Analysis of the best distributions for Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi distributions

The SBC (Single Board Computer) Raspberry Pi has been a great success due to its low price and its great possibilities, both for software developers, computer science students and for hobbyists who want to use it for their own home projects. For this reason, in this article we are going to analyse the most important Raspberry Pi distributions and some interesting add-ons.

We already know about the versatility of Raspberry Pi, but with this article we are going to realise how big the Raspberry Pi community really is, let's start.

Distributions and OS for Raspberry Pi for generic use

With early models and versions of the Raspberry Pi, the user experience as a desktop system left much to be desired. With the improvement of the hardware in new releases and with the improvements made in the add-ons and systems available for the boards, it is increasingly making more sense to be able to use them as a PC for common use. Let's take a look at the systems available to us for this use.

Raspbian OS

New Raspbian desktop

Raspbian OS is the distribution par excellence for the Raspberry Pi. It is the most complete and optimized of the existing ones, so it has official support. Raspbian OS is based on the powerful Debian Wheezy distro (Debian 7.0) optimising its code for the Raspberry Pi SBC.

The distribution is lightweight to move nimbly on the Raspberry Pi hardware, it started with a LXDE desktop environment and Midori as the default web browser, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation has created a special desktop environment called PIXEL (Pi Improved Xwindows Environment Lightweight). It also includes very interesting development tools, such as IDLE for Python, Scratch for programming videogames (very interesting especially if combined with Arduino), the Pi Store, etc...

Raspbian OS

Kano OS

Kano OS

Kano OS is a Linux distribution whose name may remind you of the famous Kano kit based on Raspberry Pi, in fact it is from the same developers. An SD card with this operating system is included in the pack, although you can download it without having to buy the kit for free from the link below.

Its graphical interface is specially designed for children. It undoubtedly offers a multitude of possibilities for children and is especially interesting for educational centres due to its peculiarities. Although Kano OS is based on Debian, it has been simplified to the maximum, reminding its appearance of vintage consoles and in which you will find utilities to teach the virtues of technology at an early age.

Kano OS

Flint OS

FlintOS

Flint OS is a fork of Chromium OS which is compatible with both PCs and Raspberry Pi. It is an operating system derived from Google and compatible with Android Apps, so we will have millions of apps and games for this Linux-based operating system.

Flint OS

pipaOS

pipaOS Desktop

pipaOS is another distribution based on Debian Wheezy and specially designed for the Raspberry Pi. What stands out the most is its lightness, with a boot time of no more than 10 seconds, which is quite a challenge considering the limited hardware of the Pi. If you want speed and interaction with other elements such as USB devices and smartphones or tablets, this is the distro for you.

Nor do you need a card of more than 1GB, since the system with about 420MB is served to work perfectly. It also has integrated support for the most popular wireless USB devices, guaranteed speed, time synchronisation via public NTP servers, customisable, supports FM radio broadcasting, Plug & Play, USB Tethering, etc...

pipaOS

PiBang

PiBang Desk

PiBang is based on Raspbian and inspired by Crunchbang, it is an attractive and lightweight distro. Basically it is an improved Raspbian with a minimalist design philosophy and leaving aside the add-ons related to teaching that integrates Raspbian. It also integrates some more differences with respect to Raspbian OS.

PiBang does not use LXDE, but uses a desktop environment still lighter Openbox Window Manager. The boot system used is systemd, instead of the primitive and slow sysv used by Raspbian. As for repositories, you can use either Raspbian's or your own in order to have a wider range of software available. Pcmanfm has also been replaced by SpaceFM, as has ZSH as a shell instead of the traditional Bash.

PiBang

RISC OS

Screenshot of RISC OS

RISC OS is one of the few non-Linux based operating systems available for the Raspberry Pi. In fact, RISC OS is a British operating system developed by Acorn Computers (the makers of ARM) and distributed under an Open-Source licence.

Although its support and catalogue of available applications is not as extensive as that of other distributions, it is also considered to be one of the official operating systems for the Raspberry Pi and is particularly interesting in that it has been built around the ARM platform from the ground up.

RISC OS

pidora

Pidora's desk

pidora is basically a Fedora Linux distribution specially optimised to run on ARM. For the rest of its features it is similar to Fedora, Red Hat's little sister, and maintained by the same developers of this free community. If you are interested, it is also officially recognised by the Raspberry Pi community and is integrated into NOOBS.

pidora

archlinux ARM

ArchLinux for ARM

Arch Linux is another big name in Linux distributions. It is characterised by its simplicity, elegance, code consistency and minimalism. But simplicity does not mean ease of use, as Arch Linux is well known for being unfriendly and recommended only for people with more advanced knowledge. Arch Linux now supports ARM and can therefore also be installed on the Raspberry Pi and similar SBC boards.

