In this tutorial, you will learn how to use NOOBS (New Out Of the Box Software) to setup your Raspberry Pi.

NOOBS is a minimal disk image that can just be copied onto a newly formatted SD card. You then put it into the SD slot on the Raspberry Pi and It downloads the rest of what it needs.

You Will Need

To get started with NOOBS, all you need is an SD card (at least 4GB for NooBs Lite and 8GB for NooBs) and a host computer from which to download and copy the files. This can be a Windows, Mac or Linux Computer.

Download NOOBS

Download the NOOBS archive file from http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads. Select the "Offline and Network" option.

Extract the the zip file and make a note of where the extracted folder is on your file system.
NooBs lite will let you install fast and use less SD card space, but will require an Ethernet cable connection on your Pi! If you have a 4G card, NooBs lite is required!

Copy NOOBS onto an SD Card

The archive will extract to a folder called _NOOBS_v1_3_1_ or similar, it is the contents of the folder that should be copied to the SD card, not the folder itself.

The SD card should be a new SD card, or one that has just been formatted as FAT. If it's a new SD card, its ready to go. If you are recycling an SD card, reformat it so you get the most space available with the official SD association formatting software

Simply copy the contents of the downloaded and extracted NOOBS folder onto the SD card. This will create an SD card from which the Raspberry Pi can boot.

When you open up the SD card in your Finder/Windows/Linux computer you should see the following in the 'base' directory, they shouldn't be in a folder!

Boot your Pi

Put the SD card containing the extracted NOOBS files into your Raspberry Pi and then power up your Raspberry Pi with a TV connected to the NTSC/PAL port or an HDMI display connected to HDMI

When it boots, the window shown below will appear. From this screen, you can select which distribution you want to install. Raspbian will be selected as the default, and this is the best choice to start off with.

You will then get a warning message that the SD card will be overwritten (which is fine) and then as the distribution is installed onto the SD card you will see a progress screen accompanied by helpful information about the distribution.
Once the file copying is complete, you will get a message "Image applied successfully". When you hit RETURN the Raspberry Pi wil reboot.

If you selected Raspbian (and some of the other distributions) the Raspi-Config untility will automatically run so that you can configure the new installation (see this tutorial).

See Also

For NOOBS to install correctly onto an SD card, the card must be formatted as FAT. Most SD cards are supplied ready formatted in FAT.

If you are re-using an old card and need to format it as FAT, then use your operating system's tool for formatting removeable media.

You can also use the SD Association's Formatting Tool, which is available for Mac and Windows and can be downloaded from here: https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/

You can find out more about NOOBS here.

About the Author.
As well as contributing lots of tutorials about Raspberry Pi, Arduino and now BeagleBone Black, Simon Monk writes books about open source hardware. You will find his books for sale here at Adafruit.

His latest book: "The Raspberry Pi Cookbook" is out December 2013.