Raspberry Pi

Ten operating systems for the Raspberry Pi

The OSes the Raspberry Pi can run will amaze you!

raspberry pi 1

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi single board computer has become incredibly popular with hobbyists, academics, educators and OEMs. It’s tiny, it’s cheap, it has great performance and it’s extremely versatile. Even better, you have a surprisingly wide choice of operating systems to help you tackle whatever project you take on. What? You thought there was only Raspbian? If so, read on. We’ll look at Raspbian first, but wait to you see what else you can run …

[UPDATE] Make sure you check out our latest slideshow,  Ultimate guide to Raspberry Pi operating systems, part 1 with 28 OSes for the RPi and that's just part 1!

RELATED: 20 cool things you can do with Rapsberry Pi

raspberry pi 2

Operating System: Raspbian

Latest Release: September 2014 on Sept. 9, 2014

What do you get if you cross the Raspberry Pi with the rock solid and highly popular Debian Linux operating system? Raspbian, of course. This OS was developed by the Raspbian project but taken over by The Raspberry Pi Foundation and can be downloaded directly from the Raspberry Pi Website Downloads Page. An interesting aspect of the Raspbian project are the unofficial variants produced by enthusiastic users.

raspberry pi 3

Operating System : Arch Linux ARM

Latest release: 4.2.1 on Oct. 4, 2014

Arch Linux ARM is a fork of Arch Linux built for ARM processors. This distro has a long history of being used on a wide range of products, including the Pogoplug, and on the Raspberry Pi it’s fast and stable.

raspberry pi 4

Operating System: OpenELEC

Latest release: 4.2.1 on Oct. 4, 2014

OpenELEC, an acronym for Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center, is a Linux-based OS that runs the popular XBMC open source digital media center software. The first release of OpenELEC was in 2013 and, according to the OpenELEC Wiki, “Installing OpenELEC for Raspberry Pi from a Linux computer is a very simple process and, whether you're new to Linux or a hardened *NIX user, you shouldn't have any problems.” That said, the wiki also offers  instructions for OS X and Windows.

raspberry pi 5

Operating System: Pidora

Latest release: 20 on July 24, 2014

Pidora is a Fedora Remix, a customized version of the Unix-like Fedora system, running on the ARM-based Raspberry Pi single board computer, and it moves faster than a politician taking a donation. First released in 2003, Fedora has a long history and is noted for its stability. Given that there are thousands of packages available in the Pidora repository, you’ll be able to find pretty much any functionality or service you need for your project.

raspberry pi 6

Operating System: Raspbmc

Latest release: June 2014 on June 13, 2014

Yet another implementation of the popular XBMC open source digital media center, Raspbmc is lightweight and robust.

raspberry pi 7

Operating System: Minepeon

Latest release: 0.2.4 on Oct. 27, 2013

There’s gold in them thar' BitCoin mines! You can get it out using the Minepeon operating system based on Linux and running on a Raspberry Pi. Of course you’re going to need a lot of machines to get your digital “quan” given how much more “work” is needed to mine BitCoin today, but given the price of the Raspberry Pi, you won’t go broke assembling a roomful of miners. Show me the digital money!

raspberry pi 8

Operating System: Kali Linux

Latest release: 1.0.9 on Aug. 8, 2014

Kali Linux is one of my favorite flavors of Linux because of its excellent collection of penetration testing and diagnostic tools (plus it has a great logo). Being able to run this bad boy on a Raspberry Pi means you can have your own custom pen tester in your pocket.

raspberry pi 9

Operating System: OpenWrt for Raspberry Pi

Latest release: 14.07 Barrier Breaker on Oct. 2, 2014

OpenWrt for Raspberry Pi is “a Linux distribution for embedded devices.” OpenWrt-based systems are most often used as routers and, with something like 3,500 optional add-on packages, its abilities can be tailored in pretty much anyway imaginable. Want an ultraportable, incredibly tiny wireless router that can be run anywhere? OpenWrt on a Raspberry Pi running off a battery with a USB WiFi dongle can only be described as “epic.”

raspberry pi 10

Operating System: Raspberry Digital Signage

Latest release: 5.0 on Aug. 8, 2014

Raspberry Digital Signage is based on Debian Linux running on a Raspberry Pi and used in Web kiosks and digital signage (including digital photo frames). A really well thought out system, Digital Signage is designed to be easily administered while being as “hacker-proof” as possible.

raspberry pi 11

Operating System: RISC OS Pi

Latest release: RC12a on July 14, 2014

Originally developed and released in 1987 by UK-based Acorn Computers Ltd., RISC OS is, as the RISC OS Web site claims, “its own thing – a very specialized ARM-based operating system … If you’ve not used it before, you will find it doesn’t behave quite the same way as anything else.” RISC OS Pi has been available on the Raspberry Pi since 2012.