Arch Linux

Ubuntu MATE

Ubuntu MATE

Canonical's famous Ubuntu distribution, also has Ubuntu MATE available for the Raspberry Pi. It is an Ubuntu Linux with a MATE desktop environment, lightweight and requires few resources compared to the heavy Unity. MATE is based on GNOME2 and is well known in the Linux world for its great acceptance within the community, so much so that there are numerous distributions that have chosen it as the default desktop.

With Ubuntu MATE, you'll get a complete Ubuntu to do almost anything with this complete operating system. Of course, being a fairly powerful distro, it requires you to have at least the Raspberry Pi 2 or higher.

Ubuntu MATE

Tizen

Tizen OS

Tizen is a rival to Android and Firefox OSall of them operating systems designed for mobile devices, based on Linux and open source. Now you can also enjoy this operating system on your Raspberry Pi (version 2 or higher), a system based on HTML5 (so if you know how to program in this language, you can create extraordinary apps for Tizen) and with many similarities to Firefox OS.

Tizen is sponsored by the Linux Foundation and has the support of Samsung, as well as the collaboration in the development of other companies such as Intel, Huawei, Fujitsu, NEC, Panasonic, Orange, Vodafone, etc... And although, like Firefox OS, it seems a project stunned by the triumph of Android, there will soon be a lot of talk about them...

Tizen OS

Android Pi (Razdroid)

Android Pi Desktop

Android can also run on the Raspberry Pi, which is logical, since Android is an operating system that Google has created for the ARM platform. But Android Pi or Razdroid is a community of volunteers to support this system on the Raspberry Pi. For that they have done a great job adapting and optimizing the system so that everyone can enjoy Android with a good experience.

Android Pi

Debian ARM

Debian desktop

DebianDebian, that huge operating system created around GNU/Linux, now also has support for ARM and therefore can be installed on the Raspberry Pi if you want. Debian is extremely complete and powerful that will offer you many possibilities whether you are a normal user, a programmer or want to create great projects with the Raspi.

Debian ARM

openSUSE ARM

openSUSE green environment

The openSuSE community was not going to be less and have also added support to install the famous Linux distribution on any ARM platform, also have a community dedicated especially to the Raspberry Pi board. Undoubtedly a very attractive distro for generic use and based on RPM packages.

openSUSE ARM

Slackware ARM

Slackware

Slackware distribution to run on ARM platforms. The old Slackware distro is not characterised by being the simplest, but it certainly has a lot of support and a large list of derivatives. If you already work with the Slackware distribution or one of its derivatives, you may be interested in continuing with this philosophy on the Raspberry Pi as well.

Slackware ARM

Gentoo ARM

Gentoo

Gentoo is another difficult distribution, but it is nevertheless very famous among Linuxers. Gentoo is oriented towards experienced users and its name, anecdotally, comes from the Gentoo penguin. It uses Portage as a package manager, very similar to the Portage used in other Unix systems such as FreeBSD. So it may be interesting for those who feel comfortable with this system, especially considering that there is a FreeBSD for ARM and Raspberry Pi, but it does not have the support of the Linux community.

Gentoo

FreeBSD ARM

FreeBSD desktop

FreeBSD is an open source operating system. Like the Linux kernel, but as I say, it is a complete operating system and not just a kernel. The FreeBSD developers have created a BSD Unix that performs very well and is also very secure. A good alternative, perhaps the best, outside of the Linux world, and one that draws on Linux in some ways, for example, many desktop environments available for Linux, such as KDE or GNOME, can be installed on FreeBSD.

Now developers have provided support for the important ARM family. and therefore FreeBSD can join the long list of operating systems that can run under the Raspberry Pi hardware.

FreeBSD ARM

Angstrom Linux

Angstrom Linux

Linux distribution for Raspberry Pi that also works on other SBC boards similar to the Raspi, such as Beagle, among others. It is maintained by a small group of developers who have worked on other projects such as OpenEmbedded, OpenZaurus and OpenSimpad. It is based on Debian and is aimed at embedded and low-resource devices.

Angstrom Linux

Moebius

Moebius

Moebius is a generic and lightweight operating system based on Linux and specially designed for the Raspberry Pi. This distribution has a light and minimalist design like others previously analysed, but includes in its latest versions support for Containers for virtualisation, a feature that makes Moebius an interesting project to take into account.

