Raspberry Pi supports several Linux distributions. Most of the time, you just need to flash the system image to an SD card, insert that SD card into your Raspberry Pi and start running it. However, this does not apply to Ubuntu. Installing Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi was a chore, with the need to create an Ubuntu SSO account before downloading the Ubuntu Core image.
Fortunately, with the release of the Raspberry Pi Imager tool, installing Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi is now very easy. You will learn in this article how to flash an Ubuntu image on your Raspberry Pi.
Introducing the Raspberry Pi Imager
In March 2020, the Raspberry Pi Official Foundation released the Raspberry Pi Imager tool. It is a simple tool that downloads a list of the different operating systems that you can use with your Raspberry Pi.
Simply select an image from the list and the Raspberry Pi imager will read the relevant files from the Foundation’s website and save them directly to your SD card, without having to worry about finding the correct system image and download to your hard drive.
Let’s see how you can use this tool to install Ubuntu on your Raspberry Pi.
Install Ubuntu using the Raspberry Pi imager
If you have not already done so, go to the Raspberry Pi Foundation website and download the correct version of Raspberry Pi imager for your operating system.
Once the Raspberry Pi imager is installed:
1. Insert your SD card into your laptop or computer.
2. Launch the Raspberry Pi Imager application.
3. Click on “Choose the operating system”. The imager will now retrieve and display information on the various operating systems compatible with Raspberry Pi.
4. Since you want to install Ubuntu, select “Ubuntu”.
You can now choose from the latest Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) server images or Ubuntu Core images. At the time of this writing, the following images were available for Raspberry Pi:
- Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. 32-bit OS server for armhf architectures.
- Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. 64-bit OS server for arm64 architectures.
- Ubuntu Core 18. Ubuntu Core 18 32-bit IoT OS for armhf architectures.
- Ubuntu Core 18. Ubuntu Core 18 64-bit IoT OS for arm64 architectures.
Make sure to select an image compatible with your specific Raspberry Pi model.
5. Once you have made your choice, click on “Choose SD card” and select the SD card on which you want to write your system image.
6. Now, the only thing left to do is click on “Write” and wait for the Raspberry Pi imager to write the system image to your SD card.
Configure Ubuntu to automatically connect to Wi-Fi
Then, modify the image of the Ubuntu system on the SD card so that the Pi automatically connects to the Wi-Fi network:
1. Make sure your SD card is inserted in your laptop or computer. Launch a file management application and navigate to the SD card folder.
2. Open the “system-boot” partition, as it contains the configuration files that will be loaded when the Raspberry Pi starts.
3. Open the “network-config” file in a text editor.
4. Find the “wifis” section and uncomment everything in this section by removing the “#” at the beginning of each line.
The Wi-Fi section should now look like the image below.
You will need to update “hotspots” to reference the name of your Wi-Fi network. If the name contains spaces, be sure to surround it with quotes, for example:
Then replace “S3kr1t” with the password for your own Wi-Fi network.
Save this file and safely eject the SD card from your laptop or computer.
Now, every time you start your Raspberry Pi, it automatically connects to the network.
Using Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi
Connect your monitor and keyboard to the Raspberry Pi and turn it on. On the login screen, log into the default Ubuntu account: “ubuntu” for the user name and password.
Since this default connection is common knowledge, you will be prompted to replace the password with something more secure. To create a new password, follow the on-screen instructions.
Consider setting up a desk
Now you’ve noticed that Ubuntu doesn’t come with a graphical user interface (GUI), so you can only interact with your Raspberry Pi from the command line.
If you prefer to interact with your Pi in an office environment, you can install many offices:
First, update your Raspberry Pi:
You can then install your preferred desktop environment. For example:
Once you have installed your desktop environment, restart your Pi with the following command:
When your Raspberry Pi starts up, the desktop environment is ready to use.
Configure a headless Raspberry Pi
If you prefer to run your headless Pi, you may want to communicate with it via SSH.
To communicate via SSH, you must know the IP address of your Raspberry Pi. If you do not know the IP address of your Pi, there are several ways to retrieve this information for a headless Raspberry Pi:
- You can view information about all the devices connected to your network by logging into your router’s configuration page. In the address bar of your web browser, enter the IP address of your router, then log into your account.
Each router is different, but if you explore the different menus and sections, you should be able to find a record of all the devices connected to your router. Find your Raspberry Pi in the list, give it a click and you should have access to the Pi’s IP address.
Install this application on your smartphone, then select “Search for devices -> Devices”. You should now have a list of devices currently connected to your network.
Find your Raspberry Pi and write down its IP address.
Connection via SSH
Once you have the IP address of your Raspberry Pi, you are ready to connect via SSH.
On your computer, open a terminal and run the following command:
When prompted, enter the default Ubuntu password: “ubuntu”.
You are now connected to your Raspberry Pi and can start issuing commands via SSH.
As you can see, it’s easy to install Ubuntu on your Raspberry Pi using the new Imager application. If you are not interested in Ubuntu, you can also install FydeOS on Raspberry Pi or simply transform your Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi bridge.
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