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framp
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Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:20 pm

Everybody starting with a Raspberry has to install an OS which usually is Raspbian. Either you search in the net and finally open https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/ which offers to download and install NOOBs in the first place. I also noticed most HW sellers of a Raspberry sell a SD card primed with NOOBs even there is Raspbian available.

NOOBs is nice to evaluate different OS available for a Raspberry. But I see a lot of Raspberry beginners who have issues caused by NOOBs and ask for help. Most of the times they are told to throw away NOOBs and install Raspbian because they have issues caused by the special design of NOOBs which nobody knows about and cannot help. There are a lot of people out there which are willing to help Raspberry beginners and they know Raspbian very well.

I'm wondering why NOOBs is the primary OS suggested to Raspberry beginners given the fact people which use NOOBS do not get much support from the huge Raspberry community willing to help on every Raspberry related issue but stay away from any issue on NOOBs.
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:35 pm

NOOBS originally solved some beginner problems. First, it doesn't require installing special software on another system (though at the time, it required having a suitable unzip program). Second, it eliminated the potential risk of wiping out the boot disk of the system used to write the SD card. Third, a simple file copy was generally deemed something anyone could do without qualms.

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:50 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:35 pm
NOOBS originally solved some beginner problems. First, it doesn't require installing special software on another system (though at the time, it required having a suitable unzip program). Second, it eliminated the potential risk of wiping out the boot disk of the system used to write the SD card. Third, a simple file copy was generally deemed something anyone could do without qualms.
All valid reasons, but also all past tense.

NOOBS today causes more problems and confusion than it solves, especially when it comes to preloaded cards and new hardware releases.

The best answer to this I got once was that "the higher ups have their reasons"** and that's all I was told.

** might not have been those exact words.
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:22 am

framp wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:20 pm
I'm wondering why NOOBs is was the primary OS suggested to Raspberry beginners ...
1. PINN hadn't been invented / forked from NOOBS
2. A user who has only ever used Windows should be able to create a NOOBS bootable SDCard using tools that are built in to Windows
This was predicated by
2.a. 8GB SDCards or smaller being A-OK for Raspbian
2.b. Windows < 10 being commonly used
2.c. Linux on the desktop being rarer than a rare thing on a rare day
3. Etcher hadn't been invented
4. The SDCard imaging tool (Win32DiskImager) was ugly and could wipe out your Windows system if used wrong
5. The SDCard formatting tool (V4) worked to reset an 8GB SDCard
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:31 am

It is a challenge posed by the Foundation to stop the unmotivated from using the Pi.

To install either `NOOBS` or `Raspbian` you need access to a computer with a SD Card writer; `NOOBS` installation requires more steps and is slower than installing `Raspbian` and wastes SD Card space for the installer.
You can purchase a pre-installed `NOOBS` SD card from many retailers which is suitable for those without a computer with a SD Card writer, but REQUIRES a screen (or TV) and keyboard (and preferably a mouse).

What is NOOBS?
New Out Of the Box Software (NOOBS) is not a conventional Operating System (OS) - it is an Operating System installer which is (allegedly) easy for beginners to use.
  • `NOOBS` enables users to install/re-install one or many OS and to configure which OS boots by default.
  • `NOOBS` contains `Raspbian` and LibreELEC. It also provides a selection of alternative operating systems which can then be downloaded from the internet and installed.
Raspbian vs NOOBS
If you only want to run `Raspbian` (the officially supported Raspberry Pi OS) there is no benefit is using `NOOBS`.
`Raspbian` can be set up to run in headless mode (without a screen or keyboard) - this is not possible with `NOOBS`.
Once setup `NOOBS` enables the user to install/re-install OS directly on the Raspberry Pi without any other computer access (but does require a network connection).

`NOOBS` does permit multi-boot, but if you want to do this I suggest you try PINN instead (this is an upgraded NOOBS which supports more OS and is a lot more flexible). On the other hand SD cards are cheap and 2 small cards are probably cheaper than 1 large card.

`PINN` comes without any included OS and requires a network connection for OS installation.

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:20 am

Just a few corrections are needed for completeness...
  • Both NOOBS and PINN come in FULL versions (with Raspbian and LibreELEC installation files included on the SD card) and LITE versions with no OSes included. The Lite versions take up less than 100MB of precious SD card space.
  • Both can also install OSes from a USB drive, so a network connection is not necessarily required (although PINN supports downloading the OS installation files to the USB drive to make this step much easier)
  • Both can also be used headlessly using VNC (although PINN also supports SSH for remote terminal access)
  • Now that Balena Etcher is available to flash SD cards more easily, PINN-lite is also available as an image file, which overcomes many of the initial problems of trying to install NOOBS/PINN such as formatting large SD cards as FAT32, or unzipping large zip files.
Refer to the link in my signature for more advantages of uing PINN over NOOBS.
PINN - NOOBS with the extras... https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=142574

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:31 am

procount wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:20 am
Just a few corrections are needed for completeness...

[*] Both can also be used headlessly using VNC (although PINN also supports SSH for remote terminal access)
My comment that NOOBS can NOT be setup without keyboard/screen. AFAIK the same is true of PINN.

