Best Operating Systems for the Raspberry Pi

Below, we will go into some of the best operating systems that you can run on your Raspberry Pi.

We have included a variety of OSs that cover some of the best uses for the Pi. These vary from a standard operating system to ones that will transform it into a retro gaming machine.

This list is only a small slice of what is available for the Raspberry Pi. If you want to explore what else you can run on your device, be sure to check out our complete list of Raspberry Pi operating systems.

Best Raspberry Pi Operating Systems
Raspberry Pi OS

Raspberry Pi OS

When first starting, you can’t go past Raspberry Pi OS. It is one of the best operating systems for the Raspberry Pi, thanks to its official support from the foundation. This OS used to go by the name “Raspbian” up into a recent name change.

It features some of the best support for the Pi’s hardware. This support allows you to have the best out-of-the-box experience with minimal to no issues.

It is also the main operating system that we use for all of our Raspberry Pi tutorials. Additionally, there is now a 64-bit version of Raspberry Pi OS.

Ubuntu Operating Systems for Pi

Ubuntu Server

Ubuntu Server is one of the best alternatives to Raspberry Pi OS that you can install on your hardware.

It brings with it everything you know and love about Ubuntu, but without the desktop interface. if you feel more comfortable with the way Ubuntu is set up, it is a solid alternative to the official OS.

As a bonus, both operating systems are Debian-based, so you should be able to run almost all of our tutorials without many issues.

Ubuntu Server comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors for the Pi’s ARM hardware. Up until recently, it was the main way of running a 64-bit OS on a Pi.

LineageOS on the Raspberry Pi


LineageOS is an open-source Android distribution that a few dedicated users have modified to run on the Raspberry Pi’s users.

This operating system is one of the best operating systems to get Android running on your Raspberry Pi.

Some slight issues haven’t been dealt with, such as hardware-based video playback, but the Pi can handle the overall OS pretty well.

RetroPie on the Raspberry Pi


If you want to turn your Raspberry Pi into an emulation console, one of the best operating systems to do that is RetroPie.

It is one of the earliest attempts to get a vast range of emulators running on the Pi’s hardware. RetroPie dates itself back to the original Raspberry Pi.

When you want to run retro games on your Pi, you really can’t go past this operating system.

OSMC Raspberry Pi Operating System


Another favorite use for your Pi is to turn it into a powerful media center that can run the vast majority of what you throw at it.

One of the best operating systems to turn your Raspberry Pi into a media center is OSMC.

OSMC has been heavily optimized for the device to get the most out of the limited operating system. Additionally, it is built on top of a full operating system, making it possible to install additional packages to further increase its functionality.

Volumio on the Raspberry Pi


One great use of the Pi is to use it as a headless music player. The best operating system to achieve this on your Raspberry pi is called Volumio.

This operating system you to turn any old speakers into a set of smart speakers that can play almost any music file you throw at it.

You can control this music player all through Volumio’s web interface, meaning you don’t need a monitor connected to your Pi to use this operating system.