Raspberry PI is a credit card sized mini computer and is a fantastic tool for kids to study computers, learning programming languages(Python, C,etc) and playing with electronic circuits. Adults find Raspberry PI fun as well, there are thousands of creative ideas on home automation, robot toys, home entertainment server,etc.

I bought a Raspberry PI 3 model B recently (Feb 2017) and below are some of my notes on configuring such as tiny computer(it’s actually much larger than a credit card) without a monitor and keyboard for the first time:

  1. Use Raspbian. On the official website , NOOBS is recommended but my advice is write a Raspbian image directly. NOOBS is pretty much a wrapper for Raspbian and personally I don’t see much value of it. It gave me a lot of trouble when I configured the PI first time without a monitor and keyboard.
  2. Write image. Follow the installation steps on the official website. I used Windows to burn image on my SD card so downloaded the tool called Win32DiskImager
  3. create a file called “ssh” under root. As of Dec 2016, as an enhanced security feature, SSH is disabled by default. To enable headless installation, this file however must be present. Simply create a file called “ssh” and put it  under root folder on your SD card. A big lesson I learned is that this solution doesn’t work for NOOBS image.(It took me hours of writing image/researching the Internet and finally came to this conclusion!)
  4. Plug the PI into a router with cable. By doing this, the PI will get a internal IP address that you can use to connect to. There are some on-line articles saying you could use a Ethernet cable and connect to your Windows machine, I tried but as long as the PI starts, it won’t get a 192.168.137.x address for some reason. It could get such an IP address under NOOBS however you cannot SSH so this solution doesn’t work anymore.
  5. SSH to the ip. You can find the PI’s ip by logging into your router.
  6. Once logged in, use following command
sudo raspi-config


a. enlarge file system (it seems this is already done)

b. enable ssh server

c. enable vnc server

d. upgrade to latest (because now it’s connected to Internet already)

7. Now you can

sudo reboot

so the enlarged file system can take effect

8 Now after reboot, log into the PI to setup wifi

All done, and if you follow the above steps, it will probably just take about 1 hour(including burning Raspbian to your SD card).

Have Fun!


Raspberry Pi headless setup (without monitor and keyboard)
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