How to install Raspberry Pi OS Buster on a Raspberry Pi

This question is the basic one that everyone will ask when he wants to reinstall a Raspberry Pi.
This post will also serve as a reference for my other articles, to avoid explaining each time how to install Raspberry Pi OS (ex Raspbian).

How to install Raspberry Pi OS on a Raspberry Pi?

  • Download the image on the official website
  • Flash the SD card using Etcher
  • Insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi
  • Boot the Raspberry Pi
  • Configure the system (network, language, ssh)

I will introduce what is Raspberry Pi OS, and explain each step in details, for the Lite version and the Desktop version.

If you already master some parts, do not hesitate to use the table of content below to go directly to the part you are interested in.

Raspberry Pi OS introduction

Best retro-gaming solution
Download the Pi Glossary!
If you are lost in all these new words and abbreviations, request my free Raspberry Pi glossary here (PDF format)!

If you are new to Raspberry Pi, I’ll start with a small introduction to Raspberry Pi OS.


Raspberry Pi OS is a Linux distribution based on Debian.
It’s the official distribution for Raspberry Pi.
Formerly named “Raspbian”, it was renamed “Raspberry Pi OS” in 2020.

Raspberry Pi OS with Desktop

Raspberry Pi OS is following the Debian versions names, so the latest version available is Raspberry Pi OS Buster (Debian 10).
Raspberry Pi OS is optimized for Raspberry Pi and most of the time you can use this distribution for your projects.

Raspberry Pi Bootcamp
Sale: 10% off today.
Take it to the next level.
I'm here to help you get started on Raspberry Pi.
Learn all the skills you need in the correct order.


Raspberry Pi OS is offered in three “versions”:

  • Full: Raspberry Pi OS with desktop and recommended software
  • Desktop: Raspberry Pi OS with desktop
  • Lite: Minimal image for Raspberry Pi OS

As its name suggests, the two firsts offer a graphical environment (LXDE), while the last comes basically without (but it will still be possible to add it later).

If you are new to Linux, I recommend starting with the desktop or full version, so that you can familiarize yourself with the commands.

Throughout this article, I will explain how to do for these two main versions of Raspberry Pi OS.
The installation of the Full or Desktop version is absolutely the same process, I will call it “Desktop” only but it’s for both.
Whatever your choice, you will know how to do all the steps described.


The Raspberry Pi Foundation is pushing a tool called “NOOBS” to help beginners to install Raspberry Pi OS.
You can choose this if you want, and refer to the explanations concerning the Desktop version, it will be similar.

The installation of Raspberry Pi OS is relatively simple by following this article, and I don’t think that going through NOOBS is essential nor helpful.


To follow this article you will need:

  • An Internet connection
  • A computer to download and flash Raspberry Pi OS
  • An SD card reader (USB or built-in computer)
    If you don’t have one on your computer, you can find a good choice in my recommended products page
  • A minimum 8 GB SD card (see my recommendations)
  • Micro-SD / SD adapter (often provided with the SD card)
  • A complete Raspberry Pi setup, with screen and keyboard to install it in the best possible conditions.
    I’m using a Bluetooth keyboard all the time and I’m loving it (check it on Amazon).

Download the Raspberry Pi OS image


Whatever your choice of version, the download is done on the same page.

Go to this page of the official website to download Raspberry Pi OS:

Click on the “Download” button to get the file.

If the direct download is too slow, you can try with the Download Torrent button.
Then open the .torrent file in your favorite Torrent client.


Now you need to extract the image from the ZIP file.
If you use my recommended software to flash the SD card in the next step, you don’t need to unzip the file.

  • Go to your Downloads folder
  • Right-click on the ZIP file
  • Choose “Uncompress” or “Extract here” depending on your operating system and software
  • You should see a .img file in the destination folder

Create your SD card

Master your Raspberry Pi in 30 days
Sale: 10% off today.
Download the eBook.
Uncover the secrets of the Raspberry Pi in a 30 days challenge.
Learn useful Linux skills and practice multiples projects.


To create my SD cards, I always use Etcher.
It is free software, available for any operating system.

If it does not suit you, there are plenty of others, but Etcher does exactly what you need.

By the way, Etcher is not available on Raspberry Pi OS (as explained in the linked article), but you can install Raspberry Pi Imager on it if you don’t have a computer. I explain how to install it in the same tutorial.

Download Etcher

Start by downloading Etcher:

  • Go to the website
  • Download the installation file (the version corresponding to your OS is proposed automatically)
    download etcher
  • Install Etcher like any other software
    • Windows: double-click on the .exe file and follow the wizard
    • Linux: extract the zip file and run the Appimage file
    • macOS: double-click on the .img file and install it to /Applications

Then the app should be available in your “Applications” menu.
Start Etcher.

