back to article Raspberry Pi Foundation releases operating system for PCs, Macs

The Raspberry Pi foundation has ported the PIXEL OS it released in September to the PC and Mac. PIXEL stands for “Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight” and is, says Pi founder Eben Upton, “our best guess as to what the majority of users are looking for in a desktop environment: a clean, modern user interface; a …

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  1. Mark Simon

    Here’s an idea …

    If they could port PIXEL to tablets & phones, there might be some extra life in my old iPads & iPhones.

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: Here’s an idea …

      My Nokia 3650 is currently un-used. I wonder when they'll port it over to S60 devices :-)

    2. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Here’s an idea …

      Hmmm... might resurrect the old EEE PC gathering dust somewhere and give that a go...

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Here’s an idea …

        Good idea - I'll rummage around for mine too.

    3. CrosscutSaw

      Re: Here’s an idea …

      I have my old Nokia 1020 in a drawer, with its awesome camera module, would be great if it could be re-purposed with a newer OS.

    4. tr1ck5t3r

      Re: Here’s an idea …

      Theres a firmware virus doing the rounds which isnt being picked up by any AV products on windows or linux. It seems to rewrite the some Western Digital HD's, and seems to work on Sansdisk mem sticks, (micro) SD cards as well.

      If you get it from an advert shown on a webpage and print it to a pdf using the built in pdf print driver on ubuntu, it can spread using code built into the default pdf reader on ubuntu.

      SquashFS also has some code which works with it, as does the USB bus in linux, but fortunately if your machine is infected with this firmware malware, the PIXEL desktop wont display the taskbar which could be one of your only clues about this firmware virus.

      Check out Flashrom to start checking your devices' flash chips for this rogue code even if your manufacturer says the firmware cant be updated!

  2. 45RPM Silver badge

    I was thinking of doing some work this morning, but what the hell. 'Tis the season to be merry. I think I might install Pixel on my old Dell laptop and then go to the pub at lunchtime instead!

    Another great effort by the Raspberry Pi foundation while we await the next version of their amazing gizmo. And the Pi really is a Christmas computer because all geeks, whether fanboys for macOS, Windows or Linux can agree that the Pi is a wonderful computer. Brought together in unity by Pi.

  3. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Pint

    And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

    I was moderately pleased when I zoomed in on the screenshot and saw actual BUTTONS for minimize/maximize/close and other 3D skeuomorphic features. I'm also *REALLY* glad to see a 3D skeuomorphic appearance being referred to as a "modern interface". I am *SO* *SICK* *AND* *TIRED* of the 2D FLATSO FLUGLY being excreted by Micro-shaft for windows "Ape" and win-10-nic, and the equally irritating fat-finger-friendliness of gnome 3, Unity, etc..

    _SO_ _REFRESHING_ !!! Well done, RPi Foundation. You deserve a beer!

    This has the real potential of becoming the operating system that _UNSEATS_ _WINDOWS_, particularly with the potential backlash against the spying and the 2D FLUGLY. I hope this happens. I really, really do.

    /me trying to imagine a name that relates 'Pixel' to an exit from windows... maybe rhyming with the word 'exit' (and perhaps a few other things).

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

      This has the real potential of becoming the operating system that _UNSEATS_ _WINDOWS_,

      You've actually managed to get MS Office running on it????!!??

      1. kryptylomese

        Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

        Everyone at google uses GuBuntu (ain't no WIndows) so NONE of them run Microsoft Office.....

        I don't use Office where I work either and nobody that I respect technically in the IT business uses it.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

          I don't use Office where I work either and nobody that I respect technically in the IT business uses it.

          Technical people are not the major use-case for Office, it is business that demands it. Now we can compare its good and bad points relative to LibreOffice and for many jobs I use the free one.

          But sadly I have to use MS Office for some projects as its the only one that maintains correct layout. And that also means using the more recent ribbon-infested version because even MS can't achieve true portability between versions of its own damn suite!

          1. ElectricFox
            Thumb Up

            Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

            SIR!

            Have a thumbs up from me. I wish I had more to give you...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

            But sadly I have to use MS Office for some projects as its the only one that maintains correct layout.

            Funny that, we explicitly switched wholesale to LibreOffice because it did that (a) across all of its versions and (b) across all platforms (we mainly use macOS and Linux, but a few less fortunate souls have to use Windows for customer experience testing of our service :) ).

