First-Time System Setup

If you’re using a TTL printer (not USB), DO NOT connect it to the Raspberry Pi yet! It will spit paper like mad. Some system configuration is required first…

Download the latest full (not “Lite”) version of Raspberry Pi OS or Raspbian from the official Pi downloads page. You’ll also need a keyboard, mouse and monitor attached. Write the OS to an 8GB or larger SD card, insert in the Raspberry Pi and power it up. After a minute or two you’ll see the Pi desktop.

On first boot, the system will prompt for some basic configuration like language and time zone. Once that’s set up to your liking, some next steps involve typing commands in the Terminal. From the “Pi” menu at the top left, select Accessories→Terminal.

In the Terminal window, type:

sudo raspi-config

Use the down arrow key to navigate to the “Interfacing Options” selection, then press Return.

Select “Serial.”

When asked about the login shell, select “No.”

When asked about the serial port hardware, select “Yes(this option might not show up on older Pi models, where it’s always on).

Navigate back to the top menu and select “Finish.” You’ll be asked whether to reboot. Select “Yes” unless there’s other setup you want to do on your own first (such as networking) before rebooting.

Optional but recommended steps include:

  • Change hostname to distinguish it from other Raspberry Pi systems on the network
  • Change password (everyone knows the default)
  • Disable overscan
  • In “Localisation Options,” set up Locale, Timezone, Keyboard, etc.

You can use the graphical interface (PiPreferencesRaspberry Pi Configuration) for these other settings, but the serial hardware options should be done with raspi-config in the terminal.

This guide was first published on Apr 19, 2016. It was last updated on Apr 19, 2016.
This page (First-Time System Setup) was last updated on Jul 04, 2020.