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 …

  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.

    2. Colin Tree

      M$

      M$ is rusted on in all education systems.

      I saw a BSD server in a hippy primary school near Nimbin once.

      Years ago I went around many primary schools north half of NSW doing a rollout and tried to raise interest in Linux - not a hope.

      Half of their PCs were stuffed with viruses and basically useless, but that's the way they like it.

      Don't worry about the license cost, the maintenance cost is sky high and the teachers can't do it..

  8. LDS Silver badge

    Nice, but, please, no "Windows Blue" windows title bars!

    I've been hating that color since I saw Windows on a color monitor (I first run it on a monochromatic one...)

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Nice, but, please, no "Windows Blue" windows title bars!

      They do that (or give the option) to ease the transition away from Windows.

      I have a spare 60GB SSD so I'll give it a try soon.

  9. Archivist

    Emulator

    Or you could just emulate a Pi:

    Mac/ Linux: https://sourceforge.net/projects/raspberrypiemulator/

    Windows: https://sourceforge.net/projects/rpiqemuwindows/

    Lot of fun! Have used the Mac one successfully with Jessie.

  10. HmmmYes Silver badge

    Port XFCE to QT and Id be a happy man.

    1. lleres

      Likewise. Closest that I have found is LXQT, the successor to LXDE which is based on QT.

  11. circusmole

    I thought it is...

    ..a desktop that is running on a Debian OS, not an "OS" in its own right. But what do I know. So is this just another lightweight desktop - enlighten me!

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: I thought it is...

      The Raspberry Pi Foundation are very careful to call it a "desktop environment", "built on top of Debian" with a suite of software pre-installed. It is the author who seems to have decided it's an OS in its own right.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I thought it is...

      "..a desktop that is running on a Debian OS, not an "OS" in its own right. But what do I know. So is this just another lightweight desktop - enlighten me!"

      OS and "distro" are often conflated in Linux circles.

  12. jake Silver badge

    Looks like the download speed is limited by RasPi

    Three hours here in California, too (should be just a couple minutes).

  13. trevorde

    2017 will be ...

    ... the year of the Linux desktop (again)

    1. enormous c word

      Re: 2017 will be ...

      "2017 will be ...

      ... the year of the Linux desktop (again)"

      Its here already - most folks only need for Computing is their phone / maybe a tablet - they probably run Android which is Linux. I just bought a couple of little KODI/xbmc boxes of Amazon - one runs as a Media Streamer, the other I removed KODI and plugged in a USB keyboard and mouse and an old VGA monitor - and got a £30 Android PC. I have 5 Android devices, an iPhone and a Win 7 laptop.

      https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01IDLV9UC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: 2017 will be ...

        And gamers and media handlers? Those will still need PCs, and the lineups for both favor Windows. Same for online gaming until one of the consoles picks up WoW.

  14. Your alien overlord - fear me

    what users want

    "a curated suite of productivity software" - er no. I want to run what I want, not a limited suite of someone elses 'requirements'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: what users want

      What were these idiots thinking not asking you what you want?

      I can't see them ever achieving anything with an attitude like that.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: what users want

      ""a curated suite of productivity software" - er no. I want to run what I want, not a limited suite of someone elses 'requirements'"

      You're in the distinct minority. Most people just want to get it on, already, meaning they don't mind the things being picked for them.

    3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: what users want

      You just described PC software. Everything that is available to you is what other people think you need. All you are doing is bickering about the length of the list.

      Plus you can run this from a memory stick, you don't even need to configure dual boot. You get _more_ choice.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: what users want

      "I want to run what I want"

      It's still Debian under the pretty GUI. What makes you think you can't just install anything available in the Debian repos?

    5. dbannon

      Re: what users want

      "a curated suite of productivity software..."

      Hey, at least it does not come with Minecraft and Mathmatica, takes so long to remove that from a RasPi image.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: what users want

        takes so long to remove that from a RasPi image.

        Raspbian Jessie Lite

        M.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: what users want

          Jessie Lite doesn't include X. So you either get Lite and add it on or get the full-fat Jessie and remove the cruft. Chore either way.

  15. Lotaresco Silver badge

    I keep hoping

    And I'm constantly disappointed by Linux desktop environments. At the moment I have Elementary OS Loki on a Lenovo desktop. It's a good attempt but seriously flawed largely as a consequence of the bone-headed attitude of the development team. They scream like pigs poked with a pointy stick if any user dares to suggest that their desktop is less than perfect but in truth it's unusable. A sign of how bad it can be is the existence of the "tweaks" package that lets the user add things that the development team think aren't necessary, like a minimise button on windows and setting the UI to open apps with a double click, not a single click. Sadly what it can't do is make drag and drop work.

