I neither have a micro HDMI adapter nor a dedicated display for the Pi. I just want to use it as a server. Thanks to Raspbian for providing a simple way to auto-enable SSH on boot!

I prefer the leaner, manual approach over NOOBS, the more popular option.

  1. dd Raspbian’s image on to a new SD card
  2. To auto-start SSH service on boot touch ssh in /boot partition
  3. Insert SD card, connect ethernet cable (RJ-45) and boot
    • Check IP address assigned to RPi from your router’s portal
  4. ssh -l pi IP
    • Change default password (raspberry) with passwd
    • sudo apt update
    • sudo apt upgrade
  5. Use raspi-config and setup
    • Locale
    • Wi-Fi country code
      • Needed to abide by your country’s wireless laws
      • Radio device may not work properly if not done
    • Wi-Fi (SSID and password)
    • Enable SSH (for good measure)
    • Check systemctl is-enabled sshd
    • Make sure wireless isn’t soft-blocked: rfkill list and rfkill unblock wifi
  6. Unplug ethernet and wireless should work now
    • Use ifconfig to know your Mac address
    • eth0/wlan0 interfaces that’re up have inet (IP address) populated
  7. Use raspi-config and enable VNC
    • Setup VNC password: sudo vncpasswd -service
    • Boot into Desktop instead of Console in System Options -> Boot / Auto Login
    • Make sure to select a resolution under Display Options -> Resolution
    • For macOS Screen Sharing to work, make /etc/vnc/config.d/common.custom with Authentication=VncAuth
    • sudo reboot -n
    • Check VNC server status: systemctl status vncserver-x11-serviced
    • You should be able to VNC to your Pi by first giving the VNC password and then pi’s password
  8. Install Firefox: sudo apt install firefox-esr
    • sudo update-alternatives --config x-www-browser

Another interesting alternative to Raspbian is DietPi (also Debian based), comes with a bunch of software optimized for the Pi.


  1. SSH (Secure Shell)
  2. The Ultimate Guide to the Raspi-Config Tool
  3. Headless VncServer Configuration
  4. How to start GUI with startx command