Ultimate guide to Raspberry Pi operating systems, Part 3

Now there are even more operating systems to run on the Raspberry Pi


RPi pleasure

A few months ago we published the Ultimate guide to Raspberry Pi operating systems, Part 1, followed by the Ultimate guide to Raspberry Pi operating systems, Part 2, and today, for your continuing RPi pleasure, we have Part 3, with nine more operating systems to choose from!

Since we published Part 2 in December, 2015, the big news is that the Raspberry Pi Foundation released the latest version of their single board computer, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B! Now that there’s a 64-bit Raspberry Pi with roughly double the performance, you can expect to see even more operating systems appear for the Raspberry Pi family.

For you pickers of nits, yes, I’m counting individual Linux distros as individual operating systems (so sue me). If you know of anything I’ve missed or a detail that’s wrong, please drop me a note at feedback@gibbs.com and I’ll update the piece 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.

OpenWrt Wiki


OpenWrt is “a highly extensible GNU/Linux distribution for embedded devices (typically wireless routers). Unlike many other distributions for these routers, OpenWrt is built from the ground up to be a full-featured, easily modifiable operating system for your router. In practice, this means that you can have all the features you need with none of the bloat, powered by a Linux kernel that's more recent than most other distributions.” - OpenWrt

Last updated: March 2016; download here



SlaXBMCRPi is “a minimal Linux distribution based on Slackware ARM that brings a full-featured XBMC/Kodi solution to your Raspberry Pi. It allows the user to exit from XBMC/Kodi to the Desktop should he need to perform typical desktop tasks (browsing, text editing etc.).” - elinux.org

Last updated: 2014; download here

tiny core linux
Tiny Core Linux

Tiny Core Linux

Tiny Core Linux is “… Very Small. At 10 megabytes, Tiny Core is 1/400 to 1/100 the size of the most widely used operating systems in the world (even compared to most Linux distros). That makes Tiny Core flexible enough to be stored and run from usb sticks, a just-about-full CD, or even embedded devices … [It] has a flexible and fully-customizable Graphical User Interface Desktop. Mouse, keyboard, and screen support basically works out-of-the-box … [is] unusually stable … [and is] unusually fast. Unlike most operating systems, the Tiny Core can run completely from RAM … [and is] Internet ready. Tiny Core almost always finds your network card right away. [It is also] available even smaller. Linophiles that get things done without a GUI can get the MicroCore, a version of Tiny Core without X that is under 7 MB.” - tinycorelinux.net

Last updated: April 2016; download here

ubuntu mate

Ubuntu MATE

Ubuntu MATE is “a stable, easy-to-use operating system with a configurable desktop environment. It is ideal for those who want the most out of their computers and prefer a traditional desktop metaphor. With modest hardware requirements it is suitable for modern workstations, single board computers and older hardware alike. Ubuntu MATE makes modern computers fast and old [computers] usable.” - ubuntu-mate.org

Last updated: April 2016; download here



Volumio is “an entirely new music system. It is designed to play all your music, whether it is an Hi-Res file or a Web Radio, with the highest quality. Control it with your favourite device, a smartphone, pc or tablet, and enjoy your music as you never did before.” - volumio.org

Last updated: August 2015; download here

firefox os

Firefox OS

Firefox OS is “the first truly open mobile platform built entirely on Web technologies. If you can build for the Web using HTML and CSS, you can build Firefox OS … We are looking to demonstrate that Firefox OS can be a viable and valuable operating system for a range of development boards and hardware related to IoT … this is a clean and full rom based on Android (as the ones running on phones). WARNING: this guide is specific for the Raspberry PI B+ 2, older models have a different chipset and newest model have not been tested.” - mozilla.org

Not yet released.

rpi buildroot


RPi-Buildroot is “a set of Makefiles and patches that make it easy to generate a complete customized embedded Linux system for your Raspberry Pi. This distro is based on Buildroot so it's perfect for somebody looking to build a trimmed-down or task-specific system … Please note that this distro is intended for advanced users.” - elinux.org

Last updated: February 2016; download here



The openSUSE project has three main goals: make openSUSE the easiest Linux for anyone to obtain and the most widely used Linux distribution; leverage open source collaboration to make openSUSE the world's most usable Linux distribution and desktop environment for new and experienced Linux users; dramatically simplify and open the development and packaging processes to make openSUSE the platform of choice for Linux developers and software vendors. - distrowatch.com

Last Update: April 2016; download here

Puppy Linux


Puppy Linux operating system is a lightweight Linux distribution that focuses on ease of use and minimal memory footprint. The entire system can be run from RAM with current versions generally taking up about 210 MiB, allowing the boot medium to be removed after the operating system has started. Applications such as AbiWord (word processing), Gnumeric (spreadsheets) and MPlayer (multimedia player) are included, along with a choice of lightweight web browsers. - Wikipedia