The most important Raspberry Pi operating systems for makers  

The most important Raspberry Pi operating systems for makers


The Raspberry Pi is the ideal basis for a multitude of maker projects. This is not only due to the versatile accessories, but also to the various operating systems, which give the single board computer the desired functions depending on the project.

Makers are particularly suited to operating systems that can be used in a variety of ways. Once you have familiarized yourself with an OS, you can implement a wealth of different projects in a familiar environment.

Here we present six operating systems beyond NOOBS:


1. Raspbian – a good standard

Raspbian is a Debian-based operating system officially supported by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It is therefore an operating system that has been specifically optimized for use with Raspberry Pi. Due to the status as official Raspberry Pi operating system, there were also tools from the beginning to learn programming skills running on Raspbian. “No space” So the operating system quickly enjoyed great popularity among beginners.

Another point that makes Raspbian particularly beginner-friendly is the graphical user interface PIXEL (Pi Improved X-Window Environment, Lightweight).

Users have at their disposal a large software library that includes mail clients, browsers, word processing programs and games such as Minecraft.

More Resource-Friendly Light Versions

For advanced users who don’t want a desktop with windows, there is a light version for each distribution, Raspbian Lite. Since it offers only the most necessary programs and does without Java packages, faster boot times are possible with Raspbian Lite. In addition, the user has more memory available for the implementation of self-programmed applications.

Another interesting alternative, which is also very resource-friendly, but still has a graphical user interface, is Diet Pi. Like Raspbian, it is based on the Debian Kernel 4.14, but strictly speaking it is not a Raspbian version.


2. Ubuntu Mate

Ubuntu has long been one of the most popular and widespread Linux distributions. Ubuntu Mate is also based on Debian and runs very stable on Raspberry 2 and 3. The main difference to the original Ubuntu is that it uses the MATE desktop environment. It supports PowerPC and ARMv7.

Ubuntu Mate is particularly user-friendly, as it provides a unified OS for all applications. It also includes handy apps such as a file manager, text editor, image display, system monitoring and terminals.

Users should choose a class 6 or 10 microSDHC card for smooth operation.


3. Ubuntu Core

This variant is particularly suitable for Cloud and IoT applications. Ubuntu Core attaches great importance to security and is particularly resource-saving and robust. The distribution is suitable for both home PCs and servers.

A special feature here is that each software package is packaged as a single unit called Snap. This provides more stability, as security gaps only affect a single snap, not the entire application. In addition, regular updates provide more security.


4. Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a very minimalistic and resource-saving operating system that can be individually adapted to your own projects. The operating system offers distributions for ARMv6, ARMv7 and ARMv8 and supports Raspberry Pi specific interfaces and GPIOs.

It is aimed more at advanced users who enjoy learning about the documentation and finding things out for themselves. The OS has neither a graphical user interface nor a configuration menu.

The deep training is rewarded with the possibility to have full control over the OS and to implement your own ideas. So you only use the resources of Raspberry Pi for the functions you really need.


5. FreeBSD

FreeBSD is based on an operating system from the Berkeley Software Distribution. The UNIX-like (but not fully POSIX-compliant) operating system is suitable for servers, desktops and embedded systems.

It focuses on performance, networking, and storage capabilities. It is often used for heavy-duty applications, Internet backbone systems such as high-performance routers or web hosting platforms. There it proves to be particularly fast and reliable.


6. SARPi

SARPi is considered to be the oldest Linux distribution still maintained today. It has a simple structure that is also reminiscent of UNIX. The distribution is always extended with new packages, which guarantees the security and the stable operation of the operating system.

With SARPi, users can decide for themselves which functions they really need. Applications or software libraries must be installed separately for each functionality. What he doesn’t need doesn’t take up any valuable storage space.

Configuration and administration are done from text files and a few shell scripts instead of GUI interfaces. This means that the operating system is aimed more at users with previous knowledge of Linux or Raspberry Pi.



Whether for electronics beginners or advanced makers – the Raspberry Pi offers a good basis for projects of any level of difficulty. The different operating systems make an important contribution to this. Depending on their level of knowledge, their own preferences or technical requirements, makers can choose which OS they need.

The advantage of the presented operating systems is that they all have a lively and sometimes very large online community. So you can quickly find a solution to all kinds of problems or discuss your ideas in forums.


Cover picture: reichelt




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