Of course the Raspberry Pi is a cheap and economical to run alternative to conventional hardware for those looking to get into Linux. In the long term its low power consumption can pay great dividends if you need a device permanently on and can be just the project to get you started with Linux. You may choose to but the Raspberry Pi with an SD card and a pre-installed OS. This is OK but limits you often to 4 or 8GB and the speed of the card may not always be a class 10 card. In this tutorial we look at the OSs available from the Raspberry download site and see how we can add this, in my case to a 64GB card. For all things Raspberry related including the OS downloads take a look at their site raspberrypi.org.
- We start with NOOBS. This is recommended on the site but has a couple of limitations. Firstly the NOOBS boot loader can only access partitions with a maximum size of 32 GB. So if you want a 64 GB card then you will need to create two partitions. The second is the supported filesystem; it does not support FATex and this will be the default on most larger SD cards. So not only will you need to repartition you will have to download additional tools that will format in FAT32 if you are using Windows. Even the linked SD card formatting tool on the Rasberry Site will only format in FATex on Windows 7. NOOBS is a boot loader at not an OS but it will add the selection of OSs from the download site so you can switch between the different versions during boot if you hold down the SHIFT key on the keyboard.
- Raspbian: This is next on the list and is a Debian based distribution that is pretty easy to use and certainly a great starting point to learn Linux and may be a little Python if that is the way you want to go. this is a GUI based distro with a web browser and most of what you will want to get you up and running quickly. Use DD or Win32 Imager to copy the image file to the SD card. This is what we see demonstrated in the video. Image files like Raspbian and the other OSs listed below image to the SD card and replace the files and file system on the SD card, hence we do not care if it is FAT or FATex.
- Pidora: A Fedora based distribution so will be clser to Red Hat and CentOS if that is what you wold like to learn
- RISC OS: This was developed in Cambridge UK for Acorn computers in 1987, it will have moved on but a small and compact OS that will work well on the limited resources of Pi.
- RaspBMC: If you are looking to set up a Pi as a media center then this is one of you choices
- Arch: A great Linux OS but not for novices
- OpenElec: Another Media Centre distribution for you to evaluate.
In the video we will step you through downloading Raspbian and the Win32 Disk Imager. With the downloads complete we can then look at imaging the OS to the card. In the next lesson we look at the first boot of this beauty.