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Installing Raspian Stretch on a Raspberry Pi

These are instructions for installing the Raspian Stretch (Debian) system on a Raspberry Pi.

1) Set up the SD card

You want a name brand ‘class 10’ card with about 16 GB.

1.1) Download image

Download an image of the Raspian operating system. You want to ‘Download ZIP’ for ‘Raspian Stretch Lite’.

1.2) Copy the downloaded image to SD card

If you run into trouble, follow this installation guide.

On MacOS

Unzip the .zip file by right clicking the .zip file and selecting Open With - Archive (default). This will yield a .img file.

Insert an SD card into the Mac and use DiskUtil to format it as Fat32. You can find the in /Applications/utilities. In OSX Sierra this is DiskUtil - Erase - Format as ‘MS-DOS (FAT)’.

Find the location of your SD card

# in a terminal, type
diskutil list

You should see something like this.

/dev/disk4 (external, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:     FDisk_partition_scheme                        *15.9 GB    disk4
   1:             Windows_FAT_32 NO NAME                 15.9 GB    disk4s1

Use DiskUtil to ‘unmount’ the SD card (don’t eject, you need to unmount) or use this command line (assuming your sd card is /dev/disk4)

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk4

Copy the .img file to the SD card. Assuming your SD card was listed as /dev/disk4

sudo dd bs=1m if=/Users/cudmore/Downloads/2018-10-09-raspbian-stretch-lite.img of=/dev/rdisk4

Note that this command requires /dev/rdisk rather than /dev/disk. Once the .img is copying to the SD card, you will not get any feedback from the command line. You can either wait for it to finish (this can vary from 1-3 minutes) and if you are impatient, you can see the progress with keyboard ctrl+t.

Be very careful with this command, if you have multiple hard-drives make sure you specify the SD card we are using. If you get it wrong you could wipe an entire hard-drive.

Once dd is done, the SD card should re-appear on the desktop named ‘boot’.

On Windows

Follow install guides here.

1.3) Configure the Pi to run ssh at boot

The SSH server allows you to login to the Pi with a command prompt. Raspbian usually has the SSH server disabled by default and it needs to be activated manually. To do this, create an empty file named ssh in the root folder of the SD card.

On MacOS, open a terminal and type:

touch /Volumes/boot/ssh

2) First boot of the Pi

The tricky part here is finding the Pi IP address. The easiest option is to use a home router.

2.1) Login via ssh

On MacOS

In a terminal window, type the following, where [piIP] is address of your Pi you found in the previous step. The is in /Applications/Utilities in macOS.

ssh pi@[piIP]
#password is raspberry

On Windows

Download and use Putty.

2.2) Run configuration utility

On the command line, run the raspi-config utility with:

sudo raspi-config

The name and location of these options change as Raspbian gets updated. This is still the general idea

Selecting 3 Boot Options -> B1 Console is important. It seems Raspbian ships with a GUI desktop on by default and you want to turn it off.

Here, we am setting my locale to ‘en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8’. If you are in a different country you should set this as you want.

Once finished, reboot the system when asked or manually from the command line with sudo reboot.

2.3) Update the system

sudo apt-get update --yes  #update database
sudo apt-get upgrade --yes  #update userspace (this can take a long time)
sudo reboot                #reboot

Setup the network

If you are connecting to a local router there is no additional setup required.

