Raspberry Pi OS Lite

To get a minimal install of Raspberry Pi OS download the Raspberry Pi OS (32-bit) Lite image.

This tutorial is done using 2020-08-20-raspios-buster-armhf-lite.zip

Burn the image to the SD card with balenaEtcher

If your using a Debian based OS you can install and have it on the menu.

  • Add Etcher debian repository

echo "deb https://deb.etcher.io stable etcher" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/balena-etcher.list
  • Trust Bintray.com’s GPG key

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkps://keyserver.ubuntu.com:443 --recv-keys 379CE192D401AB61
  • Update and install

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install balena-etcher-electron
  • Burn the image to the SD card with Etcher

Insert the SD card and connect a mouse, keyboard and monitor to the Raspberry Pi and boot up. After the screen stops scrolling you will need to log in. The user name is pi and the password is raspberry. At this point you have an Operating System (OS) but nothing else.

Setting up the Raspberry Pi OS

First some settings need to be changed using raspi-config. After booting up and logging in type in the following.

sudo raspi-config

Use the Up/Down arrow keys to move in a menu and the tab key to move between menus and the spacebar to select options. The following are for the US, adjust as needed for your country.

  • Network Options

    • Hostname set the name you want to be visible on the LAN

  • Localisation Options

    • Change Locale to en_US ISO8859-1 tab to Ok and press Enter

    • Default Locale en_US tab to Ok and press Enter

    • Time Zone, Select US then your time zone.

    • Change Keyboard Layout

      • Generic 104-key PC

      • Other, then English (US)

      • English (US) for the keyboard layout

      • The default for the keyboard layout

      • No Compose key

    • Change WLAN Country to US

  • Interfacing Options Enable the following

    • SSH

  • Advanced Options

    • Expand File System

Finish and Reboot

Setup the User

To change the user from pi to yourself you first have to create a temporary user and log in as that user. You can’t change pi while logged in as pi.

At the Rpi log in as user pi with the password raspberry

If you have another PC connected to a LAN you can now work from that PC via SSH. At the Rpi type in hostname -I to find out the IP address of the Rpi.

To SSH from another Linux PC on the LAN

ssh pi@192.168.n.nnn replace n's with your Rpi's address

If not using SSH then you will have to do this on the Rpi.

sudo adduser pia

set the password and press enter until you get the is this correct then y

Allow the new user to run sudo by adding the user to sudo group:

sudo adduser pia sudo

Reboot the Rpi

sudo reboot

On the Rpi log in as pia with your password

If your doing this from another PC on the LAN ssh back in as pia

ssh pia@192.168.n.nnn

Change the user name of pi to your user name in my case it’s john sudo usermod -l newUsername oldUsername

sudo usermod -l john pi

Change the home directory name to your name again for me it’s john

sudo usermod -d /home/newHomeDir -m newUsername

sudo usermod -d /home/john -m john

Update the password to your favorite password

sudo passwd john

Reboot the Rpi

sudo reboot

On the Rpi log in as your new user name

If your doing this from another Linux PC with the same user name ssh back in as you by just using the IP address

ssh 192.168.n.nnn

Delete temporary user and folder

sudo deluser pia
sudo rm -r /home/pia

Update everything

sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt clean

You can now setup auto login

sudo raspi-config
  • System Options

    • Boot / auto Login

      • Console Autologin

Finish and Reboot

At this point we have an up to date OS with nothing else.

Static IP Address

If you want to have the same IP address on the Rpi

Find the IP of the router with

ip r | grep default
default via dev enp5s0 proto dhcp metric 100

Now edit dhcpcd.conf

sudo nano /etc/dhcpcd.conf

Change the following lines to the address you want and remove the #

# Example static IP configuration:
#interface eth0
#static ip_address=
#static ip6_address=fd51:42f8:caae:d92e::ff/64
#static routers=
#static domain_name_servers= fd51:42f8:caae:d92e::1

# Example static IP configuration:
interface eth0
static ip_address=
#static ip6_address=fd51:42f8:caae:d92e::ff/64
static routers=
#static domain_name_servers= fd51:42f8:caae:d92e::1

Ctrl x then y then enter to save. Reboot to apply and log back in at the Rpi.

User bin Directory

To add a bin directory and make .bashrc add that to the path so any executables you place in the /home/username/bin will run from the command line or as a program you need to edit the /home/username/.bashrc file. From the users home directory open a terminal and do the following.

ls -a

If bin is not there add it

mkdir bin
nano ~/.bashrc

Add the following to the end of the file

# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
if [ -d "$HOME/bin" ] ; then

# set PATH so it includes user's private bin if it exists
if [ -d "$HOME/.local/bin" ] ; then

Press Ctrl X then y then enter to save the changes

Install OpenBox

From either a SSH connection or on the Rpi.

Install Xorg, Xinit and X11 Utilities

sudo apt install --no-install-recommends xserver-xorg xinit x11-xserver-utils

Install Openbox LXTerminal LightDM

sudo apt install openbox lxterminal lightdm

Auto Login

sudo raspi-config
  • System Options

    • Boot / Auto Login

      • Desktop Autologin Desktop GUI

Finish and Reboot

Install the OpenBox menu configuration tool which must be ran on the Rpi4 and not from SSH

sudo apt install obmenu

Remove any unused packages with

sudo apt update
sudo apt autoremove
sudo apt clean

While we are cleaning up lets delete all the empty directories with

find . -type d -empty -delete

Finally reboot and the Rpi should log you in automaticly.

sudo reboot

After the reboot you will be at a completly blank screen if your logged in.

Right click in the Rpi to open a terminal and test that you have the path set to include your bin directory. Look for /home/your name/bin in the path

echo $PATH
/home/john/bin:/usr/local/sbin:... lots of paths

Right click and the menu pops up. Press Ctrl + Alt + Right or Left Arrow keys to switch desktops. Alt Tab to switch between running programs.

Start a GUI program at bootup

Add an autostart file

sudo nano /etc/xdg/openbox/autostart

Add the full path of the program followed by a space and an ampersand

/home/john/bin/coop &

Ctrl x the y then enter to save

Reboot and your program should start at boot up.

Disable DPMS Screen Blanking

To completely disable DPMS X11 screen blanking, add the following to a file in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-monitor.conf

First check to see if the directory /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d exists with

ls /etc/X11

If xorg.conf.d is not there create it with

sudo mkdir /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d

Now create the file 10-monitor.conf

sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-monitor.conf

Add the following

Section "ServerFlags"
                Option "BlankTime" "0"
                Option "StandbyTime" "0"
                Option "SuspendTime" "0"
                Option "OffTime" "0"
                Option "NoPM" "true"

Ctrl x then y then enter to save the file Reboot

Check whether the screen blanking has been disabled with this command on the Rpi not via SSH:

xset q

To be able to login without having to type in a password you need to create a SSH key and copy it to the remote PC.

ssh-keygen creates the public and private keys. ssh-copy-id copies the local-host’s public key to the remote-host’s authorized_keys file. ssh-copy-id also assigns proper permission to the remote-host’s home, ~/.ssh, and ~/.ssh/authorized_keys.

First see if you already have a SSH key on the local PC with the following command.

ls -al ~/.ssh/id_*.pub

If you have a key skip to the next step if not create one now with


Copy the key to the remote PC with the following command assuming both PC’s have the same user name. Change the IP address to match your remote PC’s IP address