Minimal Raspbian Installation

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Goal: Setup a minimal Raspbian setup without bloat. This was used before by starting with a minibian installation, but has been superseded by the availability of Raspbian lite images.

Setting up SD Card

  • Put image on SD Card (ADJUST /dev/sdX target to the correct block device!):
  • Stick SD Card in (duh)
dd bs=4M if=2020-02-13-raspbian-buster-lite.img of=/dev/sdX status=progress
dd bs=4M if=2020-02-13-raspbian-buster-lite.img | pv | dd bs=4M of=/dev/sdX

Connecting to the Pi

By default Raspbian will get an IP on ethernet.

You do not have a screen

  • Don't remove the SD card from computer
  • Refresh partition table (use partprobe on Linux, on FreeBSD it should not be needed, and no idea for the rest)
  • mount the first partition from the SD card (adjust paths!):
sudo mount /dev/sdc1 /media/stuff              # Linux
sudo mount -t msdosfs /dev/da2s1 /media/stuff  # FreeBSD
  • Create an empty file called ssh inside /media/stuff/:
sudo touch /media/stuff/ssh
  • Unmount the partition
sudo umount /media/stuff
  • Insert SD, Power the RPi, wait for crazy blinking to stop
  • Figure out what is your RPi IP address (adjust mask to reflect own network), using one of these methods:
nmap -sP    # adjust network mask, the RPi's default name is raspberrypi
arp -na | grep -i b8:27:eb  # list arp entries, filter MAC addresses of RPi vendor (up to RPi3 included)
arp -na | grep -i dc:a6:32  # list arp entries, filter MAC addresses of RPi vendor (RPi4 and more)
  • ssh in RPi (passwd is raspberry)
ssh pi@192.168.1.XXX

You have a screen and keyboard

  • Insert SD, Power the RPi, the IP will is displayed in the console at the end of the boot process. However you need to enable sshd first.
  • log into the console with pi:raspberry
  • start raspi-config tool
sudo raspi-config
  • In interfacing options, enable SSH
  • Exit raspi-config
  • If you did not take note of the IP yet, you can always do:
ifconfig eth0 | grep inet
  • ssh in RPi (passwd is raspberry)
ssh pi@192.168.1.XXX

Base system

All this stuff as root:

  • Change hostname
echo "BMO" > /etc/hostname
hostname -F /etc/hostname
  • In /etc/hosts, replace raspberrypi with BMO
  • don't bloat the system
echo -e 'APT::Install-Recommends "0";\nAPT::Install-Suggests "0";' > /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/90norecommend
  • update system
apt update
apt upgrade
  • update to latest kernel (nowadays discouraged, only use if you need a pre-release kernel)
apt install rpi-update
  • what time is it
dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

Comfy environment (optional)

Now you can install all your comfy l33t command line tools and whatnot, fav editors, etc. This is just an example, YMMV:

  • comfy tools and stuff
ln -s /usr/bin/vim.tiny /usr/bin/vim
apt install tmux git


Well done, you now have a minimal RPi installation, the guideline stops here, anything past this point is just a matter of what the RPi will be used for.