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Raspberry Pi's most popular operating system gets a visual overhaul

By Shawn Knight
Sep 29, 2016
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  1. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched an updated version of Raspbian, a popular open-source operating system for the foundation’s various single-board computers.

    Raspbian isn’t developed or affiliated with the Raspberry Pi team although it does serve as one of two operating systems the foundation officially supports (the other is Noobs, which stands for New Out Of the Box Software).

    As UX engineer Simon Long explains, he met with Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton a little over two years ago and was flat out asked if he thought he could make Raspbian better. Having very little experience with Linux or Xwindows, Long hesitantly said he thought he could help.

    Raspbian, for those not familiar, isn’t exactly the most aesthetically pleasing OS on the block. As such, the initial batch of changes consists almost entirely of visual tweaks. This is evident from the get-go as an elegant splash screen replaces most of the diagnostic messages during boot-up. Long notes that the splash screen was carefully coded as to not slow down the machine’s boot time.

    Once at the desktop, you’ll find a vibrant background image – one of 16 sourced from the foundation’s own Greg Annandale. Other quick-hit changes include reworked taskbar, menu and file manager icons, revised temperature and voltage indicators, a new window frame design, the inclusion of the Infinality font rendering package, an updated login screen, options to disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth plus a handful of new applications.

    The new image, dubbed PIXEL (which stands for Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight), is available to download free of charge from the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s website. Long notes that the uncompressed image is more than 4GB in size meaning some older unzippers may not be able to decompress it properly. If that’s the case, you can simply use a program like 7-Zip on Windows or The Unarchiver on Mac to get the job done.

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  2. kuroiei

    kuroiei TS Enthusiast Posts: 93   +31

    As I'd like it - no wallpapers, no menu animations, no nothing. Give me plain, snappy UI and I'll do just fine with the rest. We don't buy the Pi's if we're not gonna tinker with them for a lot, adjusting them to our own desires and needs. The less stuff to turn off, the better.
     
    avoidz and Reehahs like this.
  3. Badvok

    Badvok TS Booster Posts: 121   +50

    Bloat, bloat, bloat, PIXEL, whatever happened to KISS? The whole point of the Pi was to keep it simple, clean and light, now you'll need a much bigger SD Card which although not expensive in real terms will be a considerable premium on the price of the Pi.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  4. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Guru Posts: 361   +9

    "Ease of use" has always been a stumbling block for the Pi. If the idea is to make a simple computer, it must be "simple to use" as well, so interface improvements are always welcome.

    I got into computers in the 70's when... if you wanted a PC, you had to build it yourself. And when you were done with it, that meant learning CP/M too. Fun Factor: zero. :)

    So having a nice-looking familiar interface makes the Pi look like less of a toy. Good.
     
    mbrowne5061 and Reehahs like this.
  5. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Addict Posts: 169   +70

    I was wondering what kind of coding improvements require 4 GB of uncompressed images. It is as kuroiei said above, no unnecessary stuff needed.
     

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