Raspbian: The fastest operating system for the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is tiny $35 computer with a 700 MHz ARM11 processor and 256MB of RAM. While it won’t run Windows, it can run a variety of Linux-based operating systems including Debian, Fedora, and even Raspbmc — an operating system designed around the XBMC Media Center application.

But the Raspberry Pi’s ARM-based processor isn’t exactly a speed demon, and while those operating systems all run on the computer, they don’t necessarily run very quickly.

Raspbian, on the other hand, is an upcoming operating system that looks like it could run circles around the others.

Raspbian

While earlier operating systems released for the Raspberry Pi were basically ported from existing versions, Raspbian is optimized specifically for the tiny computer’s hardware.

The operating system is based on Debian Linux, but it includes support for “hard float” code that takes advantage of the Raspberry Pi’s hardware. That means software that use floating point operations should run much more quickly on Raspbian than they do on existing versions of Debian for the Raspberry Pi.

Raspbian is still under development, but there are a number of unofficial pre-release builds available for download and installation.

Update: The first official builds were released in mid-July. You can find them at the Raspberry Pi download page.

If you’re looking for an even bigger performance boost, you can void your warranty by overvolting the Raspberry Pi and increasing the clock speed to 1 GHz.

That’s exactly what Raspberry Pi developer Dom did before shooting this video showing the computer running a web browser.

Even with a processor overclocked to 1 GHz and the Raspbian operating system, the Raspberry Pi isn’t exactly a speed demon. But it’s pretty impressive that a $35 computer runs at all. The fact that it can run a desktop Linux operating system as well as it does is kind of a bonus.

  • Janet

    The Debian folks make an excellent effort to refer to the operating system by its proper name: GNU/Linux.

    GNU (a recursive acronym for GNU is Not Unix) is the name of the operating system. Linux is the name of the kernel that is most commonly used with the GNU operating system.

    Calling the operating system “Linux” causes confusion.

    • klaus barbie doll

      it’s not confusing to anyone who has used linux for longer than 10 minutes.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RO4SMKKIHMELF3CNQPHFK4RX2I yahoo-RO4SMKKIHMELF3CNQPHFK4RX2I

      for 99% of the population, it isn’t Windows or a Mac. for the other 1%, see Wallace’s response.

      call it anything you want. no one is confused.

  • http://cnp-keythai.com/ chunhua

    I’m looking for a Pi that comes in a box with a touch screen. All nice and professional like. I don’t care if it is stylish or a simple rectangle, I just want ti to fit snugly together.