Install Raspberry PI OS Desktop (with optional Remote Desktop)


Raspberry Pi boards can be used in a number of interesting ways for electronics projects. But they can be also used as very very small computers with complete desktop environment.

Raspberry PI OS offers a very stable and useful desktop version. Comparison between Desktop and Lite version can be found in Raspberry PI OS Desktop vs Lite article.

From February 2022, Raspberry PI Foundation finally released its official 64-bit OS release. So, from this date, you can choose between the common 32-bit distribution and the new 64-bit one. Please note that you are forced to use a 32-bit image if you have Raspberry PI 1, Raspberry PI 2 and Raspberry PI Zero computer boards, as their CPU relies on armhf architecture and it doesn’t support the 64-bit instruction set. Newer Raspberry PI computer boards (including Raspberry PI Zero 2) can use both the 32 and 64 bit images.

If you need to download the image, the 2 distributions can be get with the following links:

Once get the distribution, the installation procedure will be the same in both cases.

Now, we are going to install Raspberry PI OS Desktop. Please note that I’ll use the version withOUT recommended software, because I will select later what software to install.

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What do you need


Raspberry PI 4 model B 8GB

You can find in Amazon or other e-commerce vendors many offers related to starter kits which includes part of above component. I strongly suggest to evaluate to buy a case with cooling system (fan) if you are thinking to use your raspberry for resources intensive applications.
You also need a PC (notebook or desktop) with an SD card reader


  • Raspberry PI OS with Desktop disk image (you can download it from links above referred)
  • an image flashing software like, for example, Etcher

Step-by-step guide

Download and install in your PC Etcher (if not available).

Download Raspberry Pi OS with desktop disk image (ZIP version).

Insert your SD card in your PC/SD card reader.

Run Etcher in you PC. Click “Select Image” and select Raspberry PI OS disk image previously downloaded.

Etcher Raspberry PI OS Desktop selected

Now Etcher should also have recognised your SD card. Otherwise, click “Change” and select correct SD card.

Click “Flash!” button and wait for operation to be completed:


If you want to use your Raspberry PI as Desktop PC with a monitor, then you can insert SD card inside Raspberry Pi, connect your monitor and connect power supply. You will logon your desktop with default user (user: pi; password:raspberry).

If you want to use your RPI with remote desktop, please see following steps.

OPTIONAL: Enabling Remote Desktop

In my case, I don’t want to use an HDMI connection to my TV in order to finalize system setup (my Raspberry will be connected only via WiFi).

Preconfiguring WiFi and enabling SSH

So, before using it and after having flashed its SD, let’s configure WiFi and SSH connection directly modifying files inside SD card.

Extract SD card and re-insert it in your PC. From our File explorer, in “This Computer” we can see 1 new SD partitions:

raspberry PI OS partitions on setup

We will create a connection configuration file under this boot partition.
Open your notepad and paste following lines:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev

Replace «your_ISO-3166-1_two-letter_country_code» with your ISO Country Code (such as CA for Canada), «your_SSID» with your wireless access point name and «your_PSK» with your wifi password.

Save this file under boot partition, naming it as “wpa_supplicant.conf”.

In addition, we will create a new file named “ssh” (without extension) under boot partition also to enable SSH in our raspberry. It is not important what is contained in this file: when Pi boots, it looks for the “ssh” file existance. If it is found, then SSH is enabled and file is deleted.

So, let’s open a new Notepad window:


Go to : File -> Save as


Select boot partition in left column.

Insert in “File name” field value “ssh” and click “Save”. Be aware that notepad sometimes saves files adding “.txt” extension. So, control saved file and be sure that its extension is NOT included.

Extract SD card from your SD reader and insert it in your raspberry.

Enable Remote Desktop

Power the Raspberry PI on, wait a few minutes for first boot, check its IP address in your router and connect to it from Putty (or whatever connection program you are using for ssh) using default ssh port (22).

Default user: pi
Default password: raspberry

Make the OS up-to-date:

sudo apt update -y && sudo apt upgrade -y

Install xrdp service to enable remote desktop protocol server:

sudo apt install xrdp

Connect remotely with RDP

If you are a Windows PC, open Remote Desktop application and insert you RPI IP address in Computer input box, ten press Connect button. After RSA confirmation window, you should see Raspberry PI OS login page:

Raspbian Desktop RDP login

Insert defaul Raspbery PI username (pi) and password (raspberry).

Next Steps

After finished OS installation, you may need following setup:


Check hardware prices with following links:

Amazon raspberry pi boards box
Amazon raspberry pi Zero W box
Amazon Micro SD box
Amazon HDMI Cable box
Amazon USB Wireless Keyboard box

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