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Raspberry Pi Beginners Guide
This guide is aimed at helping newcomers to the the Raspberry Pi (or Linux in general) get up and running with their fantastic new toy and move on to the fun stuff.
I'm going to assume you have the Model B (although most of this will work for Model A too - with the exception of the VNC setup) and some form of Windows.
We'll be installing the Raspbian "wheezy" Debian Linux distribution for Raspberry Pi. If your using the old "squeeze" distro then upgrade now! The Raspbian "wheezy" distribution is much faster.
What you need
You'll need the following bits and pieces:
A Raspberry Pi of course. Head over to Farnell/element14 or RS Components pick one up. I'd strongly recommend the Model B as this has an Ethernet port for easy access to your home network
A compatible SD Card. This is important, I had a few Class 6 Kingston cards and assumed they would work. They didn't. Checkout the list of compatible SD cards over at eLinux. Or buy a bundle with compatible card (some come with Linux pre-installed). Go for a 4GB card minimum.
Micro USB Power Cable. Any micro USB cable or phone charger will do, or pick one up when you purchase the Pi. You can power it from mains, computer USB port or even one of those portable USB power supplies!
TV/Monitor* with either HDMI or Composite in (HDMI highly recommended)
USB Keyboard and Mouse*.
* The TV/Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse are semi-optional. If you have the Model B Raspberry Pi we can remote desktop into the Pi from any Windows or Linux pc/laptop connected to the network. We'll just need the TV keyboard etc to do the initial setup.
We'll be using the Debian Raspbian "wheezy" Linux distribution here as it comes with a lot of examples and apps right out the box. Head over to the Raspberry Pi Downloads section to grab it.
You'll also need Win32 Disk Imager to write the downloaded image. Make sure you click on the right download and not one of the annoying ads made to look like the download (you should always stay on http://www.softpedia.com).
Unzip the Linux download
Run Win32DiskImager (if you have issues right click and run as Administrator)
Select the *.img image file you unzipped
Select SD card Drive (make sure its the SD Drive and not c: or any other drive you need)
Note: if you need to reuse the SD Card in Windows again you may find it can't be read or shows a very small capacity. If so you need to re-write the file system. I found the easiest way was to put the card into a digital camera and format from there. You should now be able to read the card in Windows.