Flash it

The Etcher interface is simple to use.
It is presented in 3 steps:

  • Image selection
  • SD Card choice
  • Flash!

Follow these three steps to create your SD card:

  • Browse the files to find the location of the downloaded image just before
  • Select the SD Card to use (mostly the default one)
  • Click on Flash

After a few minutes, your SD card is ready.
If your operating system opens you empty drives or format questions, you must ignore everything.
Etcher will do everything. You have nothing else to do.

First boot

Insert the SD card

Get your SD card and insert it into your Raspberry Pi.
Then start the Raspberry Pi, with a screen and a keyboard.

Master Python on Raspberry Pi
Sale: 10% off today.
Get the eBook.
Do more with your Raspberry Pi, learn the useful concepts and take the shortcuts.
You miss half of the fun of using a Raspberry Pi if you don’t know anything about Python.

Desktop version

When you start on the desktop version for the first time, there is nothing to do.
The system automatically logs in and introduces you to a welcome wizard:

Follow the wizard to configure the basic options:

Wait for the updates to finish and restart the Raspberry Pi.

Lite version

On the Lite version, you have nothing to do at first boot.
The system will start alone until the login screen.

Log on with the default access:

  • Login: pi
  • Password: raspberry

The keyboard is in QWERTY (en-us) by default.
If you have a keyboard with another layout, you have to reverse the letters (rqspberry in AZERTY for example).
We will see later how to adjust this.

Raspberry Pi OS configuration

Keyboard layout

The first thing you need to do is to choose the right layout for your keyboard (if not already set).

Desktop version

Generally if you used the Welcome Wizard, your keyboard must already be configured appropriately.

However, if you need to change it. You can do it in:

  • Main menu
  • Preferences
  • Raspberry Pi Configuration
  • Localisation tab
  • Set keyboard…

The change should apply immediately, restart your apps if needed.

Lite version

On the lite version, use the raspi-config tool:

  • Start the raspi-config tool
    sudo raspi-config
  • Go to Localisation Options
  • Then Keyboard Layout
  • Select the model of your keyboard (leave default if not found)
  • Then select the layout of your keyboard (or other to have the choice of other countries, and then the specific layout of your country)
  • After that, you will have other options for special keys (alt gr, compose key, etc…).
    It’s not the most important because with a Raspberry Pi OS Lite you will use SSH most of the time (from another computer well configured)
    You can keep default values if you are not sure

After saving your changes, verify that your keyboard is typing what you want and continue.

Raspi-config is a great tool you can use from your Raspberry Pi directly, but also when connected by SSH.
It allows you to configure many system options with a simple interface.

Change password

All Raspberry Pi are installed with the password given above.
It is therefore essential to change it to keep your device safe.

Desktop version

Also, the welcome wizard has already allowed you to do it.

If you need to change it again, you can do it this way:

  • Go to the main menu
  • Go to Preferences
  • Launch Raspberry Pi Configuration
  • In the System tab, click on “Change Password

Lite version

On the lite version, you can follow these steps:

  • Enter the password command :
  • Type the old password (raspberry)
  • Enter a new password
  • Confirm the same new password

It’s ok. You should get something like that:

change password raspbian

Network configuration

If you can connect your Raspberry Pi to a network cable with DHCP, the setting will be instantaneous, and you have nothing else to do.
In other cases, let’s see what you need to do.

Desktop version


If you need to change your IP address, you can right-click on the network icon in the top bar.
Then choose “Wireless & Wired Network Settings”.

On the new window select your interface (eth0 or wlan0) and fill the form with your network settings.

It should be something like this:


If you don’t have already chosen your Wi-Fi SSID in the welcome wizard, you can connect to it by clicking on the network icon in the top bar.
A list of all detected SSID will display, select yours and enter your password.

If you need to set a static IP address, you can do it the same way as for the Ethernet.
Choose wlan0 in the Network Preferences window.

Lite version


I will give you two methods.
The first one is the one recommended, but in my case, it didn’t work.
The second is the one which finally allowed me to have a static IP.

The official way to set a static IP:

If you need (or want) to set a static IP address on your network, follow these steps:

  • Edit this configuration file
    sudo nano /etc/dhcpcd.conf
  • Add these lines at the end of the file (don’t forget to replace this with your network settings)
    interface eth0 static
    static routers=
    static domain_name_servers=
  • Save the file and exit (CTRL+O, Enter, CTRL+X)
  • Reboot the Raspberry Pi for changes to take effect
    sudo reboot

After the reboot, your IP should be fixed. Check it with the command ifconfig.

