How to Install an Operating System on a Raspberry Pi

MakeUseOf | 3/22/2019 | Christian Cawley
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Your Raspberry Pi doesn’t come with an operating system pre-installed.

This means you can choose from a wide of OSs, each of which can be flashed to your Raspberry Pi’s SD card. Here’s how to get a new OS installed and running on your Raspberry Pi, using Windows, macOS, or Linux.

Systems - Raspberry - Pi - Stretch - Lite

So many operating systems are available to run on your Raspberry Pi. From the recommended Raspbian Stretch (and its Lite alternative) to Ubuntu MATE, via OSs for Kodi, RetroPie, and many other projects, via several Linux and non-Linux alternatives, the choice is massive.

Our list of operating systems for the Raspberry Pi will give you a flavor of what is available. Whichever OS you choose, be sure to download it to your PC in advance. This will be an ISO or IMG file ready to be written to your Raspberry Pi’s SD card.

Systems - Raspberry - Pi

11 Operating Systems You Can Run on Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi's hardware is only one side of the coin. Here are some different Raspberry Pi operating systems you can install.

OS - Raspberry - Pi - Tool - Disk

To install an OS to your Raspberry Pi, you’ll Etcher. This is a tool for writing disk images to flash storage, whether an SD card or a USB thumb drive. It’s a simple mouse-driven app, available for Windows, Linux, and macOS.

With Etcher installed and running, you’ll notice three buttons.

Turn - Select - Image - Operating - System

All you need to do is click each in turn. Begin with Select Image, then browse to your chosen operating system’s ISO or IMG file. Next, click Select Drive to choose the SD card. Etcher is smart enough to detect any SD card connected to or inserted in your PC, but it’s worth checking that the right one is detected.

Finally, click Flash to begin writing the data. You don’t need to format the SD card as Etcher will handle this.


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