Moebius

Slitaz

Slitaz desktop environment

It is a distribution that is available as an ISO image and can be booted in LiveCD mode. Slitaz is available for Raspberry PiIt is, of course, only 30MB in size, which gives you an idea of its lightness. It is also fast, robust and elegant, designed to be portable and highly configurable and adaptable.

SLitaz

Tiny Core Linux

tiny-core-linux

Tiny Core Linux is a distribution that provides a base system BusyBox, FLTK and other minimalist packages. In just a few MB of space you can have a complete operating system with a desktop environment that only consumes a few tens of megabytes of RAM. It is also very stable as a server and is distributed in three variants, Core or MicroCore, which is the lightest, without graphical interface and occupies about 10MB, Tiny Core of 15MB and which includes a graphical interface, and a last heavier one (86MB) called CorePlus, which is the most complete.

TinyCore

SolydXK

Solydxk

SolydXK is an open source operating system.The Linux Linux environment is designed for small businesses, non-profit organisations and home users. The developers have focused on stability, security and ease of use, as well as helping new users make the transition from Windows to a Linux environment easily. The distro is based on Debian and uses an Xfce desktop environment for lightness or you can opt for KDE for power. With all the tools included, immediately after installation you can browse the Internet, play multimedia, write documents or send emails without installing anything.

SolydXK

NetBSD

NetBSD Desktop.

An old acquaintance that has been ported to work on ARM family chips. NetBSD is a BSD-like Unix operating system.The first version stems from BSDLite 4.3, a version of UNIX developed by the University of California at Berkeley. The first version stems from BSDLite 4.3, a version of UNIX developed by the University of California at Berkeley, and also from 386BSD, an adaptation of BSD for x86 machines. Its developers are currently focusing on stability, cross-platform, secure and research-oriented. Unlike other BSDs, NetBSD is often a pioneer in supporting new technology, and also because of its BSD FFS (Fast File System) it is very fast and reliable.

NetBSD

OpenMandriva

openMandriva Desktop

OpenMandriva is a well-known Linux distribution.. Previously available for x86 platforms and now also for ARM. It all started with the development community wanting to keep Mandriva alive (which itself came from the merger of Mandrake Linux, the distro developed by Mandrakesoft, and the Brazilian distro Conectiva Linux), a well-known distro from the past. In 2012, openMandriva was created when the French company Mandriva SA (formerly known as Mandrakesoft) went bankrupt.

openMandriva

CRUX

CRUX Territory

CRUX is a lightweight and simple GNU Linux distribution.optimised for speed. It is aimed at experienced users, although the development philosophy is to keep it simple (see the KISS Principle). Its package system (prt-get) is based on tar.gz files, with BSD-style coding and a Ports system that allows easy compilation of new packages with pkgmk. So you might like it if you come from a BSD background and are just landing in the Linux world. And as an anecdote, CRUX served as inspiration for the creation of Arch Linux.

CRUX

Void Linux

Void Linux Desktop

Void is not to be confused with VOiD. (the anti-kernel or kernel-less operating system design by hacker Dave Poirier). Void is a distribution based on the Linux kernel, with a simple and fast package manager to install, uninstall and update software quickly. It has a large repertoire of binary packages optimised for this platform, more than 6000 at present. And although it was for PC, it has now been ported to support ARMv7 (compatible with Raspberry Pi 2 or higher), so we can use this operating system for our projects.

Void

RaspEX

RaspEX

RaspEX is a Linux-based system brought to us from Sweden. Developed by the Exton team, it is a distro designed for the Raspberry Pi, although it has backwards compatibility with the Raspberry Pi 2. You can find packages as part of the project such as GAPPS, Firefox, Kodi, AIDA64, Aptoide App Store, Google Play Services, Google Play Store, Google App, Gmail, SnapTube, etc...

RaspEX

Red Sleeve Linux

Red Sleeve Linux

Red Sleeve Linux is a derivative of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) that has been ported to the ARM architecture. It is not the same as other RHEL forks, such as CentOS, since in this case it has been specially designed for ARM chips as we have said, but it includes Yum package manager, GNOME or KDE environments, and of course it is based on RPM packages. The culprits that we can install it on our Raspi board are the team of The RedSleeve Project.

Red Sleeve Linux

nOS

nOS

nOS is a rather peculiar operating system, integrating a KDE desktop environment and various pre-installed applications that will be of great help. It contains tools that will make it easier to install programs, as well as having a solid Ubuntu base, and a Rolling Release type update system. It has also been optimised to make booting much faster.

nOS

Bodhi

Bodhi Linux Desktop

Bodhi is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu LTS. It integrates a more exotic desktop environment, such as Moksha Desktop. In addition, we will find an AppCenter to install the software we need in a simple way, and the official website of the project provides a complete Wiki to teach us what we need to know. If you are looking for something different, this is your system.

