Notes on Setting Up a Raspberry Pi

My personal notes on how to get a new Raspberry Pi ready for action. Written for a Mac, but the general steps should translate to any platform.

Download the OS image

Start by downloading the official Raspberry Pi OS (32-bit) Lite image. For this example, it was

Be sure to verify the checksum:

$ shasum -a 256

Decompress & clean up:

$ unzip
  inflating: 2020-05-27-raspios-buster-lite-armhf.img
$ rm

Burn to a micro SD card

Use Etcher.

To install, if you haven’t already:

brew cask install balenaetcher

Configure via boot partition

It’s FAT32, so totally mountable on MacOS. Should automatically mount to /Volumes/boot. If it mounts as read-only, make sure the little physical switch on the adapter didn’t get bumped on the way in.

Enable SSH

touch /Volumes/boot/ssh


Add your wifi info:

vim /Volumes/boot/wpa_supplicant.conf

Here’s a handy template:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev



Finally, unmount the card:

diskutil unmount /Volumes/boot

Configure the machine

Put the SD card in the pi and boot it up. After a little while, try SSHing into it:

ssh pi@raspberrypi.local

The default password is “raspberry”.

Run raspi-config

sudo raspi-config

Be sure to:

  1. Change password
  2. Set hostname
  3. Switch locale from en_GB.UTF-8 to en_US.UTF-8
  4. Set timezone
  5. Disable the Camera and VNC
  6. (For headless) Reduce GPU memory split to 16MB

Add your SSH public key

Get your SSH public key from your workstation:

cat ~/.ssh/ | pbcopy

And add it to the pi (in the SSH session):

mkdir ~/.ssh
nano ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

(Paste & save)

Deactivate password authentication

sudo sed -i '/^#PasswordAuthentication yes/cPasswordAuthentication no' /etc/ssh/sshd_config


sudo reboot

Then SSH back in (using your new hostname). As long as you’ve done ssh-add already, it should connect up no problem.

Apply Updates

Even if you pulled a fresh image, there’s surely something that’s been updated since.

Update package info:

sudo apt update

Upgrade anything new:

sudo apt full-upgrade

Clean up anything that can be autoremoved:

sudo apt autoremove

Clean Up

Delete the “known” host for raspberrypi.local, or else it will issue an alarming security error the next time you’re setting up another Raspberry Pi:

vim ~/.ssh/known_hosts

See also