9 Best Raspberry Pi Operating Systems

Recognized for its robust capabilities, the Raspberry Pi has emerged as the go-to single-board computer for creators and enthusiasts, owing to its remarkable flexibility. When undertaking diverse projects, choosing the appropriate Raspberry Pi operating system stands as the pivotal first step toward success. Yet, amid the myriad of options, users often find themselves in a state of confusion. Each operating system addresses specific challenges and boasts unique features. To aid you in making sense of this extensive selection, TechSparks recommends nine Raspberry Pi operating systems. These suggestions are presented without hierarchical ranking but are based on individual characteristics and strengths, offering you a clearer path to an informed decision.

Table of Contents

Raspberry Pi OS

Raspbian OS

The precursor to Raspberry Pi OS was Raspbian OS, an officially endorsed operating system tailored and optimized exclusively for Raspberry Pi hardware. Initially constructed upon Debian, it has undergone proactive maintenance and integration of more potent tools, solidifying its position as one of the most favored operating systems.

Raspberry Pi OS features the lightweight PIXEL desktop as its default desktop environment, ensuring seamless system performance. Furthermore, it seamlessly integrates with Raspberry Pi hardware, delivering robust support for GPIO pins, cameras, sensors, and other peripherals. This comprehensive integration serves as a robust foundation for the convenient operation of a variety of projects.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu-Raspberry-Pi-operating-system

Introduced by the British company Canonical Ltd, Ubuntu offers three versions of its operating system: Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Server, and Ubuntu Core.

Ubuntu MATE:

Ubuntu MATE, an official Ubuntu derivative, features the MATE desktop environment. Recognized for its classic and user-friendly desktop design, this system provides an excellent experience for Raspberry Pi users seeking a lightweight option. Whether for everyday use or specific scenarios, Ubuntu MATE is a worthwhile choice for installation.

Ubuntu Server:

For users employing the Raspberry Pi as a project server, Ubuntu Server stands out as the optimal choice. It is suitable for scenarios such as cloud computing, virtualization, and large-scale deployments. Ubuntu Server provides 32-bit and 64-bit image files, allowing users to choose the operating system based on their computer or server’s hardware architecture. It’s important to note that Ubuntu Server does not include a graphical user interface by default.

Ubuntu Core:

Designed for embedded systems and IoT devices, Ubuntu Core is renowned for its high flexibility and customizability. It employs a software package format called “snaps,” providing a more secure method for application deployment and updates.

LibreELEC

LibreELEC Raspberry Pi Operating System

LibreELEC stands as a lightweight Linux distribution specifically crafted for embedded systems, serving as a key component in constructing home entertainment centers. As an open-source operating system, its primary objective is to deliver a simplified, stable, and highly optimized solution for media centers.

With integrated support for the Kodi media center software, LibreELEC accommodates a wide range of multimedia formats, making it a versatile choice for playing audio, video, images, and more. Furthermore, LibreELEC facilitates automatic updates, ensuring easy access to the latest versions of both the system and Kodi, thereby upholding system security and performance.

RISC OS

RISC OS Raspberry Pi operating system

RISC OS is an operating system intricately designed for the Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) architecture, and it also provides a version suitable for the Raspberry Pi. While not explicitly customized for Raspberry Pi 4, it maintains compatibility with Raspberry Pi 3 or earlier versions.

With minimal hardware requirements, RISC OS emerges as an ideal choice for operation in resource-constrained environments, particularly well-suited for older Raspberry Pi models. Additionally, RISC OS permits users to concurrently run multiple applications, enabling swift, efficient computations and responses. This feature positions it as an outstanding performer in embedded systems requiring multitasking and specific computing environments.

Lakka Linux

Lakka Linux Raspberry Pi operating system

Lakka Linux stands as an operating system specifically crafted for gaming enthusiasts, offering exceptional capabilities for constructing retro gaming consoles using the Raspberry Pi. Its forte lies in emulating games from a diverse range of platforms. Rooted in the RetroArch emulator, Lakka seamlessly integrates multiple game emulator cores, providing users with the ability to play games from various platforms within a unified interface.

To utilize Lakka Linux on a Raspberry Pi, the process involves burning Lakka’s image file onto a microSD card and inserting it into the Raspberry Pi. Upon startup, the Raspberry Pi initiates the Lakka operating system.

Kali Linux

Kali Linux Raspberry Pi operating system

Maintained and developed by Offensive Security, Kali Linux is a Debian-based Linux distribution dedicated to network security and penetration testing. It stands out as the optimal choice if you’re eager to explore and learn ethical hacking techniques specifically on the Raspberry Pi.

Pre-equipped with an extensive array of tools tailored for penetration testing and network attacks, Kali Linux aims to assist security professionals in evaluating the resilience of systems against real-world threats. It’s crucial to emphasize that the use of Kali Linux must be in a legal and authorized environment to avoid legal repercussions.

OpenMediaVault

OpenMediaVault Raspberry Pi Operating System

By combining the capabilities of Raspberry Pi and OpenMediaVault, you can establish a cost-effective yet robust Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution suitable for both home users and small businesses.

OpenMediaVault seamlessly supports a wide range of Raspberry Pi models and offers an intuitive, user-friendly web interface. This empowers users to effortlessly configure and manage various aspects, including file sharing, data backup, and remote access. The integration of OpenMediaVault significantly simplifies the setup and maintenance of network-attached storage.

ROKOS

Raspberry Pi ROKOS operating system

For those keen on venturing into Bitcoin mining on a Raspberry Pi, ROKOS stands out as the optimal solution. Tailored exclusively for the Raspberry Pi, ROKOS can effectively convert your device into a comprehensive Bitcoin full node. Full nodes play a pivotal role in the Bitcoin network, contributing not just to decentralization but also bolstering overall network security.

The ROKOS operating system is designed to streamline the setup and management of Bitcoin nodes. With pre-configured full node solutions, ROKOS enables Raspberry Pi users to seamlessly engage in the Bitcoin network, featuring an intuitive and user-friendly graphical user interface.

In addition to supporting Bitcoin, ROKOS extends its compatibility to other leading cryptocurrencies, establishing itself as a versatile cryptocurrency node operating system. This means you can efficiently manage nodes for various cryptocurrencies on the same device, enhancing system flexibility and diversity.

Kano OS

Kano OS Raspberry Pi operating system

In contrast to other Raspberry Pi operating systems crafted for specific projects, Kano OS distinguishes itself by being specifically designed for educational purposes. Its primary focus is to provide a hardware and software kit that makes learning programming and computer science engaging and accessible for children.

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