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Raspbian wizard and app store toss a lifeline to newbies

Jul 2, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 563 views

Raspbian has been updated with a setup wizard and an app store. Meanwhile, Alpine Linux has added RPi 3 B+ support, BusyBox 1.29 has improved router support, and SUSE Linux has been sold again.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has updated the leading Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi, which may also be the most popular embedded Linux distro. The update to the Debian-based Raspbian adds a setup wizard, among other features. Other Linux software news in recent days includes new Alpine Linux and BusyBox releases, and the sale of SUSE to EQT (see farther below).

Raspbian updates add a wizard and a free app store

Raspbian has always been one of the easier to use Linux distros for the Raspberry Pi, and now it’s even easier. The latest version’s new setup wizard walks users through basic setup operations like localization features, passwords, Internet connections, and patch updates.

Raspbian’s new wizard showing WiFi setup
(click image to enlarge)

The new Raspbian has also added a Recommended Software feature in the Preferences menu, which essentially acts as an app store for free third-party software. The feature provides a curated list of recommended apps, thereby reducing overhead by trimming the growing number of apps that have been crammed into the Raspbian image. The feature lets you check available free apps that you want and unclick pre-installed software that you don’t.

Raspbian’s Recommended Software
(click image to enlarge)

The updated Raspbian has replaced the old Xpdf viewer for PDF files with the qpdfView viewer, which offers an improved UI and faster performance. There’s also an updated Chromium 65 browser with new setup features, and you get volume buttons that control output devices, as well as the Pi’s audio circuitry. Other enhancements have been made to the network icon, serial port console controls, and keyboard layout settings, among other improvements and bug fixes. The latest Raspbian may be downloaded here.

Alpine Linux gets a B+

The lightweight Alpine Linux has received a 3.8.0 update that advances to Linux kernel 4.14, and adds support for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, the winner of our recent 2018 hacker board reader survey. This faster new RPi 3 model, which adds GbE and soon, PoE, is supported with a convenient arm64 (aarch64) image.

Raspberry Pi 3
Model B+

As detailed in this report from the Register, Alpine 3.8.0 has replaced systemd with OpenRC, which appears to be a trend. Package updates include Go 1.10 and Node.js 8.11 LTS, and there’s new support for netboot. You can load the embedded-friendly Alpine in as little as 130MB.

BusyBox bumps up to 1.29.0

The open source BusyBox toolsuite, which was released in a 1.0 version back in 2004, is still chugging away in embedded Linux devices, desktops and Android phones, providing a single binary with a rich variety of Unix tools. The new 1.29.0 (unstable) release is a relatively major one, according to John Rendace, writing in Appuals.


Among other enhancements, BusyBox 1.29.0 has improved support for writing scripts for routers. “Companies that manufacture a Linux-based router that doesn’t have a proper GNU userspace could include BusyBox with it and therefore provide a useful coding environment,” writes Rendace.

SUSE acquired by EQT for 2.5 billion

SUSE, the company behind the enterprise focused SUSE Linux distribution, has been sold by struggling Micro Focus to Swedish private equity firm EQT for $2.535 billion. SUSE, which has 1,400 employees, and reported $320 million in sales in fiscal 2017, is a leader in “enterprise-grade, open source software-defined infrastructure and application delivery solutions for on premise and cloud-based workloads,” says EQT.

According to a ZDNet story on the sale, SUSE reported $164.4 million in revenues and a growth rate of 13.1 percent for the most recent quarter. The sale is pending Micro Focus shareholder and regulatory approvals and is expected to go through in 2019.

Raspberry Pi 3
with SUSE Linux

Launched in 1992, SUSE was one of the first Linux distributions, and it emerged as one of the top Linux server distributions along with market leader Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). SUSE has also held its own on the desktop, and at once point it frequently appeared as a supported option for high-end embedded x86 boards, although this has fallen off in recent years.

In 2011, Attachmate acquired most of the assets of Novell and formed a SUSE business unit in Nuremberg, Germany. In Sept. 2014, Micro Focus International acquired Attachmate but left the SUSE unit intact.

In 2016, SUSE announced that its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) distro was the first 64-bit distro to support the Raspberry Pi 3. It was soon followed by other 64-bit distros including the community-backed, fully open source version of SLES, OpenSUSE.

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