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Pop!_OS is now on ARM and Raspberry Pi: First impressions

Yes, you CAN get excited over operating systems

Reviewed By: Kevin Pocock

Last Updated on December 1, 2023
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System76 teased it and has launched it, their distro for Linux, Pop!_OS has now hit ARM-based devices, including a specialized version entirely for the Raspberry Pi! Of course, we didn’t hang around to just write this story, but have installed and got it going on the Raspberry Pi 400, the all-in-one device from the company.

In the tease article, I stated that I think the Raspberry Pi flounders a little when doing anything heavier than your average small-scale or a very specific project, with entire forks or operating systems being built (like RetroPie) for the sole purpose of optimizing the limited hardware available for a certain task (emulation, CCTV).

I’ve been using Pop!_OS very briefly on the Raspberry Pi 400, which is technically one of the more powerful devices put out by The Foundation, with 4GB of RAM and a tiny bit better CPU than the regular Pi 4. Outside of this, it’s running on what was available to me, an SDHC card for booting and storage, which would not be my main choice, but we make do with what we have.

Obviously, once I can get this installed on another Pi or ARM device, I will absolutely ditch the HC card. Don’t do it, kids!

The Pi 400 is supposed Raspberry Pi’s first attempt at a desktop replacement, but because Raspberry Pi OS is… lacking in some areas for day-to-day tasks, as well as Pop! OS being the ‘friendliest’ Linux distro, this seems like a perfect combination.

And for the most part, it’s actually really good. This version is very clearly in beta and installing things through the Pop! Shop rarely worked and after some fiddling with the various terminal commands, getting things to install actually began to work through the terminal.

Some applications I tried to install weren’t playing ball until I did a complete upgrade and update from the terminal. If this were to be completely ironed out (from what I can tell Pop! Shop is literally still being tested) and this would be a fairly decent, very basic work machine. Office work, not video editing.

Sometimes the OS feels a little hamstrung by the hardware, but this can all be optimized in the future, especially if I personally swap the SD cards over to a faster brand. Ubuntu has done a good job at making sure their version runs fine, so it’s only a matter of time before Pop! OS meets higher standards.

It’s clearly early days for Pop!_OS on ARM platforms, especially budget platforms like the Raspberry Pi, more intended for singular tasks rather than day-to-day use, but it’s a neat insight into the future of Linux on ARM and how it’ll be handled on low-powered units.

This said it does tickle the part of my brain as to whether I should just install the OS on my PC and do away with Windows for the time being? Another venture, for another time.

Joel is a a lover of janky games, Magic the Gathering, and going down rabbit holes. For PC Guide he has written about peripherals, the Steam Deck, retro games, news and more.