Bodhi

Specialised generic operating systems

Minibian

Minibian

The name Minibian comes from MINImal raspBIANi.e. It is a Raspbian image modified to be ultralight. This achieves higher speeds than Raspbian, always based on the latest version of Raspbian and fully compatible with all versions of Raspi. In exchange for being so light, Minibian has no graphical interface, you have to work from the command line, so it will be complicated for novices. But this choice makes it boot in just 10 seconds and only uses 29MB of RAM, only occupying 450MB on the SD.

Minibian

DietPi

Dietpi LXDE

DietPi is a lightweight distro for SBC boards. As its own creators say, it is more than a reduced image. You have everything you need in a minimum of space and with excellent performance as it consumes hardly any resources. It is based on Debian and can be installed on any Raspberry Pi, as well as other boards such as Odroid. But best of all is the easy package installation system that its team of developers has created, with endless possibilities, from installing a LXDE desktop environment, media such as Kodi, HiFi, Squeezebox, Apache, etc...BitTorrent, Gaming, Owncloud, WordPress, projects for the Raspi GPIO, Weaved for remote access, Faill2Ban for security, web servers LAMP, LASP, LEMP, LESP, etc..., as well as DNS servers, VPN, FTP, SSH, and administrative tools, with a long etc...

dietpi

Snappy Ubuntu Core

Snappy Ubuntu Core

A new official Ubuntu Core derivative specially designed for the cloud and developers. Ubuntu Core is a minimalist Ubuntu distribution and the Snappy edition is so called because it will not use apt-get as a DEB package manager, but uses snappy adapting the click packaging system that Canonical has been developing for Ubuntu Phone.

An operating system that everyone is talking about, secure (being able to isolate apps), fast, with more frequent security updates, and with a totally new approach that can be a good alternative for your Raspberry Pi.

Snappy Ubuntu Core

W10 IoT Core (Windows 10)

Windows 10 Raspberry PI

Microsoft is also committed to the ARM platform and has therefore adapted its operating systems to this instruction set, as we have already seen in Windows 8, Windows Phone and now Windows 10. With its imminent arrival, it seems that Redomond are willing to bet on the Raspberry Pi making available to the community its latest operating system. This ensures that there will be more app developers for its new platform, a matter of interest.

Windows 10

Plan 9

Plan 9 desktop and windows

Plan 9 is an interesting project coming out of AT&T's Bell Labs.The same labs and the same creators that created Unix. In fact, Plan 9 was intended to improve on Unix and be its successor, but Unix was so good that it was not worth the effort and its development was finally abandoned, although the community still keeps it dormant.

Plan 9 integrates improvements over Unix and is a much more modern operating system, it has even inspired other operating systems such as Linux, which has borrowed the /proc system. It certainly still has something to say and that is why it is available here also for the ARM platform.

Plan 9

slrpi

slrpi

slrpi (which stands for Slackware Raspberry Pi) is a minimal Slackware system created to be lighter and ARM compatible. It is therefore not the same as Slackware ARM. It is not the most suitable for beginners, not only because of the difficulty that Slackware offers, but also because being a minimal system, it will not have the options that novice users expect to find. For advanced users, it is a very powerful system, so perhaps this is the target audience.

slrpi

Console emulation

Undoubtedly by its small size and power, Raspberry Pi has a use that we could not imagine and that is spreading quite fortunately for lovers of this world, which is the emulation of consoles, let's see the distributions that we have at our disposal. If you are interested do not hesitate to take a look at our kit already assembled.

RetroPie

RetroPie

RetroPie is a Linux distribution for emulating consoles. and transform the Raspberry Pi into an unparalleled gaming and entertainment centre. The project is based on Raspbian and allows the use of certain controllers and video game controllers.

Visit the consoles or systems supported are Amiga, Atari (800, 2600, ST,...), C64, Final Burn Alpha, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, Sega, MAME, MSX, PC (32-bit x86 PC games), NeoGeo, Nintendo, TurboGRafx 16, Sinclair ZX, Play Station 1, etc... As you can see, all vintage consoles to enjoy the classics on your Raspi.

RetroPie

lakka

lakka

lakka is a lightweight Linux distribution and which can be installed on the Raspberry Pi due to its support for the ARM architecture (as well as on other SBCs such as Cubieboard, Banana Pi, Hummingboard,...). But its orientation is far from the generic operating systems seen in the previous section. It is a distro specially designed to emulate retro consoles.

