5 Ways New Raspbian Jessie Makes Raspberry Pi Even Easier to Use

Christian Cawley 14-10-2015

Following the release of Debian Jessie in July, the Raspberry Pi community has been blessed with a new release of the Raspbian variant, based on the “parent” distro. But Jessie is more than just a new version of the Pi’s main operating system (others are available 23 Operating Systems That Run on Your Raspberry Pi Whatever your Raspberry Pi project, there's an operating system for it. Here are the best Raspberry Pi operating systems! Read More ).


Not only does Jessie feel like an OS that the Raspberry Pi 2 5 Things You Can't Do With Raspberry Pi 2 With a quad core CPU and boasts of being able to run Windows 10 – is the Raspberry Pi 2 really all that? Here's 5 things the Raspberry Pi 2 still can't do. Read More finally deserves, various changes have been introduced by the Raspberry Pi Foundation that make it even easier (if such a thing were possible!) to use a Raspberry Pi.

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Get Your Copy of Raspbian Jessie

If all of this sounds like a major positive in your Raspberry Pi hobbyist life, head to the Raspberry Pi Downloads page and click the link to download Raspbian Jessie (two options are available: a straightforward download, and a Torrent that requires you have a Bittorrent client).

Once downloaded, extract the contents of the ZIP file. Due to the size of the file (1.2 GB expanding to 4.2 GB) you may have performance issues, so using 7-Zip on Windows How to Extract Files From ZIP, RAR, 7z and Other Common Archives Were you ever faced with a .rar file and wondered how to open it? Fortunately, managing ZIP files and other compressed archives is simple with the right tools. Here is what you need to know. Read More  is recommended; OS X users should employ The Unarchiver Unzip Any Archive Using The Unarchiver [Mac] Quickly extract practically any compressed file on the planet. If you're a Mac user, and Apple's default unzip tool is struggling to open an archived file, it's time to install the ultimate tool for the... Read More .

Installing to a clean SD card How to Install an Operating System on a Raspberry Pi Here's how to install an OS on your Raspberry Pi and how to clone your perfect setup for quick disaster recovery. Read More  is the best option, as the upgrade path from Raspbian Wheezy is potentially troublesome.


It Feels… New

While Raspbian Jessie (Debian releases are named after Toy Story characters) is visually very similar to previous releases, it also feels fresh.


Effort has been taken to incorporate some commonly installed apps and tools, the most notable of which are covered below. The general aim with this release seems to have been to just make life easier for Pi users.

One example of this is with the addition of screenshot functionality. Previously, if you wanted to capture screenshots, it was necessary to install scrot on the Raspberry Pi. Fortunately, this is no longer necessary, as the tool is pre-installed. Screenshots can now be made by simply pressing the Print Screen button on your keyboard.


Booting to GUI

While it won’t be a popular option for all users, the new default action of Raspbian isn’t to boot to the command line; instead, the GUI (that’s the mouse-driven desktop) will boot with an automatic login option.


This can be disabled by opening the new Raspberry Pi Configuration tool (see below) and changing the Boot option from To Desktop; select To CLI to boot directly to the command line interface.

Click OK to confirm – Raspbian will ask if you want to restart to apply the change.


Goodbye Raspi-Config

For many, the biggest change in the Raspberry Pi’s new OS release is the relegation of the raspi-config command line configuration tool 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 . While this is still available, you should hardly need to type sudo raspi-config ever again.


Instead, open Menu > Preferences to run the new Raspberry Pi Configuration tool in the GUI, where options such as Expand Filesystem and Overscan can be enabled and disabled as appropriate.

Options are split into four tabs, System, Interfaces, Performance and Localization. The first covers the settings mentioned so far; Interfaces deals with toggling things like the Raspberry Pi Camera Module 5 Things You Can Do with the Raspberry Pi Camera Module One of the first expansions you should buy for the Raspberry Pi is the camera module. With a dedicated connector, the camera can be used for a variety of tasks. Let's take a look. Read More and accessing it remotely with SSH Setting Up Your Raspberry Pi For Headless Use With SSH The Raspberry Pi can accept SSH commands when connected to a local network (either by Ethernet or Wi-Fi), enabling you to easily set it up. The benefits of SSH go beyond upsetting the daily screening... Read More ; Performance lets you set the overclock speed and how much memory should be dedicated to the GPU. Finally, Localization is intended for you to set your time, region and language preferences.


