I know that Raspbian is obviously a linux distribution, but could I run Raspbian on a mainstream 32 bit computer? Or could you run any linux distribution on the pi? Also, how would you describe the Pi system? For example for most windows computers its either 32 bit or 64 bit. Could you describe the pi in that way?

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    "Commercial" is a bit of a misnomer, maybe "mainstream" is a better term here. Anyway, Raspbian is Debian, just compiled for the pi's obscure architecture; there are a few extra (and a few missing) bits, and some relatively minor configuration differences (e.g. the default desktop) but otherwise they are identical.
    – goldilocks
    Apr 29 '15 at 18:33
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    What specifically is it about Raspbian that you aren't getting from other Linux distributions? As noted, Raspbian is based on Debian Linux which certainly runs on most architectures. Of course, it will lack some of the RPi-specific features.
    – bobstro
    Apr 29 '15 at 19:52

You can not run Raspbian on a convencional 32 bit computer because Raspbian is for ARM architecture, while desktop PCs usually use a x86 o amd64 architecture. Raspberry Pi is a ARMv6 CPU (ARMv7 on Raspberry Pi 2).


Raspberry Pi is a 32-Bit ARM style cpu. So, while in theory you should be able to get most 32-bit (not 64!) OS's to work on a pi, however, a lot of work will be needed to actually get them to run. Many popular linux distributions feature a pre-made image specifically for the pi.

Desktop PC's on the other hand are i386 or x86_64 which are 32 and 64 bit (non-ARM) respectively, and most computers today will be the latter, 64 bit. Because Raspbian is made for ARM, it will not work on i386 or x86_64 by default. However, A virtual machine can be used here. A bit of searching lead me to This question, which should lead you to get a VM of Raspbian running on your desktop pc.

  • "Many popular linux distributions feature a pre-made image specifically for the pi." -> If we are talking about the non-2 pi, I think there are only three, Debian/Raspian, Fedora/Pidora, and Arch. Also, there's a bit of a red herring here WRT the issue being 32-bit vs. 64-bit: "a bit of work may be needed" -> Yes, they would need to be recompiled from source, which is a tremendous amount of work. 32-bit x86 will never work no matter what you do. Note that the source for all of these is pretty much the same regardless of whether it's ARM-32, ARM-64, x86-32, or x86-64.
    – goldilocks
    Apr 29 '15 at 22:00
  • Duely noted on the amount of work to recompile OS's, wrong word choice on my part lol. Also kali-linux and ubuntu core have distros for pi, though I am not sure core is for a/b/b+.
    – wahoozie
    Apr 30 '15 at 3:36

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