Friday, 12 July 2013

Beginners Guide To Updating Your Raspberry Pi

The software associated with the Raspberry Pi is improved, modified and re-issued very frequently.


So even if you purchased your Pi with a pre-installed SD card, sooner or later you will want to update it.

These notes are aimed at those new to the Pi, and written for Raspbian, which is the main (recommended) operating system for the Pi.

Some Background Information

Raspbian is a Linux distribution based upon another distribution called Debian.

A Linux distribution may be loosely described as an operating system which uses the Linux kernel and includes software "packages". A package may contain anything from simple, low level commands to a full-blown office suite (e.g. word processor, spreadsheets & so on).

Different Linux distributions not only contain different combinations of default software packages, but also different Desktop Environments, and may use different methods of packaging and installing software (e.g. Debian & Raspbian use "Deb" packages, while Red Hat & Fedora use "RPMs").

The basic method for installing software packages on Raspbian (and Debian and Ubuntu) is to use the APT Package Handling Utility.

As an example, to install the games application known as "ace-of-penguins", open the terminal (menu Accessories > LXTerminal) and type:-
sudo apt-get install ace-of-penguins

....where sudo is the command to raise your user permissions (you need "admin" privileges to install applications)
    the apt-get command tells the package handler to get the package from an on-line repository
    the install argument tells apt to install the package.

Also note that Linux is case-sensitive, so Apt-Get won't work!

You can also use a graphical application called Synaptic to install packages, but on your Pi you may need to install this first, again using apt from terminal:-
sudo apt-get install synaptic

Once installed, Synaptic currently appears in the Preferences menu (...although it should be located under System Tools!)

Software - Firmware - Hardware

The term "Firmware" (as applied to a Raspberry Pi) basically covers hardware related code. The Pi has very specific hardware, therefore code (software) is required to deal with items such as the GPU (graphics processor unit).

You can check the current firmware version from the terminal by typing:-
uname -a

Pi firmware can be updated via a special package called "rpi-update". This may need to be installed on your system via terminal as follows:-
sudo apt-get install rpi-update

Now you can update by using the command:-
sudo rpi-update

This may take several minutes, and once completed you will need to reboot your Raspberry Pi for any changes to take affect.

Update Applications

To update and upgrade your Raspberry Pi applications and other software packages, simply type in terminal:-
sudo apt-get update

...and then:-
sudo apt-get upgrade

That's it, you're done!

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