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Raspberry Pi: OS

Getting started with the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi's operating system runs off a removable SD Card, making it easy to save your projects or re-flash a clean image.  Find below instructions on how to install a new or clean OS image and available alternative OS. 

Writing the SD Card

How To Write the OS image to SD:

Mac OS:

Use the terminal to write the image, check here for detailed instructions


Use the Win32DiskImager tool, check here for detailed instructions


Use the dd utility to write the image, check here for detailed instructions


Linux Basics

  • The command line interface provides a powerful and rich way to access programs and files.  
  • Access the command line via a program called a Terminal.
  • File names and directory names are case-sensitive ("File1" and "file1" refer to different files).
  • Avoid using spaces in file names, instead use underscore character ("file_1" not "file 1")
  • File system is organized in hierarchical structure starting with the root directory "/", user files are found in the directory /home/username/ 



Full List of Distros

There is a wide variety of different operating systems available for the Raspberry Pi.  Downloading a new OS and easily imaging the sd card allows you to test many different options.


The official Raspberry Pi operating system, can run desktop application or in headless command line mode.


Alternative Operating Systems

Backups - Saving Your Work

You can save your current projects in progress by imaging the sd card and saving it on your computer for future use.

SD CARD IMAGE (use the df command to identify if "sdb" is your sd card)

In Linux or Mac, for example:

sudo dd bs=4M if=/dev/sdb of=raspbian.img

Write backup image back to an sd card to boot in the Pi:

sudo dd bs=4M if=raspbian.img of=/dev/sdb
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