RPi Distributions

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Revision as of 21:24, 3 March 2012 by Sraue (talk | contribs) (OpenELEC distribution added)
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Software & Distributions:

Software - an overview.

Distributions - operating systems and development environments for the Raspberry Pi.

Kernel Compilation - advice on compiling a kernel.

Performance - measures of the Raspberry Pi's performance.

Programming - programming languages that might be used on the Raspberry Pi.


Operational Systems for Raspberry Pi models A and B
Arch Linux ARM Debian ARM Fedora ARM Meego MER Risc OS
Latest version Squeeze


First version Squeeze


Type Linux Linux Linux Linux (embedded) ARM RISC OS
License OSI GPLv2 Core: OSI, mixed

(GPLv2, BSD, etc)

OSI, mixed

(GPLv2, BSD, etc)

OSI, mixed

(GPLv2, BSD, etc)

Shared Source
Memory footprint ~34 MiB
Packages 4.416? [1] 16.464? ~320 (core)

Development environments

Instead of just using compiler + editor, you can use complete image create "development tool chains" which integrate compiler, build system, packaging tools etc. in one tool chain.


As announced on February 20, 2012 [2]: Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix 14, developed by Seneca College, is the recommended distribution. Pre-loaded SD cards with this distribution will be available shortly after the initial launch through the Raspberry Pi Store.

Eben says (regarding default distribution): "Either Ubuntu or Fedora; the main point in Fedora’s favour is their ongoing support for ARMv6 architectures."


As of October 15 2011: the Raspberry Pi alpha board boots Fedora F13 (armv5tel) to a character-mode login prompt in about 23 seconds, taking 14-17MB of memory. XFCE and LXDE graphical environments are both available (but more work on the X drivers is needed). F15-ARM will be tested as its release date approaches in November. A 1-minute video is available at [3]. Video about Seneca College and Fedora on Raspberry Pi: [4]

Link: to Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix wiki pages [5]


Ubuntu was initially planned to be the default distribution, but due to issues with newer releases of Ubuntu and the ARM processor used in the Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu cannot commit to support Raspberry Pi at this time.

Eben says (regarding default distribution): "Either Ubuntu or Fedora; the main point in Fedora’s favour is their ongoing support for ARMv6 architectures."



A detailed tutorial by emercer: http://cronicasredux.blogspot.com/2011/09/installing-and-running-debian-armel-on.html



Gentoo Linux is a computer operating system built on top of the Linux kernel and based on the Portage package management system. It is distributed as free and open source software. Unlike a conventional software distribution, the user compiles the source code locally according to their chosen configuration. There are normally no precompiled binaries for software although for convenience some software packages (such as Mozilla Firefox and LibreOffice) are also available as precompiled binaries for various architectures where compiling would otherwise be very time consuming.

Discuss: http://www.raspberrypi.org/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=462


KidsRuby is what it sounds like – a Ruby for kids – and it’s running beautifully on the Raspberry Pi. This is exactly the sort of application we want to see on the device, and we’re really pleased to see it up and running. It looks like there will be some optimisation for speed before we launch, but what’s there already is very useable.

R.Pi blog entry: http://www.raspberrypi.org/2011/09/kidsruby-on-raspberry-pi-another-video-demo/ More info & Video: http://confreaks.net/videos/637-gogaruco2011-kidsruby-think-of-the-children?player=html5

Meego & XBMC

The MeeGo project provides a Linux-based, open source software platform for the next generation of computing devices. The MeeGo software platform is designed to give developers the broadest range of device segments to target for their applications, including netbooks, handheld computing and communications devices, in-vehicle infotainment devices, smart TVs, tablets and more – all using a uniform set of APIs based on Qt. XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. Meego TV 1.2 uses XBMC as a reference GUI (that is, a starting point for creating a custom GUI).



Discuss: http://www.raspberrypi.org/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=144

Debian ARM


Debian was the default distribution on the Alpha boards. Boot time depends on width & speed of SD-card. Alpha board boot into Debian prompt (no GUI) was timed taking about 34 seconds.


RISC OS is a fast and lightweight computer operating system designed in Cambridge, England by Acorn. First released in 1987, its origins can be traced back to the original team that developed the ARM microprocessor. RISC OS includes BBC BASIC which was primarily conceived to teach programming skills as part of the BBC computer literacy project.


OpenELEC is an embedded operating system built specifically to run XBMC, the open source entertainment media hub. The idea behind OpenELEC is to allow people to use their Home Theatre PC (HTPC) like any other device you might have attached to your TV, like a DVD player or Sky box. Instead of having to manage a full operating system, configure it and install the packages required to turn it into a hybrid media center, OpenELEC is designed to be simple to install, manage and use, making it more like running a set-top box than a full-blown computer.


GeeXboX is a free and Open Source Media-Center purposed Linux distribution for embedded devices and desktop computers. GeeXboX is not an application, it’s a full-featured OS, that one can boot as a LiveCD, from a USB key, an SD/MMC card or install on its regular HDD. The GeeXboX distribution is lightweight and designed for one single goal: embed all major multimedia applications as to turn your computer into an HTPC.



Scratchbox is a cross-compilation toolkit designed to make embedded Linux application development easier. It also provides a full set of tools to integrate and cross-compile an entire Linux distribution. To find out what it can do, take a look at some of the documentation.


There is now an Oracle Virtualbox VM image with a scratchbox2 install inside.

More details and discuss: http://www.raspberrypi.org/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=454


OpenEmbedded is a build framework and cross-compile environment for embedded Linux.