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How To Install Raspbian On Raspberry Pi

Have a Raspberry Pi and not sure what to do with it? Consider installing Raspbian: the Linux operating system for Pi devices, with a Debian base. It is the only operating system specifically designed for Pi devices. In this tutorial, we’ll teach you how to install Raspbian on Raspberry Pi, and show you how to get this device up and running. We’ll also go over the right types of SD cards to buy, the best tools to extract the download files, and more!


Raspbian is the official operating system for all Raspberry Pi devices. This means if you own The Pi 1,2,3 (and any of the in-between devices) this operating system is the best one to use. It should be noted that not just any SD card/or Micro SD card will work. If you’re new to this, be careful. Shop for high-quality, high-speed cards. If you’re unsure, you should be using something similar to the Samsung Evo, or the PNY Turbo.

Operating system-specific requirements:

Raspbian isn’t an ISO file because it is designed to run on removable flash memory. As a result, the creators of the operating system must distribute downloadable files in an archive format. Special tools are needed to unzip the archive.


Making the Raspbian SD image on Mac OS? Use this tool.


Windows users use should use the free 7-zip tool. It supports multiple archive formats.


Most desktop environments (and Linux distributions) pack in excellent archive tools. These tools support multiple formats. Don’t have one installed? Try Ark or File-Roller.

Getting Raspbian Working

The Raspbian operating system is available in two versions. To get the full experience of Debian Stretch on the Pi, visit this link. Want a lighter, more condensed version instead? Get it here.

Alternatively, users can point their favorite torrent client to Raspian, as the distributors of the operating system offer up torrent links for the regular and lite versions of the operating system.

Considering how much bandwidth costs, consider downloading via torrent (if you can).

Setting Up

There are many ways to flash an SD Card. Perhaps the best way (on all three operating systems) is to use the Etcher USB tool. Despite being mainly used for USB, it makes a good SD flashing tool tool. Download it, and open it up.

Extract the download of Raspbian on your PC, and connect the SD card to your computer. Click the “select image” button and navigate to the .IMG file of Raspbian on your computer. Next, select the SD card to use with Etcher.

Last, click the “flash!” button to start the process. Keep in mind, that Raspbian is large, so it may take a bit of time. Be patient, and do not turn off your PC or pull out the SD card.

Installing Raspbian

First boot with Raspbian loads the installation tool. It’s a numbered list, with many different operations. Users can get the main operating system with just a few steps. Don’t follow each and every step in the list unless you are an advanced user, and understand what everything means.

Step 1: Select the “expand” the file system option. This option allows the operating system to expand to the full size of the SD card.

Step 2: Select “enable boot to desktop”. This feature is critical, especially for those new to Debian, and Linux.

Turning it on makes it so that instead of Raspbian booting to a blank terminal, the operating system opens directly to a usable desktop environment.

Step 3: All the important steps are complete, and Raspbian is installed on the computer. Go down to the bottom of the installer list, and select “finish”.

The Pi will automatically reboot into the new installation.

Note: Raspbian installs to the system in an offline state. As a result, updates may be pending. Install updates to your Pi via the terminal with the update command.

sudo rpi-update

Due to the speed of the device, updating the operating system may take a bit of time. Let the terminal window do it’s thing, and after a while everything will update. The update process is complete when the terminal is usable again. Remember to check for updates every week.

Raspbian User Tips

Raspbian is an operating system running on a hobbyist board. That said, it is not a hobbyist distribution. In fact, it’s pretty much just Debian Linux on an SD card.

First, as a Raspbian user create an account on the forum, and visit it regularly. These forums provide support for new users. Additionally, check out their IRC room. This is another avenue to ask for help if you need it. Lastly, read the Raspbian blog. This is a great resource to use to keep up with the latest news related to the operating system, feature announcements and more.


Debian is incredibly versatile, so it isn’t a surprise that it fits so well on the Raspberry Pi family of devices. If you’re new to the world of hobby-board computing, this operating system is one of the best.

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