Found a Raspberry Pi in your Christmas stocking this morning? Read on!

We’re taking some time off over the Christmas break to spend some time with our families – we’ll be back again on Jan 4!

If you woke up this morning to find a Raspberry Pi stuffed into your Christmas stocking then you’ve come to the right place. Hurrah! (And if—like mine—your stocking contained a desiccated satsuma, Captain Pugwash bubble bath, and a pack of “Root Vegetable” Top Trumps then you are equally welcome.)

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With a Raspberry Pi computer you can build robots, observe wildlife, make music, learn to program, hack Minecraft and generally create amazing things. The Raspberry Pi is also special because you have to tell it what to do, not the other way round. You are in charge and it’s a brilliantly different experience to using a laptop or tablet. So before I go to bed this Christmas morning I thought I’d share a few tips to get you started:

1. Get the latest software

All computers and digital devices need an operating system to tell them how to work. The Raspberry Pi uses a free operating system called Raspbian and it’s really important that you are running the latest version. Download it here.

2. Plug it in and start it up

Our Help pages have full instructions to get up and running, along with lots of other advice for using your Pi. (You can ignore the bit about logging in at the end if you have the latest version of Raspbian.)

If you have any issues setting up your Raspberry Pi that aren’t answered in the Help section then please visit our forums. Our forum members are a very friendly bunch and will help you with any problems. The FAQ also has lots of tips and useful information.

A word on powering your Pi

Do make sure that you have a good quality power supply. Some cheaper supplies do not output the power that they claim. Any quality smartphone charger, for example, rated 2A and above would be perfect (raid the kitchen drawers!)

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3. It’s plugged in. It’s running. It’s awesome! Now what?

Because the Raspberry Pi is a general purpose computer, you can do loads of stuff with it. But because it’s also small and light and doesn’t use much power, you can do even more amazing things. For younger Pi People we recommend Carrie Anne Philbin’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi, which will get you set up and making cool stuff in no time. Otherwise take a look at the book section of our recommended Christmas gifts. (In fact have a look at the whole post—it’s got some great ideas!)

4. Additional resources and projects

Our lovely and free resources show you how to do everything from making games to composing music;  from making time lapse movies to the basics of programming.

The MagPi magazine is full of tutorials, fun projects, creative ideas, and community love. It’s free and quite excellent.

If you are still stuck for inspiration then have a trawl through our blog, which is an inspiring read and will get you thinking, “Wow! I’m going to have a go at that!”

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5. And finally…

Merry Christmas! After a very busy year we’re taking some time off to spend with our families and we’ll be back in a few days.

Come and talk to us and our wonderful community on the forums if you get stuck. Above all: have fun and make cool stuff! See you soon.