I admit I haven't used either for some time, and certainly not setup from scratch.

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:43 am

Afaict there are two main reasons for NOOBs.

1. To allow a Pi SD card to be set up on a machine where you can't/shouldn't install software and/or don't have admin rights to acess raw disks.
2. To allow users who don't have the ability to write cards themselves a means to reset their system when they hose it up.

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:31 am

plugwash wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:43 am
1. To allow a Pi SD card to be set up on a machine where you can't/shouldn't install software and/or don't have admin rights to acess raw disks.
2. To allow users who don't have the ability to write cards themselves a means to reset their system when they hose it up.
But there's a problem with that, that I see.

Installing NOOBS requires one to unzip the file and then format an SD card, as per https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentati ... n/noobs.md
If you can't do this, you can't get NOOBS onto the card in the first place.

Additionally, if the user doesn't have administrative privileges to access raw discs, I don't see how they're going to format the card either.
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:07 am

plugwash wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:43 am
Afaict there are two main reasons for NOOBs.

1. To allow a Pi SD card to be set up on a machine where you can't/shouldn't install software and/or don't have admin rights to acess raw disks.
2. To allow users who don't have the ability to write cards themselves a means to reset their system when they hose it up.
This seems to be clutching at straws!

Because maybe 1% of potential users can't setup properly the Foundation gives poor advice to all beginners 😡

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:25 am

Milliways wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:07 am
plugwash wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:43 am
Afaict there are two main reasons for NOOBs.

1. To allow a Pi SD card to be set up on a machine where you can't/shouldn't install software and/or don't have admin rights to acess raw disks.
2. To allow users who don't have the ability to write cards themselves a means to reset their system when they hose it up.
This seems to be clutching at straws!

Because maybe 1% of potential users can't setup properly the Foundation gives poor advice to all beginners 😡
In my opinion the ability to reset the card to a working condition without access to another computer, using a card reader or needing a second card is the big deal. In a way NOOBS is not so much about beginners as people (typically children) who don't have the resources to own lots of extra stuff.

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:38 am

Milliways wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:31 am
My comment that NOOBS can NOT be setup without keyboard/screen. AFAIK the same is true of PINN.
During development, I setup PINN almost every day on a headless Pi that only has an Ethernet connection.
  • Copy PINN to SD card on PC.
  • Edit recovery.cmdline to add 'ssh forcetrigger vncshare'
  • Create blank ssh file
  • Copy wpa_supplicant.conf file if I want to use wifi)
  • (Insert SD card into Pi and boot PINN
  • Connect via VNC
  • Install Raspbian
  • Reboot into new Raspbian with ssh (and wifi) already enabled
  • SSH into Raspbian
  • Run raspiconfig to enable VNC
  • Connect to Raspbian via VNC
The same can be done with NOOBS - just replace 'vncshare' with 'vncinstall'.
PINN - NOOBS with the extras... https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=142574

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:07 pm

DougieLawson wrote: 5. The SDCard formatting tool (V4) worked to reset an 8GB SDCard
I'm confused. I wonder if this is an argument for NOOBS. Are there issues in the past, that SDCards could not be overwritten by an image file? The only advantage of formatting I know is the badblocks check to mark bad blocks on the device. What about the size of 8GB of the SDCard?

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:48 pm

I see NOOBS and/or PINN both try to help the Raspberry beginners to get started with the Raspberry.

But a lot of time I've seen beginners to use their NOOBS image in production as some server or development environment which works fine for them but sooner or later they have some questions or even issues and ask for help. The big Raspberry community tries to help but most of the time they tell the folks to install Raspbian or another non NOOBs image and then come back with their question or issue given the fact they don't know NOOBs and all the internals. There are not that much folks out there who know NOOBs very well. So now the beginners are frustrated because it's not an easy task - in particular for beginners - to migrate the environment from NOOBs to Raspbian.

What I'm missing is some kind or warning on the installer page or even a reminder in the NOOBs image which pops up after some time (every 3 months for example) and suggests the beginner to start using Raspbian or another non NOOBs image. Another approach would be to have support in NOOBs/PINN to migrate to a plain Raspbian.
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:49 pm

I'm with you, I'd prefer to get rid of NOOBS, but that's not possible right now for reasons that I an unaware of.
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:54 pm

jamesh wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:49 pm
I'm with you, I'd prefer to get rid of NOOBS, but that's not possible right now for reasons that I an unaware of.

+1 for getting rid of NoobS, using Etcher on a x86 machine running MacOS or Windows or Linux, is in my opinion the best way to get started.

PiNN is good, but could be daunting for new users.
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 4:05 pm

I think NOOBS/PINN makes everything more complicated than it should be and in my opinion installing the OS directly is a much better option in the long run. There are valid reasons why some users will prefer it though. The biggest addition is the multiboot menu as the user can have a single card to run multiple OS images e.g. Raspbian, LibreELEC and RetroPie. I see a lot of questions elsewhere from people with that setup.

