Is Raspberry Pi easy to learn?


You are probably thinking about buying a Raspberry Pi, but you are not sure if you will manage to use it or if it’s too complex for you
In this article, I will give you a few tips to find the answer to this question, and give you more information about what you can expect

Is Raspberry Pi easy to learn?
Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized Linux computer, so the basics are not more complicated than any computer running on Linux
The only difference for a beginner is that you need to assemble it and install the system, but it’s not so complex

In fact the answer highly depend on your current Linux and IT skills
That’s why there is not an easy answer that fit anyone
In the next paragraph, I will give you an answer depending on your current level

Is Raspberry Pi easy to learn for me?

You will find here a quick answer depending on your current situation

I’m a complete beginner in computing

The Raspberry Pi has been created to teach computing and programming to students in the UK
So, basically, it’s possible to learn from scratch with a Raspberry Pi
But you may need more help than someone else to get started

If you are just interested in the Raspberry Pi price to have a cheap computer at home, I’m not sure it is the best option for you
Maybe a plug and play computer is better for you
You can find good deals on eBay, with used or refurbished laptops under $100 (here is the direct link to eBay with the correct filters)

But if you are truly interested in Raspberry Pi, you can definitively buy one and learn from scratch, as you will see in the next parts, it’s not so complicated, even for you 🙂
In this case, I recommend choosing directly a complete kit, so you have everything you need without asking you too many questions

Master your Raspberry Pi in 30 days
From beginner to expert in Raspberry Pi.
Learn useful Linux skills and practice multiples projects with step-by-step guides.

I know the basics

If you at least know how to plug all your accessories to your computer, Raspberry Pi is definitively something that you can consider

Maybe the electronics, programming and commands parts are not for you at the beginning, but it’s not mandatory, as you can already try some projects without it
Also, if your goal is just to have a cheap computer, Raspbian Desktop will be perfect for you, and it’s easy to get started

I already have skills on Linux

You probably already know the answer, but if you have skills on Linux (computers or servers), you are the ideal candidate to start on Raspberry Pi

It’s the best place to try installing new things, commands and projects that you wouldn’t necessarily try on your desktop computer or on a server

I was in this case when I started on Raspberry Pi
I already knew how to administrate Linux computers and servers, and how to assemble a PC
So, Raspberry Pi was as easy to use as any other computer

Raspberry Pi: what do you need to get started?

In this part, I will give you an overview of the Raspberry Pi components you need to have to take a good start
You can find my up-to-date recommendations in the “Recommended Products” page if you want

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is your next computer motherboard
So, it’s mandatory, but not the only thing you need
There are several models available but I recommend only the following two for beginners:

  • Raspberry Pi 4B: The best Raspberry Pi model currently available
    It’s perfect for a personal computer or to have the most powerful device
    It’s available with 2 or 4 GB, take directly 4 GB if you have enough budget
  • Raspberry Pi Zero: The smallest and cheapest Raspberry Pi available
    Less powerful than the 4B, but it’s enough to run a few things on a minimal operating system
    Power supply and other accessories are different for this model
Source: Raspberry Pi

Once done, you also have to choose an SD card
An SD card is the hard drive equivalent in a Raspberry Pi
You can find some from 8 GB to 256 GB and maybe more, it all depends on what you want to do with it
My favorite actually is the Samsung Evo Plus (check the price on Amazon), it’s available from 32 to 256 GB (32 GB will be enough for most of the projects)

Kits

In the following parts I will list each component and give you my recommendations
But the best idea if you are starting from scratch is probably to look for a complete kit

It may seem more expensive, but you’ll be sure to have everything you need and only compatible components
Waste of time and product returns are not profitable either, and it can happen if you order things without knowing exactly what you need

Here is the two kits I recommend depending on the model you choose:

  • Raspberry Pi 4 : my favorite for a beginner is this kit from Canakit
    Includes a Raspberry Pi 4 (you can select 1 to 4 GB memory), a SD card with a USB adapter (to use it on your computer), a case with a fan, heat sinks and cables
  • Raspberry Pi Zero : I’m using this one from Vilros
    On this model specifically, it’s really a good idea to buy a kit
    The Raspberry Pi Zero has micro ports and you need many adapters to plug your accessories. This kit includes everything you need

Power Supply

Almost the only thing mandatory before doing anything is to buy a decent power supply
The best is to take the official one, so you have no doubt (check this link on Amazon for the Raspberry Pi 4)

You can also try with your smartphone charger, Raspberry Pi Foundation recommends at least 3A
But it may work with 2.5A or less if you don’t have many accessories on it (I’m personally using a Samsung USB charger at 2A)

On Raspberry Pi Zero, you need a micro USB cable
For example, this CanaKit adapter is a great choice

Case

We are now listing the accessories that are not mandatory to start, but maybe something to consider
On a desktop computer, you can obviously start the motherboard without any case, but it’s no recommended 🙂