Despite being open source, lakka is able to support video games of a multitude of game consoles, even PS3 or Xbox360 games. It also supports other consoles with its emulator, such as Game Boy, NES, PS1, etc... Just what you need to create your own DIY retro game console.

lakka

recalbox

RecalBox logo

recalbox is a project with which you can transform your Raspberry Pi into an entertainment centre. for your living room. It's easy to set up and install, and once it's ready, you'll have a multitude of arcade machine emulators, such as NEO GEO, NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation Super NES, Nintendo 64, Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive, Mega CD, Mega 32X, MSX, ScummVM, Turbografx and Atari 2600.

In addition, recalbox allows the use of a variety of game controllersThese must be USB compatible, however. Wireless DualShock 3, wireless DualShock 4 and wired DualShock 4 are also supported. Xbox controllers, both 360 and One, are also supported, although in the latter case you may need to install the appropriate controllers.

recalbox

PiPLAY (PiMAME)

PiPLAY

PiPLAY, formally known as PiMAMEPiPLAY, as its name suggests, is a Raspberry Pi distro with a MAME emulator for retro video games. In addition to the famous MAME game emulator, PiPLAY can also emulate other systems to run your video games and transform the Raspberry Pi into a console.

In addition includes software suites designed to reduce complexity and to be able to configure the environment in a simple way. The supported emulated systems are: MAME, CPS I, CPS II, PlayStation, Genesis Dgen, NeoGeo, SNES, NES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, ScummVM, Atari 2600 Stella, Cavestory NXEngine and Commodore 64.

PiPlay

Commodore Pi

Commodore Pi

Commodore Pi is an emulator of the mythical and historical Commodore 64. Therefore, we can give a retro touch to our Pi and continue using the software and games that ran on those old Commodore systems. It emulates both the hardware and the operating system of those machines, only using the Raspi as a platform.

Commodore Pi

Media Centres

The queen of the crown, the most widespread use for Raspberry Pis known, transforming your TV into a complete Media Center thanks to this board and these software has made RPi not only sold in the world of DIY, but many people without knowledge are becoming interested in it. Let's see the options we have. By the way, if you are interested, remember to take a look at our already assembled kit.

OpenELEC

OpenELEC

OpenELEC is another official Raspberry Pi operating system. and is therefore included in NOOBS as we will see below. It is a Linux distribution specially designed to create your own cheap multimedia centre with Raspberry Pi in your living room. With it you can have all the multimedia content and Internet access to transform your TV into a real smartTV and an unparalleled entertainment centre.

To this end, OpenELEC includes audio and video codec packs, drivers, and is based on the famous Kodi (formerly known as XBMC, short for Xbox Media Center). Kodi is a media centre that was originally created for the Xbox game console, but development led to it being ported to other platforms. It comes complete with audio players, video players, slideshows, image viewers, weather reports, and other functions implemented via plug-ins.

OpenELEC

LibreELEC

LibreELEC

LibreELEC is another derivative of OpenELEC, so in theory both should work equally well. Although some claim that it is a more robust system than OpenELEC and others competing in the same category for implementing Media Centres. What is true, and perhaps that is why it is more recommendable than OpenELEC, is that the development community seems to be more active, and therefore there are more updates.

LibreELEC

OSMC

OSMC interface

OSMC (Open Source Media Center) is another media centre for media centres. open source and can be run on a multitude of devices, including the Raspberry Pi. With it you can enjoy music, pictures, podcasts, Internet and other digital media from your TV. A Media Center that only costs the price of the Raspberry Pi, an affordable luxury. By the way, do you remember Raspbmc, because this is the official predecessor of that system.

OSMC

xbian

xbian

xbian is a small Linux distribution based on Kodi.like OpenELEC, which is designed for media centres and can be run on the Raspberry Pi. It is fast, low memory, lightweight, and can run on other SBC boards in addition to the Raspi.

It is based on a Debian distro and its method of update is a "rolling release" typeTherefore, unlike OpenELEC or Raspbmc, xbian receives continuous updates on a weekly basis and does not need to download new patched images in order to have new versions.

xbian

Volumio

Volumio main screen

Volumio is a complete music system. It is open source and allows you to have all your music to play in high quality, to control it comfortably through devices such as smartphones, PCs or tablets and above all to have a complete sound centre. Designed for audiophiles, it is based on RaspFi and is presented as an evolution of it. It is nothing more than an embedded operating system with Linux kernel, but focused on music with a simple graphical interface.

