Install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi | Overview
In this article, we’re going to look at Ubuntu on the Raspberry Pi. We’re also going to discuss whether you should use Ubuntu over Raspberry Pi OS. Finally, we’re going to install the actual procedure to install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian) is the “official” operating system of the Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi OS is based on Debian. It was first released back in September 2013. It’s been around for a while and is by far the most stable Operating System that you can run on your Raspberry Pi. With that being said, Raspberry Pi OS and the packages it runs on are quite outdated.
Ubuntu, like Raspberry Pi OS, is a Debian based operating system. It is the most commonly used Linux distribution in the world. Ubuntu is great because it’s open source and optimized extraordinarily well. It was originally released in October 2004, making it almost 20 years old.
Advantages of Installing Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi
- It’s Prettier
- Ubuntu comes pre-installed with the GNOME Desktop Environment. This is one of the best looking Desktop Environments you can use. It comes with animations, effects, and it looks modern.
- You get to be a Pioneer
- Not that many people decide to pick using Ubuntu over Raspberry Pi OS on their Pi’s. This makes anyone who uses Ubuntu a pioneer, so to speak. You are exploring semi-uncharted land. You can be a great help to the Ubuntu team by testing it out.
Disadvantages of Installing Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi
- It’s Young in its Life
- As I mentioned in my previous point under advantages, you are a pioneer. Ubuntu for the Raspberry Pi was originally released in October 2020. That was less than a year ago. Raspberry Pi OS has been being developed specifically for the Pi for nearly ten years. Ubuntu hasn’t had the time to extensively test and debug the device.
- It can be Choppy and Slow
- Earlier I said that GNOME is a huge plus because it’s such a beautiful desktop environment that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu. This is true, however, GNOME is a lot more resource intensive than something such as XFCE or Raspberry Pi OS. This means it’s going to be slower. Now you can always install a different desktop interface to get around this, but not everyone wants to take the time to do that.
- Server Version is Identical
- Raspberry Pi OS Lite and Ubuntu Server are both built upon Debian. There really isn’t a vast difference between the two. Although, Raspberry Pi OS has been specifically built for Raspberry Pi’s.
- Smaller Community
- A smaller community means less support and help when you run into bugs and issues. This is bound to happen with such a new operating system.
Should You Install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi?
I say no. The coolness aspect and having a flashy operating system don’t make up for the sacrifices that you have to make. I will say that if you are comfortable with Linux and how it operates, then go for it, but if you’re a beginner in the Linux world without a firm grasp, stay away.
How to Install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi
What you'll Need to get Started
1. Prepare the SD Card
The first step is to flash your SD card with Ubuntu. That way we can install it on your Raspberry Pi. We’ll be using Raspberry Pi Imager to set up your SD card since it’s going to be the most straightforward approach. If you’d like, you could also use an alternative tool such as Balena Etcher or Rufus.
Install Raspberry Pi Imager here. Select “Choose OS → Other general purpose OS → Ubuntu Desktop”. Select your micro SD card from the list. Allow the software to do its thing.
2. Boot into the Desktop
- Insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi and plug it in so it turns on.
- Select your language, keyboard layout, time zone, and create a user and password.
Congratulations, you have successfully installed Ubuntu on your Raspberry Pi! You can stop here if you’d like or you can continue to configure some additional options.
3. (optional) USB Boot
Instead of running your Operating System on an SD card, you can run it on a Hard Drive or SSD. If you wish to do this, you’ll first have to install Ubuntu on your Pi.
Enter the following commands to update your EEPROM version.
sudo apt install rpi-eeprom
Extract the current bootloader configuration to a text file
sudo vcgencmd bootloader_config > bootconf.txt
Set BOOT_ORDER to first try to boot from an SD card, if that fails boot from USB device.
sed -i -e '/^BOOT_ORDER=/ s/=.*$/=0xf41/' bootconf.txt
Generate EEPROM update configuration.
rpi-eeprom-config --out pieeprom-new.bin --config bootconf.txt /lib/firmware/raspberrypi/bootloader/critical/pieeprom-2020-09-03.bin
Flash EEPROM firmware on the next boot. IMPORTANT to apply the update you MUST reboot the system.
sudo rpi-eeprom-update -d -f ./pieeprom-new.bin sudo reboot
To boot Ubuntu off of a USB device, the last step is to repeat steps 1 and 2. This time you’ll be using a USB HDD, SDD, or Flash Drive, instead of an SD card.
4. That's it, Enjoy your new OS!
At this point you’re done. You have successfully configured the Ubuntu operating system on your Raspberry Pi. You are free to use your new OS as you so choose. Have fun!
In this article I covered the advantages and disadvantages of using Ubuntu on your Raspberry Pi. I also covered whether you should use Ubuntu on your Raspberry Pi. Finally, I gave a step-by-step tutorial for getting Ubuntu on the Pi installed and set up. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have questions at all, Contact us! Join our mailing list below so you never miss an update!