For Christmas 2012 I received from my wife a Raspberry Pi – a credit card-sized PC which costs little more that £30 on its own. She had kindly bought it bundled with peripherals including a power source, a powered USB hub, keyboard, mouse, HDMI cable and an SD card which had the Raspbian OS pre-installed on it (similar to this kit).
This was a great start and meant that I could boot it up straight away. Before that, I installed the Pi in a case (similar to this one). This is important as it protects the computer from dust and stops the board flexing (eg when inserting and removing the SD card).
I plugged everything in (connecting it via the HDMI output to a monitor) and got it running straight away. The first time it boots up it opens a configuration menu. I read the leaflet which had come with my kit and set the various options. The final option was to update the operating system to the latest version (which at the time of writing was 2012-12-16-wheezy-raspbian). Had I read a decent book or article on this I would have left the OS as it was at that point and gone into the LXDE desktop environment.
Not knowing that, I started the upgrade in a rush and didn’t allow it to complete, I now realise. So thinking it had finished I manually restarted the system by disconnecting and reconnecting the power (which is never recommended). The result was a corrupt OS on a card – and no idea how to fix it.
Trying to do work on it in Windows was a non-starter as the SD card had previously been partitioned by the installation of the Raspbian OS, so Windows could only see one partition and thought that my card was 78Mb rather than 4Gb. The best tip I found was to put the SD card in a digital camera and reformat it – and it worked. That meant I now had a 4Gb card again.
The next challenge was to re-install the Raspbian OS. I downloaded the img file from the Raspberry Pi site and saved it to my windows machine. Then using the instructions here, I burned the Raspberry Pi OS image to an SD card. I chose the ‘Easy Way’ set of instructions which used Win32DiskImager to do the job. It went really straight-forwardly.
That done, I re-inserted the SD card into the Raspberry Pi and rebooted it. It worked straight away, and since the image I’d used was the latest downloaded from official site it didn’t require an upgrade to the OS.
In the next part I set up the Raspberry Pi on my home network including assigning it a static IP address and configuring SSH so that I can interact with it from other computers on the network.