World 1-3: How to Install an OS on a Raspberry Pi

Hello everyone,

Continuing from where we left off yesterday, today I am going to explain how to easily install a (single) Operating System onto a Raspberry Pi. We’ll cover dual-booting in another post.

Okay, you’ve probably read this a thousand times on the internet by now, but the Raspberry Pi is a cool little computer. It is small, adaptive and packs quite a punch. One of the cool things about this computer is that the operating system runs entirely off of an SD Micro card.


SD Card vs. SD Micro Card

Also, because the OS  runs entirely off of this card, you are actually able to swap out OS’s from different (compatible) Pi’s. This means if you break your hardware, you can simply re-enter the SD Micro card into a new Pi and continue like nothing happened. It also means you can easily save backups of your SD Micro card to a computer, in case anything ever goes wrong on the software side of things. I learned that lesson the hard way!

Anyway, there are actually multiple ways to install an OS on your new Raspberry Pi.

The easiest way is by using either NOOBS or PINN.  Once the NOOBS or PINN files have been downloaded, you simply drop them onto the root of your SD Micro card and plug it into the Pi. Some Raspberry Pi starter sets come with an SD Micro card with NOOBS pre-installed. Once your Pi turns on, these programs will let you select which operating systems you would like to install.


NOOBS allows you to easily select and install Operating Systems for Raspberry Pi.

If you choose to use the Lite version of NOOBS or PINN, you’ll also need to connect to a WiFi network, so it can install the most up-to-date version of the operating system you choose. This can be done by clicking the WiFi networks (n) button at the top.

Once the new Operating System is installed,  NOOBS or PINN will let you know with a pop-up and then load the new Operating System for you. Then you are good to go!

Another option is to install the Operating System yourself. Certain Operating Systems, such as OpenElec and RetroPie, will have you download an image of their system that you then write onto your SD Micro card. I do this with a program called Win32 Disk Imager. After saving the respective file to your computer, open Win32 Disk Imager and find the file you saved. Then, after confirming you have the correct Device/drive letter, click “write”. This will erase everything currently on the SD Micro card and install a fresh version of the OS you want.

Win32 Disk Imager

This program allows you to quickly read from or write to an SD Micro card. Good for making backups and image copies!

Lastly, once an Operating System has been installed onto your SD card, your computer will not be able to accurately show you how much free space the card currently has. This is due to the way the space on the card has been allocated and is not an indicator that the card is broken. 🙂

Anyway, let me know if you have any question! Until next time!


One thought on “World 1-3: How to Install an OS on a Raspberry Pi

  1. Pingback: World 1-4 (part 1): How to install multiple OS’s on RPi – RetroCustoms

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