Raspberry Pi OS

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Raspberry Pi OS
Raspberry Pi OS Logo
Rapberry Pi OS Screenshot.png
Rasberry Pi OS desktop
DeveloperRaspberry Pi Foundation
OS familyUnix-like
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source
Latest releaseRaspberry Pi OS (32-bit) / 2021-01-11[1]
Marketing targetRaspberry Pi
Available inEnglish, and other languages.
Update methodAPT
Package managerdpkg
i386 version available[2]
Kernel typeMonolithic
Default user interfaceLXDE
LicenseFree and open-source software licenses (mainly GPL)
Official websitewww.raspberrypi.org/software/operating-systems/
Support status

Raspberry Pi OS[3] (formerly Raspbian) is a Debian-based operating system for Raspberry Pi. Since 2015, it has been officially provided by the Raspberry Pi Foundation as the primary operating system for the Raspberry Pi family of compact single-board computers.[4] The first version of Raspbian was created by Mike Thompson and Peter Green as an independent project.[5] The initial build was completed in June 2012.[6]

Previous, Raspberry Pi OS versions were 32-bit only and based on Debian, taking the name Raspbian. Since the more recent 64-bit versions no longer use Debian, the name was changed to Raspberry Pi OS for both the 64-bit and 32-bit versions. As of 1 February 2021, the 64-bit version is in beta and is not suitable for general use.[7] [8]

Raspberry Pi OS is highly optimized for the Raspberry Pi line of compact single-board computers with ARM CPUs. It runs on every Raspberry Pi except the Pico microcontroller. Raspberry Pi OS uses a modified LXDE as its desktop environment with the Openbox stacking window manager, along with a unique theme. The distribution is shipped with a copy of the algebra program Wolfram Mathematica[4] and a version of Minecraft called Minecraft: Pi Edition, as well as a lightweight version of the Chromium web browser.


User Interface[edit]

Raspberry Pi OS looks similar to many common desktops, such as macOS and Microsoft Windows. The menu bar is positioned at the top and contains an application menu and shortcuts to Terminal, Chromium, and File Manager. On the right is a Bluetooth menu, a Wi-Fi menu, volume control, and a digital clock.

Package Management[edit]

Packages can be installed via APT, the Recommended Software app, and by using the Add/Remove Software tool, a GUI wrapper for APT.

Microsoft Repository Controversy[edit]

In late January 2021, Raspberry Pi OS' raspberrypi-sys-mods package added a trusted GPG key and sources.list.d entry to APT without user consent. This addition granted Microsoft the ability to install and run any software during the daily critical update process on all Pi that had done a manual apt upgrade to receive the change. The change was not pushed as a critical update and, as of yet, the excessive permission has not been abused by Microsoft and would seem unlikely to ever be abused. The author of the change acknowledged on GitHub that too many rights were granted to Microsoft[9] and also acknowledged delaying the public release of the source code for the change.[10]

In addition to the permissions, the change also causes Pi running an updated Raspberry Pi OS to contact packages.microsoft.com daily and thereby reveal their IP address as a Raspberry Pi OS user for potential use in tracking or marketing efforts. On 8 February 2021, the original author made another change that restricted Microsoft's ability to install software to packages beginning with the string "code"[11] but Microsoft can still run code as root so this restriction is trivial to bypass. As of 8 February 2021, the issue is not resolved and the Raspberry Pi Foundation has locked or deleted many of the related threads on their public forum and their GitHub pages but has acknowledged there is a problem to be resolved and that they are working on it.[12]


PCManFM is a file browser allowing quick access to all areas of the computer, and was redesigned in the first Raspberry Pi OS Buster release (2019-06-20).

Raspberry Pi OS originally used Epiphany as the web browser, but switched to Chromium with the launch of its redesigned desktop.[13]

Raspberry Pi OS comes with many beginner IDEs, such as Thonny Python IDE, Mu Editor, and Greenfoot. It also ships with educational software like Scratch and Bookshelf.


Jesse Smith from DistroWatch reviewed Raspberry Pi OS (then Raspbian) in 2015:[14]

Though I did not intend to run the Raspberry Pi as a desktop computer, the Raspbian operating system does provide users with the LXDE desktop environment. The Pi does not have a great deal of processor speed or memory, but it does have enough resources to run LXDE and a handful of applications. So long as the user does not wish to do a lot at once, the Pi offers a fairly responsive desktop interface. I probably would not run heavier programs such as LibreOffice or Firefox on the Pi, but Raspbian does provide the Epiphany web browser and a few other desktop programs.