Volumio

moode

Moode Audio interface

Moodle Audio is a very simple distro especially designed to be used as a sound player. on your Raspberry Pi. On the main screen you can have a playlist of your favourite songs, as well as information about the audio being played and the necessary controls. It is based on Debian and can be a good solution if you want to transform your Raspi into a complete music system.

moode

GeeXboX

GeeXbox

GeeXboX is an embedded Linux distribution for Media Center. Not only does it run on the Raspberry Pi, like some of its alternatives seen above, it also runs on other devices such as PCs. Its ISO weighs less than 10MB, so we can get an idea of its lightness. On the other hand, it has a tool that allows developers to integrate new features, something that is appreciated.

GeeXboX

RuneAudio

INterface of RuneAUdio

RuneAudio is a free and open source project that aims to revolutionise the world of digital audio players. It is capable of running on hardware with few resources, as it is designed for embedded devices. That doesn't take away from the fact that it has a multitude of features and support for HiFi, as well as allowing you to control your music from its simple RuneUI interface, remote control from mobile devices, etc...

RuneAudio

motionEyeOS

motioneyeos

motionEyeOS is a Linux distribution for SBC boards like the Raspberry Pi and the competition. In this case the system is focused on implementing a complete video environment. It is based on BuiltRoot and uses Motion as a backend, as well as motionEye for the frontend.

motionEyeOS

SlaXBMCRPI

Slaxbmcrpi installation menu

SlaXBMCRPI is a minimal Linux distribution designed to implement a media centre that lets you enjoy the Internet, images, video and music all in one. As can be deduced from its name, it is based on Slackware ARM and integrates XBMC/Kodi functionalities.

SlaXBMCRPI

The Cloud and Networks

We continue to look for uses for Raspberry Pi and in this case it plays a very important role in the Internet and its ecosystem. Thanks to its size (once again) and versatility, this board is growing a lot among professionals in this sector. Let's take a look.

openWrt

openWRT

openWrt is an old acquaintance for anyone new to the Linux world. It is firmware for embedded devices. It is currently used in routers and other network devices. It is developed by OpenWrt.org and available for ARM, MIPS, AVR32, PowerPC, SuperH, etc... It can be managed from a web interface.

openWrt

Kali Linux

Kali Linux ARM

Kali Linux is a famous distribution specially designed for hacking.. It can now also be installed on the Raspberry Pi because of its support for ARM architecture. It includes a lot of security tools oriented to pentesting, forensic data analysis, creation of reports for security audits, etc...

Kali Linux

arkOS

arkos Genesis

arkOS is an operating system that can be installed on dedicated devices such as the Raspberry Pi. Its main objective is to have a domestic hosting to host your own websites or services on the network, such as file servers, emails, etc... It can be said that it allows you to create a personal and cheap cloud so you can enjoy your content wherever you are.

It is based on Arch Linux and has been customised to work optimally with Raspberry Pi. In addition, its configuration is simple, you don't need to have any knowledge of Linux, as everything can be done from its Genesis graphical interface.

arkOS

NetPi

NetPI

NetPiAlthough it is a Linux distribution, its operation is very limited to perform only the work for which it is designed, that is, to analyse networks. If you install it on your Raspberry Pi, it can serve as a Swiss army knife to test your network or if you are a technician it will help you a lot in your daily diagnostic work.

It includes the tools needed for a complete analysisall free and open source, which in its commercial equivalent could cost more than 1300 euros. Among the tools you have CDP/LLDP to get results through the RJ-45 port, DIA to create network topology diagrams, test for ping, route and connection speed, Wireshark, Wireless Scanner and ZenMap for network forensics and security, VNC and SSH for remote control, syslog to gather information, etc...

NetPI

IPFire

IPfire web interface for configuration

If you want your small business or home network to be secure, instead of spending thousands of euros on professional Firewall equipment, you can implement your own with IPFire installed on your Raspberry Pi. IPFire will transform your Pi board into a complete firewall to defend your internal network from threats.

It is a small Linux distribution designed for hardeningoffering protection at the corporate, home or school level. It is free, secure, stable, easy to use and open source. Similar to others such as IPCop Linux and m0n0wall (based on FreeBSD).

IPFire

PressPi

PressPi Logo

PressPi is a server for WordPress that can be implemented from your Raspberry Pi for free. A hosting to host your own blog with the open WP platform. You can download the image of this distro that implements a web server based on Nginx software to offer considerable performance and reliability for your CMS platform.

