The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that uses the ARM processor, and it can be plugged into any display or keyboard. It can run all kinds of programs including games, simulators, emulators and has countless other uses. Since it’s so versatile there are tons of programs out there to make your life easier with one device.
The “raspberry pi os with desktop and recommended software” is a list of the best apps to use your Raspberry Pi as a Desktop PC.
If you want to use the Raspberry Pi to replace your desktop computer, you’ll need to find suitable programs that operate on it. Prior to writing this essay, I used my Raspberry Pi as a desktop computer for two days. This post discusses the programs I find beneficial while using a Raspberry Pi to replace your primary computer.
|Category||The most effective application|
|Client for email||Thunderbird|
|Development||Visual Studio Code is a graphical programming environment.|
|Using a web browser||Vivaldi|
|Management of printers||CUPS|
|Messages sent instantly||Empathy|
Raspberry Pi Apps Recommendations
After two days of using a Raspberry Pi as a desktop computer, I compiled this list based on my requirements. Some of these programs may be familiar to you, but I’ll explain why you need them on your Raspberry Pi with a picture and a brief explanation.
I’ve published a comprehensive guide on how to install new applications on the Raspberry Pi; please read it first, particularly if the apps you want aren’t accessible via usual means.
If you need assistance getting started with Raspberry Pi, I have a whole course that will walk you through the process. I’ll show you how to choose the best hardware, connect everything, and set up your first system. You’ll also work with me on your first project to ensure that you’re ready for the next step. If you’re interested, you can find all the details on this website.
The Pi Glossary is available for download. If you’re confused by all the new terms and acronyms, get my free Raspberry Pi dictionary (PDF format)!
The Debian package manager is Synaptic. It will guide you through the process of finding and installing new software on your Raspberry Pi. It’s a more advanced version of the usual “Add/Remove Software.”
On one page, you can examine all of the Raspberry Pi OS packages, browse by category, or search for certain phrases. And, for the most part, you’ll have all menus on the top bar, which is something we don’t have on the default program. You may add repositories, configure the tool, or use a script to retrieve packages from a prior installation automatically.
You don’t need this program if you constantly manage your packages using the apt-get command. However, I will mostly provide graphical apps for Raspberry Pi desktop use.
Make sure you have a fast SD card with enough capacity to store anything before downloading any applications. I don’t know about you, but I despise having to start again because I didn’t choose my supplies well. Whether you’re not sure if your SD card is up to the task, check out my list of the top SD cards. I’ve compared them all and have come up with the finest suggestion for you.
I didn’t like for the old-school default desktop environment. I’ll install a nicer interface if I have to use the Raspberry Pi as my PC. I choose XFCE4, but there are various options available based on your requirements.
XFCE4 strikes a decent mix between performance and aesthetics, so I’ll start there. The apps menu will be on the top left (which I prefer) and a dock with the essential shortcuts will be at the bottom of the screen (you can customize it as you want).
Because the installation procedure is not natural, I’ll walk you through each step:
- You must first install the xfce4 and xfce4-all packages. You can do this using your package manager (synaptic or the default), but you can also use the apt command: apt-get install xfce4
- After that, you must make XFCE your default desktop environment. Open a terminal window and enter the following command: —config x-session-manager sudo update-alternatives You’ll receive something like this as a result:
- Enter the xfce4-session ID if you receive the same error (6 in my case). On the next boot, this command will make XFCE the default desktop environment. If you don’t like XFCE, you may use this program to go back to LXDE as your default.
- Restart your Raspberry Pi and give it another go. It’ll start on XFCE4 right away.
- Make sure everything is in working order. I modified the default colors in my screenshot, which you can do under the Applications menu > Settings > Appearance.
- If you wish to stick with this desktop environment, delete the default one to free up some space on your SD card: apt uninstall sudo lxappearance lxde lxde-* lxinput lxmenu-data lxinput lxmenu-data lxpanel lxpolkit lxrandr lxsession* lxpanel lxpolkit lxrandr lxsession* lxsession lxshortcut lxsession lxshortcut lxsession lx lxtask lxterminal pistore sudo apt-get install sudo apt autoclean sudo reboot sudo apt autoremove sudo apt autoremove sudo apt autoremove sudo apt autoremove
If you prefer a different desktop environment, keep in mind that the Raspberry Pi is a small machine with limited processing capacity. As we’ll see at the end, you may have performance issues, so select what you want, but keep in mind that a bright environment is preferable.
If you want to try something else, you can check out my guide on how to install any desktop environment on a Raspberry Pi here.
Guake Terminal is located in Guake, Japan.
Guake is a terminal that functions similarly to any other terminal. You may, however, summon it and hide it using the same key. So, if you press F12, the drop-down terminal appears in the forefront, and if you press F12 again, it vanishes (but keeps running).