Based on download statistics from the Raspberry Pi Imager, Raspberry Pi OS is by far the most used operating system on the Raspberry Pi, accounting for 71.88% of all OS downloads in the past month, as of 1 February 2021.[15]

Release history[edit]

Release date Debian version Linux kernel GCC apt X Server Pi 1/1+ Pi 2 Pi 3 Pi

Zero W

Pi 3+ Pi 4
2013-09-27 7


3.6 4.7.2 0.9.7 7.7 Yes No No No No No
2013-10-07 Yes No No No No No
2013-12-24 3.10 Yes No No No No No
2014-01-09 Yes No No No No No
2014-06-22 3.12 Yes No No No No No
2014-07-08 Yes No No No No No
2014-09-12 Yes No No No No No
2014-10-08 Yes No No No No No
2014-12-25 Yes No No No No No
2015-02-02 3.18 Yes Yes No No No No
2015-02-17 Yes Yes No No No No
2015-02-18 Yes Yes No No No No
2015-05-07 Yes Yes No No No No
2015-05-12 Yes Yes No No No No
2015-09-28 8


4.1 4.9 Yes Yes No No No No
2015-11-24 Yes Yes No No No No
2016-02-08 Yes Yes No No No No
2016-02-09 Yes Yes No No No No
2016-02-29 Yes Yes Yes No No No
2016-03-18 Yes Yes Yes No No No
2016-05-13 4.4 Yes Yes Yes No No No
2016-05-31 Yes Yes Yes No No No
2016-09-28 Yes Yes Yes No No No
2016-11-29 Yes Yes Yes No No No
2017-02-27 4.9 Yes Yes Yes No No No
2017-03-03 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2017-04-10 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2017-06-23 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2017-07-05 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2017-08-17 9


6.3 1.4.6 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2017-09-08 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2017-11-29 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2018-03-13 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2018-04-18 4.14 1.4.8 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2018-06-29 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2018-10-09 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2018-11-13 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2019-04-08 1.4.9 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2019-06-24 10


4.19 8.3 1.8.2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2019-07-10 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2019-09-30 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2020-02-07 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2020-02-14 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2020-05-27 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2020-08-20 5.4.51 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2020-12-02 5.4.79 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2021-01-11 5.4.83 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Release date Debian version Linux kernel GCC apt X Server Pi 1/1+ Pi 2 Pi 3 Pi

Zero W

Pi 3+ Pi 4


Raspberry Pi OS has 3 installation options:

  • Raspberry Pi OS Lite
  • Raspberry Pi OS
  • Raspberry Pi OS Full

Raspberry Pi OS Lite is the smallest version and doesn't include a Desktop Environment.

Raspberry Pi OS includes the Pixel Desktop Environment.

Raspberry Pi OS Full also comes pre-installed with additional productivity software.

All versions are distributed as .img disk image files. These files can then be flashed on to microSD cards where Raspberry Pi OS runs. In March 2020, the Raspberry Pi Foundation also published the Raspberry Pi Imager,[16] a custom disk flasher that allows for the installation of Raspberry Pi OS as well as other operating systems designed for the Raspberry Pi, including RetroPie, Kodi OS, and others.

Version size[edit]

The Raspberry Pi documentation recommends at least a 4GB microSD card for Raspberry Pi OS Lite, an 8GB microSD card for Raspberry Pi OS, and a 16GB microSD card for Raspberry Pi OS Full.[17] The image files themselves are 438MB, 1,171MB, and 2,863MB respectively.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Release Notes". RaspberryPi.org.
  2. ^ "Raspberry Pi Desktop for PC and Mac". RaspberryPi.org.
  3. ^ Upton, Eben (28 May 2020). "8GB Raspberry Pi 4 on sale now at $75". Raspberry Pi Blog. Retrieved 28 May 2020. Both our 32-bit and 64-bit operating system images have a new name: Raspberry Pi OS. As our community grows, we want to make sure it’s as easy as possible for new users to find our recommended operating system for the Raspberry Pi. We think the new name will help more people feel confident in using our computers and our software.
  4. ^ a b "Download Raspberry Pi OS for Raspberry Pi". RaspberryPi.org. Mathematica and the Wolfram Language are included in this release under license and with permission of Wolfram Research, Inc. and may be used for non-commercial purposes only.
  5. ^ "RaspbianAbout - Raspbian". www.raspbian.org. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  6. ^ "FrontPage - Raspbian". www.raspbian.org. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  7. ^ "Raspberry Pi OS (64 bit) beta test version". RaspberryPi.org.
  8. ^ Piltch, Avram (2020-05-30). "Raspberry Pi OS: Why It's No Longer Called 'Raspbian'". Tom's Hardware. The official Pi operating system is now called 'Raspberry Pi OS.'
  9. ^ "Why Microsoft repo is needed?". GitHub. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Where is the 20210125 update ??". GitHub. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  11. ^ "Stop-gap measure to address one of the main concerns about 3rd party …". GitHub. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Microsoft GPG key suggestion". Raspberry Pi Forums. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  13. ^ Long, Simon (2016-09-28). "Introducing PIXEL". Raspberry Pi Blog. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  14. ^ Smith, Jesse (22 June 2015). "DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 615, 22 June 2015". DistroWatch. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  15. ^ "rpi-imager Stats". rpi-imager-stats.raspberrypi.org. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  16. ^ Hollingworth, Gordon (2020-03-05). "Introducing Raspberry Pi Imager, our new imaging utility". Raspberry Pi Blog. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  17. ^ "SD cards - Raspberry Pi Documentation". RaspberryPi.org. Retrieved 2021-02-02.

External links[edit]