PressPi

QtonPI

Qt logo

QtonPi is a small embedded Linux distribution. which integrates an SDK for development and can run Qt5 applications. A good programming platform oriented around the Qt project that can be installed on a Raspberry Pi. QtonPi is also based on Debian Wheezy and builds on this project and Qt to give you a cheap and professional app development platform.

QtonPi

I2PBerry

I2PBerry

I2PBerry Linux distro specially designed for the Raspberry Pi 2 or higher and to implement an I2P system. All in one image and ready to install on the SD of your Pi. And for those who don't know, I2P is a system whose acronym stands for Invisible Internet Project, and is an alternative to Tor for anonymity on the net.

I2PBerry

PwnPi

PwnPi

PwnPi is a distribution for pentesting, i.e. for performing security audits like Kali Linux. The distro contains more than 200 security tools pre-installed and ready to use, in a lightweight environment so that there are not too many delays considering the hardware you have.

PwnPi

ha-pi

ha-pi

ha-pi is an image based on Debian and specially designed for the Raspberry Pi and the "pwn plug" attack. It integrates interesting tools such as Aircrack NG Suite, Ettercap, SET, Sapy, Nikto, nmap, Metasploit, Tshark, dnsspoof, etc...

ha-pi

MiniBerry

MiniBerry is a minimal system that acts as a client for servers. Basically it is a system with a terminal from which to enter commands.

MiniBerry

Raspberry Pi Thin Client

Raspberry Pi Thin Client o RPTC is a similar project to the previous one, to provide low-priced clients. In this case for the Raspi. For Microsoft RDC, Citrix ICA, VMWare Vidw, OpenNX, SPICE,...

Raspberry Pi Thin Client

Raspberry Pi distributions for specific uses

OpenDomo OS

OpenDomo OS

OpenDomo OS is an open source operating system specially designed for home automation. With it you will be able to create a fully domotic home, as well as create independent automatisms, carry out projects for energy saving in your home, etc... Of course OpenDomo uses a Linux kernel, and therefore it is a distro.

OpenDomo OS is available both for Raspberry Pi and to run it in a virtual machine from your PC. to practice home automation. There is also an embedded hardware project called ODNetwork that uses OpenDomo OS as its base operating system, as well as other projects that also use OpenDomo OS for their operation, such as DominoOSE, a firmware for Arduino Ethernet and ODControl, another system used in home automation.

OpenDomos OS

openHAB

openHAB

openHAB is born to meet the needs of those who want a smart home. and cheap. Home automation is becoming more and more widespread and this Linux distribution includes functionalities to control the appliances and lighting in your home. With a simple graphical interface you can manage your entire home in a centralised and comfortable way thanks to its support for technologies such as KNX, Insteon, HomeMatic, etc...

OpenHAB

OctoPrint

OctoPrint

OctoPrint can be installed on the Raspberry Pi to manage 3D printers.The new, wireless functionality, status monitoring, and a multitude of packages for 3D printing. All from an easy-to-use web interface.

Octoprint

Adafruit Occidentalis

Adafruit Occidentalis

Adafruit Occidentalis I'm sure you're familiar with it. Adafruit is a manufacturer of some devices and HATs for electronic boards as you may know. In this case, they have created their own Linux distribution for education, specifically for learning electronics using the Pi.

Adafruit Occidentalis

MinePeon

Minepeon Web GUI

It is a distro to which we have already dedicated a tutorial on this website. MinePeon is based on Arch Linux for ARM. MinePeon's main function is to mine bitcoins.. That's why it includes a simple and intuitive web-based graphical interface with the necessary tools to be able to mine Bitcoins (BTC) with your Raspberry Pi. So if you are dedicated to mining this digital currency, this distro is the most interesting of those listed in this article.

MinePeon

Kolibre Vadelma

Kolibre Vadelma

Kolibre Vadelma is a software that can be installed on the Raspberry Pi to have an audiobook reader for those who want to enjoy literature, without having to read or have some kind of disability that prevents them from doing so, listening to their favourite works. A cheap and simple system that can transform text into words.

Kolibre Vadelma

Plop

Plop Linux

Plop Linux is a small Linux distribution which can boot from a CD, DVD, USB flash drive (UFD), external hard drive, or from the network with PXE. In the case of the Raspberry Pi, it is limited to SD. And while it is intended to rescue data from computers, it can also be used as a generic distro or for other purposes such as automating tasks. Being lightweight, it can use Fluxbox and Xfce desktop environments, which is a welcome feature on low-resource SBC boards.