    It's poor interface design that alienates users. I'm hoping Pixel fixes that. I'll have a go but I'm ready for more disappointment because all Linux development teams seem to have a bee in their bonnet about something and not a clue about how to make a usable interface.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I keep hoping

      ... And that's where you come in - if you don't like it then you are free to change the code so it does work for you.

      1. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: I keep hoping

        " if you don't like it then you are free to change the code so it does work for you."

        Which is a silly answer. Yes I can, but I shouldn't have to. Why create a broken interface then expect the user to fix it? As long is the object is to have a hobbyist OS which requires constant tinkering then fine. If that's what you (and others) want Linux to be then fine. But you're missing the point of Elementary OS which was to build a Linux for people who wanted a good interface and couldn't be arsed to tinker with source code.

        BTW, making a snipe from behind an AC does make you look like a troll.

        1. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: I keep hoping

          "Which is a silly answer"

          It is a silly answer and it's the answer I have been given many times when trying to find solutions to issues with Linux installs... One of the reasons I still use Windows for work and just tinker with Linux... Can't afford the downtime trying to solve issues.

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: I keep hoping

      Why not just install a different distro with less obnoxious devs and install a desktop or window manager that works, like XFCE, LXDE, KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon, RatPoison, FluxBox, Enlightentment, ROX etc etc etc?

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: I keep hoping

        You mention eight different desktops. Most people would have gouged their eyes out before they completed test drives on all of those.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I keep hoping

          "You mention eight different desktops. Most people would have gouged their eyes out before they completed test drives on all of those."

          How many different (incompatible?) desktops has Windows has in the last decade or so?

          How many choices do people have if they set up a new Window box?

          How many different desktops has the Linux world had in the last decade or so?

          How many choices do people have if they set up a new Linux box?

          Consistency is a problem for MS users, isn't it.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: I keep hoping

            Not really. Ask it like this, "How many choices do people WANT?"

            Answer: Usually, just one, as they'll just get used to it and go about their business.

    3. dajames Silver badge

      Re: I keep hoping

      It's poor interface design that alienates users. I'm hoping Pixel fixes that.

      Pixel is basically a tweaked LXDE (running on Debian), and feels quite LXDE-like despite the tweaking. It runs nicely on a Pi -- and I would expect it to be even snappier on a decent PC -- but don't expect a leap in sophistication beyond what you can get from, say, Lubuntu on a PC today.

      I like it, but your mileage may vary.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I keep hoping

      "It's poor interface design that alienates users. I'm hoping Pixel fixes that."

      Why "hope" for Pixel when there are already many, many other Linux "distros" you can try out? You did try more than one before disparaging the entire Linux ecosystem, didn't you?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I keep hoping

        "Why "hope" for Pixel when there are already many, many other Linux "distros" you can try out? You did try more than one before disparaging the entire Linux ecosystem, didn't you?"

        Most users don't have the time. It's ONE or NONE, so you better present a united front to appease the average Joe; otherwise, you will need to surrender that market. Remember, Joe Stupid wants turnkey solutions, even if they're not possible. The one who delivers the closest wins.

      2. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: I keep hoping

        "You did try more than one before disparaging the entire Linux ecosystem, didn't you?"

        Well, you seem to have cornered the market in "patronising", although it does seem a little misplaced.

        Let me see, I've used Slackware, Suse, RHEL, Knoppix, Ubuntu, CentOS, Mint, Kali, Android, Elementary that I can recall. Probably others also. I don't have any objection to driving Linux via a shell, it's fine like that. The attempts at GUIs however seem to prove that designing a good, consistent, efficient GUI is very, very hard to do. If it wasn't there would be a Linux GUI that would be infinitely superior to Windows/MacOS and yet there isn't one.

        Elementary was touted as having the "best desktop experience of any Linux distro" and yet it's pretty poor. Yes you can arrange windows for a screen shot and make it look a bit like MacOS. However that breaks as soon as you try to use it. You want to select half a dozen files and trash them? Oh, hard luck as soon as you click on a file it opens and there's no recycle/trash can to drag them to. Simple, basic functionality that's not there.

        So, since you're apparently very knowledgeable about desktops in Linux, which desktop supports rubber band selection of files, spring-loaded folders, metadata tags in the GUI, a trash can, drag and drop between applications, a clipboard that supports all the common data types, continuous and discontinuous selections, symbolic links to remote shares? These aren't high-falutin' requirements these are features that Windows and MacOS support not just now, but supported years ago.

