The Raspberry Pi is a superb microcomputer designed to help people learn about computing. Rather than a fully contained computer, like the Apple Mac, the Raspberry Pi is just a bare-bones board that you can hack into all kinds of electronics projects, but it offers huge potential at a price that’s manageable for kids, students and amateur enthusiasts.
For just £30, it’s no wonder that the Raspberry Pi has sold so well (it’s currently the biggest-selling British computer). The latest model, the Raspberry Pi 3, features a much faster processor as well as on-board Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It doesn’t have a hard drive, however. Instead, you install the operating system directly on to an Micro SD Card and insert this into the Raspberry Pi. Several different operating systems are available, but most users opt for Raspbian (the recommended OS).
To set up Raspbian on a Raspberry Pi, you’ll need a computer – a proper, conventional computer – to begin with. This is where Mac OS X steps in. It’s really easy to set up a Raspberry Pi 3 using OS X on a Mac. You use OS X to format the SD Card, download Raspbian from the Raspberry Pi foundation and install the files on to the SD Card. This can then be plugged into the Raspberry Pi and booted.
There are two ways to set up Raspbian on a Mac. The first is to use NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software) and the second is to use the “dd” command in Terminal. In this simple tutorial we’ll look at both options.