Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp

install software on raspberry piGetting your hands on a Raspberry Pi will open up a remarkable world of computing projects, from media centres and NAS boxes to Android emulation, retro games and of course the computer’s core purpose – teaching software programming.

However in order to be able to do all of these things, you will need to know how to install software to run on the computer. This might mean anything from installing an operating system to downloading and installing applications from repositories or the Raspberry Pi Store.

None of these tasks are particularly difficult, but if you’re new to Linux then they might seem unfamiliar. The installation of an operating system for the Raspberry Pi is particularly unusual.

A New Operating System

The first way to install software on your Raspberry Pi is to get to grips with how to install an operating system.

Amazing as it may seem, installing an operating system on your Raspberry Pi requires a Windows, Mac or Linux computer. This is because the stripped down mini-computer uses an SD card as its storage device, and as the device ships without the SD card, it is left to the user to download a suitable operating system and load it onto the card.

install software on raspberry pi


Once this has been done, the card should be inserted into the Raspberry Pi and the device booted up. Installation will then begin as the operating system is unpacked and organized into the necessary directories. After this has happened, the chosen OS will boot. Several operating systems are available for the Raspberry Pi, including the Debian-based Raspbian and the XBMC build, Raspbmc.

You’ll find full details on installing Rasbpian Optimize The Power Of Your Raspberry Pi With Raspbian Optimize The Power Of Your Raspberry Pi With Raspbian As befits a man with too much tech on his hands, I’ve been playing with my Raspberry Pi recently, configuring the device so that it works to its fullest potential. It continues to run as... Read More here on MakeUseOf. Instructions for installing the Raspbmc media centre How To Make Your Raspberry Pi Into a Home Theater System How To Make Your Raspberry Pi Into a Home Theater System Four weeks on and I’ve been playing with my Raspberry Pi in various ways, from using it to browse the web and standard day-to-day computing tasks to playing around with the various configurations that are... Read More   are also available.

Using The Command Line

After installing the operating system, you will be ready to start installing software. The first way that you can do this is via the command line.

raspberry pi install software

As an example: to create the screenshots in this article I have used the scrot tool, which can be installed as follows:

sudo apt-get install scrot

The apt-get install command will search the available repositories for the software you’re looking for and download all of the required files. Note that some further interaction may be required – for instance, you may need to agree to the downloading of additional files that are related but non-essential for the software required.

Welcome To The Raspberry Pi App Store

To ease the learning curve for new Linux users over the years, the various distros (that is, different Linux versions such as Ubuntu, Mint, etc.,) have introduced a number of tools to make installing software easier. The first was a package manager which acted as a searchable interface to the various software repositories available to a particular distro, much like the command line but with a mouse-driven UI.

raspberry pi install software

The second was the arrival of software centres, effectively “app stores”, and the Raspberry Pi has followed suit with the Raspberry Pi Store.

To install this you will need to start at the comment line and issue the following instruction:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install pistore

After installation, a new icon will be present on the desktop. Double-click to open and you will see some of the available applications. The Raspberry Pi Store can be searched and full details and screenshots for the available software will be displayed.

Installing applications in the Raspberry Pi Store is typically straightforward. Begin by searching for the app you would like to install. Once you have found it, click to start downloading, signing in if prompted. You will notice that some apps require payment – this can be done by adding a payment method to your account. One thing you will notice about the Raspberry Pi store is that you cannot install multiple apps at the same time, so installation of software can appear to take some time.

There are many useful apps available for the Pi. Versions of LibreOffice, FreeCiv and OpenTTD  can be installed, with many more set to arrive in the store.


With software installed on your Raspberry Pi, you can turn a small and impressive box of tricks into a portable, compact computer that can be used for a range of fascinating projects. You can find out more details on what is possible with this amazing computer by reading our Raspberry Pi Unofficial Guide.

install software on raspberry pi

Perhaps the biggest challenge in installing applications on this computer is the learning curve required to deal with the command line. However, most would argue that this is good practice for anyone with an interest in coding and development – the very purpose that the Raspberry Pi was created for.

However the Raspberry Pi Store is a great way for you to see what other amateur developers have been creating, and is a quick and easy way to add software to your computer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Tats4me
    March 12, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    according to what you've written here it is no longer possible to get games on the pi
    the one working method to listed here, the pistore, got deleted from existence, and you can't download any games from the terminal as far as i can tell, also there is no third way listed? it said there would be 3

  2. Elijah
    May 30, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    when i try to sudo apt get nearly any software, it says there isn't a package like that. i tried sudo apt get update but it still kept doing it. the only software that have worked is amarok, dconf tools, and a game called chromium that doesn't work

    • Christian Cawley
      June 2, 2016 at 7:46 am

      Strange; certainly doesn't reflect my experiences or those of the vast majority of the Rpi community (a quick browse of the forums will confirm this).

      Have you tried upgrade and update?

  3. mahdi
    May 19, 2016 at 11:35 am

    i used this code (sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install pistore) in Terminal in raspi and after that it says E: Inavaild operation pistore

    • Christian Cawley
      May 19, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      Unfortunately the Pi Store closed after the organization running it went bust. We'll be updating this article to reflect that soon.

  4. gpvprasad
    March 8, 2013 at 6:13 am

    I bought pi but I don't have a display unit and didn't install further any.

    • Russell
      February 27, 2016 at 1:50 am

      Did you get any further? You can remote desktop into the pi with something like xrdp. You will need to install this first which can be done via ssh. Of course you may need to borrow a display to make sure you can get this on your network first.

  5. Duane Adam
    March 8, 2013 at 1:59 am

    Interesting. Maybe a Best Of Raspberry Pi Tutorials soon? :)

  6. Garris Rago
    March 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I've only ever used raspbmc, but am thinking of trying different OSs on it just to see what they are like.