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 since it is based on an ARM architecture (such as Apple’s M1 processors, or the Qualcomm ones 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 in 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 frequently asked questions among computer hobbyists approaching the RPi for the first time is “Can I install Windows on the Raspberry?” .
And the answer is usually a resounding “No.” But that is not entirely true , the truth, because there are two versions of Windows 10 compatible with ARM devices:
- Windows 10 for ARM , typical for tablets and convertible mobile devices. Its support is not complete , and it still has problems to recognize 100% of installed RAM … but it is possible to install it and thus have a 100% Windows desktop experience on the RPi.
- Windows 10 IoT is a version of Microsoft’s operating system focused solely on Internet of Things devices. And yes, it has been compatible with the RPi for a long time.
Yes, now: Android is technically Linux because it uses a modified version of its 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 build some kind of DIY multimedia device , such as an Android TV Box, a HTPC or a video console with Android games … as well as if we want 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 about it: the Raspberry is not a particularly powerful device (neither was that the purpose for which it was created), so resorting to a cloud-based OS that seeks to minimize the consumption of system resources can be a good idea. And that’s where Chrome OS comes in .
This second system (developed, like the previous one, by Google) uses the Chrome browser as its user interface , so most of its 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 , especially, on devices such as speakers and smart displays. And yes, Android Things has official support for the Raspberry Pi 3.
This distributed and scalable operating system, not very popular outside of specialized fields , is based – like Linux and the BSDs – on UNIX. It has a particular graphical interface called ‘ rio ‘ and is distinguished by representing all the system’s interfaces (including network 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, it was the first operating system used to run commercial ARM-architecture computers .
It has its own graphical user interface (with a somewhat vintage look , that’s true), as well as a package manager, command interpreter and the peculiarity of requiring mice with three buttons for its 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 become 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 start with a clear focus on portability (in fact, it supports 59 different architectures and its motto is ‘ Of course it works with NetBSD ‘).
- OpenBSD is, for its part, a fork of the previous one that places the accent on security and cryptography.