Raspberry Pi

Ultimate guide to Raspberry Pi operating systems, part 2

Now there are even more choices of operating systems to power your Raspberry Pi …

raspberry pi guide 1
Back with more

A few months ago we published the Ultimate guide to Raspberry Pi operating systems, Part 1 and today, for your continuing RPi pleasure, we have Part 2! Here we have another 21 ways to make your Raspberry Pi into a workhorse. Most of the following are Linux distros but there’s also a few true, alternative operating systems you might want to check out. If you know of any distros or OSes I’ve missed, a detail that’s wrong, or you have any thoughts or suggestions, please drop me a note at feedback@gibbs.com and I’ll update this slideshow and give you a shout out. Want to know immediately when the next installment of this guide is published? Sign up and you’ll be the first to know. Now on with more awesomeness …

Bodhi Linux
Credit: Bodhi Linux
Bodhi Linux

Bodhi Linux, called by its creators “the Enlightened Linux Distribution,” is “built on top of the latest Ubuntu LTS release featuring the Moksha Desktop. Wikipedia: "The philosophy for the distribution is to provide a minimal base system so that users can populate it with the software they want. Thus, by default it only includes software that is essential to most Linux users, including file browsers (PCManFM), a web browser (Midori) and a terminal emulator (Terminology). It does not include software or features that its developers deem unnecessary. To make populating systems with software easy, Bodhi Linux developers maintain an online database of lightweight software that can be installed in one click via apturl."

Last updated in 2013; download here.

Commodore Pi
Credit: Commodore Pi
Commodore Pi

For retro gaming fans there’s the Commodore Pi operating system: “The goal of this project is to develop a native Commodore 64 emulator and operating system for the Raspberry Pi, with the following features: Fast boot up time - nearly instant on / Output to HDMI and composite video sources / GPIO pin connection to external devices (hooks via the kernal code) / Ethernet connection / USB Connections / Access to the full RAM of the Pi possibly via bank switching / Multitasking by means of multiple emulation cores / Modern graphics modes.”

Last updated in 2013; download here.

FreeBSD/ARM
Credit: Joe Marcus Clarke
FreeBSD/ARM

According to Wikipedia, “FreeBSD is a free Unix-like operating system descended from Research Unix via the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). Although for legal reasons FreeBSD cannot use the Unix trademark, it is a direct descendant of BSD, which was historically also called ‘BSD Unix’ or ‘Berkeley Unix’. The first version of FreeBSD was released in 1993, and today FreeBSD is the most widely used open-source BSD distribution, accounting for more than three-quarters of all installed systems running open-source BSD derivatives.” FreeBSD/ARM runs on a wide range of ARM-based systems including the Raspberry Pi.

Last updated 11/20/15; download here.

Gentoo
Credit: Alexandre Pereira
Gentoo

Gentoo “is a free operating system based on either Linux or FreeBSD that can be automatically optimized and customized for just about any application or need. Extreme configurability, performance and a top-notch user and developer community are all hallmarks of the Gentoo experience.” This is a rather more technical OS and binaries are not available; you have to build your own Gentoo system.

Last updated 11/18/2015; download here.

Ha-Pi
Credit: Wikipedia
Ha-Pi

Ha-Pi (a contraction of “hack with raspberry pi”) is a command line-only Debian Squeeze image engineered for executing “pwn plug” attacks. Pwn plug attacks use plug computers such as the SheevaPlug (above) sold by Marvell Technology Group. With operating systems such as Ha-Pi these devices, which look like rather large power adapters, make it possible to unobtrusively run penetration tests on a network. The included hacking tools can probe open ports, sniff incoming and outgoing data traffic, hijack SSL sessions, and crack wireless encryption keys. Unless you put them on your own network to evaluate your own security, Pwn Plugs are something to be found and dealt with as quickly as possible (you will find a hammer to be useful).

Last updated 17/06/2012; download here.

I2Pberry
I2Pberry

i2pBerry is a Raspberry Pi distribution that comes preinstalled with the i2p darknet software. Once you write it to your SD card and boot it up you will be able to instantly connect to the i2p network. You will also be improving the network by adding some of your bandwidth to help users in countries with firewalls connect to the true Internet. With the added [benefit] of torrenting without your ISP snooping on your downloads. i2pBerry comes preconfigured with a SSH server for headless operation, it is based on Debian Squeeze and has over 20,000 packages ready to be installed.”