It’s OK to let anything go behind, such as a real-time error log display. In Guake, I often use this to show htop (process list and system load). When I experienced a sluggish performance, I just pressed F12, and htop displayed (don’t know what htop is? (Here’s a link to my command cheat sheet.)
On a Raspberry Pi, this utility is especially handy when you don’t always have a decent mouse. Normally, I have a decent Bluetooth keyboard (see my suggested goods page), but it has a tactile mouse, which isn’t ideal for navigating the menu and finding the terminal. As a result, Guake is a huge assistance to me.
You have to start it first under the Applications menu > Accessories > Guake terminal, which I didn’t specify. Until you summon Guake with F12, it will run in the background. You may also access it by clicking on the system tray icon.
Terminator is a multi-terminal manager that lets you add, remove, and re-open terminals in a grid. Guake is helpful for lagging behind on a single command, whereas Terminator is better for active labor.
If you install WordPress on your Raspberry Pi (or anywhere else), for example, you may have two log windows, one in the Apache folder for setup and the other in the www folder for WordPress configuration.
Terminator enables you to show all of your windows at the same time, rather of switching between them fluidly. You can divide, close, or create new windows. Any windows may also be resized. Simultaneous typing and grid export are also available.
On Linux, it’s a fantastic utility. It’s something I utilize a lot for tricky situations. You’ll appreciate this tool if you master the commands that every Raspberry Pi user should know (see my list here).
Vivaldi is an excellent web browser that works well with your Raspberry Pi. Because you’re presumably already familiar with the alternatives, Chromium and Firefox, I’ll present this one.
Vivaldi Technologies, a firm founded by the former CEO and co-founder of Opera, built this browser. If you’re used to the Opera browser, you won’t be lost with Vivaldi since they’ve maintained all of your favorite features.
Okay, but why should I use Vivaldi instead than Chrome or Firefox? It’s an excellent question. This is a decision I am unable to make. It will be determined by your requirements and habits.
Vivaldi seemed to be faster than Chromium or Firefox in my initial test, so I used it for a few hours. However, when I compared everything again, it wasn’t as evident.
Anyway, I believe you are free to use any browser you wish. They all share the same characteristics. And I believe you’ll retain the one you’re used to the majority of the time.
If I had used the Raspberry Pi as my computer for a longer period of time, I would have utilized the browser in which I have all of my preferences (bookmarks, extensions, passwords, etc.) stored in the cloud.
Note: You can grab the package here to install it on your Raspberry Pi (choose Linux ARM 32 bits).
Email clients aren’t my favorite. Webmail, such as Gmail or Outlook.com, is my preferred method of communication. However, if you want to use your Raspberry Pi as a desktop computer, you will probably need one.
Thunderbird is one of the greatest email programs for Linux, and it’s compatible with the Raspberry Pi operating system. It works with any email provider (POP/IMAP) and allows you to handle additional feeds such as RSS and newsgroups. There is an integrated calendar by default, and you may install a variety of extensions from this page.
Remember that you work on an SD card, so if you have a 30-gigabyte email account, you’ll rapidly run out of room. If at all feasible, utilize IMAP and sync just the most important folders on your Raspberry Pi.
By the way, if you’re interested in hosting your own email server on a Raspberry Pi, check out my guide here.
Empathy is a web-based chat client for the most popular chat services (Facebook, Google, Jabber, etc.). It’s comparable to Pidgin, Trillian, or Franz Messenger in terms of functionality. You may add as many accounts as you like to your regular services and talk with them all in the same program.
Empathy appeals to me since it is a lightweight program that works nicely with the Raspberry Pi OS. Whatever your desktop environment, the appearance and alerts are perfect.
If you utilize services that aren’t included in Empathy’s default option, look for extra plugins in the community. Alternatively, you might use a program like Pidgin.
You may also use the Raspberry Pi to host video conferences using Zoom. Everything is explained in this article.
Filezilla is a well-known FTP client, although it’s not the only one available.
You’ll have a source repository on the left (usually you) and a destination server on the right, just like any other file transfer client (another computer or server in your network, or on the Internet). In the site manager, you may manage connections. After that, you may drag & drop files from one side to the other.
You may select between FTP, SFTP, and Storj protocols in the site management. In Raspberry Pi or Linux systems, SFTP is very handy. With FileZilla, you may connect to another Raspberry Pi or from your PC to the Raspberry Pi. That is how I obtained all of the screenshots for this article:).
You can configure fun stuff like default actions on transfers, concurrent transfers, and speed limitations under the advanced settings.
Deluge is a torrent downloader for the Raspberry Pi. Torrent is a file-sharing protocol. If you download files legitimately, it is not unlawful. Raspberry Pi OS images, for example, are accessible for torrent download, which is typically quicker than HTTP download.
