Finest Raspberry Pi distros in 2021

Consider it or not, the Raspberry Pi is sort of ten years outdated. On this comparatively quick interval the Pi has ushered in a brand new revolution in computing that stretches far past its authentic remit which was to advertise primary pc science schooling in faculties.

There have been a number of Pi developments over the previous few years. The Pi Zero was launched in 2015, and the Pi and its 'necessities' equipment is on the market for lower than  £10 (round $13, AU$18). The Pi Zero W was added to the Zero household in February 2017, that includes a 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM and assist for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, once more all for simply over £15 (round $19, AU$27) with equipment.

The most recent addition to the household is the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B that now includes a quad-core 1.5Ghz processor. Not like earlier iterations of the one board pc (SBC), there are actually three variants of the Raspberry Pi 4; with 2GB, 4GB and 8GB of RAM. This opens up the machine to much more use circumstances that one couldn’t even have imagined when the unique machine made its debut in 2012. After all in case you simply want to make use of it as a pc, there’s the Raspberry Pi 400, which rolls a 1.8Ghz Raspberry Pi inside a keyboard. 

What makes the Raspberry Pi so profitable is that it’s backed by an equally spectacular line of software program that enables tinkerers to adapt the tiny pc for various duties. Right here we spherical up a few of the greatest Raspberry Pi distros that can help you eat the machine in varied methods.

We have additionally featured the best Linux training providers and online courses.

(Picture credit score: Raspberry Pi)

1. Raspberry Pi OS

The official Raspberry Pi distro

Elegant light-weight desktop

Tons of software program on faucet

Configurator software

Raspberry Pi OS (previously often known as Raspbian) is the official distro of the Raspberry Pi. It’s based mostly on the venerable Debian Linux mission and makes use of a custom-made LXDE-based desktop setting that makes use of the Openbox window supervisor to current a desktop that's practical, seems to be elegant, and doesn’t eat too many assets.

The spotlight of the distro is that it ships with a number of academic apps akin to Wolfram Mathematica and a model of Minecraft known as Minecraft Pi. Nonetheless, that doesn’t take away the truth that it’s additionally a common objective distro. In truth, the latest version of the discharge has had a number of tweaks and exams to make sure it performs flawlessly with video conferencing software program akin to Google Meet, Microsoft Groups, and Zoom. 

You'll be able to both set up the distro utilizing the Raspberry Pi imager app in your current Home windows, Linux, or macOS set up, or flash the distro’s picture to an SD card manually. The distro has probably the most energetic neighborhood of customers and also you’ll don't have any hassle discovering documentation and video tutorials for utilizing the distro.


(Picture credit score: Volumio)

2. Volumio

Flip your Raspberry Pi into the last word jukebox

Can play tracks from exterior storage

Hooks up with a great deal of music providers

Helps DLNA and AirPlay suitable units

Volumio is designed to play and stream music, and whereas Volumio will work with any of the Raspberry Pi boards (and several other different SBCs as nicely), it’s a perfect mission for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Utilizing Volumio you'll be able to setup a headless media server on the Pi that may play music in all the favored codecs from a linked USB or a NAS machine.

The distro is simple to arrange and you may simply use its intuitive interface to handle your music from the online browser. You too can handle your music via the distro’s official apps on iOS and Android, or use any of the MPD-capable apps akin to MPDroid. 

Volumio helps the most well-liked audio file codecs out of the field and helps a lot of USB DACs so you'll be able to plug in your amplifiers and different tools to reinforce your listening expertise. You too can use Volumio as a UPNP/DLNA and AirPlay receiver, and it ships with built-in assist for internet radio and plugins for streaming music from Spotify and YouTube.


(Picture credit score: RetroPie)

3. RetroPie

Emulate basic consoles and get nostalgic thrills aplenty

Helps a great deal of completely different consoles

Suitable with many sport controllers

Extremely configurable

For those who're a fan of basic video games, seize a duplicate of the RetroPie distro and switch it to your SD card. The distro can emulate dozens of basic consoles and residential computer systems such because the Amiga, Amstrad, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Sport Boy, PlayStation 1 and extra.

RetroPie additionally helps all types of gaming controllers, from low-cost no-name USB efforts to controllers for the PS3 and Xbox 360. On first boot, Retropie masses the Emulation Station software program which helps you arrange the controller after which lets you choose a sport from any of the supported emulators.

The one caveat is that it's essential to get your personal ROMs. There are a number of that may be legally downloaded at no cost and you may even create your personal from outdated cartridges utilizing adapters just like the Retrode at the side of your Mac/PC. The Internet Archive additionally has many ROMs that are free to obtain – though you should definitely test that is authorized in your jurisdiction earlier than going forward.


(Picture credit score: LibreELEC)

4. LibreELEC

Ideally suited possibility for many who desire a Kodi-powered media centre

Particularly designed for Kodi

Highly effective media centre performance

May be paired with Kodi distant app

You should utilize the Raspberry Pi to do every kind of geeky issues. However probably the most fascinating makes use of for the puny little machine is that of a house theatre PC. Utilizing LibreELEC you should utilize the miniscule SBC and the truth that it runs silently, to construct your personal leisure heart.

Probably the greatest open supply apps for turning any pc into a totally practical media heart PC is the Kodi media participant, previously often known as XBMC. You'll be able to simply management Kodi’s 10-foot consumer interface that’s perfect for connecting to massive display shows and projectors, both from distant management, or from its official apps for Android and iOS. 

When you can set up Kodi on prime of Raspberry Pi OS, the OpenELEC distro is a streamlined construct that boots up in a jiffy, straight into Kodi. Moreover taking part in recordsdata from native and community storage units, the distro may also fetch recordsdata from on-line providers akin to Youtube, Spotify, Pandora Radio and extra.


(Picture credit score: OpenMediaVault)

5. OpenMediaVault

Particularly designed for NAS utilization

Intuitive interface

Distant administration capabilities

Loads of superior options

The OpenMediaVault (OMV) distro is without doubt one of the greatest choices for creating your personal Community Connected Storage (NAS) machine. Whereas OMV used to create specifically tuned pictures for the Raspberry Pi, the distro now as an alternative depends on a script that’ll convert an current Debian or Debian-based set up akin to Raspberry Pi OS Lite, to run OMV. The process is well documented and pretty easy to observe.

As soon as it is up and working, you'll be able to configure and handle the distro remotely utilizing its browser-based admin interface. Any USB units you connect will probably be detected robotically and you may as well manually add your community storage.

For one of the best efficiency ensure you use self-powered detachable disks. You should utilize the disks connected to the OMV NAS individually or assemble them in a RAID array. The distro has many choices to handle different superior features of a NAS too.

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