Now I have a pretty decent understanding of which operating systems can be installed on the Raspberry Pi. But what I'm wondering is, as far as quality of GUI vs. performance vs. hardware compatibility etc..

What operating system would be the best choice for a long term install?

I not 100% sure what I will use my Raspberry Pi for, but mainly tinkering and learning purposes I think. I may do a little work in Python.

  • 1
    I think it would be the one that are officially supported, Raspbian or OpenElec with XBMC? not sure if you want anything else?
    – Piotr Kula
    Aug 4, 2012 at 9:37
  • @AlexChamberlain Tinkering/learning purposes mostly, mostly undecided.. I'm still waiting to receive my Pi in the mail. Maybe a little work in Python. Aug 4, 2012 at 10:09
  • 7
    Doesn't anyone else think this question is highly subjective?
    – Jivings
    Aug 4, 2012 at 14:05
  • @Jivings, I think so. Unless one of the maintainers answers none of us really know how much long term commitment there is to any of the distros. Aug 4, 2012 at 17:09
  • This question is highly subjective and ergo I am closing it. If you feel that I was wrong in doing so, you can always make your argument on Raspberry Pi Meta. Thank you for your cooperation!
    – user46
    Aug 4, 2012 at 17:39

2 Answers 2


Arch Linux

I'm a relatively new user of Arch, but have been using Linux - mainly Debian and its derivatives - for a few years now. I would highly recommend Arch, for someone who wants to tinker and learn - Debian is too easy...

Arch gives you a basic working system, with a package manager. What more do you need? It doesn't even ship with Vim! You can choose exactly what you want and will always have the latest versions.

Furthermore, whilst hard float support is awesome in it, Raspbian is full of bloatware. I don't like raspi-config, nor the fact it ships with code examples, which - as far as I know - aren't under package management, and therefore, cannot be easily removed and replaced if necessary. Arch will also have hard float support soon.

The only warning I have is that Arch's python package is Python 3, not Python 2. Furthermore, using the latest packages all the time, may introduce security problems if used on an external facing box, but shouldn't be a problem on the Raspberry Pi.

  • 2
    @nspostwhenidle Accepted already?? Aug 4, 2012 at 10:42

Raspbian Linux

For a long-term OS installation, I would recommend using the Raspbian Linux Distribution, which officially recommended by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. This distribution has the added advantage of having tens of thousands of pre-existing packages, and is based off of Debian, which is one of the most popular (and stable) Linux distributions.

Finally, Raspbian has "out-of-the-box" Python 2 support (and actually includes various demo applications/games), as well as an optional window manager.

  • You need citations for your claims about debian. Then I'll give this +1. Also would be useful to know the similarities and differences with the others.
    – Jivings
    Aug 4, 2012 at 15:06
  • @Jivings from the Raspbian website, "Raspbian is a free operating system based on Debian optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware". Debian is also in the top 10 on distrowatch.com, and is still one of the most popular Linux distros. Aug 4, 2012 at 15:27

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