Our Pi guy takes a look at the latest and greatest release of the Debian based distro Raspbian and finds much to like.
The Raspberry Pi Report
Not to be outdone by other Raspberry Pi operating systems, an update was pushed for Raspbian in the middle of May. I don’t use Raspbian that much anymore since Ubuntu MATE appeared, in large part because I’m not too wild about its “incompleteness.” That has changed with the latest update. After using it for a couple of weeks, I’ve been extremely happy and have informed other Raspberry Pi users, who like me aren’t too wild about using Raspbian, that they should give the OS another chance.
Here’s a roundup of what the latest update has to offer.
Improved Bluetooth: Ever since the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced that Raspberry Pi 3 would have Bluetooth, it seems like it’s been a rough start. Originally, the only way to use Bluetooth on the Raspberry Pi 3 was through the terminal, and while that did work, it was still a pain to get going. With this latest update, Raspbian has now been given a slick interface that encompasses using Bluetooth to make the Raspberry Pi discoverable for pairing it with other Bluetooth devices. Next to the Wi-Fi icon in the task bar, users will now see a new Bluetooth icon. While this doesn’t iron out all of the issues with the Raspberry Pi and Bluetooth — such as Bluetooth audio — it shows a very positive step going forward for Raspbian.
Geany: Like quite a few other Raspberry Pi users, I use my Raspberry Pi mainly for side projects and software development. Previously, Raspbian didn’t come with an IDE out of the box, and while you can get quite a bit accomplished through VIM or any given text editor, having a good IDE can go a long way. Raspbian has changed that by offering Geany in the latest update. While I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Geany, I’ll admit it’s a huge improvement from what was previously offered.
SD card copier: The OS that I run on my main laptop is Linux Mint. One of my favorite Mint features is the “USB Image Writer,” which allows me to easily copy an image to a USB flash drive or micro/SD card. Raspbian now provides this same functionality. This is a feature that I have wished many other Raspberry Pi OS’s contained. Every now and then, I need to copy over the entire OS and always needed another computer to make that happen. I really appreciate the Raspbian devs for putting this feature together and hope it catches on with other operating systems.
New kernel: Raspbian is now running on Linux kernel version 4.4. This is a major boost for users who want to stay up-to-date with the kernel or those who worry about security issues from an OS that is not using the latest kernel. This feature provides a big win all around for Raspberry Pi users.
The small things matter: Say what you will about the big feature items, but it’s always the small things that make or break a user’s experience. To make sure that users “have their cake and eat it too,” Raspbian has improved several small, but important features. Improved shutdown functionality, option to empty the wastebasket when it’s been right clicked, new keyboard shortcut to open a terminal window, and setting the delay between mouse double clicks. Another huge improvement is that the system will now automatically expand to use the entire space on the micro SD card when installing Raspbian for the first time.
What’s missing?: As more and more users flock to the Raspberry Pi, security is going to have to be front and center in the coming Raspbian updates. While I understand why Raspbian has a default username and password, I would love to see some functionality in the future that adds extra security to this concept. Also using the Raspberry Pi to surf the Internet in any shape or fashion can still be a painful experience, so an improved lite browser would be nice in future updates.