The Raspberry Pi is a DIY dream. However, if you don't feel like fiddling with the command line and setting up a project from scratch, here are seven projects you can get up and running with just a few clicks.
Each of these projects still requires a little post-boot setup to configure everything, but they all have all the software you need to get your project off the ground quickly. At most, all you'll need to do is enter in your network password.
How to Install These Projects
To install these projects, you'll just need to clone the images onto an SD card and put that into your Raspberry Pi. The process is the same for all of these:
- Download the IMG file from the project you want to make.
- Download Win32DiskImager and unzip the application (.exe file) inside.
- Insert your SD card into your Windows PC using a card reader.
- Open Win32DiskImager.exe, the application you just downloaded, by double-clicking on it. If you're running Windows 7 or 8, right click on it and choose "Run as Administrator" instead.
- If your SD card isn't automatically detected by the application, click on the drop-down menu at the top right (labelled "Device") and choose it from the list.
- In the image file section of the application, click the little folder icon and choose the IMG file you just downloaded.
- Click the Write button and wait for Win32DiskImager to do its thing. When it finishes, you can safely eject your SD card and insert it into your Raspberry Pi.
Mac OS X
- Download the IMG file from the project you want to make.
- Download RPi-sd card builder (be sure to pick the appropriate version for your installed version of OS X) and unzip the application.
- Insert your SD card into your Mac using a card reader.
- Open RPi-sd card builder. You'll immediately be asked to choose an image. Choose the IMG file you downloaded earlier.
- You'll be asked if your SD card is connected. Since we inserted it earlier, it is, so go ahead and click Continue. You'll be presented with SD card options. If you only have one inserted, you won't see anything else in the list and it will be checked. If not, just check only the card you want to use and click OK.
- Enter your administrator password and click OK.
- You'll be asked if the SD card was ejected. This is supposed to happen, as the application needs to unmount it so it can perform a direct copy. Double-check that your SD card is no longer available in the Finder. DO NOT remove it from your USB port. When you're sure, click Continue.
- RPi-sd card builder finishes prepping your SD card, safely eject it and insert it into your Raspberry Pi unit.
RPi-sd card builder isn't an app so much as it's an Automator action that acts like one. Some people have reported issues using it, so if you run into problems just open up the Terminal app (Your Hard Drive → Applications → Utilities → Terminal) and follow the instructions for Linux.
Turn Your Raspberry Pi into an AirPlay Speaker
The process of turning a Raspberry Pi into an AirPlay speaker isn't too intense, but it does require a lot of fiddling around in the command line to get it working properly. That's why Raspberry Pi forum member rapsberrye created a preconfigured image so you don't have to do any work.
All you need to do is download the image, put it on your SD card, and then power up your Raspberry Pi. Your Raspberry Pi will show up as an AirPlay-compatible player right away, and you'll even have Watchdog installed to reboot the AirPlay software in case anything goes wrong.
Make a Minecraft Server
Surprisingly, the Raspberry Pi makes a great little Minecraft server, but setting the whole thing up yourself is a bit of a chore. You're stuck digging through a bunch of different settings and tweaking different options to get Minecraft to actually run smoothly. MinecraftPi fixes that.
All you need to do is install MinecraftPi onto an SD card and boot it up on your Raspberry Pi. You'll need to make yourself an admin, but other than that, you can start playing Minecraft on your local network right away. The image is even set to overclock your Pi from the start, so you won't even have to mess around with those settings.
Run a Private or Public WordPress Site
As you'd expect, setting up your Raspberry Pi as a web server takes a lot of effort. PressPi makes it incredibly simple and puts a WordPress install on the image as well.
Once you boot up your Raspberry Pi with the PressPi image, you can immediately log into a local-only version of WordPress. If you want to take that online for anyone to access, you'll need to follow the guide on PressPi's page to open up your router to outside traffic, but otherwise it's probably the simplest way to instantly turn your Pi into a web server.
Make a Wireless Access Point
The Raspberry Pi can make a great little router or wireless access point. Once you set it up, you can use it to extend your Wi-Fi network, create a singular access point, or even use it to provide guests access to your Wi-Fi without letting them into your whole network.
Manually setting all that stuff up takes a lot of time, by Pi-Point is a custom image that includes everything you need. If you're using it for anything beyond a simple access point, you'll need to do a little bit of configuration to get it working with your network, but otherwise it's pretty much a one-click setup.
Set Up a Retro Game Center
We've talked plenty about usingRetroPie to turn your Raspberry Pi into a retro game console, but it really is one of the best ready-made images out there. Manually installing everything that's on the RetroPie image takes hours and it's surprisingly easy to mess up along the way.
With the RetroPie image you get dozens of emulators, SAMBA sharing and SSH are automatically turned on, a USB daemon is enabled for copying ROMs from USB, and it's packed with drivers for most popular controllers. All you need to do is power it up, copy over your ROM collection, and you're ready to go.
Stream All Your Music from Your Raspberry Pi
If you want to use your Raspberry Pi as a little music streaming device, your best choice for doing so is MusicBox. You can use your Raspberry Pi to stream music from Spotify, Google Music, SoundCloud, various radio stations and podcasts.
The best part is that you do not need to do anything to set it up aside from entering in your login information. MusicBox comes packed with remote control interfaces, MPD support, AirPlay support, DLNA streaming, USB audio support and supports various soundcards. You never even need to dig into the command line to get it working.
Run Ubuntu Linaro, Raspbian, OpenELEC and RISC OS All at Once
Getting a multi-boot system set up on the Raspberry Pi is surprisingly difficult, but Raspberry Pi forum member Mequa has created a pretty killer multi-boot system that has a few great operating systems.
Mequa's "Monster" image requires a 32GB SD card, and you'll get a single image that includes Ubuntu Linaro, Raspbian, OpenELEC and RISC OS. Everything is preconfigured and ready to go, so once you get the SD card made, you'll be playing around in the operating system of your choice in no time.