When on a university network (At least the Hopkins network), it is strongly suggested to use hard wiring with an ethernet cable rather than relying on wifi. Ask your network administrator to authenticate based on the MAC address of the Raspberry Ethernet port. You can find this with:

ifconfig eth0

Which returns something like this, telling us the MAC address is b8:27:eb:aa:51:6d

eth0: flags=4163<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST>  mtu 1500
        inet  netmask  broadcast
        inet6 fe80::303f:6054:3ec9:3bfb  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x20<link>
        ether b8:27:eb:aa:51:6d  txqueuelen 1000  (Ethernet)
        RX packets 1927  bytes 147022 (143.5 KiB)
        RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 1729  bytes 118135 (115.3 KiB)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0

Special instructions for The Johns Hopkins network

At Hopkins, using a computer already on the Hopkins network, point a browser to and click ‘Logon to JARS’, enter your Hopkins login/password, and then “Register For a Fixed IP Address by Subnet”. Be careful as different ethernet wall jacks have different subnets. The subnet is the 3rd number in an IP address. For example has subnet 80. If you do not know the subnet of where you are plugging into, plugin a spare laptop and figure out the subnet.

Apple-File-Protocol (AFP)

This will make the Pi an apple-file-protocol file-server that can be accessed in MacOS.

sudo apt-get install netatalk --yes

Once netatalk is installed, the Raspberry will show up in the Mac Finder ‘Shared’ section. The Pi can be manually mounted from MacOS by going to Go - Connect To Server... and entering afp://[piIP] where [piIP] is the IP address of your Pi.

Change the default name of your Pi in netatalk (optional)

When you mount the pi on MacOS, it will mount as Home Directory and the space in ‘Home Directory’ can cause problems. Change the name to something like ‘pi3’.

See this blog post to change the name of the mount point from ‘Home Directory’.

In the following the_name_you_want should be changed to the name you want. One good strategy is to use the hostname.

# stop netatalk
sudo /etc/init.d/netatalk stop

# edit config file
sudo pico /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default

# change this one line

# By default all users have access to their home directories.
#~/                     "Home Directory"
~/                      "the_name_you_want"

# restart netatalk
sudo /etc/init.d/netatalk start

When using the pico editor, ctrl+x to save and quit, ctrl+w to search, ctrl+v to page down. Remember, the pico editor does not respond to mouse clicks, you need to move the cursor around with arrow keys.

Samba (SMB)

This will make the Pi a Samba (SMB) file server that can be accessed from both Windows and MacOS.

sudo apt-get install samba samba-common-bin --yes

Edit /etc/samba/smb.conf

sudo pico /etc/samba/smb.conf

Copy and paste the following to the end of the file

Comment = Pi shared folder
Path = /home/pi
Browseable = yes
Writeable = yes
only guest = no
create mask = 0777
directory mask = 0777
Public = yes
Guest ok = no

# this assumes the Pi has a /home/pi/video folder
Comment = Pi shared folder
Path = /home/pi/video
Browseable = yes
Writeable = yes
only guest = no
create mask = 0777
directory mask = 0777
Public = yes
Guest ok = no

Add a password

sudo smbpasswd -a pi

Restart samba

sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart

Test the server from another machine on the network. On a windows machine, mount the fileserver with smb:\\[piIP] where [piIP] is the IP address of your pi. You should see two mount points, share and video.

Mounting a USB drive

When you plugin a USB drive, it will not be automatically detected. This needs to be configured manually, please see mounting a usb drive for instructions.

Startup email and tweet

It is useful to have the Pi send notifications when it boots. Please see the startupnotify Github repository.

Have the Pi send a tweet with its IP when it boots. See [this blog post][startuptweeter] for instructions. Have the Pi send an email with its IP address when it boots. See [this blog post][startupmailer] for instructions. An example python script is here, [][startupmailer]

Checking your Raspian, hardware, and firmware

Checking your Raspian version

cat /etc/os-release


PRETTY_NAME="Raspbian GNU/Linux 9 (stretch)"
NAME="Raspbian GNU/Linux"
VERSION="9 (stretch)"

Checking your Raspberry Pi version (the hardware)

cat /proc/device-tree/model


Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Rev 1.2

Checking your firmware (pretty cryptic)

uname -a


Linux pi_bplus 4.14.34+ #1110 Mon Apr 16 14:51:42 BST 2018 armv6l GNU/Linux

Have fun with your pi

Tags: raspberry, linux

©2018. Robert Cudmore.