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While the original Raspberry Pi was initially restricted to the custom-built Raspbian build of Debian, several operating systems are already available for the Raspberry Pi 2, among them versions of Linux that could not be run on the original.

Forget running Windows 10 on the Raspberry Pi 2 Another New Raspberry Pi... and it Supports Windows 10 Another New Raspberry Pi... and it Supports Windows 10 Read More – the real news is that more Linux distros are available for the second iteration of this fantastic little computer!

Desktop Linux Distros

In addition to Raspbian, three desktop-based Linux distros are available for the Raspberry Pi 2, which offer varying degrees of support for the many Raspberry Pi-based projects you might be interested in trying.

Raspbian

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Naturally, the latest release of Raspbian is configured to run on the Raspberry Pi 2, and benefits from the higher spec of the newer device by being faster and more efficient with resources. Setup of Raspbian can be achieved through NOOBs How NOOBS For Raspberry Pi Can Help First Time Users How NOOBS For Raspberry Pi Can Help First Time Users There is something about the Raspberry Pi that might just put people off: until now, setting it up has not been particularly user friendly. NOOBS aims to change that! Read More , while configuration of the OS in raspi-config Not Enough Juice? Squeeze Your Raspberry Pi By Overclocking Not Enough Juice? Squeeze Your Raspberry Pi By Overclocking If there’s any hardware released in 2012 that you’re likely to fall in love with, it’s the sweet-as-sugar Raspberry Pi, a mini computer designed and built in the UK that has shipped all around the... Read More remains as it was on the original Pi models.

Raspbian has several advantages over the other distros, such as the Pi Store Four More Superb Games from the Raspberry Pi Store! Four More Superb Games from the Raspberry Pi Store! If you thought gaming on the Raspberry Pi was limited to setting up emulators with RetroPie or watching other gamers on YouTube (perhaps via the RaspBMC media centre solution) then prepare to be surprised. While... Read More , and comes with Scratch How To Teach Kids Programming From Scratch! How To Teach Kids Programming From Scratch! Read More and other development tools built in.

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Fedora 21

Happily, the ARM distro of Fedora 21 will run on the Raspberry Pi 2, and can be installed using BerryBoot How To Install Multiple OSes On A Single SD Card For Raspberry Pi How To Install Multiple OSes On A Single SD Card For Raspberry Pi Running multiple projects on your Raspberry Pi usually requires a different operating system or configuration for each, best achieved with multiple SD cards. But is there a way to “dual-boot” the OS? Read More , which is a NOOBs-like bootloader and installer for the Raspberry Pi (it actually predates NOOBs).

Here’s a demonstration of Fedora 21 on the Raspberry Pi 2.

Ubuntu 15.04 Mate

First time around, many users were crying out for an Ubuntu distro for the Raspberry Pi, and with the upgraded device, these calls have been answered.

Mate is and designed to run on less powerful hardware than the usual Ubuntu distros with the Unity desktop environment 5 Alternatives To Unity For Ubuntu Users [Linux] 5 Alternatives To Unity For Ubuntu Users [Linux] We’ve previously written about Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment, which we touted as a "big leap forward" for Linux when it was introduced with Ubuntu 11.04. Unity was certainly a big leap in a new direction,... Read More , making it an ideal choice for the Raspberry Pi.

RiscOS

Another OS that was available for the original Raspberry Pi, RiscOS was originally designed by Acorn Computers in Cambridge, England, and was specifically designed to run on the ARM chipset. Since forked, the operating system is developed by RISCOS Ltd and the RISC OS Open community.

Gentoo

A popular alternative to Raspbian and Fedora is Gentoo, but installation on the Raspberry Pi 2 isn’t as simple as on the original. However, it is still possible, and you can find help in the Gentoo wiki to get this OS installed on your Pi 2.

Bonus: Media Center Distros

If a media center is the only Raspberry Pi 2 project you’re interested in, a duo of operating system distros are available, capable of managing your movies, music and photos and displaying them on your TV or monitor.

OSMC

Designed as a successor to Raspbmc How To Build a Media Center That Will Play Anything How To Build a Media Center That Will Play Anything I've been building a media centre recently. Actually, scratch that – I’ve been building two. One is a compact device (my Raspberry Pi) running the RaspBMC distribution of XBMC, while the other is a traditional... Read More , OSMC plans to combine the success of the previous media platform while adding support for more plugins and services. One that is proving particularly popular is support for PlayOn Media Server, which is a Windows PC-based tool that streams content across your home network from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, thereby overcoming the issues with DRM and support for these services on the Pi.

OSMC (Open Source Media Center) is based on Kodi, previously XBMC.