            I haven't used MS Office in some 5 years now, although I must admit that doing anything DTP-alike in LibreOffice takes a lot of effort - we're waiting until Affinity Serif get their finger out and start delivering on their promise to come up with a new DTP product. So far they've done an impressive work with Photo and Designer so we reckon it's worth the wait, also because you pay exactly *once*. No monthly bleeding..

            1. Neil Lewis

              Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

              For DTP type layout, give Scribus a try. It's cross platform, and can import content from LibreOffice, too.

            2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: AC

              Funny that, we explicitly switched wholesale to LibreOffice because it did that (a) across all of its versions and (b) across all platforms (we mainly use macOS and Linux, but a few less fortunate souls have to use Windows for customer experience testing of our service :) ).

              If you can get other in multi-company to change - yes!

              But if they are wed to MS Office then you are forced to use the same to get consistency :(

          3. Steve Graham

            Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

            "because even MS can't achieve true portability between versions of its own damn suite"

            It's not that they can't, it just suits them not to. Incompatibility forces everyone to upgrade to the newest version.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

              "It's not that they can't, it just suits them not to. Incompatibility forces everyone to upgrade to the newest version."

              Why would it do that instead of force people to stick to their existing versions?

          4. Captain DaFt

            Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

            "because even MS can't achieve true portability between versions of its own damn suite!"

            Well of course. Once some numpty in high places gets the latest and greatest, it forces everyone else to "upgrade".

            Otherwise, who (besides said numpty) would ever bother?

          5. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

            "Technical people are not the major use-case for Office, it is business that demands it."

            Indeed, although it does have some useful features for technical uses. The problem being that MS can't make it's mind up about what features to offer and bungles some of its attempts. Hence versions of Office around the turn of the millennium supported the inclusion of other files, so that it was possible to create large document sets such as engineering manuals, but impossible to print them because (a) Word fouled up page numbering and (b) the Windows print drivers choked and halted printing after a few hundred pages. The fix of forcing users to create one giant document isn't exactly a great one for multi-author working.

            Libre Office is mostly all of an Office product that most users need or could cope with. However every dim-witted business manager seems to feel that he (it's always he) must have the largest, fastest PC IN THE WORLD! on his desk and it must be equipped with a full-fat version of Office even if all he does is type one line memos in Word and tot-up his expenses in Excel. I've proved to clients over and over again that all they need is Libre Office and they just ignore the advice.

            "But sadly I have to use MS Office for some projects as its the only one that maintains correct layout."

            I'd grumble about that statement. Office in my experience fouls up layout over and over again. I guess what you refer to is that it's impossible to move documents between MS Office and Libre Office without having serious formatting issues and incompatibilities. Oddly Writer does a much better job of calculating fields than Word and having used it to calculate invoices it's good enough to use for lightweight SOHO needs.

            I'm wondering though what the recommendation would be for "technical" use. Probably LaTex, I guess <shudder>. Whever it gets down to document processing I always meet some wild-eyed crazy-haired obsessive who will witter on for hours about how he (it's always he) has created a mighty technical documentation system in LaTex which oddly enough only he can understand or maintain. When they eventually do manage to get a printed copy out it will be awful with horrid layout, horrid fonts and ugly illustrations poorly positioned. I find it best to persuade these people to do something more suited to their talents.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

              "I'm wondering though what the recommendation would be for "technical" use. Probably LaTex, I guess <shudder>. Whever it gets down to document processing I always meet some wild-eyed crazy-haired obsessive who will witter on for hours about how he (it's always he) has created a mighty technical documentation system in LaTex which oddly enough only he can understand or maintain. When they eventually do manage to get a printed copy out it will be awful with horrid layout, horrid fonts and ugly illustrations poorly positioned. I find it best to persuade these people to do something more suited to their talents."

              And then you get the stories of the authors who MUST use Word because their Editors use it for things like Annotations that don't port anywhere else, making it a TILI proposition.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

        "You've actually managed to get MS Office running on it?"

        it appears to have Libre Office pre-installed (see graphic). I abandoned MS Office for Libre Office and/or Open Office some time ago. [it does everything I need]. Assuming PIXEL is like Raspbian, I would expect it to work just fine on an RPi, particularly one of the newer model 2/3 versions.

