Bullseye – the brand new model of Raspberry Pi OS

Each two years, Debian Linux, on which Raspberry Pi OS is predicated, will get a significant model improve. Debian ‘buster’ has been the idea of Raspberry Pi OS since its launch in 2019, and Debian ‘bullseye’ was launched in August. (As a few of it's possible you'll know, Debian identify their variations after characters in Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story movies – Bullseye was Woody’s horse in Toy Story 2.)

We’ve been engaged on the corresponding ‘bullseye’ launch of Raspberry Pi OS; it’s taken a bit longer than we’d hoped, however it's now accessible. So what's new this time?

Debian ‘bullseye’ has comparatively few main modifications that are seen to customers – there are some under-the-hood modifications to file programs and printing, however a lot of the modifications are patches and upgrades to present purposes and options. Nevertheless, over and above the modifications in Debian itself, the ‘bullseye’ model of Raspberry Pi OS has quite a lot of vital modifications to the desktop setting and to the assist for Raspberry Pi {hardware}.


All the desktop elements and purposes at the moment are utilizing model 3 of the GTK+ person interface toolkit. GTK+ is a layer of software program that purposes can use to attract customary person interface elements (often known as “widgets”) resembling buttons, menus and the like, so that every one purposes have a constant feel and look. Up till now, a lot of the desktop has used model 2 of the GTK+ toolkit, however rising numbers of Debian purposes are utilizing GTK+3, so to try to preserve issues constant, we’ve upgraded all our software program and the desktop itself to the newer model.

GTK+3 has been round for a number of years now, and folks have sometimes requested why we didn’t transfer to it prior to now. The straightforward reply is that many issues are a lot simpler to do with GTK+2 than with GTK+3, significantly in the case of customising the looks of widgets – GTK+3 has eliminated a number of helpful options which we relied upon. It has ended up being essential to search out work-arounds to numerous these – hopefully nobody will discover them and all the pieces will nonetheless work as earlier than!

You’ll discover a number of modifications to widgets – the obvious is the brand new look of tabbed interfaces.

Another controls have a barely totally different look, however we’ve tried to ensure that all the pieces nonetheless seems acquainted and largely unchanged. GTK+3 simply offers us a extra fashionable foundation for future growth, and brings us into line with different Linux desktop environments.

Window supervisor

One of many modifications which was prompted by the transfer to GTK+3 is that we're utilizing a brand new window supervisor, referred to as mutter, as an alternative of the openbox window supervisor utilized in earlier releases.

The window supervisor is chargeable for drawing the title bar and window body round every software window. Mutter is what is named a compositing window supervisor, which implies that fairly than individually drawing the window frames straight onto the present home windows on display screen, it attracts all of the home windows to a reminiscence buffer off display screen, the place it creates an entire picture for your complete display screen. That is then despatched to the {hardware} to be displayed.

As a result of it has management of the entire display screen, a compositing window supervisor can create some good visible results which aren't potential (or not less than not straightforward) with a standard window supervisor: as an example, it might probably around the corners of home windows, or show shaded borders behind every window. (Whereas we did have rounded corners in openbox, this was finished in a fairly inefficient trend by drawing a number of frames of various sizes for every window – it labored, nevertheless it actually wasn’t elegant!)

GTK+3 depends on a compositing window supervisor to around the corners of tooltips; in GTK+2 this was finished with a hack much like the one we use to create rounded window frames in openbox, however this has been eliminated in GTK+3 and the window supervisor is requested to do it as an alternative.

Mutter offers good window opening and shutting animations, and gives shading behind every window border; the modifications are refined, however they do make the desktop really feel extra fashionable.

One downside of mutter is that, as a consequence of needing to attract your complete display screen to reminiscence earlier than it might probably show it, it's fairly demanding when it comes to RAM, and might solely run correctly on a Raspberry Pi with 2GB or extra. Because of this, on Raspberry Pis with lower than 2GB, the older openbox window supervisor remains to be used as an alternative. (This does imply, sadly, that on these programs, tooltips will now have sq. corners. Which is one other reply to the query, “so why didn’t you progress to GTK+3 years in the past…?”)

The opposite benefit of mutter is that it's a essential step in direction of the way forward for Linux desktop environments. Desktops in Linux have all the time been primarily based on the X Window System, normally simply known as X. That is what gives the fundamental companies of a window setting – drawing home windows, transferring them round, managing the mouse pointer and so forth. However X is now very outdated expertise – it was first launched in 1984 – and whereas it has served admirably for almost 40 years, some desktop environments at the moment are utilizing replacements. The most well-liked of those is a system referred to as Wayland, which has lately develop into the window system utilized by Ubuntu.

We're nonetheless fairly a good distance from switching Raspberry Pi OS to Wayland, however considered one of its necessities is a Wayland-compatible compositing window supervisor, and utilizing mutter is step one on this path.


One factor that many different working programs now do is to supply an built-in notification system, whereby messages to the person concerning the system or purposes all seem in a constant and uniform method. For this launch, we have now added a typical notification supervisor to the taskbar, which can be utilized by the taskbar and any of its plugins, and may also be accessed through different purposes.

Notifications are proven in home windows on the prime proper nook of the display screen, and are displayed in chronological order, with the latest notifications being offered on the prime. Notifications will mechanically outing and be hidden after fifteen seconds, or could be cleared instantly by clicking on the home windows.

The notification timeout could be configured on the Look tab of the Panel Preferences dialog, accessed by right-clicking on the taskbar. If the timeout is ready to zero, then notifications will stay on show till you click on on them. On this dialog, you may as well flip notifications off fully – though we wouldn’t suggest doing this!

