The latest version of Raspbian, the Raspberry Pi’s official OS, introduces a new set-up wizard to help beginners easily get over the first few hurdles after buying one of the $35 developer boards.
The new version of Raspbian also introduces an equivalent of the App Store that recommends software that users can choose to install, alongside apps already bundled with Raspbian.
The idea is to keep Raspbian lightweight to cater for limited SD card storage, while also allowing users to selectively install any of the free software it recommends using.
The setup wizard automatically takes users through each stage, from checking for new updates, to setting up Wi-Fi, and setting a country.
This feature should reduce the complexity of configuring the device with location, keyboard, timezone and so on, as well as ensure users are setting up the device securely by changing the password and checking for patches.
One shortcoming of the wizard is that in some locations it won’t be possible to use the tool to set a non-local language. Users who want this will need to fall back to the standard settings page.
The ‘app store’ element of this update changes how Raspbian handles application discovery, allowing the Raspberry Pi Foundation to recommend new software for the Pi without bundling it with Raspbian and inflating the size of the download.
Raspberry Pi Foundation calls its new platform the Recommended Software program and it lives in the Preferences menu. Installing the programs requires checking a box next to the program.
Finally, Raspbian OS has dropped the “venerable PDF view” Xpdf, largely because it’s “fairly old and clunky”, and Raspbian developers wanted something better.
Instead of Xpdf, Raspbian has now been replaced with qpdView, which has a more modern interface, renders pages faster and offers faster loading times.
Other updates include Chrome version 66 and new links for setting up a Raspberry Pi in the Help menu and a new Getting Started option.
For more advanced users, there’s also a new version of Alpine Linux available. Release 3.8.0 is based on the Linux kernel 4.14 and brings new support for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, and also includes an arm64 (aarch64) Raspberry pi image.