 

Last updated 02/06/2014; download from: http://paste.roguecoders.com/p/ccc866b18df1f6c67f3fc60bf4428b05.txt

Kano OS
Credit: Kano
Kano OS

“The Kano Kit [shipping March 2016] is a computer anyone can make. You build and code it yourself, with simple steps, like LEGO. It’s a fun way to make, play and express your creativity with technology – designed for young people and the young at heart.” The operating system, which is called both Kano OS and Kanux and which was designed for kids, is Debian-based and free. It also has a custom desktop manager called Kano Desktop Manager.

Last updated 11/13/2014; download here.

MINIBIAN
Credit: MINIBIAN
MINIBIAN

MINIBIAN is a minimal Raspbian-based Linux image for Raspberry Pi. The main focus is to have a small, updated and stable distribution that is fully compatible with official Raspbian “wheezy” image, without GUI and unneeded tools. So this image is perfect for embedded projects, or wherever you need to use all RPi resources for your specific tasks. The main advantage is that MINIBIAN has a very small footprint, boots in some seconds and uses just few of precious RPi RAM.”

Last updated 11/12/2015; download here.

motionEyeOS
Credit: Calin Crisan
motionEyeOS

motionEyeOS (which used to be called “motionPie”) is a Linux distribution that turns a single-board computer into a video surveillance system for video motion detection. The OS is based on BuildRoot and uses motion as a backend and motionEye for the frontend. It runs on Raspberry Pi, Banana Pi, Odroid C1 and Cubietruck.

Last updated 10/04/2015; download here.

Nard
Credit: Wikipedia
Nard

Nard (Not Another Raspberry Distribution) is “a software development kit (SDK) written from scratch for the Raspberry Pi family of boards. Unlike "ordinary" Linux distributions, Nard is intended entirely for the development of MOTS [(Modified Off-The-Shelf)] embedded systems running day and night for years, and you are more or less expected to add your unique custom application on top of the Nard platform.”

Last updated 01/21/2015; download here.

NetBSD
Credit: Wikipedia
NetBSD

NetBSD is “a free, fast, secure, and highly portable Unix-like Open Source operating system. It is available for a wide range of platforms, from large-scale servers and powerful desktop systems to handheld and embedded devices. Its clean design and advanced features make it excellent for use in both production and research environments, and the source code is freely available under a business-friendly license. … NetBSD 7.0 adds complete support for the [Raspberry Pi], along with introducing support for the quad-core Raspberry Pi 2 board.” Interestingly, NetBSD was used onboard the International Space Station to control a microgravity experiment.

Last updated 12/13/2015; download here.

NOOBS
Credit: raspberrypi.org
NOOBS

NOOBS (New Out Of the Box Software) is not, as such, an operating system, but rather an installer for Raspbian as well as other distros, and it’s the recommended starting point for new users. NOOBS is for both offline and network install while the NOOBS Lite version is for network install only.

Last updated 11/21/2015; download both versions here.

OSMC
Credit: cosmic.tv
OSMC

OSMC (Open Source Media Center) is “a free and open source media player based on Linux and founded in 2014 that lets you play back media from your local network, attached storage and the Internet. OSMC is the leading media center in terms of feature set and community and is based on the Kodi project.”

Last updated 11/01/2015; download here.

PiBang Linux
Credit: pibanglinux.com
PiBang Linux

PiBang is a “Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi. It is inspired by Crunchbang Linux, and based on Raspbian. Want to know all the differences? Here is a full list of what makes PiBang different from Raspbian. PiBang Linux is committed to providing a highly configured Openbox desktop environment for the Raspberry Pi. We are also committed to contributing back to the Linux community and working to actively develop the software included in the distribution. … We are not currently developing PiBang, although it is possible we will do so in the future. However we are currently encountering a monetary problem …”

Last updated 11/18/2013; download here.