New Applications and Key Updates

Two new programming tools are provided in Raspbian Jessie. BlueJ and Greenfoot are developed by the University of Kent and Oracle, and are useful to anyone interested in learning or currently programming in Java. Sample projects for both can be found in /home/pi/Documents.

Also found in the Raspbian Jessie release are updates and fixes to several key applications.

Depending on how you use your Pi, the most relevant of these might be Scratch, the MIT-built modular development tool aimed at children. The default browser, Epiphany, is also updated, along with Sonic Pi.

Also new is the revised approach to sudo, the requirement for which has been largely reduced. An example is when using Python; no longer is sudo required to access the GPIO, which will be useful to anyone adding a reset switch How To Add a Reset Switch To Your Raspberry Pi Removing and replacing the USB power cable puts undue wear and tear on your Raspberry Pi, particularly the power port itself. What the system really needs is a reset switch, but sadly none was included. Read More .

The Raspberry Pi as a Small Form Factor Desktop

As suggested some months ago, the Raspberry Pi can be used as a desktop office computer Use Your Raspberry Pi Like a Desktop PC There are so many amazing things that you can do with a Raspberry Pi, from running your own space program to building a media centre. Although ostensibly intended as a compact computer that can be... Read More . The Raspberry Pi Model B+ and Raspberry Pi 2 are particularly suited to this requirement, and to this end a version of the Libre Office suite has been bundled into the installation, along with Claws Mail.


This means that word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and graphics and database programs can all be run on a Raspberry Pi, and you’ll be surprised just how well LibreOffice runs on the Raspberry Pi 2 (although you can even run it in your browser these days How to Run LibreOffice in Your Web Browser LibreOffice will soon run in your browser. They are preparing to challenge Microsoft and Google for a top spot in the office cloud. Can't wait for the official launch? Here are two workarounds. Read More ).

In fact, given just how well this suite runs, there is huge potential here for the Raspberry Pi to find its way into schools and workplaces as a desktop computer…

When Somebody Loved Me

The latest Raspberry Pi release brings a bunch of tweaks and improvements that make the Raspbian experience even more pleasing than it was already. While booting directly into the GUI may not be popular with everyone, this can be disabled, and the sudo raspi-config console remains available for command line use.

All in all, this is yet another solid operating system that will facilitate the success of your past, present and future Raspberry Pi-based projects.

Have you tried Raspbian Jessie? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Related topics: LibreOffice, Linux, Raspberry Pi.

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  1. Thibault Maekelbergh
    October 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    And for developers don't forget systemd!

  2. Red
    September 5, 2016 at 6:17 am

    An important note concerning the topic of privacy - after doing an update check the settings again because it seems that those automatically reset to their default (that is track you). It's perhaps not always the case but I and others at the company I'm working at have experienced that plenty of times.

  3. Wal
    June 25, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I've got the PI3 B yesterday and it isn't like you say. I'm on command line when i boot it WTH !

    • Christian Cawley
      June 25, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Really? Did you install Raspbian Jessie or an earlier version?

  4. Jon
    May 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    What case is that in the image above?

  5. Richard Franklin
    November 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    There is an apparent problem with the Arduino IDE PulseIn() function on both Ubuntu Linux PC's and Raspberry Pi2's in both the Wheezy and Jessie (2:0. . . .) Arduino IDE's. The same code run on Win7 PC gives correct time of flight for acoustic sensors, the Linux/Raspian uploaded code to the Seeeduinos giving time of flights that are of order 20% too short. This is under controlled, standard reflector conditions. Running the Seeeduino from the Pi2 with the same code uploaded from the Win7 machine gives correct results, so it is not an issue with the Pi2 hardware not supplying enough transient current to pulse the sensor.

    Someone please help or fix the Linux versions of the PulseIn() function.

    • Christian Cawley
      November 17, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks for sharing that Richard.