Deluge appeals to me since it seems to be a basic program at first glance, yet it hides a wealth of features. So, if you’re a newbie, just open your.torrent file in Deluge. The download process will begin. Done. Others will discover a plethora of options in the app menu, such as a web interface and a console manager.
Deluge and Raspberry make a dynamic duo. If you have a lot of things to download (or large files), you may use your Raspberry Pi to accomplish it. Simply turn off your regular computer, go to sleep, and all of your stuff will be downloaded in the morning. You’ll save energy this way. And for that, the online interface will be ideal.
Although I believe that everyone is familiar with VLC, I feel compelled to include it on this list. VLC is a free and open-source media player that runs on a wide range of systems, including the Raspberry Pi.
Open a video or audio file (.mkv,.avi,.mp3/4, etc.) using VLC. It will usually function with no codec difficulties since it can read practically everything.
Then there’s a standard media player with all the necessary features; I don’t have anything to add.
If you want to use your Raspberry Pi primarily as a media center, Kodi could be a better option. On this website, you may learn more about Kodi. Installing a few plugins allows you to access YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming services (list here).
All of the default music players in any Linux distribution irritate me. Apps like Audacious, Amarok, and Rhythmbox have an old-school aesthetic to them and take up a lot of screen real estate.
QMMP provides exactly what we need it to do: play music, manage playlists, and adjust the equalization. For those who are familiar with Winamp, it has a similar appearance. If you aren’t using a section, you may close it.
It’s a simple Raspberry Pi program that works well and is accessible from the default repository. What more is there to say?
If your Raspberry Pi is primarily used as a music player, I suggest checking out the other choices I tried here.
GIMP is a program that I despise. I usually work with Photoshop (Windows or Wine) or Krita (on my Ubuntu computer). I use these tools to quickly edit photos, such as adding text, resizing, and cropping. And every time I attempted to use GIMP, I wasted a lot of time due to its clumsy interface:).
So, on Linux, I normally use Krita to accomplish this, which is a fantastic application for little adjustments. However, Krita is not accessible on the Raspberry Pi OS, so I’ll have to look for another option.
I discovered MyPaint, which seems to accomplish exactly what I’m looking for. The primary toolbar contains all of the necessary information in a simple interface.
Anyway, you won’t be able to install Photoshop or Wine on hardware like the Raspberry Pi, so you’ll have to make do with simple applications.
On Linux, LibreOffice is practically the only viable alternative to Microsoft Office. Office 365 is something I’m not acquainted with. You may be able to utilize the online version on your Raspberry Pi if you have an account. However, if you need installed applications, LibreOffice will suffice.
Like Microsoft Office, LibreOffice is a complete suite of applications:
- LibreOffice Writer => Microsoft Word
- LibreOffice Calc => Microsoft Excel
- LibreOffice Impress => Microsoft Powerpoint
Although the interface changes from time to time, you should be able to easily locate the most important tools in LibreOffice.
New files are saved in the OpenDocument format by default, with a.odt or.ods extension, for example. However, if you need to preserve compatibility with another machine, you may save it as.doc or.xls (you can also install LibreOffice on any other computer if you want).
I used to suggest CherryTree as a desktop software for taking notes, but it’s more difficult to install (it’s no longer in the repository), and Zim is now a wonderful alternative.
It’s obviously only beneficial if you don’t want to utilize online programs such as OneNote, Evernote, Google Keep, or other alternatives. I like them since everything is synchronized with my other computers, phone, and tablet. But it’s your decision; I understand if you’d rather keep your info away from these behemoth corporations:).
Anyway, Zim does an excellent job here; you can construct an endless number of pages and subpages, and all of the formatting options are there, just as with other comparable tools. The one thing I haven’t figured out is how to resize photos; maybe it’s doable, but if not, you’ll have to start with a program like “MyPaint.”
Money is the final Microsoft Office tool we don’t perceive as an option. Homebank is a simple application for keeping track of your bank accounts. Over the course of two days, I didn’t use it much, but it appeared to operate great.
With a great UI and graphics, this application enables you to examine your own finances and budget. The majority of the time, you can export data from your bank’s interface and import it into HomeBank. After that, you may classify each transaction, add comments, do bank reconciliation, and so forth.
Your data is easily exportable, ensuring that it is not lost. You may re-import it into any similar tool (like GnuCash for example). HomeBank is also accessible on Windows, so you can retain it even if you switch operating systems.
Printing has always been difficult on Linux, but this program may assist you.
CUPS is a web-based printer management system. A network printer or a USB port may be added. There is already a list of drivers installed, and you may add more if necessary.
