Raspbian is a Linux-based operating system optimized for the Raspberry Pi, a low power, inexpensive mini-computer with a 700 MHz ARM11 processor. Up until recently, the folks behind the little computer had recommended using Debian Linux for an operating system. But benchmarks show Raspbian to be up to 40 percent faster at some tasks.

Raspberry Pi benchmarks
Source: memetic.org

That’s because Raspbian is basically Debian optimized to take advantage of the features of the Raspberry Pi’s processor. That includes support for the ARMv6 instruction set and for hard float math operations.

Pre-release versions of Raspbian have been available for testing for a little while, but now the operating system is officially ready to go.

While the chart above shows speed improvements ranging from 7 percent to 41 percent, overall performance is going to depend on exactly what you’re asking the computer to do. It turns out you can actually encode MP3 audio files nearly 6 times faster on Raspbian and decode media more efficiently. But some activities actually appear to be slower with Raspbian than Debian.

You can download the latest Raspbian image from the Raspberry Pi download page. The Raspbian website has instructions for installing the software on an SD card so you can use it on the mini-computer.

The developers of the Raspberry Pi recently announced that 4,000 units are being produced every day, and the order limits that had been in place are now gone. Up until recently customers could only order one Raspberry Pi at a time. Now you can order as many as you like for about $35 each.

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8 replies on “Raspbian Linux now available for Raspberry Pi: Up to 40 percent faster than Debian”

  1. I’m really hoping Raspberry Pi moves to Cortex A7 (maybe dual core?) as soon as humanly possible, so we can use Ubuntu and other stuff on it that don’t support ARMv6 anymore. We’re close to the launch of ARMv8, and we’re still heavily using ARMv6. It’s time to let it die already!

    1. According to the article with benchmark results, compilers run more slowly for some reason. I’d check out that article for more details.

  2. Hard Float is really a no-brainer. I don’t know why it isn’t a top priority for all projects yet.
    BTW, Debian has a Hard Float port, probably already works on the RPi.
    Edit: Raspbian is Debian Hard Float. Derp.

    1. On systems without hardware floating point support hardfp means using kernel fp emulation which is crazy slow. The soft and softfp options are reasonable compromises – user-level floating point emulation that can take advantage of hardware floating point support if available. Debian’s hardfp is defined to require at least VFP3, and that’s not a real option if you want to have a general-purpose embedded distribution.

      1. I meant hardware permitting, of course.
        But yes you’re right. Distributions still have to support that older hardware even though there is a plethora of hardfp devices out there but the majority of embedded systems such as routers are still using older, cheaper and proven CPUs.

    2. “BTW, Debian has a Hard Float port, probably already works on the RPi.”
      Debians official hardfloat port requires armv7-a so It won’t run on the Pi

      “Edit: Raspbian is Debian Hard Float. Derp.”
      Raspbian is a rebuild of debian hardfloat with reduced CPU requirements so it will run on the Pi,

  3. It’s up to 600% faster than debian if you’re encoding MP3!

Comments are closed.