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Raspbian PIXEL an improved operating system for Raspberry Pi

Date: 2016-09-29


A new version of Raspbian operating system has been launched by Raspberry Pi and it will be, from now on, included in the Raspbian downloadable image.


Why is it called PIXEL?

It is an abbreviation of: Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight, which means its idea came from Xwindows that give Raspbian the look and feel of Windows. However, PIXEL is a more advanced and more modern looking operating system, which makes the using of Raspberry Pi simpler and more enjoyable.

What’s new in PIXEL?

There some significant changes, functional upgrades and couple of new applications. On the other hand, the most obvious and the most noticeable change is how neat and practical the desktop and the windows look.

The first you will see when you turn on your Raspberry Pi with PIXEL installed is that the loading screen does not have any messages on it. It is simply a basic splash screen welcoming you and showing the version number of the operating system at the corner of the flash screen. What is mostly important is that the splash screen code is very light it does not slow down the booting process any bit; the Pi would boot to the desktop just as fast with the splash screen as it being disabled.

raspberry-pi-pixel-xwindows raspberry-pi-pixel-desktop

PIXEL Desktop Wallpapers

Having set the priority of design and main look of PIXEL at the top; and having a professional photographer, Greg Annandale, who travels a lot as a part of our team; have enabled us to provide 16 amazing wallpapers, that have an essential role in the first impression of PIXEL. You can check them all out in:


raspberry-pi-pixel-wallpaper-3 raspberry-pi-pixel-wallpaper-1 raspberry-pi-pixel-wallpaper-2

If you are curious, you can also the EXIF data in each image to know more about it and see where it was taken.


What is also noticeable is that the icons on the taskbar, menus, and the file manager have had a nice successful makeover. These icons were created, with some major effort, by Sam Alder and Alex Carter, the talented guys who design and work on the graphics of our website. The icons they made satisfy two needs. First, they are simple and businesslike enough to suit people who use the Raspberry Pi for serious work. Second, they are joyful enough and playful enough to give out the Raspberry Pi the feel and the spirit it was made for.


Concerning practicality, the menus inside programs and windows now have no icons, which give a neat and very useable and more readable menus and working space.
On the other hand, there are new icons that appear at the corner of the screen to indicate when there is overheating or under voltage.

The Windows in PIXEL

Once you open a window you will probably admire the new frame design that has been significantly changed. The design has left outdated frames and buttons behind and has embraced the modern booming flat design. Windows now have a subtle curve on the corners, a cleaner title bar with new close / minimise / maximise icons, and a much thinner frame. Although, the windows seem frameless on three sides they are still easy to grab from anywhere near the edge to resize them.



Steve Jobs said that one thing he was insistent on about the Macintosh was that its typography was good, and it’s true that using the right fonts makes a big difference. Even though we are still using Roboto font in our system because it is a very nice looking modern font, we are using now an Infinality font rendering package, which optimizes and give editable settings to how texts are mapped and rendered.

Logging In

Most people prefer to set up to automatically log in when the desktop starts. Nonetheless, we still upgraded the login screen design to visually match the rest of the desktop, and it smoothly fade out to show the desktop after you login.


Wireless Devices Power Switches

One wish we all had in the past of Raspberry Pi is to be able to shut off WiFi and/or Bluetooth completely and easily, there are now options in the connection menus to turn them off and also to choose which Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect to or disconnect from in a snap.

New Applications in PIXEL

There are a couple of new applications preinstalled in the new image in PIXEL:



It is a remote desktop program that enables controlling Raspberry Pi or other any RealVCN clients remotely. It is a smart basic way to control other devices using a window to view and control other devices’ desktops. However, it should be noted that xrdp, the standard older remote desktop program in Raspberry Pi, conflicts with RealVNC. As precaution, if a Raspbian isto be updated to PIXEL from an older version, xrdp should be uninstalled first using the following code:

sudo apt-get install realvnc-vnc-server

On the other hand, if anyone prefers to stay using xrdp on PIXEL, RealVNC can be uninstalld using the following code:

sudo apt-get purge realvnc-vnc-server



It is an emulator that lets users write programing codes for the SenseHAT board and AstroPi without owning one.
The SenseHAT has temperature, pressure and humidity sensors, and is able to change its behaviour according to any reported values. The Sense HAT emulator has sliders you can move to change these values, so you can test how your code responds to environmental variables.

Updates in PIXEL

There are some new updates for some built-in applications; mostly tweaks and bug fixes, but there have been improvements made to Scratch and Node-RED.

Chromium Web Browser

Although Epiphany is the main web browser of the Raspbperry Pi, PIXEL will be the first operating system wiht Chromium web browser. Yes, Chromium is a RaspberryPi version of Chrome.
It uses the Pi’s hardware to accelerate websites and playback of streaming video content. Although, Chromium is a bit slow for Raspberry Pi 1 and Raspbery Pi ZERO, it works smoothly on Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3.


In addition to that, Chromium has two extentions preinstalled: the uBlock adblocker and h264ify that makes Youtube run faster on Raspberry Pi.

Download PIXEL

The Raspbian + PIXEL image is available through the following link from Raspberry Pi website.

Download PIXEL

However, please note that the image is 4Gb of size. If you use 7zip or MacUnarchiver you will not have problems with it.
Still, you can also update your Raspbian Jessie to have PIXEL operating systmem using the following codes:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install -y rpi-chromium-mods
sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu python3-sense-emu
sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu-doc realvnc-vnc-viewer

If are willing to use RealVNC for remote access, please use the following code:

sudo apt-get install -y realvnc-vnc-server

We always hope to bring Raspberry Pi news first.

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