  16. Drew 11

    Those were the days

    OSX 10.6.8 was the pinnacle of interface design, before Apple decided to turn 27" iMac's into giant iPhones.

    Bring a 10.6.8 desktop out for Linux and you're on to a winner.

    1. Lotaresco Silver badge

      Re: Those were the days

      "Bring a 10.6.8 desktop out for Linux and you're on to a winner."

      I'd settle for a Windows 98 or a MacOS 7 interface, not that they were good, but so far I haven't encountered a Linux desktop that comes up to that low standard. Rubber banding to select icons, icons that don't look as if they were created using mummy's makeup scrawled on a napkin, consistency of keystrokes and actions across applications, drag and drop and clipboard sharing between apps, even some basic understanding of how people use a GUI would be a start.

      1. Jess

        Re: I'd settle for a Windows 98

        Linux Mint.

      2. AJ MacLeod

        Re: Those were the days

        It has to be said that while you are not totally wrong you are coming across as just a bit whiny which doesn't exactly inspire anyone to help. You're not totally right either - Even back when Windows 98 was current, the early versions of KDE were in a different league altogether for real productivity and convenience - some of these features eventually appeared in XP or even later, but they were there in Open Source Software first.

        The main point is that with open source software you have myriad choices of GUI, and you are free to experiment or make your own. On the other hand if you don't like what Microsoft or Apple provide (I know I don't, especially with everything post Windows 7 so far) you're pretty much stuck with them.

        Personally I've gone back to an old favourite, WindowMaker, which doesn't work very much like any Windows or Mac GUI but suits me almost perfectly.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Those were the days

          "The main point is that with open source software you have myriad choices of GUI, and you are free to experiment or make your own."

          Don't conflate freedom of choice with an actual solution. What most people need is a working solution to their problem, not the freedom to go look for it, even if it's potentially out there. Having a mechanic fixing your car or the freedom to go search for one is not the same thing you see. That said, freedom to leave the mechanic you got to find a different one you like more is of course always desirable and a good thing. But if it's a choice of either/or, "freedom" never stands a chance, and quite understandably so. People need their problem fixed, full stop. Everything else is extra.

        2. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: Those were the days

          "Even back when Windows 98 was current, the early versions of KDE were in a different league altogether for real productivity and convenience "

          I'm trying very hard to take you seriously but I can't. KDE was in a different league, but not in a good way. Yes it had (some) features that were better than XP, but those features had been bettered by MacOS, AmigaOS, GEM, Xerox Star long before either KDE or XP.

          You, and others, seem to be missing the point that lots of variation is not necessarily a good thing. It's no good, for example, trying to run a business where every user group has a different flavour of desktop. As I said, hobbyist approach. It looks as if all of the work that was done at Xerox, principally by Bruce Tognazzini, has been ignored. I think I'd make it compulsory for anyone wanting to design a GUI to read "Tog on Interface". I doubt that any of the current generation trying to create GUIs have ever heard of it, let alone read it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Those were the days

            "lots of variation is not necessarily a good thing"

            OK, I'm very happy with that.

            So why does Windows itself keep varying the way things are done, sometimes between different versions of the OS, sometimes even between different applications on the very same system? Why do even native Windows apps often have varying appearances and behaviours (of the kind you already mentioned)?

            If "too much variation" is an argument against either mainstream OS and the associated applications, it is an argument against both.

  17. Sil

    Is it an OS ?

    Am I mistaken or is Pixel OS nothing more than yet another unix distro ? What's so exciting about another debian distro on the PC or the Mac, two environments where hundreds of distro are already available ?

    1. himoverthere

      Re: Is it an OS ?

      Because as the article says, a lot of PI's are used in schools and given that children will be able to use the OS on the PI in school and then use it at home on their hardware of choice means that learning and take up will go up. Education .. it's a good thing

  18. J J Carter Silver badge
    Windows

    Of course

    If the browser works on the Office 365 portal, I suppose this could be useful on older machines.

  19. Zed Zee

    What's the point?

    Surely if a school has old computers, it's best to replace them with Raspberry Pi devices anyway, since they consume less power, offer the operating environment that the students use to learn and (as the article says) they can take their work home with them.

    What school has the time/inclination/experience of trying to rip out Windows/MacOS from a bunch of old machines and trying to install a technology release of Linux, with no support from the vendor and certainly no support from the small IT company that usually supplies a school with the computer equipment it needs?!

