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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.
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
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 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).
- Install Raspbian Buster Lite in your Raspberry PI – this is the most widely known. Raspbian Lite is a fast OS (with only terminal interface) strongly supported from forums.
- Containers over Raspberry PI with Rancheros – RancherOS is a very fast linux distro designed specifillay to run containers with Kubernetes.
- Ultralight alternative OS for Raspberry PI: Dietpi – DietPI is a very fast alternative OS for your Raspberry PI. Even if its support on forums is less spread compared to Raspbian, it is a good alternative because it has a very simple Software adding procedure
- Install Ubuntu server 64-bit OS in Raspberry PI – Ubuntu is the most famous Linux distributon for servers. It has a wide support all over the world. Its Raspberry image is really recent.
- Install CentOS in Raspbery PI – CentOS is another widely known linux distro for servers. It can be considered the younger brother of Red Hat linux. It has a working image for Raspberry PI, even if its repositories are still not so mature for RPI
OS for Makers
- Install Raspbian Buster Lite in your Raspberry PI – again, Raspbian Lite is my favourite. It is fast, it is supported. Moreover, many projects for external devices interfacing need only a remote control, so a desktop environment could be only a
- Install Raspbian Buster Desktop in your Raspberry PI – it better fits for new users, approaching for the first time the Raspberry PI world and programming activities.
Let me know if you have tried other not included in this list!