Cheat Sheet

Raspberry Pi For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Raspberry Pi For Dummies by Sean McManus, Mike Cook

The Raspberry Pi is perhaps the most inspiring computer available today. It comes with the tools you need to start making your own software, and you can connect your own electronic inventions to it. It's different from other computers you've used, however, so it can take a little time to get started with it. These tips show you how to discover and install great free software on your Raspberry Pi and how to fix common problems in your Raspberry Pi setup.

How to Install Games and Other Software on the Raspberry Pi

Lots of free Linux software is available for the Raspberry Pi, and you can install it in two different ways. The most obvious and user-friendly is to use the Pi Store in the desktop environment, but a much wider range of software is available if you use the Linux shell.

Here's how you can find, download, and install software packages using the shell:

  1. Log in to your Raspberry Pi, but don't enter the desktop environment.

    Alternatively, if you're in the desktop environment, double-click the LXTerminal icon to open a shell session.

  2. The first step in installing software is to update the repository, which is the list of packages the package manager knows about. You do that by entering the following command: sudo apt-get update

  3. The apt cache contains an index of all the software packages available, and you can search it to find the software you want. For example, you can find all the games by using sudo apt-cache search game | less

    From this listing, find a package you want to install. Each line has the name of a package, a hyphen, and then a description of the package.

  4. Use the up and down cursor keys (or Page Up and Page Down keys) to move through the list of files. Press Q to finish browsing the list.

    In the listing, the bit before the hyphen tells you the name of the package, which is what you need to know to be able to install it. That might not be the same as the game's title or its popular name.

  5. When you know the name of the package you would like to install, the following command downloads it from the Internet and installs it, together with any other packages it needs to work correctly (known as dependencies): sudo apt-get install penguinspuzzle.

    The last bit (penguinspuzzle) is the name of a package found by searching the cache.

Your software is now installed! You should be able to run it either from the shell by entering its name (for example, penguinspuzzle), or through your Programs menu in the desktop environment.

Fixing Common Problems with the Raspberry Pi

If you're experiencing problems with your Raspberry Pi, this quick troubleshooting checklist, adapted from Raspberry Pi For Dummies, can help. You can try any of these solutions at any time, but if you follow these steps in this order (more or less), you can minimize expense and hassle.

  1. Be patient.

    When your Raspberry Pi is busy, it can appear to be unresponsive, so you might think it's crashed. Often, if you wait, it recovers when it finishes its tasks.

  2. Restart your Raspberry Pi.

    Very occasionally, the machine might crash in a way that's a complete mystery.A simple reset can sometimes do the trick. To reset, unplug the power, pause a moment, and then plug it back in.

  3. Check your connections.

    Switch off your Raspberry Pi and make sure that all your cables are firmly fixed in the right sockets.

  4. Check that your SD card is inserted correctly.

    If your Raspberry Pi's red PWR light comes on, but the green OK light does not flicker or light, the Raspberry Pi is having difficulty using the SD card. In this instance, check that the SD card is correctly inserted.

  5. Disconnect peripherals.

    If the Pi works fine without anything connected, use the process of elimination (connecting devices one at a time and restarting) to identify which one is causing problems.

  6. Try new peripherals.

    If possible, try a new keyboard, mouse, and USB hub, ideally chosen from the list of devices at that are known to work with the Raspberry Pi. Many of the problems people experience are the result of using incompatible devices, so replacing the keyboard, mouse, and USB hub can resolve a wide range of apparently different problems.

  7. Try new cables.

    Especially if you're having problems with the network connection and audio or visual output, try using new cables to rule out faulty cables as the cause of the problem.

  8. Try a new screen.

    If you can't see anything on the screen, but the Raspberry Pi appears to be powering up (the red light comes on and the green light flickers), try connecting to a different monitor or TV.

  9. Update your software.

    Assuming your Internet connection is working, you can update the operating system and other software on your Raspberry Pi (without overwriting any of your work files) using the Linux command sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade.

  10. Try a new SD card image.

    If that fails, try downloading the latest SD card image and flashing it to an SD card. To rule out any faults in the specific SD card you're using, use a new SD card.

  11. Try a new power supply.

    This is probably hardest to do, but it's important because dodgy power has been reported to cause a wide range of problems. If you have a friend with a Raspberry Pi and theirs works fine, try using their power supply to see whether it fixes the issues you're seeing on yours. Alternatively, you might need to buy a new power supply.

  12. Check online for a solution.

    See the troubleshooting guide at, search the forums at, or search the web with Google for a solution. You're highly likely to find that someone else has already overcome any difficulties you encounter.

blog comments powered by Disqus