PiBox Media Server/Player
Credit: graphics-muse.org
PiBox Media Server/Player

"PiBox Media Server is a purpose-specific implementation built on PiBox with a goal of providing a media server that can stream webcam video and as well as video files over SMB. This is accomplished by adding custom opkg installs on the base PiBox development platform. The PiBox Media Server can be used as a node on a network or as a wireless access point. Additionally, PiBox Media Server will include (over time) support for sensor management making it similar to a home monitoring system. PiBox Media Player is a purpose-specific implementation built on PiBox with a goal of providing a media player based on the hardware accelerated Raspberry Pi omxplayer. The player is intended to integrate with PiBox Media Server over wifi with the server acting as a wireless access point. HDMI-based DLP projectors are used to create a personal Drive In Theater experience."

Last updated 01/17/2015; download here.

PiPlay
Credit: piplay.org
PiPlay

PiPlay, formerly called PiMAME, is "a Raspberry Pi OS made for gaming and emulation ... [it] runs MAME, Neo Geo, and PlayStation games out of the box, and is constantly being updated with new emulators and tools. Included is a suite of software designed to reduce the complexity and time needed to setup a fully working system. An updater is included with the distribution. PiMAME is based off of Raspbian, the official Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi." Current emulations include MAME - AdvanceMAME and MAME4ALL,  CPS I / CPS II - Final Burn Alpha, Neo Geo - GNGeo, Playstation - pcsx-reARMed, Genesis - DGen, SNES - SNES9x, NES - AdvMESS, Gameboy - Gearboy, Gameboy Advance - GPSP, ScummVM, Atari 2600 - Stella, Cavestory - NXEngine, and Commodore 64 – VICE.

Last updated 03/27/2015; download here.

Plan 9
Credit: Alcatel-Lucent
Plan 9

Plan 9 “is a research system developed at Bell Labs starting in the late 1980s. Its original designers and authors were Ken Thompson, Rob Pike, Dave Presotto, and Phil Winterbottom. They were joined by many others as development continued throughout the 1990s to the present. Plan 9 demonstrates a new and often cleaner way to solve most systems problems. The system as a whole is likely to feel tantalizingly familiar to Unix users but at the same time quite foreign.”

Last updated 03/28/2015; download here.

PWN Pi
Credit: pwnpi
PWN Pi

PWN Pi is “a penetration testing distro for the the Raspberry Pi. It currently has 200 penetration and network security auditing tools. The latest version also now supports the 512 meg version of the pi. Please be aware that these tools are for serious penetration testers only and not meant to be used for hacking or being an asshat.”

Last updated 12/14/2012; download here.

RasPlex
Credit: rasplex.com
RasPlex

RasPlex is “a complete port of Plex Home Theater (formerly Plex Media Center) for Raspberry Pi. RasPlex currently runs on OpenELEC for reasons of limited man power, but there is a working raspbian port that just needs some time to be brought up to speed. RasPlex was created on Gentoo linux, but that port has since been abandoned for performance reasons. We regularly merge in changes from Plex Home Theater and OpenELEC. Once things cool off a bit and we are more stable (or we get the man power), we will maintain a raspbian release as well.”

Last updated 11/13/2014; download here.

Slackware ARM
Credit: arm.slackware.com
Slackware ARM

Slackware Linux, originally developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991, is “an advanced Linux operating system, designed with the twin goals of ease of use and stability as top priorities. Including the latest popular software while retaining a sense of tradition, providing simplicity and ease of use alongside flexibility and power, Slackware brings the best of all worlds to the table. Slackware ARM “began in 2002 [with the] primary goal of providing a full Slackware port for ARM desktop machines.”

Last updated 12/03/2015; download here.

raspberry pi guide 22
Coming Soon…

In our third installment of Network World’s Ultimate Guide to Raspberry Pi Operating Systems we’ll be covering a whole new collection of RPi OS choices, including SlaXBMCRPi, slrpi, Tiny Core Linux, Ubuntu, Volumio, XBian, and more.

Want to know immediately when the next installment is published? Sign up and you’ll be the first to know.

Want more Pi? Check out 10 Reasons why the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is a killer product and MIPS Creator CI20: Sort of a challenge to the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. What could be the next RPi? Check out Endless: A computer the rest of the world can afford and How low can we go? Introducing the $9 Linux computer!