Hardware

Photos: Five OSes you can run on your Raspberry Pi 2

The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B opens up the Pi to being used as a general-purpose PC and to performing a swathe of tasks not previously possible.

The new $35 Linux board has double the memory of first generation Pis, a quad-core 900MHz processor and the ARMv7 architecture used by many mid-range smartphones.

This new architecture and additional power makes it feasible to run a number of operating systems that previously wouldn't work on the Pi.

But because it is still less than two weeks since the Pi 2 launched many of the operating systems aren't available through the Pi's easy to use NOOBs installer.

Here are five operating systems that you can run on your Pi 2 and how to install them.

If this selection leaves you wanting more, then check out Five more operating systems for the Raspberry Pi 2.

OSMC

OSMC or Open Source Media Center is picking up where the Raspberry Pi media centre operating system Raspbmc left off.

As the successor to Raspbmc, the OS should allow you to play videos and music stored locally or online, watch TV using a tuner, work with a remote control and even play video from premium services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon using the PlayOn Media Server.

OSMC is currently in Alpha and as development progresses will aim to improve on both the performance and stability of Raspbmc.

Installing the operating system is done via an installer that can be downloaded for Windows, Linux and MacOS.

The installation process is straightforward for the most part, requiring you to select a language, the version of the Raspberry Pi and version of OSMC and the media you want to install it on - which in most cases will likely be an SD card.

The machine should then boot from the microSD card and finish the installation of OSMC, before restarting and loading the operating system proper.

I found navigating the menu to be smooth using the keyboard but a bit jerky using the mouse, and there have been some complaints about the operating system's stability and performance on the Pi 2 at this early stage of the OS. Media stored on USB played perfectly, with a smooth and clear playback of the 720p video sample wildlife.wmv that comes with Windows and of a .wav audio file. One caveat is that it took a long time for the controls for the audio playback to appear on screen, leading me to think I had no way to skip back and forward through the track, however as mentioned this is still an Alpha product. Photos were also displayed clearly.

Hundreds of user-built add-ons are available to download to enhance its ability to play video, music and display photos.

The intention is to implement a way of migrating settings and library data from a Raspbmc installation to OSMC, but at present it requires a fresh install of the Alpha from the OSMC website. As OSMC already runs on the Raspberry Pi 2, Raspbmc will not be updated to run on the new board.

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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