Instead of utilizing a non-intuitive interface or complicated instructions, this program will enable you to install a new printer in a few minutes using a web interface. Even if it’s an old dumb printer without a network port, you’ll be able to share it on your network.
To utilize the interface, navigate to http://localhost:631 after cups is installed. The password is the same as your existing system password, and the default login is pi. If you need to edit anything, you can find it in /etc/cups/cupsd.conf.
I have a thorough lesson on CUPS accessible here if you want to learn more.
Visual Studio Code (Microsoft)
Even if it’s from Microsoft, it’s still a useful tool:). I often code for business and personal projects, and I just converted from Sublime Text to Visual Studio Code for both. It’s free, has a lot of the same capabilities as Sublime Text, and you can install plugins to accomplish almost anything (direct Git or SVN management, PHP autocomplete with functions parameters tooltip, etc.).
If you simply want basic functionality, Geany is already installed and will suffice. It worked well for me at work for over a year, so it should enough for home projects:).
So, throughout my two-day test, I needed to install Visual Studio Code on my Raspberry Pi in order to utilize it as my main desktop PC. It’s doable, but you’ll have to create it from the ground up, so I’ll walk you through the steps here.
Visual Studio Code is now included in the “Recommended Software” section of the utility. You don’t need to install it from sources or from a random GitHub repository anymore.
The shortcut will appear in the main menu under “Programming” after installation.
Visual Studio Code isn’t the only program available. This article contains a list of my favorite text editors. If you wish to learn more about PyCharm or Geany, I’ve written special blog pieces about them.
Do you need any other information?
Perhaps these applications were too apparent for you; if so, watch this video in which I reveal 21 additional apps that most people are unaware of!
Finally, some ideas
Take a look at my cheat sheet! Get your free PDF file with all the Raspberry Pi instructions you’ll ever need!
My two-day experiment with my Raspberry Pi as my main computer had mixed results. On the one hand, I verified that a Raspberry Pi can be used as a desktop computer. On the other hand, everything is quite sluggish, and the Raspberry Pi was designed for a single purpose (even multi-tab browsing was a pain).
Yes, you may gift a Raspberry Pi to a child or someone who doesn’t use a computer on a regular basis. For instance, I believe for parents or grandparents. They don’t need a $500 computer to check their emails once or twice a week; a Raspberry Pi may be beneficial and cost less. Furthermore, they are not used to using more powerful computers, thus “slowness” will not be an issue for them.
But I’m glad to be back on my latest-generation computer! I hope that this article has provided you with an unbiased assessment of the Raspberry Pi as well as some app suggestions for it. By the way, if you don’t have a computer, Raspberry Pi Imager is a fantastic program to install on your Raspberry Pi (click the link to read my tutorial about it).
If you have any more useful applications to recommend, please leave a comment.
Resources for the Raspberry Pi
Don’t know where to begin? Learn all there is to know about the Raspberry Pi, stop looking for assistance all the time, and start enjoying your projects. Now you may watch the Raspberry Pi Bootcamp course.
In only 30 days, you’ll have mastered the Raspberry Pi. You don’t want just the basics? This book is for you if you want to learn the best ways to become a Raspberry Pi expert. With step-by-step instructions, you may learn important Linux skills and perform a variety of tasks. Get the e-book here.
VIP Members’ Club You may also join the Patreon community if you simply want to hang out with me and show your support. I provide you early access to my stuff and share behind-the-scenes information there. When you join, you’ll also receive a shoutout. More information may be found here. Do you need assistance building anything using Python? Any Python script for your Raspberry Pi may be created, understood, and improved. Learn the basics in a step-by-step manner, rather than wasting time on irrelevant ideas. Now is the time to get the e-book.
This website also contains all of my tool and hardware suggestions.
The “raspberry pi apps download” is a command-line tool that allows users to search and download app packages from the iOS App Store.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a Raspberry Pi as a normal computer?
A: Raspberry Pi was originally designed as a low-cost computer for students and hobbyists. Its original purpose is still to this day, but people who want something more powerful can use it as a workstation or even build their own PC using the device.
What programs can run on Raspbian?
A: There are a lot of programs that can run on Raspbian. Here is a list, including some popular ones: – Google Chrome – https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/usage/google-chrome/. A web browser with both standard and experimental features for the RPi2 or RPi3 computer boards used in many Raspberry Pi models from 2012 onwards as well as the earlier version 1 model B+. – Mutt – https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/usage/mutt/. The most widely used mail client on Unix systems is now available for use under Linux too! Send email to one or more recipients, attach files (including documents), compose new messages, edit your message headers… everything you need at your fingertips! Its fast and easy to set up so get started today!.
Can you use a Raspberry Pi 400 as a computer?
A: This is not possible due to the different processor architecture of a Raspberry Pi 400.
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