Another approach is to use the newer rpi-imager software created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. This approach will let you configure and write the OS image all in one step. No text file editing required. This process can do all the same setup except for the UART enabling.

Information on installing and running rpi-imager can be found here:

Once you've installed rpi-imager and launched it, you should see the initial screen:

On newer versions, once the OS image has been selected, a configuration icon should appear:

For older versions, the Advanced Options menu is accessed by pressing these keys:

<CTRL><SHIFT><X>

The Advanced Options should look like this:

The top drop down lets you choose between applying the settings just once (for this session only) or every time you burn an image (to always use). The later can be useful so you don't have to type in the same information each time you burn an image.

And then you can just scroll through and enable any of the options you want and configure as appropriate. Be sure to scroll, there are more items than can fit in the small rpi-imager app window.

Set Hostname

This is the name the Raspberry Pi will show up as on your network. If nothing is done here, the default is raspberrypi.

Enable SSH

Not only can you enable SSH, you can set a new password to use as well. By default, SSH is disabled.

Configure WiFi

This sets up the Raspberry Pi to be able to connect to your local WiFi network. Type in your WiFi network name (SSID) and password. Be careful not to have any typos.

Don't forget to also set the country code.

Location Settings

This can be used to set time zone and keyboard layout.

Burn OS Image

Once done with the settings, click the SAVE button to get back to the main rpi-imager screen. Then, pick an OS image by clicking the CHOOSE OS button.

Most of these options will download the selected image from the internet before burning. If you want to instead use a specific OS image you've already downloaded, then scroll to the very last option - Use Custom.

Click CHOOSE STORAGE to pick the SD card to use. Be careful to select the correct device here.

Make sure you select the SD card and not your hard drive.

Then click WRITE to start writing the image to the SD card. You'll be prompted to confirm before starting.

Click YES and away it goes. It will take several minutes to complete. Longer if it also has to download the image first.

Once done, you get this pop up, and...well...you're done.

How It Works

This process seems to rely entirely on creating a custom script called firstrun.sh in the /boot partition of the SD card. It does not create a wpa_supplicant.conf or ssh file. Nor does it alter config.txt.

Here are the contents of the firstrun.sh file created after the screen shots above and burning the OS image.

NOTE: The SD card has not been booted in a Pi yet.

#!/bin/bash

set +e

CURRENT_HOSTNAME=`cat /etc/hostname | tr -d " \t\n\r"`
echo wintermute >/etc/hostname
sed -i "s/127.0.1.1.*$CURRENT_HOSTNAME/127.0.1.1\twintermute/g" /etc/hosts
FIRSTUSER=`getent passwd 1000 | cut -d: -f1`
FIRSTUSERHOME=`getent passwd 1000 | cut -d: -f6`
echo "$FIRSTUSER:"'$5$.JCul6mnDH$/TjzLsqN9iHpAhva/OlrCoANkWNU7nn6dfQplh3.WBC' | chpasswd -e
systemctl enable ssh
cat >/etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf <<'WPAEOF'
country=US
ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
ap_scan=1

update_config=1
network={
	ssid="mynetwork"
	psk=69e49214ef4e7e23d0ece077c2faf3c73f7522ad52a26b33527fa78d9033ff35
}

WPAEOF
chmod 600 /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
rfkill unblock wifi
for filename in /var/lib/systemd/rfkill/*:wlan ; do
  echo 0 > $filename
done
rm -f /etc/xdg/autostart/piwiz.desktop
rm -f /etc/localtime
echo "America/Los_Angeles" >/etc/timezone
dpkg-reconfigure -f noninteractive tzdata
cat >/etc/default/keyboard <<'KBEOF'
XKBMODEL="pc105"
XKBLAYOUT="us"
XKBVARIANT=""
XKBOPTIONS=""
KBEOF
dpkg-reconfigure -f noninteractive keyboard-configuration
rm -f /boot/firstrun.sh
sed -i 's| systemd.run.*||g' /boot/cmdline.txt
exit 0

This is just a bash script that will get copied over and run (with elevated privileges!) the first time the Pi is booted (run). It's sort of a rubber ducky hacker style approach.

This guide was first published on May 17, 2017. It was last updated on 2021-09-03 12:47:41 -0400.

This page (Using rpi-imager) was last updated on May 28, 2022.

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