How to Run a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Headless

By adding two files onto the boot sector for the Raspberry Pi you can easily start a completely wireless experience either through PuTTY or with a little more effort, VNC. This post will show you how with a Pi Zero 2 W.

How to Run a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Headless
After writing this post, version 1.7 of the Raspberry Pi Imager released allowing you to set the headless SSH as part of the SD card imaging - essentially skipping the "Headless for SSH" step below!

We've got two parts coming up:

  1. Headless for just SSH (skippable with v1.7 of the Raspberry Pi Imager)
  2. Headless for VNC (like Remote Desktop)

Headless for SSH

Short video on how easy it is.
  1. Make sure you've already imaged your SD card. Check out this post for the how to.
  2. In the boot partition of the SD card create an empty file just called ssh
  3. Also in the boot partition, create a file named wpa_supplicant.conf and throw the following into it (with your own Wi-Fi name and password):
ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev


Note: The Zero 2 W is 2.4GHz only.

Headless for VNC

Setting up VNC on the Pi

Enabling VNC server on the Pi.
  1. Open PuTTY (or similar)
  2. SSH to your Pi. See just below for defaults
  3. Run sudo raspi-config to bring up the configuration menu
  4. Scroll down to "3 Interface Options"
  5. Enable "P3 VNC" or "I3 VNC" (depending on version)

Default username and password for the Pi:

username: pi
password: raspberry

Doing the above looks like:

Setting up VNC on your PC

Using VNC Viewer to remote to the Pi.
  1. Download and install VNC Viewer
  2. Add a new connection to your Pi's local IP address
  3. Click on the connection
  4. Enter the username and password

For more nitty gritty Pi setup, see the official documentation:

Raspberry Pi Documentation - Configuration
The official documentation for Raspberry Pi computers and microcontrollers