        /me most recently put FreeBSD 11.0 on an RPi model 2 and a 1B, and with my [submitted] kernel patch [needed for the ATX Raspi power control board], everything appears to work just fine.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

          Assuming PIXEL is like Raspbian,

          Not sure if you've just mixed up some words, but in case not:

          PIXEL is the RPi Foundation's UI which runs on top of Raspbian on an RPi. If you are using a recent version of Raspbian on a Pi, you are already using PIXEL.

          What they have done here is make PIXEL available as a UI for Debian - the distribution on which Raspbian is based. The ISO you can download is an installer for x86 (32 bit) Debian, with PIXEL as the UI.

          M.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

      "This has the real potential of becoming the operating system that _UNSEATS_ _WINDOWS_, particularly with the potential backlash against the spying and the 2D FLUGLY. I hope this happens. I really, really do."

      Where's all the APPLICATIONS, though? Especially top-tier GAMES? An OS isn't worth much without top-quality software.

      1. Wiltshire

        Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

        Re Where's all the APPLICATIONS, though? Especially top-tier GAMES? An OS isn't worth much without top-quality software.

        Isn't that's what Steam on Linux is for?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

          "Isn't that's what Steam on Linux is for?'

          A pale imitation of its progenitor. Its titles list isn't even half of its Windows counterpart, and it's lineup is mostly indies and also-rans: sorely lacking in headliners.

          1. Grifter

            Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

            >>A pale imitation of its progenitor.

            And yet, more games than anyone could play in a lifetime. Yes, there are more games for windows, but you will never ever play them all.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

              "And yet, more games than anyone could play in a lifetime. Yes, there are more games for windows, but you will never ever play them all."

              Unless they're not the ones I WANT to play. Where's Fallout 4? Final Fantasy XIII? And the rest of the headliners? Outside of Steam, where's Overwatch? And no, I don't own a console nor desire to own one. I have a machine that can put a PS4 to shame (which I do regularly use for media encoding work) so don't really need one. But having seen the Steam lineup personally on Xubuntu, I stand by my statement of a pale imitation of the original.

              1. Grifter

                Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

                >> they're not the ones I WANT to play

                I'm sure they're not. For me, I am thoroughly enjoying a quite awesome and extensive range of titles from indie to AAA in my Linux gaming.

                But Overwatch? I don't get why you'd mention that. I'm going to assume that you know Blizzard hates Linux and will never make a game for it. Blizzard is not even in the running. The only game they have a Linux client for is world of warcraft, and while that's been available (internally) for over 10 years now, it's not something they'll ever let the public touch. So fuck em. Plenty of other fish in the vast sea =)

                Meanwhile, I bet I have and play more games than you ever will in your lifetime dude! ;) But you do you man! Carry that torch of hatred in your little corner, it will keep you warm as you sit down to complain about how others can't enjoy all the games you potentially could, yet never will, because of raging on the internet ;)

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

                  It's not hatred; it's frustration. And it's attitudes like yours that will ensure a captive market for mainstream PC gaming for years to come because you're not making a very friendly environment for mainstream developers (ask not just Blizzard but also Bethesda who have made their displeasure of Linux development very clear--the biggest problem, no united front). If they are not who you want, then please say so, give up on the whole Linux on the Desktop thing, and declare a permanent, irrevocable division of the user base. That also means an end to dissing Windows users because many of us don't have a choice in the matter. Just because I use Windows doesn't mean I don't pine for a practical alternative.

                  1. Grifter

                    Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

                    I reject everything about your post. I have been sitting here trying to write out a reply but your post is so insane that nothing sounds like a good response.

                    So let me state again for the record: Blizzard can suck a bag of dicks. Aww, according to you now the poow widdle devewopers are now feeling butthurt and will therefore not support Linux. I reject your round-about logic and I reject this fallacy. If Blizzard were to release a game for Linux tomorrow, you'd have a surge of Linux users buying it. But they will not, and not because they feel like no Linux user wants to be their friend, they just don't fucking care about Linux users... unless they try to play a Blizzard game using wine, then they really really care, and they will ban your ass, and they will continue to ban Linux users using Wine. So yeah. Fuck em.

                    If and when developers want to release their games for Linux, I and many others like me are very welcoming and we support them by purchasing their titles, we report bugs and help out wherever we can. We love them for it. And we play the hell out of their games.

