Using the command line on Raspberry Pi

Using the command line on Raspberry Pi


If you haven’t used a command line interface (CLI) before, you might be a bit lost when you first start up your Raspberry Pi and you see a login screen like this:

Raspberry Pi boot screen

Most the time, when using computers, we are accessing them using a Graphical User Interface (GUI). So, when you start your laptop, you see a Windows or Mac login screen or your Desktop layout.

This command line is a text-based interface for sending commands instead of a graphical one. Before computers could support graphics, users interacted with them via the terminal or command line and this is still available and commonly used in non-graphical environments such as servers.


The default username to log in to a raspberry pi is pi and the password is raspberry. Once you’ve logged in, you will see that the command line prompt now starts with pi@raspberrypi.

You can now use the raspberry pi using terminal commands or boot the Pi into its GUI Desktop by typing startx.

Other basic commands

To change directory, used the cd command

cd /home/pi

To change directory to the parent directory

cd ..

To list the directories and files for the current directory


To make a new directory

mkdir myNewDirectory

to change into the new directory would then be:

cd myNewDirectory

To shut down the Rasberry Pi

sudo poweroff

To reboot

sudo reboot

To start the GUI desktop


Apt-get is the command-line tool for managing packages for Debian Linux

To download a package from the package directory

apt-get packagename

To download and install

apt-get install packagename

To uninstall a package

apt-get remove packagename

Nb you can use the up and down arrow keys to navigate through previous commands

More info

Raspberry Pi documentation - terminal

CLI Spells for the Raspberry Pi

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