    The Foundation should stick to enhancing the RasPi, making RPi4 even better and perhaps even considering a RPi "Pro" model, with much faster CPU, more RAM etc. That would be fab!

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: What's the point?

      it's not JUST about schools; it's about having an operating system that's tweeked to run WELL on a lightweight system. Micro-shaft tried producing those lightweight ARM-based surface machines with WIndows "Ape" on them and it *TOTALLY* *FAILED*. Some Linux netbooks have done 'ok' but none really seem to be that prevalent in the market.

      So this may be the first truly successful attempt to make a desktop suitable for lightweight computing, with updated versions of things *like* Libre Office pre-installed, a nice stable Linux on the back-end, and NO! MORE! DAMN! BLOAT!!

      and 3D skeuomorphic _DESKTOP_ instead of 2D FLATSO "phoney". *much* better!

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: What's the point?

        "and 3D skeuomorphic _DESKTOP_ instead of 2D FLATSO "phoney". *much* better!"

        Frankly, I don't get what the whole deal is over "3D" buttons and whatnot. It's still a 2D screen, so it's just a representation of something. Whether it's bordered or not, I learn to recognize where the Close buttons and whatnot are and move on: 2D, pseudo-3D, or whatever. Maybe it's because I grew up in the days when the original Macintosh and very rudimentary monochromatic GUIs were around and you simply learned what's what and moved on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's the point?

          Are "3D" buttons those ones that I click four or five times and still can't work out which is "on" and which is "off"?

      2. parityerror

        Re: What's the point?

        On the other hand if a bunch of old machines were running this and start dying the obvious choice are raspberry pis. The OS could be a foot in the door for hardware sales.

  20. OhDearHimAgain

    Xubuntu for the win

    Personally, I'd prefer Xubuntu

  21. Dinsdale247

    Hilarious

    GNU/Linux guys are so funny: "Look, I changed an option in Debian, I've made a new distro!"

    Debian/Jessie using Mate runs great on 10 year old laptops with Celeron processors. We use two of them here at work for everything except actually building executables.

  22. Salts

    Well, as long ...

    as it has vim I can make use of it :-)

  23. Chozo
    Joke

    Hurrah!

    A small Puppy for christmas

  24. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Happy

    Mint with Cinnamon?

    While it sounds like a dessert, I would consider it the best "out of the box" desktop environment. Of course, as always, YMMV..

  25. Mark 75

    Great - just what the world needs, yet another desktop environment.

    Heck I might have a go too - you know, re-invent the wheel which seems to be so common these days.

  26. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Familiarity is one of the greatest needs of the desktop user.

    For most of us change is a pain - which is why MS forces updates on you. I reckon there will be a lot of kids (almost the whole of year 6 at my daughters school) who will be finishing the year familiar with Pixel, and more importantly familiar with developing code in Pixel and administrating (hacking) the Pis they are being taught on - and several have them at home.

    I have a feeling a lot of them are going to be quite happy with Pixel on Pis and PCs and will only be booting into Win for games if they haven't got a dedicated games machine.

  27. Paul Osborne

    I reckon the point here is to allow a consistent environment across Pis and other devices. It doesn't matter that there are other Linux distributions that you can make do your own thing. Pixel by default is the same as that which runs on the PIs and so there is no faffing around to achieve the same user experience.

  28. Frederic Bloggs

    Pixel phone by Google

    I wonder how long before the Borg starts getting uppity?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: how long before the Borg starts getting uppity?

    Wait and see?

    Meanwhile, what does this do to the Pi/MS relationship that brought the world the joys of Windows 10 on a Pi? Well, that brought Windows 10, InterwebOfTat kernel edition, or whatever it was called. Did anybody outside the certified MS dependent use it for more than a few hours?

    Previously there was no real easy head on competition between Linux desktop on Pi and MS desktop on Window box.

    Pixel desktop, on x86 PC and <anydebianbox>, and <anyLinuxdesktop> on Pi 3, kind of says this is round one of a serious game, whereas before they were just testing the waters.

    Same question applies to the Intel desktop hardware market too, really. E.g. Intel NextUnitofComputing vs Pi 3 (and whatever follows).

    Interesting.

  30. HKmk23

    While everyone is knocking Microsoft....

