the terminal and press Enter:


The system will prompt you to enter a new password and then confirm the password. Make sure to choose a strong password containing letters, numbers, and symbols.

If you need to change the username, you can run the following command:

					sudo usermod -l new_username pi

To apply the changes, it’s a good idea to restart the Raspberry Pi:

					sudo reboot

Configuring Time Zone and Language

To configure the time zone:

					sudo raspi-config

In the graphical user interface, choose “Localisation Options,” then select “Change Timezone.” From the list, choose the timezone that corresponds to your region, confirm, and restart the Raspberry Pi.

To configure the language, using Chinese as an example:

					sudo apt-get install -y language-pack-zh-hans

Configure the language environment:

					sudo update-locale LANG=zh_CN.UTF-8

Re-generate language support with:

					sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales

In the dialog that appears, select zh_CN.UTF-8 by pressing the “Space” key, then use the “Tab” key to navigate to “OK” and press “Enter.” This configures your Raspberry Pi system to use Chinese.

Note that this only changes the system language settings and does not automatically switch the graphical user interface to Chinese. If you are using the desktop version of the Raspberry Pi system, you may need to manually adjust language settings in the desktop environment.

Configuring Raspberry Pi Network

  1. Wired connection:
  • The simplest method is to directly connect the Raspberry Pi to the router or network switch using an Ethernet cable.
  • Power on the Raspberry Pi.
  1. Wireless connections:
  • Open the Raspberry Pi configuration tool by entering the following command in the terminal: sudo raspi-config.
  • In the configuration tool, choose “Network Options.”
  • Select “Wi-Fi” and enter the SSID and password for your Wi-Fi network.
  • Once the configuration is complete, choose “Finish” to exit and restart.
  1. Check the IP address:

Use the ifconfig or ip addr command to verify whether the Raspberry Pi has obtained a valid IP address.

Check the Raspberry Pi IP address

  1. Headless mode configuration:

If the Raspberry Pi is running without a display, you can create a file named wpa_supplicant.conf in the boot partition of the SD card and enter the following content:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev

Install remote share

When you want to access files on the Raspberry Pi over the network, setting up remote sharing is very convenient. By installing the Samba service, you can share a specific directory on the Raspberry Pi (such as /home/pi) to the network, making it visible on other devices. This setup is similar to creating a network drive, allowing you to easily transfer files between devices.

To achieve this, first ensure that the smb.conf file has the correct shared directory and corresponding permissions. Here’s an example that shares the home directory of the user pi:

comment= Pi Home
only guest=no
create mask=0777
directory mask=0777

Make sure you have restarted the Samba service to apply the changes:

					sudo service smbd restart

Additionally, you need to create a user for the Samba service. Use the following command to add the user pi to the Samba user list:

					sudo smbpasswd -a pi

Now you can access the Raspberry Pi’s shared directory over the network on other devices. This setup makes file transfer between devices easy, and you can work with it just like operating a local folder.

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