Headless Install of Raspberry Pi OS Lite

Headless Booting

Install Raspberry Pi OS Lite with the Raspberry Pi Imager.

I find it much easier to remotely access the Pi from my PC so I can copy and paste commands rather than typing everything using a keyboard connected to the Pi. This is called a headless set up. It’s a little more work to start but makes things a lot easier later.

Download the Raspberry Pi Imager from here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/software/

Start the downloaded software and choose RASPBERRY PI OS LITE (32-BIT) for the Operating System and find the SD card on your PC. Be careful it’s the correct card because all data will be overwritten.

Pi Imager Screen

The latest version includes a settings screen where you can add your Wi-Fi details.

Enable SSH, add Wi-Fi details and create a username and password for the new installation.

Pi Imager Options

Click SAVE and then WRITE to create the new installation.

Previous method – It’s not necessary to do the part below in grey with the new Imager above.

You need to make some changes to the boot partition of the microSD card.

To allow the  Pi to connect to your WiFi network and enable you to access it from your computer you need to create two files in the root folder – an empty file called ssh and a file called wpa_supplicant.conf

Two Files

in the file wpa_supplicant.conf add your WiFi connection details following the example below. Change the country code, SSID and psk (wifi password) to your own.

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

ssid="YOUR SSD"
psk="your wifi password"

SSH Remote Access Setup

Remove the microSD and insert it into the Pi Zero W and and power it up. Optionally, if you want to see the Pi booting you can connect it to an HDMI screen.

You will need a SSH client to access the Pi Zero from your computer. Here are some guides for different platforms: Windows, Linux and Mac, iOS or Android I use Putty on my PC and JuiceSSH on my Android phone.

You will also need the IP address of the Pi on your network. You should be able to see this in the control panel of your router or by using a network scan tool. More info here on scanning your network . Below you can see the IP address on my network of the Pi –

IP Address

Follow the instructions for your chosen SSH client and connect to the Pi via its IP address.

Once you have connected to the Pi over SSH, you can log in with the username and password used when creating the SD card.

Pi Successful Login

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