    Would someone be kind enough to tell me what else I can run ; Visio, Owl (power usage app), Vegas, Photoshop, Paintshop pro, Dragon Dictate and Audacity on just to name a few? Please do not try and even tell me there is anything as good as Paintshop or Vegas let alone Visio.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Owl (power usage app),

      "Owl (power usage app), "

      Can't help with the others on that list, but my experience is that OWL's apps and drivers all suck even under Windows XP and Win7 - at least the various radically different incarnations I've used for my OWL USB.

      The OWL USB presents itself as a serial port and apparently somewhere out there at least one kind person has reverse engineered the OWL serial protocol and provided a Python implementation (which should presumably be working either on a Window box or a Linux box). Other folks apparently have OWLs working with Pi under Linux.

      If you haven't already done so, try a search for OWL USB Python and you may find something of interest. Maybe add Linux to narrow it down?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obligatory Dumbass Question

    Can I install this on my 2004 TomTom and will it run Crysis.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory Dumbass Question

      Heck, is there a PC Linux platform out there that can consistently handle ANY Crysis title without a lot of jiggery-pokery? That's not allowed if you intend to recruit Joe Ordinary to your cause since they expect out-of-the-box performance.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Obligatory Dumbass Question

        Thumbing me down doesn't make it less true. Unless these systems can run the programs we REALLY need on an everyday basis, and most of that software is custom jobs locked onto one platform that doesn't happen to be Linux, the landscape of computers in general isn't going to change all that much. Sure, ARM-based portables are all the rage, but they still haven't taken over all the PC's useful functions, especially in the realms of performance demands and content creation. You can't NLE a movie very well on a tablet, for example.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Obligatory Dumbass Question

          "the landscape of computers in general isn't going to change all that much "

          The landscape of computers has already changed massively in recent years. Almost everything with a computer in it now has a non-x86 chip in it, and they'll still probably have an ARM or two inside doing various controllery things.

          Mobile computing is largely ARM and Linux, massively so in volume terms, and it'd be an interesting comparison in retail sales terms. Same for embedded computing in general.

          Softbank's purchase of ARM may change that. We'll see.

          Where else can Intel go ?

          "You can't NLE a movie very well on a tablet, for example."

          And that's a huge market, isn't it, much bigger than the delivery of online advertising (formerly known as web browsing) and other such consumer-type activities. Or maybe not.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Obligatory Dumbass Question

            "And that's a huge market, isn't it, much bigger than the delivery of online advertising (formerly known as web browsing) and other such consumer-type activities. Or maybe not."

            Or maybe SO because that's a PROFESSIONAL market, meaning big money involved. Once upon a time, professional software tried to protect itself with things like dongles, so if they're that paranoid, there must be serious money involved. And professionals don't need consumer-class tablets to view content. They need high-powered workstations to MAKE the content that people then view on their tablets. In other words, it's a whole other world. Same for serious gamers who need their high-res monitors, high-end video cards, and professional (and I do mean professional, there are televised leagues) keyboards and mice and so on. All that's serious money they're willing to plunk down. These are your "quality" customers who can make up for the "quantity" customers by their bigger payments.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Obligatory Dumbass Question

              "These are your "quality" customers who can make up for the "quantity" customers by their bigger payments."

              To an extent they do, at the moment.

              The design and build cost of relatively high price high margin low volume Dell (as an example) workstations (and the price of their components), your NLE box, is partly shared with the design and build cost of midrange and low end lower margin higher volume desktops.

              When the revenue and profit from volume desktops and laptops shrinks, as it undoubtedly will faced by the increasing dominance of near-disposable client devices, what effect does that have on the cost of higher margin stuff (as used by your community of NLE users etc).

              Have a think, see where it leads.

              Hint: death spiral (just like SPARC).

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Obligatory Dumbass Question

                Here's a different hint: content still needs to be CREATED. Video and audio still need to be edited, and pro gamers still need an edge. Plus, for them, money isn't necessarily an object as they're in positions to pass costs along.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: content still needs to be CREATED

                  "content still needs to be CREATED. Video and audio still need to be edited, and pro gamers still need an edge."

                  Indeed so. But why does it need the same hardware as it needed last century?

                  People used to say that kind of thing about UNIX workstations once upon a time too - "I need a proper workstation and a proper workstation application" (games are a different arena). Fine, if that's what people need, someone is going to have to pick up the bill for their hardware design and build costs, and maybe software development costs, and if it's no longer cross-subsidised from the volume market, the PHBs won't like the bill. Byebye SPARC. The same economics apply to gaming too, in principle.

