Getting started with NOOBS on the Raspberry Pi

We recently had a query from a customer who was having trouble setting up his Raspberry Pi with NOOBS. While investigating this issue, it occurred to us that there were a number of common pitfalls which can catch out the unwary; including, sometimes,  ourselves.

So, here are a number of things to watch out for when installing an operating system on your Pi using the NOOBS distribution.

There’s plenty of information about installing NOOBS on your Raspberry Pi at the Raspberry Pi website:-

However, one of the things that caught us out, and is not immediately obvious from reading the installation instructions, is that it is important to have your Pi connected to the internet when you attempt your install.

If you don’t have an internet connection, you’ll only have the option of installing the Raspbian operating system, as this will be the only operating system listed.

Provided that you have an internet connection, however, you should find a list of operating systems to choose from; and NOOBS will download these as required from the internet. These should include:-

  • Raspbian
  • OpenElec
  • OSMC
  • Arch Linux
  • Pidora
  • Risc OS

Another thing to watch out for is if you are writing your own image to your SD card having downloaded it from the internet. Instructions on how to do this can be found at the following web link:-

In order to write an image to SD card, it will be necessary to first format the card using a utility such as SDFormatter:-

When formatting your SD card, ensure that you select the option:-

Format Size Adjustment = ON

This is because, one of the first things that the NOOBS setup will attempt to do is to resize the FAT partition on the SD card. If you have not allowed Format Size Adjustment, the NOOBS install may fail if it is unable to resize the FAT partition.

Another thing to remember is that once you have installed a particular operating system, the Pi will always boot straight into that operating system. However, it is still possible to interrupt the boot sequence by holding down the ‘shift’ key when you see the initial setup screen. This will take you to recovery mode and will give you the option to choose to install a different operating system should you wish to do so,