Distro? What in the world is that? And Why do I need it? It sounds like a disease!

Distro is a shortening of "distributions". There are many distros in the Linux world, some better than others, but that's in the eye of the beholder. And yes, you need to pick one. 


On DistroWatch there are hundreds general distros listed, and there are more than that! Most of Distros listed there will run on a PC, Mac, and others, but wait; the Raspberry Pi is an ARM device (more about this later). So now what to do? I cheat. I looked at the Wikipedia or Wiki:

The Raspberry Pi primarily uses Linux-kernel-based operating systems. The ARM11 chip at the heart of the Pi (first generation models) is based on version 6 of the ARM. The current releases of several popular versions of Linux, including Ubuntu,[67] will not run on the ARM11. It is not possible to run Windows on the original Raspberry Pi,[68] though the new Raspberry Pi 2 will be able to run Windows 10.[69] The Raspberry Pi 2 currently only supports Ubuntu Snappy Core, Raspbian, OpenELEC and RISC OS.[70] The install manager for the Raspberry Pi is NOOBS.

The operating systems included with NOOBS are:

Other operating systems:

So why all of the distros? Well, it's people who tend to stay in camps or groups. You know once you get in your comfort zone you really don't want to change. Like myself, I personally hate Red Hat and won't use it. And I came from a different world. I have used Solaris on Sun Sparc platforms extensively. I have used OpenBSD for my firewall when I was an ISP in Dallas Texas. OpenBSD has never been penetrated. I currently have Linux Mint desktop. For the embedded space I use Arduino Mega, TI Stellaris LaunchPads. The common theme that ties them together is my development environment and my toolset. I am currently using Eclipse with the GNU/GCC toolset. I sometimes use the Arduino IDE as well.

The message here is PICK ONE AND STICK WITH IT. You don't want to get into the eclipse vs Visual studio problem that I had last year. It'll drive you nuts. But on my desktop I have several specialized versions of Eclipse: C/C++, Texas Instrument's Code Composer, Eclipse Modeling Project, and BridgePoint (uml).

OK, There are a lot of specialized kernels, such as OpenWrt, Kali Linux, Instant WebKisok, IPFire, and Mineplon. I will not go into deal with them at this time, but that shouldn't stop you from checking them out. So I'll concentrate my efforts on the following distros:

  1. Raspbian: this is the Raspberry Pi's native OS.
  2. Yocto Project: Yocto lets me pick and choose what parts of the kernel, and other things that I need to keep and generate a new (smaller) kernels.

Why these two you ask? Ok, one, I have never used Raspbian before as I never had one here, and it's nice to try something new once in a while. And now for Angstrom. I have used this distro on my Beagle Bone and really like it, and it's very fast.



  1. A Dummies Guide to Linux on a Raspberry Pi.
  2. A Dummies Guide to Linux on a Raspberry Pi. - 2.0 Distros
  3. TBA the reviews...

C Harrison.