How to install Raspbian Buster on a Raspberry Pi (2019 update)

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 Raspbian

How to install Raspbian on a Raspberry Pi?
Follow these steps:

  • Download the image on the official website
  • Flash your SD card using Etcher
  • Insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi
  • Start your Raspberry Pi
  • Perform basic configuration (network, language, ssh)

I will introduce what is Raspbian, and explain in detail each step, whether for the Lite version or the desktop version

If you already master some parts, do not hesitate to use the table of content below

Raspbian introduction

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

Presentation

Raspbian is a Linux distribution based on Debian
It’s the official distribution for Raspberry Pi

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

Versions

Raspbian is offered in three “versions”:

  • Full: Raspbian with desktop and recommended software
  • Desktop: Raspbian with desktop
  • Lite: Minimal image for Raspbian

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 advise you to start 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 Raspbian
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

NOOBS

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

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

Prerequisites

In order to follow this article you will need:

  • An Internet connection
  • A computer to download and flash Raspbian
  • 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 Pi raspberry (with screen and keyboard to install it in the best possible conditions)

Download the Raspbian image

Download

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

Go to this page of the official website to download Raspbian

download raspbian buster

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

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

Extract

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

Etcher

To create my SD cards, I always use Etcher
It is free software, available for all OS

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

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!

So you have to 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, our 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

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:

  • Select your country
  • Change the password
  • Connect to the Wi-Fi network if needed
  • Start system updates

Wait for the update 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

Raspbian 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 Raspbian 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 :
    passwd
  • 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

Ethernet

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

WiFi

If you don’t have already chosen your WiFi 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

Ethernet

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
    ip_address=192.168.1.200/24
    static routers=192.168.1.1
    static domain_name_servers=192.168.1.1
  • 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
    address 192.168.1.200
    netmask 255.255.255.0
    gateway 192.168.1.1
    dns-nameservers 8.8.8.8 8.8.4.4

    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

ifconfig
WiFi

To enable the WiFi in lite mode, you should first set your WiFi 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 Wifi 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
Auto 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

Connection

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 Raspbian system is now in place
You must then install all the software you need

The most basic software are available in Raspbian 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 Raspbian, 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

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 is a lot of 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 good 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

Related posts

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:

Conclusion

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

Raspbian is the basis of most projects, now you have to choose one and set it up 🙂

Step-by-step guide on how to install Raspbian Buster (Lite or Desktop) on a Raspberry Pi

10 comments

  1. Ludi Reply

    I’ve already downloaded Raspbian Buster with desktop, the image with desktop based on, Debian Buster Version: July 2019, Release date: 2019-07-10, Kernel version: 4.19, and Size: 1149 MB.

    Is there an update of your tutorial for the Debian Buster Version, or are there no issues at all?

    • RaspberryTips Post authorReply

      Hi Ludi,

      Yes I need to update the screenshots for buster
      But the installation process is the same

      Let me know if you have any issue or difference with this guide during the installation

      • Ludi Reply

        Hi RaspberryTips,

        thanks for the reply. At the moment, I’m working through your tutorial, and stated that after downloading the desktop version of Buster, I verified th .zip file with HashMyFiles on Windows, and with sha256sum on Linux:

        root@hircum:~/Downloads# sha256sum 2019-06-20-raspbian-buster.zip
        49a6b840ec2cb3e220f9a02bbceed91d21d20a7eeaac32f103923fdbdc9490a9 2019-06-20-raspbian-buster.zip
        49a6b840ec2cb3e220f9a02bbceed91d21d20a7eeaac32f103923fdbdc9490a9 SHA-256: Website

        Then, I did not had to unzip the .zip this file using Etcher! Am I wrong? But the SD Card started normally …

        Regards, Ludi

        • RaspberryTips Post authorReply

          Yes, Etcher is able to flash image in a zip format

  2. RaspberryTips Post authorReply

    Hello,

    Post updated for Raspbian Buster today
    Mostly screenshots updates and small edits, but the procedure stay the same as ever 🙂

  3. Barry Gunton Reply

    Haven’t acquired my pi 4 as yet but in the meantime thought I would download Buster and view it on my desktop pc. Followed instructions and flashed the full desktop version onto a 8GB flash drive. The flash drive does not boot up. Why?

    • Patrick [RaspberryTips] Post authorReply

      Hi,

      It’s not possible to use Buster on your computer, Raspbian is for Raspberry Pi only, Debian is for computers but it’s not the same thing
      I’m not even sure if it’s possible to boot a computer from a SD card

      Ok, so the good answer if you want to try Buster is to use it inside a virtual machine
      I have a guide about that, you can find it here: https://raspberrytips.com/run-raspberry-in-virtual-machine/
      It’s for Stretch, but the idea for Buster should be the same

      Patrick

  4. Jesse Reply

    Hello,
    I just got a Pi4 and I’m just navigating around through the get started walk through. If i go to the recommended software tab i get an error message.

    Error updating package data – E Repository ‘http://raspian.raspberrypi.org/raspbian buster InRelease’ changed its ‘Suite’ value frome ‘testing’ to ‘stable’
    There’s an ok button that just closes the whole recommended software tab. Any idea what I can do to view/load recommended software or get this tab to work with no error?

  5. Pauli Isoaho Reply

    All information what I found, says that root has no password, but is this changed in buster because I can not log in to root ?

    • Patrick [RaspberryTips] Post authorReply

      Hi Pauli

      Like on many other distributions, you can’t connect on Raspbian directly with root
      You have to log in with “pi” and use sudo to run commands as administrator

      If you really need to use the root user, your can create a password for it with “sudo passwd”

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