I am planning to use my raspberry pi 2 in an image processing project. Is there an OS which would be particularly helpful in this purpose? I was thinking about RISC OS, because I have read that it focuses more on the processor although it has less features.

I am a newbie with raspberry but I have time to get used to any OS you would suggest.

And my other concern is that, is raspberry pi is too slow for real time image processing purposes? Is it possible for me to interpret a 30fps image?

  • Depends if you want to do it in real time. Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 23:18
  • Yes I need to make it real time
    – ozgeneral
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 5:23

2 Answers 2


On pretty much any modern system, and the different Raspberry models are no exception, the OS doesn't really get in the way of programs that just do their own thing. The OS does matter a whole lot if you're shuffling files in the file system - that's a shared resource - but your process memory is yours and the OS doesn't get involved as long as you stay in that area.

Technically this is made possible by the MMU (Memory Management Unit) in the CPU. The OS configures it for your program, and then this hardware component just watches over your program to ensure you stay withing your memory space. The OS is only woken up by the MMU if you stray outside (the famous SegFault).

By far the fastest solution is to use all 4 cores of a model 2, including its VFP (Vector Floating point) unit. You'll need a modern compiler for that. The most modern compiler I can find for Risc OS is an older GCC 4.7, not the more up to date GCC 4.9/5.0 versions.

You'd also want to use an existing image processing library so you don't have to reinvent the wheel. OpenCV is the usual choice for the Pi, and it runs on Linux. You'd be hard-pressed to write your own code as efficiently.

  • I see, then what do people mean when they say risc os runs faster with processors? Do they mean risc os handles MMU tasks faster etc? Is it that significant in performance?
    – ozgeneral
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 16:47
  • And how can I learn how to use 4 cores and VFP together? Does GCC >4.7 automatically handles it? Is there a programming language that would work faster? (Im sorry that I am asking too many questions but this is a whole new level for me, I used to just code in computers. Any answer you will provide will in fact be quite helpful, please bear with me for a short while :) )
    – ozgeneral
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 16:50
  • 1
    IIRC, each core has its own VFP unit. GCC can automatically handle it, if you tell GCC to do so. Using 4 cores requires threads which is handled more by libstdc++ (library) than gcc (compiler). Not really different from ordinary computers really.
    – MSalters
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 21:43
  • Thank you, I definitely make use of that. Does my choice of programming language make a difference? Would speed differ if I use C++ instead of BASIC? And again, why people think RISC OS will run faster if OS's do not get involved with the processing memory when a code is executed?
    – ozgeneral
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 8:24
  • 1
    @OE1: The whole Rpi with 4 cores active would draw 700-800 mA so you are safe with 1000 mA. You're not relying on the USB bus to power external devices? Because that should be added to the 800 mA.
    – MSalters
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 14:21

RiscOs was the original OS for the arm processor. This means, 27yrs on with faster processors that by far its the fastest, leanest OS for the pi.. If you buy the nutpi add on, this gets you (among other things) Photodesk, which is a highly capable photo editor, and much more responsive than gimp under raspbian.
Be prepared for a steepish learning curve with riscos, as the way it works can be very different to other os's but it has many things going for it.. a logical interface, screen use is cleverly maximised since menus only appear when you want them, the basic programming language is built in requiring no compiling, etc.. Good luck!

  • Great, I will go for RiscOs. Would it be faster if I program with basic or is it independent of the language I use? Do you think Raspberry pi 2 on RiscOs can achieve real time image processing?
    – ozgeneral
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 5:32

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