What unusual operating systems have you used

Raspberry Pi: 10 operating systems for mini computers at a glance

The Raspberry Pi single-board computer, released in 2012, has become one of the most popular tools in the developer scene within a few years. Hobbyists and newcomers to programming from all over the world use the mini-computer Realization of the craziest projects like voice-operated coffee machines or video game machines. In addition, it is now the UK's best-selling computer of all time, too in demand as a server solution - for web, mail and DNS servers as well as for cloud servers. The basic basis is always a functioning operating system, with various open source distributions and other free applications available. This guide presents some of the most interesting Operating systems for the Raspberry Pi in brief in front.


Raspbian is a free operating system that on the Linux distribution Debian based and is optimized for the hardware of the Raspberry Pi. A first version of the Debian port, which was mainly initiated by the developers Mike Thompson and Peter Green, appeared shortly after the Raspberry Pi was released in the June 2012. Since then, Raspbian has been considered the official Raspberry Pi operating system. At that time, the distribution already comprised over 35,000 software packages that were made available to the user after installation. thanks continuous development The size of the repository grew steadily and now even includes office programs such as a word processing program or an e-mail client.

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To use Raspbian, you can install the system yourself using the downloadable RaspbianInstaller install on an SD card or download a finished image and copy it to the desired SD card. You can choose between official images from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and images that are members of the very active Raspbian community provide. In the first case, both a version with a desktop interface (requires at least an 8 GB SD card) and a slim version without GUI (Lite) are available - each as a ZIP or torrent file. Alternatively, downloading and installation can be simplified by using the NOOBS software manager. In the Raspberry Pi shop you can also Purchase cards with the image installed.

advantages disadvantage
Very beginner-friendly Delayed software updates
Excellent support  

Kali Linux

Another Debian descendant found in his ARM edition Kali Linux can be used as a Raspberry Pi distribution. The open source program was created by Mati Ahoni and Devon Kearns from the American company Offensive security and published in a first version on March 13, 2013. The distribution can be used as normal operating system software, but is primarily used for extensive security and penetration tests by Computer systems and networks used. For this purpose the application contains over 600 tools: such as the network scanner Nmap, the Metasploit Framework (exploit test platform) or the password cracker John the Ripper. Kali Linux is the official one Successor to BackTrackwhich was based on the Linux distribution Ubuntu.

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Since Kali Linux focuses on security, the Rasberry Pi operating system regularly receives security updates and software updates from the Debian repository. This ensures that the system is always up to date. By default this is Software packetkept rather minimalist in order to offer the smallest possible attack surface. However, additional applications can be added at any time if necessary. The great community is through various forums, IRC channels and the open Bug tracker system heavily involved in the development and maintenance of the Linux distribution. To use the operating system for your Raspberry Pi, simply download the appropriate Kali image file and copy it to your SD card (at least 8 GB). Then run the image on the minicomputer using the dd command.

advantages disadvantage
Various integrated security tools Rather unsuitable for Linux beginners
Allows computer / network security tests Comparatively high RAM requirements


Pidora is a remix (modification) of the Linux distribution Fedora, which was specially compiled for the Raspberry Pi in 2014 by the Center for Development of Open Technology (CDOT) at Seneca College. On the one hand, it includes Standard packages of the Fedora projectthat are compiled for the ARMv6 architecture of the Pis, but also modified and rewritten Applications. It also includes some programs from the Raspberry Pi Foundation for device access. The open source system can be set up using a graphical configuration tool that opens automatically when it is started for the first time. The subsequent administration works otherwise as with any other standard Linux system.

A main feature of Pidora is the so-called Headless mode. This allows you to access your minicomputer without a monitor or display. If you have problems with the Raspberry Pi distribution, there are different points of contact: In the Community forums and wikis from Raspberry Pi and Fedora you will not only find various help, but you can also easily exchange ideas with other users. Seneca College also provides its own wiki and an IRC channel. If you Report software bugs or security vulnerabilities you can use either the Bugzilla system (for problems with Fedora packages) or the Pidora bug tracker. To install Pidora you need a Download the operating system image and copy it to an SD card (at least 2GB). Download links and detailed instructions can be found on the Pidora homepage, which has already been identified.

advantages disadvantage
Headless mode enables the configuration of devices without a display or monitor Unsuitable for beginners
Specially designed for the Raspberry Pi Sometimes very resource-intensive

Windows 10 IoT Core

With Windows 10 IoT Core, Microsoft launched its first operating system for IoT devices such as the Raspberry Pi (2 or 3) in 2015. The application is primarily aimed at developers and hobbyists who want to network everyday objects with the Internet or who want to create new networked things. For this purpose, Windows 10 IoT Core relies on the in-house “Universal Windows Platform” API (UWP), which makes it possible to write apps for your own devices. The free community edition of Microsoft Visual Studio serves as development software. The proprietary Raspberry Pi operating system also stands out Bitlocker encryption and "Secure Boot" functions that were taken over from the desktop version. Thanks to the support of pulse width modulation (PWM), the system software can, among other things, also Control electric motors.