On Raspberry Pi, it’s the same thing
If you have an on/off button on your power supply, you can try to use it without a case
But I recommend taking one to protect everything

My new passive case

On Raspberry Pi 4, most of them include a fan, so it’s also a good buy to keep the temperature as low as possible
On Raspberry Pi 4, the Flirc Case, is one of the most recommended out there (check the price on Amazon)
And on Raspberry Pi Zero, the official case is available here

Screen

If you are just starting, you can absolutely use a computer screen or your TV for the moment
The only thing you need is an HDMI cable
On Raspberry Pi 4, you need a micro HDMI cable (this one from AmazonBasics is perfect)
On Raspberry Pi Zero, it’s a mini HDMI port if you don’t have an adapter with your kit. You can find a compatible cable here

On Raspberry Pi Zero you don’t need any screen to configure it if you just want to use Raspbian Lite (if you have no idea what is Raspbian, I will introduce it later)
Check my guide on how to do this here

Mouse & keyboard

Any USB mouse and keyboard can work
If you already bought all the previous components, you may want to do a few tests before buying anything else for your Raspberry Pi
No problem, you don’t need it now

Personally, I’m using a Rii Bluetooth Keyboard (this one exactly)
I really like it because it’s wireless, I only need one thing (mouse+keyboard), and I use only one USB port for it
But if you will use your Raspberry Pi 4 as a desktop PC, I rather recommend taking a classic keyboard (this one from Logitech is a good choice for example)

Raspberry Pi operating systems

Once you know which hardware to buy, it’s time to learn more about the operating systems you can use on Raspberry Pi
No, Raspberry Pi is not made for Windows or macOS. You can mainly use dedicated Linux systems
That’s not so complicated, even for beginners there are several graphical operating systems available

NOOBS

“Beginners should start with NOOBS” The Raspberry Pi Foundation

As the name suggests, NOOBS is a tool for beginner
It helps you to install your first operating system with a graphic installer

If you buy a kit, the SD card will often come with NOOBS preloaded
So, just put it in your Raspberry Pi and boot to start the installation
A menu like this will shows up to select the operating system you want to install:

If you don’t have NOOBS on your SD Card, you can download it here
As soon as you know how to flash a SD card (probably with your next installation), NOOBS is not the faster way to try a new OS

Raspbian Desktop

raspbian buster desktop

Raspbian is the default system on Raspberry Pi
Developed from Debian by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, it brings the best compatibility with your Raspberry Pi.
Raspbian Desktop is the graphic edition of this distribution. As you can see on the picture, it’s not Windows, but you won’t need to use commands in a black screen

Raspbian Desktop comes with a tool to configure everything (language settings, Wi-Fi, password and do the first updates)
Once done, you can start to use your favorite applications from the main menu (top left)

Here is my tutorial on how to install Raspbian on Raspberry Pi

Raspbian Lite

Raspbian Lite is the black screen alternative to Raspbian Desktop 🙂
You’ll probably try it one day or another, but it’s definitively not the right version to use as a beginner

If you are a Linux expert, you can follow the previous link to know how to install it
But I don’t know if it’s the best start either, you can always use a terminal or SSH console in Raspbian Desktop if you need to use commands temporarily

Other operating systems

best operating system on raspberry pi

Once you have played with Raspbian enough, you can try many other operating systems, for different purposes
I have made a top selection that you can read here on RaspberryTips, so you’ll not waste your time trying dozens of images that don’t work on Raspberry Pi

Extra Resources

After reading the previous parts, you already know the basics to take a good start
I have written over 100 tutorials on this website on different topics, so it may be complicated to find the following pieces in your adventure
I will resume here the most important articles to read once you have your Raspberry Pi

It will also give you an overview of what you can do with your new device

Operating systems

I have tested many operating systems on this website, so take the time to read these posts:

Useful software

Same thing for the apps you can install on Raspberry Pi:

Tips

As the name of the website suggests :), I also often write new tips for Raspberry Pi beginners:

Programming

The Raspberry Pi was designed to learn programming at school, so you can also use it for this
Here are a few examples with Python:

Gaming

A Raspberry Pi is also often used to play games (retro-games in general)
Here are a few tutorials to get started:

Courses

Finally, if you are serious about Raspberry Pi, the best decision you can take is to look for a course that will explain everything you need to know from A-Z

Dozens of courses are available, from 0 to over $500
I have a selection of my favorite online courses here, please read this before making your choice

Conclusion

That’s it, I think you have everything you need here to get a good start on Raspberry Pi, whatever your current level
If you have any question in the early stages of your Raspberry Pi adventure, feel free to leave a comment below, I will do my best to help you

One thought on “Is Raspberry Pi easy to learn?

  1. Easy? No, not really. But it’s a relatively quick learning curve. Take in bite-size chomps, and it will feel easier than you think.

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