Another way to do the same thing:

Follow these steps:

  • Uninstall dhcpcd
    sudo apt-get remove dhcpcd5
  • Edit the /etc/network/interfaces file
    sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces
  • Paste these lines into
    auto eth0
    iface eth0 inet static

    Don’t forget to edit the values with your network settings (gateway is the router IP, and you can keep these IPs as DNS servers)
  • Save the file and exit (CTRL+O, Enter, CTRL+X)
  • Reboot the Raspberry Pi
    sudo reboot

You should get something like this:


To enable the Wi-Fi on the Lite version, you should first set your Wi-Fi country.
For this, use the raspi-config tool.

sudo raspi-config
  • Go to Localisation Options > Change Wi-Fi Country
  • Select your Country in the list
  • Exit

Once you set the country, you can start raspi-config again to set up your Wi-Fi connection:

  • Go to Network Options
  • Choose Wi-Fi
  • Enter your network SSID
  • Enter your passphrase
  • Finish

Enable SSH

SSH is a protocol that will allow you to connect to your Raspberry Pi from another computer to be able to launch commands and scripts.

Desktop version

Start once

To start SSH server follow these steps:

  • Open the Main menu
  • Start Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration
  • In the Interface tab, enable SSH
Auto start

On the Desktop version, SSH server will auto-start at each boot until you disable it in this window.

Lite version

Start once

On the lite version, you can start the SSH server with this command:

sudo service ssh start

Unfortunately, this command starts the service only once, and at the next reboot it will not start automatically.

If you want to start it automatically you have to use these commands:

sudo update-rc.d ssh defaults
sudo update-rc.d ssh enable


Once the SSH server is enabled, you can connect from any computer on the local network.
You can even open a port in your firewall/box to access it from the Internet.

If you don’t know how to use SSH, you will find the information in the first paragraph of this article.

Install new packages

The base of your Raspberry Pi OS system is now in place.
You must then install all the software you need.

The most basic software are available in Raspberry Pi OS repositories, let’s see how to do it in both environments.

Desktop version

With the Desktop version, a graphical tool allows you to manage packages:

  • Open the main menu
  • Go to Preferences
  • Click on Add / Remove Software

A window opens:

manage software raspbian buster

This tool allows you to view all packages available for Raspberry Pi OS, sorted by category.
A search engine is also available.

To install a new package, simply check the corresponding box.
Then confirm by clicking OK on the bottom right.

When a package is selected, a short description appears in the bottom frame.

To remove a package, uncheck the box corresponding to the package you want to uninstall.

Don’t know what to install? Here are my favorites applications for Raspberry Pi OS.

Lite version

In the Lite version, there is no interface, so you will have to learn some commands.

The apt-get and apt-cache commands allow you to manage package installation.

Find the exact name of a package:

apt-cache search [TEXT]

Here is an example:

apt cache search

There are many optional parameters you can use, for example -n will search only in package names (so no adminer in the results)

Install a package:

Once you get the exact name for the package you want to install, use apt-get to install it:

sudo apt-get install [PACKAGE-NAME]

Here is an example:

apt get install

Hit enter to install the package and its dependencies.

Delete a package:

If you want to uninstall a package, use this command:

sudo apt-get remove [PACKAGE-NAME]

Here is an example:

apt get remove

As you can see, apt-get will remove the package you ask, but not its dependencies.
If you want to remove them, you have to use this command:

sudo apt-get autoremove


If you want to see a summary of all the first steps to install Raspberry Pi OS (Raspbian) on your Raspberry Pi, you can watch this video:

And you can subscribe here to receive the new videos about Raspberry Pi:

Related posts

Get My Cheat Sheet!
Grab your free PDF file with all the commands you need to know on Raspberry Pi!

Before finishing this article, here are some articles that may interest you.
These are pretty simple things to set up, and that you may need after installation is complete:

If you have any comment, suggestion or just want to chat with us about this tutorial,
you can post your messages in the community on Patreon. See you there!


You now know how to install or reinstall Raspberry Pi OS on a Raspberry Pi, and the first things to do once the installation is complete.

Raspberry Pi OS is the basis of most projects, now you have to choose one project and set it up 🙂

This tutorial doesn't work anymore? Report the issue here, so that I can update it!

Patrick Fromaget

I'm the lead author and owner of My goal is to help you with your Raspberry Pi problems using detailed guides and tutorials. In real life, I'm a Linux system administrator with a web developer experience.

Recent Posts

Master your Raspberry Pi in 30 days

Download this eBook and discover:
1. Secrets from my 20-years Linux experience 2. Many step-by-step projects for your Raspberry Pi 3. How to save time by learning the right way
Master your Raspberry Pi - 10% off