Raspberry pi initial setup part 9

Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Your pi is imaged, plugged in, turned on, connected to the network, you’ve found its IPv4 address, logged into it via ssh and you’ve run “sudo raspi-config”, so lets get it configured.
First thing to remember is that this is a text interface so no mouse. You move between the different items with the arrow keys and select them by hitting enter. If you need to select a check box on one of the later screens, you hit space, and when you’re done, you move between the list of actions and the buttons at the bottom by pressing the “tab” key.
raspi-configraspi-config (Click to enlarge) The first thing to do is check that we have the latest version of raspi-config (if your pi doesn’t currently have anyway of connecting to the internet, you can skip this). I’m not sure why they decided to put this as the last option, but there you go. This might take the pi a minute. Once it has either found that you already have the latest version of raspi-config or updated it to the latest version, we can continue. We’ll deal with the rest of the options in order.


You can skip the info entry or read it as you wish. Disappointingly, the current version doesn’t have a lot of actual information in there, but if you’re using a later version, then me it might have.

Expand rootfs

This is the first interesting option. If you’ve been following all the way through this series of posts, you’ll know what a filesystem is and understand that the pi has two to begin with (one which holds the operating system and one which holds basic low level configuration details for the pi). The root filesystem is the one the root folder is on i.e “/”. This is the folder that contains all the other folders that the operating system uses. Other filesystems are mounted onto the root filesystem to be used.
Right, as to why it might need expanding. If you remember we installed a disk image, which is a byte for byte copy of another disk. Now what happens if your image is smaller than the disk you are copying it onto? Well the extra space is just left empty. So this option will take the root filesystem and grow it till it fills any extra empty space on your disk. Do you want it to do this? Almost certainly yes. The other option is that you format this unused space to create a new partition with its own filesystem on it and mount it onto the root filesystem, but I struggle to think up a good reason why anyone would (though there is undoubtedly some unusual use case where this is good idea). So go ahead, select it and hit enter. Some text will flash by, and it’ll tell you that the filesystem will be expanded on the next boot.


Overscan is a way of making sure the picture fills all of the screen when using an old TV as a monitor. This won’t affect anything when connecting to the pi over the network, as we are now, but if it is likely that at some point in the future the pi will be attached to an old TV using the composite out, turn it on (you will also need to tweak the actual amount of overscan needed for your TV); if it is more likely to connected to a modern LCD TV turn it off; if you’re not likely to do either, just skip over it.

Configure Keyboard

This won’t do anything at the moment, as we don’t have a keyboard physically connected to the pi. So you can just skip it. In case you wondered, different keyboards have different layouts and keys on them (most commonly this is to incorporate letters and symbols that aren’t commonly used in other languages). The default for the pi is the standard British keyboard. If, at a later date, you do want to plug in a keyboard, if it isn’t a stand British keyboard, you will have to configure it (there are various ways of doing so, but just firing up raspi-config again is pretty reasonable way of doing it).

Change Password

This is probably the most important option! All Raspberry Pies have the same default password so you really need to change this, else everyone and their dog will be able to log on to it. Make sure you can remember it though, else you’ll have to wipe the disk and start again!

Change Locale

The locale is a specific combination of language and regional differences. For example, though the UK and the US share the same language, English, there are many regional differences e.g. in the UK the first of February is referred to as 01/02/13 but in America it is referred to as 02/01/13. The locale setting is how the pi works out how to translate its output for you.
The pi uses the standard POSIX locale codes, which start with the language and then the region e.g. for British English it is en_GB (English, Great Britain) and for American English it is en_US (English, United States). The default for the pi is en_GB. If this isn’t for you, choose your locale from the list (you want the UTF8 version). If you are multilingual, you can have multiple locales installed and switch between them; if you aren’t multilingual, then deselect any you don’t need. Changing the locale settings may take a short while.

Change Time Zone

This pretty much self explanatory. The pi defaults to London for the time zone (GMT 0) if you live somewhere else, set the time zone appropriately.

Memory Split

The pi has one chunk of memory which it shares between the main processor and the graphics processor. If you don’t intend to attach a monitor anytime soon, you aren’t really going to be using the graphics processor, so you can give your pi a nice little speed up by giving as much of the memory as possible to the main processor, so set it to 16. If you do intend to use a monitor soon, then you can set the split up now or just re run raspi-config later. For a general purpose desktop, setting it at 128 is probably a good start (if you have an older pi that only has 256MB of memory, you might want to set the graphics chip to only have 64MB and sacrifice the ability to play hi-res video files).


Overclocking is the process of running a computer faster than it is specified. Due to variances in the manufacturing process, it isn’t possible to tell how much your processor can be overclocked (if at all) before the system becomes unstable, so if you do want to try, the best thing to do is to gradually increase the amount of overclocking. Overclocking will increase the amount of heat generated by the processor, and so will reduce its working life. If it is worth overclocking, largely depends on what you want to use the pi for. For most people, overclocking a modest amount is perfectly safe, but if you don’t need that extra processing power, then there isn’t any point in risking damaging the pi. If you want to really crank up the overclocking, you will probably need to invest in some sort of cooling for the processor.


You are almost certainly going to want to leave this at its default of enabled!

Boot Behaviour

As we are using the pi without a monitor, you defiantly want to leave this at its default of not starting the graphical login when it is turned on. Starting up the graphics system will take up a lot of unnecessary resources.
And that is it, we’re done. Press tab, move over to the finish button and press enter.
You now need to restart your pi so that the root file system can be expanded and that any change to memory split can take effect. To do that type:
sudo shutdown -r now The computer will then restart and you’ll be disconnected from it. Give it a minute to expand the filesystem, and then reconnect to it again with ssh. It will almost certainly have the same ip address as before, but if your network is really busy with computers connecting and disconnecting all the time there is a (really) small chance some else will have taken that ip address and you’ll have to search for the pi’s new one as you did before.
Anyway, once you are at the log in prompt, enter your ***new*** password and tadaa! You’ve successfully completed the basic setup of your raspberry pi without the need for plugging in a keyboard or monitor! Give yourself a pat on the back.
Now it needs to be configured for what ever task you have in mind for it. Check out my up coming posts on how to configure to be a file server, media centre and much more! Hope you’ve had fun and learned a thing or two!

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