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How to Quickly Setup a Raspberry Pi 4 with Ubuntu 20.04 or 20.10

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Ready to run Ubuntu 20.04 LTS or 20.10 on your Raspberry Pi 4, but now sure how to get it setup without using a whole set of tools? This article will help you get setup in no time!

Welcome to the Raspberry Pi 4

Raspberry Pi’s started from humble beginnings and scaled up to the latest and greatest Raspberry Pi 4. Raspberry Pi 4’s can now be purchased with 8GB of RAM, and they are almost, or in actuality, like a real desktop workstation.

The performance doesn’t match most modern day systems yet, however if one only processes some documents, surfs the Internet a few hours, and watches some video’s, the Raspberry Pi 4 is surely up to the task. You can even connect dual monitors, and a wide range of devices via the USB ports.

The team at Ubuntu have now created an Ubuntu release specially crafted for the Raspberry Pi! This is great news for many users who appreciate Ubuntu for desktop as well as server use.

You can get Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Long Term Support) in the Ubuntu server flavor for your Raspberry Pi. You can also opt to use Ubuntu Server 20.10 (a non-LTS based release) instead.

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The sever based version will auto-configuring network, DHCP and SSH services by default. This results in you only requireing to use an RJ45 cable: no micro HDMI cable, monitor, keyboard and mice required!

The desktop based version will automatically install and setup a desktop environment for you. You will need a monitor, HDMI cable, keyboard and mice.

How to install Ubuntu on your Raspberri Pi 4

For a list of other supported Raspberry Pi’s and available Ubuntu operating 20.04 and 20.10 releases, you can refer to the Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi 2,3 or 4 page on the Ubuntu website. You will almost always want to select a 64 bit based image it is available, unless you have a special use case requiring 32 bit.

Firstly, ensure the computer you will be using to download the Raspberry Pi image contains an SD card reader, or that you have a USB SD card reader. Insert the empty card into the reader and download the Ubuntu image you will be using.

There are 3 options to load the server or desktop image onto your SD card:

  • You can follow the guide on the Ubuntu website for either the Ubuntu Server or the Ubuntu Desktop, which uses a custom-developed application to load the image onto the SD card, and there are Linux, Windows and Mac versions of this tool available.
  • You can use UNetbootin to load the image onto your SD card. This tool also has Linux, Windows and Mac versions of this tool available.
  • The ‘Disks’ tool in Ubuntu. To load an image onto an SD card, click Activities > type ‘Disks’ > Click ‘Disks’ > Select your SD card > Verify it is indeed empty > Click Hamburger Icon (3 vertical dots) on top right > Click Restore Disk Image > follow the instructions.

Once the image is on your SD card, safely eject it (the method depends on the operating system you use) and insert it into your Raspberry Pi.

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If you will be using the sever based version, simply plugin the RJ45 network lead into the RJ45 socket on the Raspberry, load Ubuntu Server onto the SD card, insert the card into the Raspberry Pi, and plug in power cord.

Wait a minute to enable the Raspberry Pi to startup and check your DHCP server (usually running on, and available from, the home, configuration or DHCP log page of your network router) which IP address was provided to the Raspberry Pi.

Let’s say that the IP address the DHCP server handed out to the Raspberry Pi was 10.0.0.13. As SSH is enabled by default, you can now use a tool like Putty on Windows, or (simply) SSH on Linux, to connect to the Pi:

ssh ubuntu@10.0.0.13

The default username for an Ubuntu provided operating system SD card image is ‘ubuntu’ and ‘ubuntu’ again for the password.

On the Ubuntu website you will find a handy Ubuntu Server 20.04 on Raspberry Pi 4 Guide. This guide (on slide/page 4) lists another handy method to find the IP address of your Raspberry Pi 4 by using the arp command, in case the router based approach above fails.

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If you will be using the desktop based version, plugin a HDMI enabled monitor using a micro HDMI to HDMI cable. Attach a keyboard and a mouse, load Ubuntu Server onto the SD card, insert the card into the Raspberry Pi, plug in power cord and follow the setup steps on-screen.

Wrapping Up

In this Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi 4 guide, we explored various methods to install Ubuntu Server 20.04 LTS or Ubuntu 20.10 (server or desktop) onto your Raspberri Pi 4.

Enjoy!

Roel Van de Paar Roel Van de Paar
Roel has 25 years of experience in IT & business, 9 years of leading teams, and 5 years in hiring & building teams. He worked for companies like Oracle, Volvo, Sun, Percona, Siemens, Karat, and now MariaDB in various senior, principal, lead, and managerial roles. Read Full Bio »

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