The New Raspberry Pi OS Is Here and Looks Great

The main operating system of the Raspberry Pi, Raspbian, has just received a new look from the Raspberry Pi Foundation . Called PIXEL, this is a Raspbian skin that redesigns the interface, adds several new programs, and makes it more enjoyable to use. You can even run it on your PC or Mac . Let’s take a closer look at the new look of your Pi.

New splash screen replaces old cryptic boot messages

The first big change you’ll see is the lack of long lines of text when booting up the Raspberry Pi. In their place is a splash screen that displays the operating system and version number just like any other modern computer. Otherwise, the total download time and process remain the same.

PIXEL comes preloaded with RealVNC, Chromium, and more.

PIXEL also adds several notable new default programs. The biggest new app is Chromium , replacing the outdated Epiphany web browser . This is the first version of Chromium built specifically for the Pi and using Pi hardware to speed up video playback. Chromium comes with a couple of extensions installed, including uBlock Origin to block ads, and the h264ify extension to improve the quality of YouTube videos on the Pi. Chromium works best on Raspberry Pi 2 and 3, but still works on Pi 1 and Pi Zero.

RealVNC is included, so you can easily use your Raspberry Pi from a remote desktop right out of the box. If you’ve never used RealVNC on your Pi before, setting it up is easy . RealVNC is a good way to access your Pi if you only have a laptop and don’t want to buy a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

There is also a new SenseHAT emulator with which you can test ideas for the SenseHAT peripheral . The emulator allows you to tune gyroscope, temperature, screen and more.

PIXEL comes with many beautiful wallpapers

It might not sound like much, but given that the default Raspbian background was always either blank or the Raspberry Pi logo, it’s really nice that PIXEL comes with a bunch of wallpapers. Included are 16 photos from one of the Raspberry Pi developers, Greg Annandale. You can get to them by clicking the Pi logo> Settings> Appearance Settings.

Of course, you can always use your own wallpaper, but it’s much nicer to have a photo greet you when you first load it.

PIXEL features all new app icons, new temperature and voltage icons

You probably don’t think much about icon quality, but Rapsbian has always been a bit short on icons. They were dull, sometimes pixelated and washed out, and looked a little hazy. They are now much brighter and easier to see at a glance.

Also gone is the mysterious rainbow display that warned if your Pi was undervoltage or overheating. In its place is a lightning bolt to measure voltage and a thermometer to measure temperature, which should greatly simplify troubleshooting.

Each window has a neater, rounded title bar

In previous iterations of Raspbian, the windows were block squares that always made the system look outdated. It now looks a lot more modern with rounded corners, a new title bar, and new close / minimize / maximize buttons. This is a minor change, but looks much better overall.

You can turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth easily

If you don’t need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, turning them on can quickly drain power, which is a problem if you’re working on a project that uses a rechargeable battery. PIXEL adds new menus for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth making it easy to turn them off. Just click the icon, hit the shutdown button and you’re done.

How to update the current version of Raspbian

From now on, PIXEL will ship as the primary operating system for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. If you already have a copy of Raspbian running, you can update it to that version by downloading the command line and entering the following commands:

 sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get dist-upgrade sudo apt-get install -y rpi-chromium-mods sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu python3-sense-emu sudo apt-get install -y python- meaning-emu-doc realvnc-vnc-viewer

If you’d rather start from scratch and burn a new image, you can get the PIXEL from the Raspberry Pi Foundation downloads page .

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