Raspberry Pi Headless Configuration

If like me you’ve been experimenting with Raspberry Pi’s you’ll know putting monitors, mice and keyboards costs far more than the units themselves and presents some difficulty. Not just that, but running “headless” systems is normally preferable for the kind of applications I’m working on (servers, radios, desktop gadgets). If you can get away with only hooking up KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) once (or not at all!), great! There’s loads of guides knocking around, but here’s how I do it:

Using a KVM

First, I connect the Pi to the telly with a spare HDMI connection, plug in a wireless mouse and keyboard and run NOOBS to install Raspbian. I assume the systems are on the same local network, so use hostnames here. If you are connecting over the internet, you’ll need to replace these with a public IP or domain name.

Using the Serial Interface

First I connect a Raspian image onto SD and connect up a TTL serial interface (find the pinouts for your Pi). Use Device Manager to find the COM number of the interface on your PC, then use PuTTY to configure it (the baud is 115200) and connect to a session on the Pi. Use the default logins and follow the instructions below.

Enable SSH

First I run sudo raspi-config and enable SSH and change the hostname. I choose not to reboot, but quit raspi-config and run sudo shutdown now. Now, simply login from Windows from PuTTY using the hostname and default settings. Using the hostname avoids the need to assign a static IP.

Enable RDP

If you want a desktop, RDP is built into Windows 10 and is an easy way to remote into the x-window system, all you need to do is install xrdp. Just install like any other package (sudo apt-get install xrdp). Now reboot the Pi and find the Remote Desktop Connection client on your Windows 10 system, and enter the hostname to connect.


Remember, by opening up remote access servers like these, you open the Pi up to potential attacks, especially if you have external access from the internet. Internal attacks might not be a big problem on your internal network, but if you choose to open these up over the net, think about using random port numbers, public/private keys and tunneling the RDP over SSH.