                    Meanwhile, you sit in a corner on the interweb victimizing yourself and ask that I abandon running Linux on my desktop because poor you, you have no choice but to run win. Well sir, I have run Linux exclusively since 2k1, and I have gamed and gamed and gamed, and I will continue to game with ever more games becoming available. It is a great time for Linux gaming, and like most significant times in history, it is happening whether you want it to or not.

                    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                      Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

                      Your statements merely confirm my original assumption. You think your Zaphod Beeblebrox believing you're the center of your little universe while the rest of reality flies by, and you don't care. That's why serious Linux users and the mainstream won't meet: they're universes apart.

                      And before you point to Android and the like, I should point out that it's more than Android that's running Android. Most of it depends on Google's infrastructure, plus all the popular games on it are casual, not-so-serious games.

                      And before you say, "So what?" you basically told Blizzard to kiss your kiester. Blizzard, who happens to be one of the most successful gaming companies on the market, with NET (meaning AFTER costs) revenues of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars last year, with 10 million players willingly (repeat, WILLINGLY) plunking down $13-15 A MONTH just for one game, not to mention all the side business on top of that. And that's not even counting Overwatch, on which Blizzard is making YET ANOTHER killing. If they don't like complaining Linux users, that's because they're in such a minority that it's not even worth their time. Frankly, given the choice between them and you, I'll take the company that seems to know what it's doing (after all, they're the ones making all the money).

                      "If and when developers want to release their games for Linux, I and many others like me are very welcoming and we support them by purchasing their titles, we report bugs and help out wherever we can. We love them for it. And we play the hell out of their games."

                      But if you want MORE and more mainstream games, you can't just hope for them to come. You have to offer the bridge, ease the transition, or else it's a bridge too far. This was one reason the Saturn and Nintendo 64 lost the fifth generation. Sony made things easy, and won defections by the truckload as a result. If you want people to REALLY game on Linux, you need to put forth the effort. But that's not what you want, is it? You just want you little universe as it is. You could care less if all the big boys pass you by.

                      "It is a great time for Linux gaming, and like most significant times in history, it is happening whether you want it to or not."

                      If what I see now is the most significant moment in Linux gaming, where Valve (who actually has a financial motive to push gaming away from Windows and Microsoft's walled garden) can't even convince devleopers to jump and where their Steam Machines languish, then you really must BE Zaphod Beeblebrox to thing this is what's considered the greatest thing to happen to gaming since the joystick.

                      Given that, I'll gove you the TL;DR version: we'll just have to agree to disagree. Our perspective are just too different to find common ground.

                      1. Grifter

                        Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

                        Way too different, your post is insane, and I really can't be bothered to point out the flaws anymore.

    3. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

      @bombastic bob....

      Living up to your name there I see.... anywhoo, I'd suggest that you step away from your device and go for a walk because getting *that* worked up about something as stupid as this cannot be healthy.

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Like!!

    Well done Pi Foundation. Not only should this run nicely on an old laptop I have, it should run VERY nicely on newer stuff.

    1. druck
      Thumb Up

      Re: Like!!

      Just make sure you replace Firefox with Chromium on older systems with less than 4GB of memory, then you'll really see what it can do.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Like!!

        When the pages get media-heavy, it doesn't really matter which browser you use. I speak from firsthand experience using an underpowered AMD 64x2 laptop upgraded to 4GB (the max).

  5. Mevi

    Acer Revo Nettop

    If audio over HDMI works, this might be ideal.

    1. arobertson1

      Re: Acer Revo Nettop

      Force audio over HDMI:

      sudo nano /boot/config.txt

      hdmi_drive=2

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Acer Revo Nettop

        hdmi_drive=2

        This is for Raspbian running on Pi hardware, not for a generic x86 machine methinks?

        Not had problems with audio for a couple of years now on Raspbian - before then I'd often have to be very specific about where I wanted my audio.

        Not so on my OpenSuse machine, where my main monitor is VGA and my "occasional" monitor (the family TV) is HDMI. Sometimes it defaults to HDMI and sometimes it defaults to headphones. It's always the wrong one and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to force the computer to use both, all the time. Oh, and nothing I do seems to be able to force Supertuxkart to use HDMI audio.

