The Raspberry Pi is a micro-PC or ‘single board computer’ (SBC) that, since its launch 8 years ago, has become very popular in education and electronics hobbyists.
But being based on an ARM architecture (like Apple’s M1 processors, or the Qualcomm processors of most mobile devices on the market), the operating systems that we can install on this PC are not exactly the same that we are used to using on traditional PCs.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation supports the development of Raspbian, a port of Debian Linux optimized for this class of devices; We have already reviewed this and other GNU / Linux distributions compatible with the RPi in Genbeta … but Is there life beyond Linux for these devices? Yes, there is:
One of the most frequent questions among computer enthusiasts who are approaching RPi for the first time is “Can I install Windows on the Raspberry?”.
And the answer is usually a resounding “No.” But That’s not true at allActually, there are two versions of Windows 10 compatible with ARM devices:
- Windows 10 for ARM, typical of tablets and convertible mobile devices. Its support is not complete, and it still has problems recognizing 100% installed RAM … but it is possible to install it and thus have a 100% Windows desktop experience on the RPi.
Yeah I know: Android is technically Linux because it makes use of a modified version of your kernel. But their differences are so many that, for practical purposes, we are talking about another operating system.
Android is an interesting option for the RPi if we want to assemble some kind of DIY multimedia device, such as an Android TV Box, a HTPC or a game console with Android games … as well as if we seek to provide ourselves with an adequate development environment for this mobile OS.
Although there are several options available to install Android ports on this system, perhaps the most recommended (because it is the most documented, among other factors) is the LineageOS ‘distribution’.
Make no mistake: the Raspberry is not a particularly powerful device (neither was that the purpose for which it was created), so resort to a cloud-based OS and looking to minimize the consumption of system resources may be a good idea. Y that’s where chrome OS comes in.
This second system (developed, like the previous one, by Google) use Chrome browser as user interface, so most of their apps are web. It also has several custom distributions compatible with the RPi, among them FydeOS.
Yes, like Windows, Android also has a version for IoT devices (with little memory and limited power), although for a year and a half Google has refocused it, above all, to devices such as speakers and smart displays. And yes, Android Things has official support for the Raspberry Pi 3.
This operating system distributed and scalable, unpopular outside of specialized fields, is based -like Linux and the BSD- on UNIX. It has a particular graphical interface called ‘River‘and is distinguished by representing all system interfaces (including network interfaces and peripherals) as part of its file system.
Along with Windows 10, RISC OS is the only operating system on this list that is not ultimately derived from UNIX. Born in 1987, he was the first operating system used to run commercial computers with ARM architecture.
It has its own graphical user interface (with a somewhat vintage, that’s true), plus package manager, shell, and the peculiarity of requiring mice with three buttons to use.
RISC OS is one of the operating systems that we can install from the Raspberry NOOBS installation tool. Once installed, it is incredibly fast to boot up.
NetBSD / OpenBSD
These two operating systems, belonging to the same family of BSD systems to which macOS also belongs, would be the ‘cousins’ of Linux. They are free multiplatform and general purpose operating systems, usable in text mode or from complete desktop environments.
NetBSD is a stable and reliable operating system, born from the beginning with a clear focus on portability (in fact, it supports 59 different architectures and its motto is’Of course it works with NetBSD‘).
OpenBSD It is, for its part, a fork of the previous one that emphasizes security and cryptography.