Headlessly booting a raspberry pi

I got a Raspberry Pi yesterday. Additionally I ordered a case. Here’s how it looks like,

chronodekar's Raspberry Pi in its case

chronodekar’s Raspberry Pi in its case

For better or worse, the television in my house was in-use. The family seems to consider watching soap operas more important than letting me test out my new gadget. Which left me with one option – to try and boot it headlessly. i.e. without a connected display.

The official raspberry pi downloads page has links to multiple images that could be loaded onto the Pi. I selected Arch Linux ARM because it was the smallest of the lot (in terms of filesize).

Step 1 was to download the Win32 Disk Imager utility and install it.

Step 2 meant plugging in a SD-card and writing the IMG file to it. The official recommendation is to use a 4GB (or more) SD card. I didn’t have a 4GB SD card with me. Heck, I didn’t even have any SD card with me! What I did have was a microSD to SD adapter and a 2GB microSD card. For the Arch Linux image I downloaded, it was enough – at least, Win32DiskImager didn’t make any complaints about it.

Step 3, I connected the Pi (via LAN cable) to my home network.

Step 4; I logged into my router (the device which handles DHCP address allocations) and made a note of all the devices currently plugged into the network (It was a very small list).

Step 5; The USB power-cable was plugged into the Pi and I saw the on-board lights go up. They blinked for some time and stopped.

Step 6; Back to my router. A simple comparison told me which IP was newly assigned. It could only be the Raspberry Pi!

Step 7; A simple ping test (targeting the Pi) revealed that the network was working properly.

Step 8; Using LePutty, I SSH’d into the Pi. Voila! Job done!

I haven’t quite decided what to do with my new Raspberry, but for now I’m looking around for instructions on how to cross-compile a custom IMG file (similar to the Arch Linux IMG I downloaded) to use instead. Think I might rig it up as a web server or something …

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