Raspberry Pi OS vs. Ubuntu: Which is Best for Your Raspberry Pi?


When it comes to choosing an operating system for your Raspberry Pi, two popular options are Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu. Both have their strengths and unique features, making them suitable for different use cases. This guide will compare Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu, helping you decide which OS is the best fit for your Raspberry Pi projects and needs.


Raspberry Pi OS

Raspberry Pi OS (formerly known as Raspbian) is the official operating system developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It is a Debian-based OS optimized specifically for the Raspberry Pi hardware, ensuring smooth performance and compatibility.


Ubuntu is a widely used Linux distribution developed by Canonical. It offers a version specifically tailored for the Raspberry Pi, providing a full-featured desktop experience along with the benefits of Ubuntu's robust ecosystem and community support.

Installation and Setup

Raspberry Pi OS

Raspberry Pi OS is designed to be easy to install and set up, making it a great choice for beginners.

  • Installation: You can install Raspberry Pi OS using the Raspberry Pi Imager tool, which simplifies the process.
  • Setup: The initial setup includes a guided wizard that helps you configure basic settings such as language, time zone, and network connectivity.


Ubuntu offers both a server and a desktop version for the Raspberry Pi.

  • Installation: You can download the Ubuntu image for Raspberry Pi and use tools like Raspberry Pi Imager or Etcher to write the image to an SD card.
  • Setup: The setup process for Ubuntu is straightforward, but it may require more manual configuration compared to Raspberry Pi OS, especially for network and user settings.

User Interface

Raspberry Pi OS

Raspberry Pi OS comes with the lightweight LXDE (LXQt) desktop environment, which is fast and responsive on the limited hardware of the Raspberry Pi.

  • User Experience: The interface is simple and intuitive, designed with the Raspberry Pi's performance in mind. It's ideal for users who need a basic, efficient desktop environment.
  • Customization: While not as visually polished as some other environments, it allows for basic customization and tweaks.


Ubuntu for Raspberry Pi uses the GNOME desktop environment (for the desktop version), providing a modern and visually appealing user experience.

  • User Experience: The GNOME desktop is feature-rich and offers a polished look with advanced functionalities. However, it can be more resource-intensive compared to LXDE.
  • Customization: Ubuntu offers extensive customization options, allowing users to tweak the interface and install a variety of applications from the Ubuntu Software Center.


Raspberry Pi OS

Raspberry Pi OS is optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware, ensuring good performance even on older models.

  • Resource Usage: It is lightweight and consumes fewer resources, making it suitable for running multiple applications simultaneously without significant lag.
  • Boot Time: Raspberry Pi OS typically has a faster boot time due to its optimized nature.


Ubuntu provides a robust and comprehensive desktop experience but can be more demanding on the Raspberry Pi's resources.

  • Resource Usage: The GNOME desktop environment used by Ubuntu is more resource-intensive, which may lead to slower performance on lower-end Raspberry Pi models.
  • Boot Time: Boot time can be longer compared to Raspberry Pi OS, especially on older hardware.

Software and Package Management

Raspberry Pi OS

Raspberry Pi OS uses the APT package manager and provides access to the vast Debian software repositories.

  • Software Availability: Most software available for Debian is compatible with Raspberry Pi OS, including a wide range of educational tools and utilities.
  • Pre-installed Software: It comes with several pre-installed applications tailored for Raspberry Pi users, such as the Scratch programming environment and Minecraft: Pi Edition.


Ubuntu also uses the APT package manager and provides access to Ubuntu's extensive software repositories.

  • Software Availability: Ubuntu's repositories include a wide range of applications, from development tools to multimedia software.
  • Pre-installed Software: The desktop version includes a set of pre-installed applications like LibreOffice, Firefox, and Thunderbird, offering a ready-to-use environment.

Community and Support

Raspberry Pi OS

  • Community: Raspberry Pi OS benefits from a large and active community of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts who contribute tutorials, forums, and troubleshooting guides.
  • Support: The Raspberry Pi Foundation provides comprehensive documentation and official support through their website.


  • Community: Ubuntu has a vast and diverse user base, with extensive community support available through forums, Q&A sites, and local user groups.
  • Support: Canonical offers official support and a wealth of documentation, including guides and how-tos.


Choosing between Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu depends on your specific needs and use case.

  • Raspberry Pi OS: Ideal for beginners and users who want a lightweight, optimized operating system with a simple interface and good performance on the Raspberry Pi.
  • Ubuntu: Suitable for users who need a full-featured desktop environment with extensive software availability and are willing to trade off some performance for a more polished user experience.

Whether you're setting up a simple server, learning programming, or building a media center, both operating systems offer robust solutions to get the most out of your Raspberry Pi.