NOOBS is short for New Out Of Box Software, but as its name suggests, it’s aimed at a specific group who may have had trouble in getting the Pi up and running.
The software was developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, who were concerned that throwing new users into the ‘deep end’ might actually not help them learn, but be putting them off from even having a go.
Rather than using the special imaging software required to get an Pi-ready operating system onto an SD card, all you have to do is download the NOOBS zip file and unzip it onto a minimum 4GB card. Boot up the card in your Pi and you get the choice of operating systems to install on the card. Make your selection and NOOBS does the rest. You still have to format the card using the Pi Foundation’s formatting tool but that’s as complicated as it gets.
Once installed, NOOBS stays on the card, making it a cinch to recover a corrupted operating system or to install a different one – all from with the Pi itself. But in normal booting and running, you don’t even see NOOBS – you have to hold down the shift key while booting for NOOBS to appear. Otherwise, it’s smooth sailing.
NOOBS comes with a basic text editor for editing configuration files (if you wish) plus a web browser if you’ve forgotten how to do something (of course, that means you’ll need network access – either through the network port or a USB to Ethernet or Wi-Fi adapter).
You can grab the download from http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads but be warned – it’s a 1GB download so check your broadband quota before you start.
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