        I had a bad experience with JACK some time ago, but in theory I could use it to enable HDMI and headphones simultaneously. Maybe it's time to play again, over the Christmas break.

        M.

        1. Mevi

          Re: Acer Revo Nettop

          I'll try it out after the Xmas stresses. This Revo has been in my old tech box unused for a few years, each time I load up something non Windows, the audio and/or video is screwed up.....

  6. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Nice! And just in time...

  7. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Excellent point about schools, cash is always tight, and not paying licenses for MS products could save a few quid. Also, there is the point that at junior schools, IT isn't vocational training, it's simply teaching basic concepts, and the version of the product children use will be radically different by the time they enter the workforce, so freeware OSs and Applications are fine, they teach the concepts.

    So, if Storm Barbara does close off the North, and I end up staying home for Xmas, I reckon there's some old hardware on a shelf that could do with a new OS, for the shiz.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Much as I'd love to agree with you, my feeling is that only those schools with space and savvy teachers will even consider anything other than Windows. Almost every bit of curriculum approved software is Windows only and not likely to change any time soon. From a budgetary point of view, why re-purpose an old, power hungry PC when a years leccy costs alone would pay for another Pi and just re-purpose the screen/mouse/keyboard.

      Most of the schools I visit simply don't have the time to faff on (and unless you have a teacher skilled and interested, it IS a faff on for them). Primary schools in particular might have someone who is nominally the "IT person" but they almost all rely on some form of outside support service, usually the LEA and get a tech visit for half day per week, remote access or on-demand if urgent.

      With more education budget pressure looming, no one is going to spend anything (time and/or money) they don't have to, especially on something they know nothing about.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Most of the schools I visit simply don't have the time to faff on (and unless you have a teacher skilled and interested, it IS a faff on for them)."

        OK.

        Suppose schools had a choice between something that takes a lot of ongoing faff (software, hardware, and commercial), and something that after a brief one-off transitional faff was then so much cheaper for almost everybody (in time and money and licensing worry) than its routinely auto-incompatible predecessor?

        There'd even be profitable opportunities here for the former Certified Microsoft Dependent folks, they could go into services for helping people to transition smoothly without needing the services of a 12 year old, etc.

        Once upon a time we got the whole country transitioned from town gas to natural gas. Now we can't even get a few schools transitioned off the Microsoft money-making treadmill?

        No wonder the economy's gone to the dogs.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Once upon a time we got the whole country transitioned from town gas to natural gas. Now we can't even get a few schools transitioned off the Microsoft money-making treadmill?

          No wonder the economy's gone to the dogs."

          Absolutely! It took a huge investment in time, money and manpower to switch over to natural gas. That's never going to happen in most schools. Those that do have IT staff spend most of their time firefighting, sorting out lost passwords and recovering "lost" files.

          Remember, creating the gas network involved nationalising the gas delivery companies. Education is effectively being privatised with "independent" Academies outside of LEA control.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Well, the ongoing maintenance is inevitable because of their curriculum software is platform-locked, meaning adding on the teaching computers is cheap if not free, and no replacement program's gonna be able to beat that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "the ongoing maintenance is inevitable because of their curriculum software is platform-locked, meaning adding on the teaching computers is cheap if not free, and no replacement program's gonna be able to beat that."

            Can we have that in meaningful unambiguous English as well please? Happy New Year anyway :)

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Since they have to maintain the faculty computers no matter what, which BTW can't jump to Linux because the software needed to do the grades and so on are locked to Windows (this is investment-class software, very expensive and rolled out en masse, so no tinkering allowed; it must be all or nothing), wouldn't sprucing up the student computers be little more than nicks off the roll in the greater scheme of things versus two completely different sets of computer complete with service regimens and so on?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        only those schools with space and savvy teachers

        Bet those schools have students who could sort that all out for them.

      3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        "Much as I'd love to agree with you, my feeling is that only those schools with space and savvy teachers will even consider anything other than Windows. "

        From my experience, the teachers wouldn't have a clue what OS they were using. I could have given them Linux and told them it was Windows, and the majority would not know the difference. The 'IT co-ordinators' weren't even that tech savvy. Some were pretty incompetent.

        The only real barrier would be if there was no snooping software available, we had to install 'Policy Central' to all staff and student machines, and that's only available for Windows, I'm not sure what, if any, Linux alternatives there are.

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