Recommendation of Distribution for Raspberry Pi and other SBCs


#1

In case you have trouble finding the right distribution for your Raspberry Pi or another SBC, you came across the right thread.
So I have years of experience with mainly a couple of Raspberry Pi 3Bs and Raspberry Pi 0 Ws. I tried many distributions, most of them have many flaws in many aspects. Especially Raspbian, which is the most supported and very reliable one, due to its focus on Raspberry Pi, has (had, when I still used it) many flaws and issues.

Long story short, I recommend to you DietPi. It works on quite some different types of SBCs, as seen here:


Many annoying and/or difficult things for not so experienced users are extremely simplified and just made way more comfortable for every user out there. You basically don’t have to fiddle around with most basic settings anymore. Following, you see the scripts/apps that are exclusive to DietPi and make life easier:


You also hate setting up a new device, because you have to install the same necessary group of apps you need for every device you have? No problem with DietPi, because it has the option to automate the installation, which completely installs and sets up everything you need on your very first boot. The only thing you have to do, is fill the script with the info it needs to automate the installation and then you may use this template script for every other automated install that will finish without your input, at all. Following, you see a short description of how it is supposed to work:


Note, that you can select software from a big list that you can automatically install during the whole automated first run. Here is a part of the list:


DietPi definitely works extremely well on Raspi 3Bs and Raspi 0Ws, as I already tried out. It makes your system very lightweight and makes initialization and life with your SBC easy and comfortable. Therefore, I would recommend this system to everyone with an SBC. In my opinion, this is definitely currently the best distribution for your Raspberry Pi out there.


#2

Thanks for posting this. I had been wondering the same thing. I have a Pi 2B setup on a spare display for my bearded dragon habitat (yes, that’s right, :wink: ) so she can watch nature and animal videos during the day and not be bored out of her mind.

Anyways, the problem I’m having is with Raspbian and playing youtube videos. It’s all up to date and it doesn’t matter if I try the Epiphany browser or Chromium, after an hour or so, the browser crashes and closes. I have no idea why. Video playback is also a bit choppy. I know the Pi 2B is not very powerful but it should be bale to handle 480p video streaming smoothly, no?

Which OS would you recommend for my usage?

Thanks. :slight_smile:


#3

I’m not sure about the older Raspberry Pis, since I didn’t try them out. If I were you, I would make sure that the distro is empty and running nothing extra. Once I confirmed this, I would try a browser like Iceweasel and see if it gets better.
If you are ready to do a fresh new OS installation then I would recommend that you get DietPi as described above. If you don’t choose to install any software in the beginning, it is definitely extremely lightweight, even more lightweight than Raspbian Lite. The only thing you need then is an LXDE or LXQt desktop environment + Iceweasel or a similar browser. This should improve the performance.


#4

Thanks, I will definitely look into doing that. :slight_smile:

I also have a Pinebook order on the way which uses the Pine64 SBC, so DietPi might also be an option to try for that as well.


#5

I tried DietPi on my BananaPi and Pine64… it was better than solutions from the board vendors - but - I prefer Armbian…

I’ve tried a Ubuntu build on my 2 x RPi 3B - worked okay for a while - then an update broke everything - and when I looked it up - it was a “known” thing with no fix other than re-install (and remember not to do that update that breaks everything) - so went back to Raspbian Stretch - got no need for a GUI so I run them headless and manage over SSH… runs just fine… I only really use one of them - to run Pi-Hole (yeah I know you can run it on x86 - but I prefer low power for stuff that stays on 24x7).

So - my experience - DietPi is good, but my preference is for Armbian… :slight_smile:

Thanks for the reminder anyway - I think I might try out DietPi on my spare RPi 3B…


#6

Depending on when you last tried it, they improve the OS a lot with every update, in my experience. It’s definitely worth to check it out, again. The longer I use DietPi, the more satisfied I am.

Despite that, I am forced to try out Armbian as well, because I want to set up my Orange Pi i96 again and it only works with Armbian or the vendor’s crap which seems like it was shat out on a really bad diarrhea day.


#7

sounds like ALL the software released by those shonks at Pine64 :smiley:


#8

I guess there is a reason that the Pine64 community is considered the biggest contributer to the DietPi project…


#9

I’ve only ever used Raspbian or derivitives of it (RetroPi). I’ll have to give DietPi a go the next time I set a unit up.


#10

Just wanted to share my experience thus far with the Pinebook which just arrived yesterday. Haven’t had much time yet to play around with it, but from what I’ve seen thus far, it’s working quite well with KDE Neon that it came shipped with. RAM management seems to be fairly good and it handles Chromium decently.

Will start a new topic where I’ll be posting up a full review in the next month or so. But so far, it has met my expectations. :slight_smile:


#11

i was getting ready to request a new thread so i could make sure to read your review, but you beat me to it. look forward to hearing your opinion :slight_smile:


#12

My vote for SBC desktop OS: Armbian, if avaliable. Everything you need without unneeded fat.

For RPI i tried: puppy linux - not so good, as puppy for “regular” desktop, big dissapointment; Raspbian if you don’t want to 2hrs of CLI typing, everything works out of the box. Dietpi, if you are familiar and not so frightened by terminal.


#13

On Boxing day I tried to get OEL (Oracle Enterprise Linux) 7.5 for ARM to run on my Pi 3B - supposedly “booted” - but the screen was garbled (using a Motorola Lapdock @ 1366x768 - works fine in Raspbian Stretch)… so gave up… might try DietPi next…


#14

Can’t stop loving DietPi! Every time they release an update, I always read the changelog and see big improvements and I never really had an update where I thought “I can skip that one…”, because they always added something useful or fixed critical bugs.

Now they really dropped the bomb for me.

I didn’t set up my VPN on any of my Raspis, because I knew it will be a boring task and maybe a pain in the ass if something goes wrong. Now, DietPi even solves this issue for me.