At the moment, notifications are generated when USB units are eliminated, when the ability provide voltage is simply too low, and when the firmware detects numerous error circumstances, resembling reminiscence allocation issues and invalid configuration choices. A few of these had been already being dropped at the person’s consideration in earlier releases, however this now occurs in a extra constant and user-friendly approach, with extra scope for future extension of the system.

Updater plugin

One other new characteristic, which makes use of the notification system, is a straightforward approach to be told about and to put in system and software updates.

Up till now, this has required using apt in a terminal window, nevertheless it has now been introduced updated with a extra user-friendly graphical interface, supplied as a brand new plugin within the taskbar on the prime of the display screen.

Each time you boot your Raspberry Pi, the plugin checks to see if any updates can be found. (Should you go away your Raspberry Pi powered up for days or even weeks at a time, don’t fear – it makes further checks each 24 hours.) If updates can be found, then the replace icon – the arrow inside a circle within the image beneath – is proven on the duty bar, and a notification message is proven.

Clicking this brings up a menu that enables you both to open a window itemizing the updates (in case you need to know what they're prior to installing them…) or simply to put in them immediately.

A dialog field will present you the set up progress of updates, however they'll keep on within the background and you may simply proceed with no matter you might be doing whereas they set up.

With safety threats and vulnerabilities being discovered and stuck in working programs each day, it has by no means been extra essential to maintain your laptop updated – hopefully that is now as straightforward on a Raspberry Pi as on another laptop.

File supervisor

The view choices within the file supervisor have been simplified barely for this launch. Within the earlier model, you possibly can choose considered one of 4 modes – thumbnails, icons, small icons and listing. This was a little bit of a large number – the variations between thumbnail mode and icon mode had been considerably complicated, as they concerned totally different icon sizes in addition to whether or not or not thumbnails had been proven, and the small icon mode was extra of a throwback to early variations of Home windows than something really helpful.

For this launch, there at the moment are solely two modes – icons or listing. The choice to point out a thumbnail (if applicable) for an icon is now within the View menu. The scale of icons in both mode could be managed with Zoom In/Out, additionally within the View menu.

This tidies up the show choices, and hopefully does so with out eradicating any helpful performance.

KMS video driver

The KMS (kernel modesetting) driver, which was an experimental choice in earlier releases, is now the usual video driver on this launch.

KMS is the Linux customary mechanism for controlling the connection to a show. The earlier video driver was Raspberry Pi-specific, and was constructed into the customized firmware which is exclusive to Raspberry Pi computer systems; it was additionally closed supply. This enabled us to make quite a lot of optimisations for our {hardware}, nevertheless it additionally meant that any purposes that needed to immediately entry the show wanted to be written particularly for Raspberry Pi. By transferring to KMS, any software written utilizing the usual Linux show APIs ought to run on Raspberry Pi with out modification.

The opposite benefit of this strategy is that show drivers for Raspberry Pi at the moment are all a part of the Linux kernel, and might subsequently be written or modified by third events; beforehand this code was all within the closed-source firmware. This could make it simpler for the producers of things like customized shows so as to add assist for Raspberry Pi.

New digicam driver

The motive force utilized by Raspberry Pi to entry digicam modules has now been changed with libcamera, a regular Linux API. As with the video driver change, this implies much less closed-source proprietary code, and makes it simpler for third events to develop new digicam {hardware} and software program.

For anybody who has written camera-based purposes previously, it is a very vital change, and is simply too massive to be lined right here. There will likely be a weblog put up devoted to the brand new digicam driver printed quickly, so watch this house!


Custom PC magazine, which has lately been made accessible without spending a dime obtain as PDF recordsdata in addition to for buy in print, is now accessible within the Bookshelf software.

Different bits and items

As is common with a significant improve like this, most purposes have been upgraded to the newest model; particularly the Chromium internet browser is now at model 92, and has been optimised to make use of the Raspberry Pi {hardware} to speed up video playback.

We’ve added a bunch extra cities to the timezone database utilized by the startup wizard and the localisation settings web page in Raspberry Pi Configuration – some Canadian customers had been alarmed that Montreal was lacking… Please observe that when you choose a rustic within the wizard, you can be supplied the primary metropolis alphabetically because the preliminary selection of timezone for that nation – that’s why Belfast comes up because the timezone for the UK; it’s not a bug!

There are numerous bug fixes, tweaks and new language translations. The small print of those could be discovered within the launch notes on the obtain web page.

How do I get it?

With a significant improve, we suggest downloading a brand new picture, reinstalling any purposes, and transferring your information throughout out of your present picture. Debian main model upgrades comprise numerous modifications, and it is rather straightforward for some small tweak made someplace within the system to be incompatible with some change you may have made, and you may find yourself with a damaged system and a Raspberry Pi that gained’t boot. The best option to create a brand new SD card is with the Raspberry Pi Imager instrument accessible here, or you possibly can obtain the brand new picture from here and use a instrument like Etcher to flash it to a brand new SD card.

Should you actually need to strive upgrading an present picture, there are some directions on the boards here – however we don’t assist or suggest this, so be warned: you might be by yourself if something breaks! Make a backup of your SD card first so you possibly can all the time return to a working system if you might want to; the SD Card Copier software in Raspberry Pi OS is an efficient instrument for this.

As ever, your suggestions on this launch is welcome – both add a remark beneath, or head to our boards.

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