OpenElec

Also based on Kodi, OpenElec is a popular fork that proved to be a popular media center choice for original Raspberry Pi owners. However support for popular streaming services on OpenElec is limited, even if the vast number of channels and YouTube support are available. You’ll also find that the interface is more responsive on the Pi 2.

Considered to be 55-100% faster on the Raspberry Pi 2 than on the Pi 1, this is probably the number one choice for media center solutions on every platform, and the Raspberry Pi 2 should be no different.

Virtually all updates and plugins for Kodi can be installed in OpenElec on the Pi 2 can be without issue. While OSMC has a distinctive user interface, what’s on offer with OpenElec is unmistakably based on Kodi/XBMC, and reflects the long history of that platform.

What Did We Miss?

The operating systems available for the Raspberry Pi 2 clearly demonstrate how the new model is genuine step up from the original, rather than a revision like the Raspberry Pi Model A+ What Can You Do With The New Raspberry Pi A+? What Can You Do With The New Raspberry Pi A+? Curiously, this new Raspberry Pi doesn't feature any additional hardware. In fact, it has fewer ports. Just what are the Raspberry Pi Foundation up to? Read More and B+. The improved hardware means faster performance, better power management and ultimately a greater selection of projects will be available thanks to these operating systems.

Did we miss your favorite Raspberry Pi OS? Set us straight in the comments.

  1. henry
    June 7, 2016 at 10:55 am

    and opensuse(yeah that runs on a raspberry pi 1 you now)

    • Christian Cawley
      June 7, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      Great addition, thanks Henry!

      • Henry
        June 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm

        the guys at elinux.org made page on rpi oses elinux.org/RPi_Distributions

  2. aka
    February 26, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    WTware thin client for RPi 2

  3. s3v3nh4cks
    January 4, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Kali Linux

  4. daniel
    December 27, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Anyone recommend a distro with a good usable browser that can also work as a media player ?

  5. Ronald Browen
    December 12, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    You missed q4os and lakka

  6. George Dj
    December 3, 2015 at 10:33 am

    What about Tails?

  7. nobody
    November 24, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    As John Ochiltree already mentioned you forgot Archlinuxarm (http://archlinuxarm.org/) its worth a look for users tend to minimal rolling release distros like gentoo

  8. abramq
    September 11, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Try Xbian from http://www.xbian.org/ - perfect media center, very fast, very stable, very ease to configure / update etc.

  9. John Ochiltree
    September 5, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Arch?

  10. Jason Gray
    September 5, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I got a Raspberry Pi2 in March shortly after it came out and played around with desktop distros on it but it's just to slow to be any real use as a desktop system. It is amazing what it will do on such little power and it ran most apps *alright* but web browsing was painful. I run Debian Jessie on mine and use it as a home DNS/NFS/CUPS/SANE/DLNA server currently. It works amazing for that.

    • Robert John Amanse
      September 5, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Have you tried overclocking it? I don't know about other distros because in Raspbian (installed from NOOBS) the arm_freq defaulted to 600Mhz and not 900Mhz. Overclocking it to 1000MHz as well as overclocking the memory and sd freq and the gpu_mem vastly improves the performance. LibreOffice, Midori (lots of open tabs, even facebook). I mainly use it as a NAS and seedbox so I run it headless most of the time and just ssh/vnc to it from my laptop or my main pc. Maybe the OS you use do not fully utilize the hardware of the PI2 yet. Going to try Ubuntu Mate and Fedora once I get the sdcards for it.

      • Jason Gray
        September 6, 2015 at 12:18 pm

        Yes, I've overclocked everything to as high as it can possibly go without voiding the warranty. I also run it headless,(I figured that that was implied when I said I was using it as a DNS/NFS/CUPS/SANE/DLNA server) I started with a minibian install and upgraded/dist-upgraded it to Debian Jessie so there is no X or any other GUI components installed. As far as the distro not fully utilizing the hardware. At the moment the the graphic drivers suck for the Raspberry Pi/Raspberry Pi2(same graphics chipset) no distro fully utilize the graphic capabilities but Raspbian comes the closest. As far as graphics performance Fedora and Ubuntu Mate actually preform worse than Raspbian. Don't get me wrong it's a pretty neat little device but it's no replacement for a desktop system. My 10 year old Dell XPS400 running Xubuntu 15.04 runs circles around it in every way even with the Pi2 overclocked to the max.

  11. Liam Gilmartin
    September 4, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Can Mate be ditched in favour of XFCE?

  12. dragonbite
    September 3, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    What about openSUSE (https://en.opensuse.org/HCL:Raspberry_Pi)? I am not sure if this is for the RPi or RPi2.

    • Christian Cawley
      September 4, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      In theory it shouljd work on the Pi2 if it works on the Pi, but won't be designed to take full advanatge of the hardware.

      According to page history it's barely been updated in 2015 and there's no mention of the Pi2, so...

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