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Microsoft takes care of the further development of the software itself and offers several learning videos as well as its own support. in the Community forum you can also exchange ideas with other developers - among other things, there is a separate Raspberry Pi area. Both the Download as well as the use the Raspberry Pi software is freeHowever, you cannot make changes to the system kernel. You can find the right installation file for your Raspberry version in the Developer Center. Requirement for the download and the subsequent Installation on the SD card (manually or using NOOBS) your minicomputer is an up-to-date version of Windows 10.

advantages disadvantage
Smooth networking of IoT devices Proprietary
Special Raspberry Pi support Current version of Windows 10 required

Ubuntu Core

Ubuntu has been one of the most popular Linux distributions for years: Equally suitable as an operating system for home computers and servers, Ubuntu is also used on international space stations and is the central operating unit of the BYU Mars Rover. The software, which is based on Debian and has been developed by Canonical since 2004, is primarily characterized by its high level of adaptability and user-friendliness. Under the name Ubuntu Core, the developers released a variant in 2014 that is a minimalist modification of the server edition and can also be used as a Raspberry Pi operating system. A similar package has been available with JeOS (Just Enough Operating System) since Ubuntu 8.04.

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The main difference between Ubuntu Core and other Raspberry Pi operating systems is that each software package is a single unit ("Snap") - this even applies to the Linux kernel. Critical security gaps, which are quickly fixed thanks to automatic updates, in most cases only endanger individual components and rarely the entire system. In Instructions and tutorials learn how you can program your own snaps and share them with the community if you want to participate in the expansion of the Raspberry Pi software. If you have problems, questions or suggestions for improvement, you can either contact Canonical directly or get help in the Community forums search. Information about the installation process for which you have an Ubuntu SSO account, a SD card and you need the right image, you can get it in the Ubuntu developer area.

advantages disadvantage
Regular software updates Snaps take up more space than classic software packages, since many libraries have to be saved multiple times
Backroll function for all updates  


RISC OS, originally called Arthur, is an operating system that was developed by the British company Acorn for the ARM-based Computer Archimedes was developed. Meanwhile, RISC OS Open Limited (ROOL) is responsible for the development of the software, their Source code freely available since 2006 is. The owner is Castle Technology Ltd., which, among other things, regulates the sale of the license for commercial use of the operating system. Thanks to the design for use on ARM architectures, RISC OS was already found in single-board computers BeagleBoard and PandaBoard Use. With the release of the Raspberry Pi, it quickly became one of the most important Linux alternatives for the operation of the minicomputer.

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In Great Britain in particular, RISC OS has a large fan base due to its history, which relies on the possibilities of the modular system. For newcomers who are not familiar with the old Acorn computers, however, the system program turns out to be rather unusual at first glance: RISC OS is very heavy-duty Drag-and-drop technique. For example, files cannot be opened directly in a program, but only by selecting them from the respective directory dragged into the program window - regardless of whether it is a drawing program or a text editor. To use the operating system for your Raspberry Pi, you need an image that you download from the RISC-OS homepage and can be installed on any SD card (from 2GB). In the ROOL store you can also buy cards with an already installed system.

advantages disadvantage
Very slim system core Limited number of active developers
Easily expandable thanks to the modular structure  

SARPi (Slackware ARM for Raspberry Pi)

Developed back in 1993, Slackware is now the oldest Linux distribution that is still actively supported. The ARM port, initially available under the name ARMedslack, and now as Slackware ARM is known, is also suitable as an operating system for the Raspberry Pi. The SARPi project (S.lacquerware A.RM on a R.aspberry pi) supports interested parties with the installation and setup of the system. For this purpose, the SARPi team provides step-by-step instructions as well Installation packages and images available for all Raspberry versions on the official project page. There are also some additional software packages such as libraries (Bit Torrent, C ++) or an I2C tool set available for download.