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                    Re: content still needs to be CREATED

                    "People used to say that kind of thing about UNIX workstations once upon a time too - "I need a proper workstation and a proper workstation application" (games are a different arena). Fine, if that's what people need, someone is going to have to pick up the bill for their hardware design and build costs, and maybe software development costs, and if it's no longer cross-subsidised from the volume market, the PHBs won't like the bill."

                    Thing is, the costs are pretty much already sunk with the incumbent x86 (solutions already exist), so ARM is already handicapped. And once you factor in power-chomping things like memory bandwidth which you need to feed true high-performance applications, ARM really loses its efficiency edge versus x86, leaving x86 with its incumbency advantage. In short, in order to unseat x86, ARM has to leapfrog x86 in just about all its remaining application, including things like video encoding (which is too generalized for GPU work while still memory- and FPU-intensive). They're not up there yet and will probably need a few technological leaps to catch up, and meanwhile x86 isn't sitting idle, either.

  32. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    I installed Pixel to a semi broken laptop over the weekend, and was pleasantly surprised. For one, I managed to mount and backup the original HD which would no longer boot Windows, and for some reason the laptop won't boot from CD, so I was going to make a Windows USB boot drive, but then this came along to kill two birds with one stone, and boom, I have recovered the last few pictures on the HD I hadn't backed up elsewhere and created a new plaything.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So lightweight...

    ...it only needs 512MB of RAM.

    Sometimes I wonder how it was even possible to happily run Linux and X on a 486 with 16MB of RAM back in the day. What is all that memory being used for? From a user point of view the only things I can see that have really changed are that I now have USB and wifi. I don't really understand why that means a machine needs at least 30 times as much memory to do the same job.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: So lightweight...

      16MB of RAM back in the day. What is all that memory being used for?

      Pretty pictures, methinks, and cache-ing.

      Pretty pictures because in the days of 16MB RAM, most of us were probably working at 1024x768 or 1280x1024 and either 4-bit (16 colours) or 8-bit (256). These computers probably had no more than 1MB of dedicated video memory arranged as a plain framebuffer (1024x768 @ 8 bits is 768kB) and the graphical interfaces were very plain and simple.

      These days 24-bit colour is the norm, as is a minimum 1920x1080, and all those pretty icons belonging to all those applications must be loaded and cached. Video memory is no longer just a framebuffer (and is often shared on commodity hardware, not dedicated), and a compositing window manager will multiply the amount of memory required.

      And that's before you consider disc cacheing, pre-emptive loading and suchlike.

      That said, it's not terribly difficult to get a "full fat" Linux running acceptably in 2GB (I run Mint on the EeePC), and memory use on my heftier machines (OpenSuse with KDE) usually only goes above 2GB when I start a video editor or somesuch.

      We also have a Pi for general desktop use, and rarely have problems due to lack of memory (Pi 3 has 1GB total), though the standard web browser seems to be pretty aggressive about dumping cached graphics - certainly more so than Firefox and IE that I use elsewhere.

      As I think I may have mentioned recently, I well remember being very proud of myself when I managed to get WfW3.11 with Word, Excel and Mail working on a '286 with 2MB memory and a 40MB HDD "back in the day" for a secretary who couldn't be bought a new computer, but whose boss had the latest and greatest '486.

      M.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: So lightweight...

        Don't forget multitasking. We tend to have more things open now than we used to. Back then, if we pushed our luck, we started getting thrashing and BSOD's.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: So lightweight...

          Bloat, mostly, in the guise of civilization's Achilles heel: Perceived Convenience.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: So lightweight...

            If it really brings convenience, then it's not really perceived. Why do people pay extra at the C-Store, after all? Because it beats going the extra mile to the supermarket or whatever. Especially in the middle of the knight when you suddenly discover your party-goers drank all your beer three hours early, despite your double-stocking the fridge.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So lightweight...

          "We tend to have more things open now than we used to. "

          Ordinary people (who use Android and its Apple equivalent) don't tend to have more things open, surely? These mobile devices which are now the dominant global client devices may have more things going on, maybe (maybe just waiting for the next set of advertising content to be pushed out) but they don't tend to have more things interacting with the user. That way leads to grief.

          "Back then, if we pushed our luck, we started getting thrashing and BSOD's."

          Prior to Windows NT, yes.

          In the mid 1990s, Windows NT 3.x (and NT 4 too) was quite happy with 540MB of disk and 12MB (maybe preferably 16MB) to run Office, Outlook, a browser, and so on. All at the same time, and responsively. Imagine that.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: So lightweight...

            A MODERN HTML5 browser, though? I don't think so. This was before stuff like Java script took off.

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