Plop

resinOS

resin

resinOS is a system especially designed for containers from the Docker project, a type of virtualisation that is now very topical and has a lot of potential.

resinOS

Nard

Nard is not a system per se, it is an SDK (Software Development Kit) available to install on the SD card and use on the Raspberry Pi. It is not interesting for most people, but it is interesting for developers.

Nard

PiParted

PiParted is a version of the well-known Gparted for the Raspberry Pi. Therefore it can be very interesting to manage storage devices, create partitions and format them. It is a live version of Gparted optimised to work on this type of board, but without leaving behind any of the functionalities of its big sister.

PiParted

Extras

There are a few other Raspberry Pi software that are not strictly distributions but are certainly worth mentioning.

BerryBoot

BerryBoot installation menu

BerryBoot allows you to install multiple operating systems on your Raspberry Pi. It is therefore a project that competes with NOOBS. Simply copy this software to an SD card and it will install a bootloader that allows you to have several operating systems available on your Raspi.

Compared to NOOBS it has disadvantages and advantages. Among the disadvantages we find the WiFi configuration, which although it is simple, we will have to do it twice, once in the BerryBoot installer and once in the operating system or distro that we install. But perhaps the worst disadvantage is that it does not install the latest version of the operating system we want, so we will have to update. Despite this, there are advantages:

  • It takes up only 30MB instead of the 1GB of NOOBS.
  • It allows many more operating systems and distros to be installed, not just the official ones like NOOBS.
  • It also supports the installation of operating systems from USB sticks or from the network (even remotely via VNC), but you will always need the SD card with BerryBoot inserted.
  • Recognises TV remote controls via CEC.
  • It allows to clone the partitions of the installed systems in order to have a stable or backup partition and another one to use for our experiments. In case something goes wrong...

BerryBoot

NOOBS

NOOBS boot menu to choose OS.

NOOBS is not an operating systemis an ISO image that can be downloaded from the official website and that once you install it on the SD card of the Raspberry Pi allows you to have the official operating systems instantly. Its boot system allows you to select the system to run, being able to try different flavours easily and without having to uninstall and install new operating systems on the SD card or changing it for another one with another OS.

NOOBS includes all official operating systems as I have indicated: Raspbian OS, OpenELEC, Snappy Ubuntu Core, Raspbmc, Pidora and RISC OS. So it would be the best choice if you need to use more than one operating system or if you are a bit indecisive.

NOOBS or separate operating systems

PiKISS

bash script example code

It is not an operating system like the previous ones, but it is an interesting compendium of Bash scripts very useful for the Raspberry Pi. PiKISS (Pi Keeping It Simple, Stupid!) is a free Spanish project that already has about 500 hours of work to create a simple menu that makes your life much easier.

Allows automatically install or configure application packages and simple. Without typing commands, with the possibility of installing more than one, with total independence from the official repositories, ...

PiKISS Scripts

Wyliodrin

Wyliodrin web

Wyliodrin It is not a distribution or operating system either, but it is a very interesting project that is worth stopping and looking at. It is an online visual programming project for the Raspberry Pi. It has been inspired by Scratch and, like Scratch, uses a graphical drag and drop programming language so you can create your own applications without programming knowledge.

However, if you already know a programming language and are a more experienced programmer, you can develop your software in the C, Java and PHP from Wyliodrin.

Wyliodrin

And that's our list for the moment, as always. we encourage you to contribute those that you know about to make this article a good resource for those who want to continue experimenting with the Raspberry Pi world and its distributions.

23 thoughts on “Análisis de las mejores distribuciones para Raspberry Pi”

  1. Very comprehensive, thank you
    One question, now that ArkOS is abandoned... do you recommend any alternative?

  2. Àlex Blasco Brasó

    Thank you for this excellent contribution.
    I am in research and need to find the most secure and stable OS available for GDPR.
    The idea is to create a local web server by integrating a LoRaWAN gateway into my RPI3.
    The OS must offer, in addition to security, the possibility of incorporating apache2, PHP, Javascript, Bootstrap...
    I had thought about Raspbian + Selinux (security module), since Raspbian is the OS with more support and stability, making it easier for me to develop or configure the server.
    Do you think it's a good option, or would you advise me another OS? Thanks for your answer, any input will be very helpful 🙂

    1. Hello,

      Raspbian as you say has a lot of support, and most importantly is that it is highly optimized to work with the Raspberry Pi, unlike other operating systems that have simply been ported or added the corresponding code to support the ARM architecture... So I think it's a good choice and will go more smoothly than with other OS, plus the features you mention are fully compatible with RaspbianOS, as it is a Debian.

      Greetings and thank you for reading us. Good luck with your project.

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