The Raspberry Pi and Ubuntu seem like an ideal match, but there isn’t an official standard Ubuntu image for the single board computer. When you take a look at the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s list of recommended operating systems, Ubuntu MATE and Ubuntu Core are both listed, but neither one is a current standard version of Ubuntu. Ubuntu MATE is great, but the only available version is 16.04. Ubuntu Core is an IoT distribution with an entirely different set of tools.
If you want a current version of Ubuntu, in this case 18.04 or 18.10, you have to turn elsewhere. There are a few options out there, but RaspEX is a complete package that’s custom designed to work and work well on the Raspberry Pi. That’s why it’s the choice of this guide.
Download and Unpack RaspEX
Open up your browser, and download RaspEX from its Sourceforge repository. The disk image is compressed in a ZIP file.
Use your favorite archive manager to unpack the ZIP. The resulting file should have the .img extension.
Next, you’re going to need a program to flash the image onto a MicroSD card for your Raspberry Pi. Etcher from Balena is an extremely simple option that’ll work on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Head to the program’s site and download balenaEtcher for your operating system. Windows users have the option of either installing Etcher or using the standalone version. Either will work.
Flash the Image
Open Etcher. You’ll notice just how simple the interface is. There are three columns. The first one allows you to select your image file. Locate your MicroSD card in the middle column. Finally, when both are correct, press the button in the last column to flash your image.
The process will take a few minutes, so be patient. The image file is fairly large. When Etcher is done, you can remove your card from the computer.
Boot Your Raspberry Pi
Start setting up your Pi. Insert your MicroSD card. Then, connect your Pi up to your monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Plug in your Ethernet cable, if you’re using one. When everything else is set up, plug in your Raspberry Pi.
Your Pi will go to work doing some basic setup work. When it’s done, the Raspberry Pi will boot into RaspEX and the SLiM display manager. The default user for the RaspEX distribution is “raspex” with the same being that user’s password. The root user’s password is “root.” It’s highly recommended that you change both of these when you log in.
The desktop environment that comes with RaspEX is LXDE. It’s one of the lightest weight desktops available for Linux, making it an excellent choice for the Pi. RaspEX is, for the most part, exactly like the Ubuntu you know. You can install packages with Apt, and most of the same tools and programs are available. Keeping RaspEX updated works almost exactly the same, too.
You’re officially ready to use Ubuntu on your Raspberry Pi. Keep an eye on the developer’s website for future builds, but you should be able to do everything through Ubuntu itself.
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