You can now run Arch & Debian Linux on a Raspberry Pi

You can now run Arch & Debian Linux on a Raspberry Pi

Summary: Several Linux distributions, Arch and Debian, are now available for the credit-card sized Raspberry Pi computer. Fedora, however, the "official" distribution is still no-where to be found.


Arch and Debian Linux are now available for Raspberry Pi. Fedora, however, is still MIA.

Arch and Debian Linux are now available for Raspberry Pi. Fedora, however, is still MIA.

Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized computer that retails for $35, finally has some operating systems ready to run on it. A remix of Fedora Linux is still the "official" operating system for Raspberry Pi, but it's been delayed. In the meantime, versions of Arch and Debian Linux are ready to go.

The Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix, which is based on the older Fedora 14 distribution, was designed to fit on a 2GB SD card. It will include the LXDE and XFCE, two popular lightweight Linux desktops and an assortment of popular open-source software. A version, using the more up to date Fedora 17, is also in the works.

Several problems have delayed both releases. This includes pushing audio out the HDMI and analog ports via PulseAudio and Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA). In addition, Chris Tyler, the man responsible for assembling the Raspberry Pi Remix, has been sick.

That said, there's been no further word on the Raspberry Pi Fedora actual release for almost two weeks. On March 4th, Liam Fraser, who's in charge of distributing the Raspberry Pi Fedora image, said he was "still waiting for an image from Chris but I do think that it is nearly ready."

This delay has understandably annoyed some Raspberry Pi fans. Forrest Shields wrote on the Raspberry Pi Fedora discussion list, "There was a release event where nothing was released! … As much as I appreciate Seneca's work, this is poor management of the F14 image release information. If this project is to succeed there needs to be better organization. There may be over 100,000 people interested in the Raspberry Pi at this early date, but it already looks a little amateurish in terms of management. No matter what the reason (or who is to blame) the RPi release was a disaster in terms of unfulfilled expectations. (Ironically, the RPi release was a P.R. bonanza for the same reasons.) Add to that the inability to find the most desired image for the device after its 'release;' it makes me worried that it will turn off a whole host of interested parties.

Still, Shields insists, "I want Raspberry Pi to succeed. Turning off newbies and possible integrators (who want to use RPi in their vertical markets) because of lack of information & organization is not a great way to start. What you will have left is a platform that only a rabid group of enthusiasts with insider knowledge will have interest in."

I agree with him completely. I know there's a lot of excitement out there about the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi Web site went down because people were so charged up about this kit computer. But, it's really inexcusable to leave users hanging without either the distribution or any official news on what's going on with its main operating system.

Be that as it may, Debian was actually the first Linux to be made available for the Raspberry Pi. The Debian image, which is based on Debian 6 "Squeeze," is available for download. It comes with the LXDE desktop, the lightweight Midori Web browser; development tools; and sample code for accessing Raspberry Pi's multimedia functionality.

In addition, Arch Linux ARM is now available for download. This distribution, however, the Raspberry Pi Foundation admits "may not be suitable for beginners." Indeed, Arch Linux is a Linux for expert users. The version for Raspberry Pi, for example, doesn't come with any GUI. You can, however, easily install LXDE on it.

In the meantime, if you don't have an order in yet for Raspberry Pi, it looks like it will be four to six weeks before the next round of the devices are ready to be ordered, never mind delivered. Hopefully by the time the next ten-thousand or so units are ready to be ordered, the Fedora remix will be ready as well. It needs to be or the flames of excitement over Raspberry Pi may cool into the ashes of disappointment.

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Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • You can now run Arch & Debian Linux on a Raspberry Pi

    Get well Chris
  • cool into the ashes of disappointment?

    Typical usage curve is for something like this is, extreme excitement, then as the initial excitement wears off, a lot of units end up in the sock drawer because the buyer really didn't have a purpose.

    Then the interesting part happens. The people that bought it to do real research have time to complete their projects. College students working semester projects or professors have a bit of spare time to complete their pet projects.

    Some Raspberry Pi's may end up in corporate lab hands, and become the basis for bigger and better things.

    In short, most initial purchases will end up in the sock drawer, but give it a little time and good things will come.
  • So, What Exactly Can You Use This For?

    1. You need separate i/o devices like a monitor, keyboard and mouse, or trackpad. Items that are not as easy to transport ergo normally is going to be paired with a full power system anyway.

    2. Same or equal processing power as maybe the current generation smartphone.

    3. Maybe the attraction here is price? "Computer for 35 bucks"?
    • #1 Yeah, but I have a lot of that stuff lying around,

      ...and so do a lot of other enthusiasts I know. Anyway, the RPi isn't aimed at non-enthusiasts (it doesn't even have a case at this stage) so can't see a problem. As for your #2, yeah, but you hit the nail on the head at #3. 35 bucks man! So. really, who cares? A whole lot of fun to be had at a very low price, all in the size of a credit card!
    • What can they be used for?

      A lot of things with that small size. I'm looking at them for small/cheap/standard off the shelf components for robotics projects.
  • I like the look of this, but...

    OK, so Arch has a command line Linux up and running. The thing that concerns me is the lack of storage, can the Raspberry Pi be hooked up to a hard drive? Will it run the GNU compiler package? If yes, there is a lot of fun to be had for very little money.
    Reminds me of playing with Slackware Linux on a 486 about 17 years ago.
  • it has!

    It has usb, so you can install an usb-HD or usb memory
  • This article is a bit over critical

    The core purpose of the Raspberry Pi is for educational purposes. This first release was to get the device in Developers and Enthustiast's hand so they can start working on usefull software for the device. You say that it was a "disaster in terms of unfulfilled expectations". but there were only 10,000 units in the first batch, Anyone who was paying any attention knew that it was going to be nearly impossible to get some from the first batch. They would have built more but that was all they had funding for. The members of the Rasp PI foundation actually mortgaged their houses to come up with the funding for them. They now have licensed their manufacturing to 2 large electronics manufacturing companys who will have more capital to ramp up manufacturing. The next batch is expected to be way larger than "ten-thousand or so units".
    In terms of the "Official" distro not being available yet, it doesn't really matter that much. Nobody has the device in hand yet and the education release of the device isn't going to happen until later this year.
    I think a lot of people are being very critical of a small (limited funded) non profit that is providing a device with WAY more demand than than they could ever fulfill on the initial release, to and audience that isn't even the core reason for creating it.
    • Funding was the key

      You hit the main limiting point. They had to pay for 10,000 units up front, so it probably drained their financial reserves. Give them a bit of time and they'll catch up with demand. Until then, everyone should be very patient, including certain bloggers with big, mostly foolish, mouths.
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