What Raspberry PI OS (Operating System) to use?

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The biggest question for Raspberry PI user come when choosing the Operating System to use. There are many OSes available for all Rasperry PI models, each one fitting best specific needs.

Raspberry PI 4 model B image

In this article I’ll list a number of Raspberry PI OS you can try, with their installation guide, depending on your needs. Instead, if you want to compare RPI models, you can refer Comparing main features of latest Raspberry PI models.

If you are looking for ideas on how to use your Raspberry PI, you can also refere Best Raspberry PI projects with open source software article.

OS for Small Personal Computer Usage

Raspbian logo

Raspberry PI, with monitor, keyboard and mouse, can be used as a complete and powerful Personal Computer. The best OS, working out-of-the-box, for this purpose is Raspbian with Desktop. Raspbian is based on Debian.

Like all other linux distros, you can also use a lite version and install your favourite desktop environments. Raspbian is the default choice for all RPI users, because maintained by Raspberry PI foundation. Its Desktop environment is Pixel.

  • Install Raspbian Buster Desktop in your Raspberry PI – Raspbian Dektop can be found in its base installation, including only Pixel Desktop Environment, or “with recommended software”, also including some useful packages like LibreOffice. Both cases have use the same procedure, changing only the image to download and use.

OS for Small Server Usage

Raspberry PI OSes

Raspberry PI can be also a fantastic micro linux server able to support tons of linux projects. It can run web servers, print servers, proxy servers and so on (browse peppe8o.com pages for tutorials). Many big distros are starting to support Raspberry PI and have recently released their RPI images. The best choise, however, remains to Raspbian in its Lite version (without desktop environment).

OS for Makers

Makers need a fast OS able to use Raspberry PI GPIOs, so interfacing external devices (like motors, sensors, etc). Also for this purpose, Peppe8o.com is plenty of tutorials.

Let me know if you have tried other not included in this list!