Even after more than 20 years, Slackware and its ARM port (since 2002) are still being developed. Established components give the distribution, which is regularly expanded with new packages, a high level Stability and security. The package management system (pkgtool) grants the administrator a great deal of freedom: libraries and other applications that are necessary for the functionality of a program are not automatically installed, but also require one manual installation. There is a good chance that you will find packages that are not included in the Raspberry Pi distribution in the SlackBuilds.org repository. The SARPi team recommends a SD card with at least 16 GB storage capacity. You can find detailed information about the system software and the support offer in the Slackware online manuals.

advantages disadvantage
New packages are only released after extensive testing Small community
Maximum control over the installation and configuration of the system and programs High storage space requirements

Arch Linux ARM

In 2009, the PlugApps and ArchMobile development teams began work on porting the minimalist Linux distribution Arch Linux for ARM processors. Around a year later, the first edition for ARMv5 systems was presented - this was followed by versions for ARMv6 (2012), ARMv7 (2011) and ARMv8 (2015). For this reason, the open source solution, which is now known as Arch Linux ARM, is also suitable as an operating system for the Rapsberry Pi, among other things. The port transfers the basic philosophy of Arch Linux to the single-board computer by allowing the user to enter Is the focus, full control and responsibility over the system granted and relies on a lean basic structure. The update of the operating system is subject to one Rolling release cycle: Instead of huge updates at a fixed point in time, the developers continuously and regularly publish smaller packages.

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Arch Linux ARM accesses that Package program Pacman back, which was specially developed for the original distribution. Since version 4 (2011), this software manager also supports signed packages, so that the Check authenticity of packages when downloading can. Official new packages from the Arch Linux team receive theirs during the creation process and before leaving the secure development environment digital signatureto prevent manipulation and thus ensure maximum security. With a single command ("pacman -Syu") you ensure that the Raspberry Pi operating system is up to date. The Arch Linux User-Community Repository (AUR), which contains user-created applications, further expands the range of packages.

To install Arch Linux ARM, simply download the appropriate tar.gzFile for your Raspberry version and then extract it to a formatted SD card (from 2 GB).

advantages disadvantage
Secure and timely updates of the software packages Complex configuration
Full control over the system Risk of unstable packages due to short test phases


As a derivative of the famous Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) - which for the first time did justice to the approach of a free operating system due to its own BSD license - FreeBSD is still one of the most important open source projects today. Around 400 officially listed developers and thousands more contributors workactively working on further development the FreeBSD software, which impresses with its security and storage functions, but above all with its first-class network features. thanks to the Support of ARMv6 and ARMv7 architectures the BSD derivative can also be used as a Raspberry Pi operating system (1 and 2). In the future, the third version of the minicomputer should also be compatible with the current FreeBSD version.

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Due to the strengths in terms of network functionality and stability FreeBSD is mainly used in the server environment. As a user, you also benefit from the speed of the operating system, which has primarily been revised to version 10.0 Storage subsystem is due. Thanks to his well documented API the operating system for the Raspberry Pi can also be optimally adapted to your own needs or expanded with your own software components. If you have any problems or questions, you can find support from other users and developers on the various FreeBSD community forums and blogs. There are also providers who offer commercial support for the system.

In order to use the system software, it is necessary to create a bootable image and copy it to an SD card. The Crochet tool is available for this purpose.

advantages disadvantage
Very fast, stable and resource-saving Current version not available for the Raspberry Pi 3
Huge, active community  


The RetroPie operating system, which is set to Raspbian and various other software components, transforms your Raspberry-Pi into a game console on which you can use your favorite ones Play console and PC classics can. The EmulationStation, written in C ++, serves as the front end, the design or layout of which you can adapt using ready-made themes. The RetroArch software enables access to the Libretro API, which allows you to control the various Emulators (over 50 systems are available) and add useful features if necessary. With Kodi, the Raspberry Pi distribution also has its own Media center, which makes it possible to play films or music on the minicomputer.

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To install RetroPie on your Raspberry, you have two options: Either install the individual components manually on an already set up Raspbian or another Debian operating system. Or you can use the offered image files, which you only have to unzip and copy to the SD card. A detailed one Instructions for installation and configuration as well as the most important download links can be found in the official GitHub directory of the Raspberry Pi operating system. If there are problems during the installation or later, the RetroPie forum often offers the solution: Here you will not only find general discussions and announcements about the system, but also one Support areawhere you can reach out to other RetroPie users.

advantages disadvantage
Fast response to new Raspberry Pi releases Weak documentation of the individual software components
Integrated media center (Kodi) Expandable controller operation

The Raspberri-Pi operating systems in a tabular comparison

  Publishing year developer Based on Identification feature
Arch Linux ARM 2010 Arch Linux Project Arch Linux Rolling release cycle
FreeBSD 1993 FreeBSD project BSD World class network and storage capabilities
Kali Linux 2013 Offensive security Debian Various tools for intensive security checks
Pidora 2014 CDOT Fedora Headless mode
Raspbian 2012 Mike Thompson, Peter Green Debian Official standard Raspberry Pi operating system
RetroPie 2013 RetroPie Project Raspbian Various retro console emulators
RISC OS 1989 ROOL Arthur Drag-and-drop operation
SARPi 2012 SARPi team Slackware ARM Maximum control over installation and configuration
Ubuntu Core 2014 Canonical Ubuntu Backroll function for all updates
Windows 10 IoT Core 2015 Microsoft Windows 10 Proprietary (but free of charge)
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