Install Raspberry PI OS Desktop (with optional Remote Desktop)


Last Updated on 22nd January 2023 by peppe8o

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.

What do you need

    As usual, I suggest adding from now to your favourite e-commerce shopping cart all the needed hardware, so that at the end you will be able to evaluate overall costs and decide if to continue with the project or remove them from the shopping cart. So, hardware will be only:

    Raspberry PI 4 model B 8GB

    You can find on Amazon or other e-commerce vendors many offers related to starter kits which include part of the above component. I strongly suggest evaluating a case with a cooling system (fan) if you are thinking to use your raspberry for resource-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 the 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 into your PC/SD card reader.

    Run Etcher on your PC. Click “Select Image” and select the 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 the correct SD card.

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


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

    If you want to use your RPI from remote desktop, please see the 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 the 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:


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