Distro for Raspberry Pi?

For those of you who own a Raspberry Pi (or several), what’s your preferred distro?

I’ve only ever run Raspbian on mine, but I’ve seen a few posts where people have put Arch and some others (I think) on to a Pi. I’m not a big fan of Raspbian (the DE in particular), so I’m wondering if any of you have had good experiences with an alternative for general use (as opposed to highly specialized systems like Kodi or motionEyeOS).


The only other Distro I have run on a Pi other than a media server is Ubuntu Mate, Martin Wimpress has done a great job porting this already great x86 Distro to the Pi. I know that he is working on a Pi4 upgrade but at the moment you can get it for the Pi3B and Pi3B+ there is also an experimental version that is 64bit, although I’ve not as yet checked that out.


I’ve used a Pi with kodi as an HTPC, I also ran raspbian on it. I’ve always liked Debian, so it was my first choice. But I haven’t done much with it. It’s main purpose is to be a UI/player for a NAS, which is fairly simple to accomplish. I’ve thought about buying a blu-ray player for it though.

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I run Ubuntu 18.04 server as I am using it for pi-hole. :slight_smile:

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Nice! Didn’t know Mate had been ported. My Pi is a 3B+ so I’ll give it a shot.

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My Pi 4, at the moment, is using Raspbian, but I’m planning on switching to Ubuntu Server or Ubuntu MATE when they are released.

My Pi 3B, which is acting as my Pi Hole, and my Pi 3B+, which is my AirPlay receiver (haven’t set up Bluetooth yet), are both on Ubuntu Server.

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I use several Pi’s, so I’ll list the distros I use on them and the link to where to get it:

FreedomBox: FreedomBox/Introduction - Debian Wiki

RetroPie: https://retropie.org.uk/

LibreElec: https://libreelec.tv/

And of course Raspbian, but I would like to put on another distro that hopefully also supports a wireless connection…

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While not technically a linux distro, I’ve been having a lot of fun running Plan9 on my pi. I can’t claim that I’ve ever gotten “real” work done under Plan9, but it is a lot of fun to play with.


on pi2 I’m using OctoPrint as 3d printing server and libreELEC as media center on my newer 3+ model

Try checking out https://dietpi.com/ It is optimized and lightweight, while having plenty of features.

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I just fired up my first Pi, it is a 4 with 2gigs, I have manjaro ARM set up and it runs great, was going to try raspbian but kept failing on download, satelite internet.

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Ah, Manjaro ARM might be the way to go! I’ve actually been meaning to give Manjaro a try, but I’m not willing to give up Pop!_OS on my laptop for it.

What DE did you go with? I imagine XFCE might be the lightest way to go. On the other hand, I usually use it headless via ssh, so a DE isn’t going to matter much if I boot to the multi-user systemd target.

I am running the xfce DE

I’d be interested to know if anyone has vanilla Debian Stable running on a pi (as opposed to Raspbian) and which DEs in that case.

I’ve been studying for an exam for months and just took it today, so I can finally try some of these great suggestions!

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We have 4 RPi’s, and two are running Dietpi (mentioned above) which I would highly recommend if you want to mess around using the RPi as a little home server.

Although I will admit that we have had Dietpi corrupt the SD cards once we start adding services that make heavy use of databases like Nextcloud. Updates of the OS will often leave the RPi not able to boot. Or a mistake in setting up a service using a database will often lead to the RPi not booting. I’m not sure why we are having so many issues with this because it doesn’t seem to be reported regularly on the dietpi forums. We have purchased brand new SanDisk SD cards, but we are still having issues especial with Dietpi on a RPi 3.

We have UbuntuMATE on a RPI 3+ and that works great as a desktop computer for certain tasks.

I have dietpi on a RPi 1B (few other distros will work on the 1st gen 512mb B models besides Raspbian and Dietpi) working just as an FTP server that I run rsync scripts too, and that seems to be doing fine running 24/7 now for months.


Anyone else try Ubuntu on their Pi 3B? I tried them, but could not get the wifi working, and was horribly frustrated. First they say to install Ubuntu server, then sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop. I tried that on my 3B and Xwindows wouldnt start. I got around that, but could not get wifi working. Totally sucks. I would try Manjaro, but Arch scares me. Try installing something from the AUR and end up compiling it, I took Arch off my laptop because of that.

You could also try Ubuntu Mate for the Raspberry Pi. It works beautifully.

I have a Raspberry Pi 4. Raspbian is my favorite, by far. The ability to set it up for headless login over SSH, over wifi (right from the first boot), is a great feature. No keyboard, mouse, monitor, or even ethernet cable, needed for the Pi!

Would you like your Raspberry Pi to connect to Wifi at boot time, automatically? Yes?

  • In the boot partition (after imaging Raspbian), add a file called “wpa_supplicant.conf”, with the contents:
 ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
  • Replace «your_ISO-3166-1_two-letter_country_code» with your ISO Country Code (such as CA for Canada), «your_SSID» with your wireless access point name and «your_PSK» with your wifi password.

  • Next, touch the file “ssh” in the boot partition. That is to say, create an empty file, called “ssh”, no filename extension. This allows headless login over SSH.

  • Then safely unmount the MicroSD card, put into Raspberry Pi, and boot it.

Wait for partition resizing to complete, green light goes out for a good while

ssh in, try:

 ssh pi@raspberrypi.local

…or maybe:

 ssh pi@raspberrypi.lan

Default password is “raspberry”, change it once you’re logged in, with the passwd command.

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What gets me is it took them until the Pi 4 to be able to turn on serial access on boot. Competing boards started on version 1.