Tinkering with Raspberry (and other things)

Basics for Beginners (part 1 – go easy)

There are numerous guides for beginners, so I won’t repeat all the steps. As a Mac user I will concentrate on this system.
Of course Raspberry’s own Wiki is a great source of information. They do have a tutorial how to set up an SD-card on various systems. Once you have set up the card put it in the Raspberry, connect a display, network and keyboard and fire it up. I will not get into detail here. The two things where most users are insecure are “How to switch it off” and “How to backup my system”. So I will discuss these here.

But first a general comment:

Go easy!

When tinkering around with new things it is generally a good idea to start easy. Don’t make the first steps too complicated, do not rely on anything. This helps reducing errors or failures and, if something goes wrong anyway, it makes finding the culprit easier.

Connect your Raspberry to a display (HDMI would be best), plug in an Ethernet cable (don’t go wireless yet!) and plug in your USB-keyboard. Yes, the old one with the cable.

No wireless keyboard/mouse (although they may work out of the box), no bluetooth keyboard/mouse, no W-Lan.

I used an active USB hub for keyboard and mouse, leaving one USB port directly on the Raspberry available for things to come.

Properly switch off

The operating system on the Raspberry is a Linux type. It is bad idea to just switch the power off and you should avoid doing so. During a shutdown, Linux systems perform a number of tasks. system programs (daemons) and services need to be stopped, the file system needs to be unmounted etc. The correct way to power down a Unix system ist to issue the following command:

sudo shutdown -h now

This command does two things:

  1. Give the current user (default is “pi”) administrative (root) privileges
  2. Issues the command “shutdown”
    • the option “-h” tells the Raspberry Pi to halt so that you can switch of power
    • the parameter “now” means just that: “now”

There will be some console messages about stopping services and if all goes well, the Raspberry shuts down and your display gets blank.

It is now safe to switch the power off.

Learn more on *nix commands

If you want to know more about the options and parameters you can use with a Linux command, just type

man name_of_command

at the command line. Or google it…

More basics in part 2 (backup/restore).


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