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 6:57 pm

RPF recommend NOOBs; lots of first-time posters come here with problems caused by NOOBs; "ditch it", they're told, and they go away happy.

Or do they? Do they, perhaps go away frustrated?

And the other statistic we don't know is how many people don't post here because they don't have problems with NOOBs.

Maybe NOOBs is perfect for most beginners, and it's only a minority that can't cope with it.

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:09 pm

Burngate wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 6:57 pm
Maybe NOOBs is perfect for most beginners, and it's only a minority that can't cope with it.
I'm sorry but you don't get my point. I don't blame NOOBs - it's a very useful tool for Raspberry beginners - for sure. But I see a lot of NOOBs users who face issues and don't get any support from the Raspberry community because they refuse to help because of missing NOOBs insights. They start easily but sooner or later when they use NOOBs as a server or development in production they regret they did not switch from NOOBs to Raspian or did not start with Raspbian on their Raspberry.
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Wed Mar 04, 2020 11:52 pm

kle wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:07 pm
DougieLawson wrote: 5. The SDCard formatting tool (V4) worked to reset an 8GB SDCard
I'm confused. I wonder if this is an argument for NOOBS. Are there issues in the past, that SDCards could not be overwritten by an image file? The only advantage of formatting I know is the badblocks check to mark bad blocks on the device. What about the size of 8GB of the SDCard?
Because the SD foundation tool V4 is gone. 8GB SDCards are gone. Any SDCard above 32GB needs special handling.

NOOBS was designed for 8GB SDCards it's not kept up. PINN has a special version for large SDCards (which can write PINN-lite using Etcher).

NOOBS is past its sell-by and use-by dates and should be retired.
PINN should be adopted by the RPF/RPT folks as a replacement for NOOBS.
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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:19 am

procount wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:38 am
Milliways wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:31 am
My comment that NOOBS can NOT be setup without keyboard/screen. AFAIK the same is true of PINN.
During development, I setup PINN almost every day on a headless Pi that only has an Ethernet connection.
  • Copy PINN to SD card on PC.
  • Edit recovery.cmdline to add 'ssh forcetrigger vncshare'
  • Create blank ssh file
  • Copy wpa_supplicant.conf file if I want to use wifi)
  • (Insert SD card into Pi and boot PINN
  • Connect via VNC
  • Install Raspbian
  • Reboot into new Raspbian with ssh (and wifi) already enabled
  • SSH into Raspbian
  • Run raspiconfig to enable VNC
  • Connect to Raspbian via VNC
The same can be done with NOOBS - just replace 'vncshare' with 'vncinstall'.
Hardly a beginner friendly process!

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:47 am

Milliways wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:19 am
Hardly a beginner friendly process!
Nobody said it was.
PINN Is Not Noobs.
PINN is not recommended by the RPF for beginners, but I don't think it is any more difficult than NOOBS and it does fix many of its problems.
One could argue that installing an OS headlessly is not for beginners either, but the steps above are not really any different to installing Raspbian headlessly, it's just that they detail installing 2 things headlessly.
PINN has many more features than NOOBS that I think make it an invaluable tool.

But I think we are straying off-topic.
I thank you for your advocasy of PINN as a multi-boot tool. But you admitted that you haven't used NOOBS or PINN for a while and not from scratch. Therefore, I was just correcting some of the misapprehensions you mentioned to ensure other readers have an accurate picture so they can make their own minds up.
PINN - NOOBS with the extras... https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=142574

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:42 am

Imperf3kt wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:31 am
Installing NOOBS requires one to unzip the file
Yes.
and then format an SD card
This shouldn't normally be necessary when setting it up on a new SD card. I agree the documentation could be made clearer though, currently it gives the wrong impression that it is not possible to set up noobs on a computer where one is not able to install software.
Milliways wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:07 am
This seems to be clutching at straws!

Because maybe 1% of potential users can't setup properly the Foundation gives poor advice to all beginners 😡
I think you forget the goals of the Pi. The goal was and is to provide an affordable computer that kids could use to learn and experiment on, without fear that they were going to hose-up something important. Reliance on having access to a non-locked down computer for installs and reinstalls is going to put a serious damper on that.

I don't dispute that noobs has it's problems, the biggest one being there is no mechanism for updating it, which is a problem whenever a new Pi model comes out.

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:44 am

plugwash wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:42 am
Imperf3kt wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:31 am
and then format an SD card
This shouldn't normally be necessary when setting it up on a new SD card
Unless the card is 64GB or larger.
Unreadable squiggle

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Re: Why is NOOBs suggested to be used by Raspberry beginners?

Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:06 am

plugwash wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:42 am
I don't dispute that noobs has it's problems, the biggest one being there is no mechanism for updating it, which is a problem whenever a new Pi model comes out.
That's why I fixed it in PINN, as it does self-update.
I created a PR to include this in NOOBS, but as NOOBS is for beginners and primarily a recovery tool in case things go wrong, it was considered too risky to do self-updating in case it ended up with an unbootable SD card.
NOOBS is just enough to get you going and to recover in case of failure. PINN is the more useful version. ;)
PINN - NOOBS with the extras... https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=142574

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