Raspberry Pi’s Pixel Released for PC and Mac

Raspberry Pi Pixel Desktop Environment

In February next year we’ll be celebrating five years since the first Raspberry Pi single-board computer launched. Since then, there have been many iterations of the tiny computer, and with them came software innovation and a surge in computer science teaching, programming, and creation, especially for children.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation revealed a surprise new release today and just in time for Christmas: now you don’t even need the Raspberry Pi hardware to run the desktop environment Raspberry Pi owners enjoy.

No PC, however small or cheap, is any use without an operating system and accompanying applications. The Raspberry Pi uses Linux in a number of flavors, but back in September the Foundation launched Pixel, which is short for “Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight.”

It is meant to be the “best guess as to what the majority of users are looking for in a desktop environment,” and it was well received by the Raspberry Pi-owning community. So the Foundation decided to go a step further and today released Pixel to download for all PC and Mac users.

For now, it’s an experimental build, but one that is fully functional. Pixel will work on the majority of PCs and Macs that have at least 512MB of RAM, meaning even PCs and laptops that are getting on in years should be able to run it without issues. The download is 1.3GB allowing it to easily fit on a DVD or USB stick. It’s also included with the latest issue of The MagPi magazine as a live booting DVD. Alternatively, you could run it as a virtual machine using VMWare Workstation or Oracle’s VirtualBox.

Apart from Minecraft and Wolfram Mathematica, which have been removed due to license restraints, the Pixel image includes all the standard apps Raspberry Pi owners are familiar with.

With Pixel becoming available to all PC and Mac users, the Raspberry Pi Foundation hopes that it can become a very popular alternative to Windows and Mac OS, as well as competing against other Linux distributions. However, it’s also an opportunity for people, and children in particular, to carry their operating system around with them in a pocket. For example, using a Pixel USB stick at school for work, then accessing that same environment and saved work on their home PC.


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