One of the first things I discovered when I first connected my Raspberry Pi was that the small computer was not particularly optimized for installation.

In a sense, this is understandable. While Raspbian OS is specifically designed for the Pi, it’s not exactly perfect — what operating system? Similarly, the Raspberry Pi is designed to be used «as is». It seems that the developers initially doubted that someone would want to overclock the device.

You may be surprised to know that there are many settings that can be applied to the Raspberry Pi, both from the configuration screen and how you set up and install your operating system. The following changes and tips will help you greatly improve the performance of your Raspberry Pi.

Use a faster SD card

The very first thing you should do is make sure the SD card you have installed is Raspbian (or a RaspBMC or a RetroPie setup) is actually up to the job. There are many different types of SD cards, and for best results, one of the SDHC class 2 or higher cards should be used.


For occasional use, you can use low quality SD cards or even microSD cards in SD card adapters, but for regular use, you’ll need a reliable and fast card. Remember that the SD card is the Raspberry Pi’s built-in storage — on a desktop it would be the hard drive, so what we’re suggesting here is no different than buying and installing a faster hard drive.

SD cards vary in price and size. In most cases, an 8GB card should have enough storage space, though if you’re on a budget, be careful!

Expand section

When installing Raspbian and any distributions associated with it, you will be offered the option to enlarge the partition. This means that instead of an operating system located on a 2 GB partition as defined in the image, you can expand the partition so that it fills the entire SD card.

This is achieved by booting the Raspberry Pi and using the configuration menu to select the EXPAND-ROOTFS option. If you don’t see it, you need to open a command prompt and type

sudo raspi-config

From here select the option » Extend root partition until SD card is full» and wait until the size of the SD card changes.

muo-rpi-root filesystem

After expanding, you don’t have to worry about running out of space. Note that the same manual method can be used for Debian, OpenSuSe and Raspbian images as well as those using Raspbian such as RaspBMC and RetroPie.

Overclock your Raspberry Pi

Another way to improve the results and performance of your Raspberry Pi is to overclock.


Initially, this was only possible with a config script stored on the SD card, but later releases of Raspbian have added this functionality to the raspi-config screen.

It’s easy to overclock. Just boot up, switch to the configuration menu and select the overclocking option. Full details can be found in this article: Running out of juice? Shrink your Raspberry Pi by overclocking . Please note that if you choose to overclock your Raspberry Pi, you do so at your own risk. You should also consider using a fan or attaching a heatsink to the SoC.

So, do you really need a GUI?

Depending on how you plan to use your Raspberry Pi, you may accidentally find a way to speed up the process by simply not using the GUI. If you’re running a project that doesn’t require a mouse and keyboard, there’s no point in running an OS that does.


While the Raspbian operating system is ideal for many things, the X GUI implementation is a bit sluggish. Therefore, you may not use it, especially if you are familiar with Linux and command lines.

If you are already in X, you can close it using the command exit from the main menu. You can also prevent Raspbian from loading in X by running raspi-config and selecting the option boot_behavior .

This will speed up loading times and prevent GUI based delays.

Conclusion: Raspberry Pi, with cream!

The many ways you can use your Raspberry Pi can benefit from these tweaks that will recharge your mini computer.

While some of these tips are based on using the Raspbian OS (or images based on it), don’t lose sight of the importance of using a fast and reliable SDHC card with your Raspberry Pi. Also, don’t forget to make sure your device’s chip is properly cooled if you plan on overclocking.

Ultimately, though, remember that the little Raspberry Pi is a versatile toolbox, so if you’re considering applying any of these tweaks, consider how they might affect any projects you’re currently doing to avoid any consequences.

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