Raspbian Pixel User Interface
Raspbian’s New UI – Pixel
The Raspberry Pi foundation has recently released an upgrade to the User Interface (UI) for the Pi, it’s called PIXEL meaning “Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight”. The creator, Simon Long, says that this has been in the works for 2 years and the visual changes are very appealing. The Raspberry Pi has always been based around the idea of simplicity and value and this included the UI, this update goes a long way to giving your Pi a much more polished feel and look.
The first change you’ll notice when booting up, gone is scrolling text of startup messages having been replaced with a simple splash screen which includes the version of the Raspian OS that is installed. Once the desktop appears, the first thing you’ll notice is that there is now a background image rather than the normal Raspberry Pi Logo. There are 16 images to choose from and they are located in /usr/share/pixel-wallpaper/, you can use the Appearance Settings from the main menu to choose which one you prefer.
As you would expect with all the visual updates the icons have also all been redone and are now included in the all the drop down menus and in the words of the foundation “We wanted something that looked businesslike enough to be appropriate for those people who use the Pi desktop for serious work, but with just a touch of playfulness”. Along with the icons the window frame has also been updated to provide a more modern and sleek appearance. One of the less obvious features is the replacement of the old yellow and red squares appearing in the top-right corner of the screen, which were indications of over temperature or under voltage. These have now been replaced with some new symbols, a lightning bolt for under voltage, and a thermometer for over temperature making it a bit more obvious what is going on.
With the release of Pixel the raspberry pi team have also taken the opportunity to add some additional software, the realvnc server and viewer has been added by default. There is also a new SenseHAT emulator application which will save you the cost of having to buy a SenseHAT or give you the opportunity to try it’s features before you buy. Finally they have also added Chromium in as the main browser to replace Epiphany, preinstalled are a couple of extensions, the uBlock Origin adblocker should keep adverts from slowing down the browser, and the h264ify extension forces YouTube to serve videos in a format which can be accelerated by the Pi’s hardware. All of this should hopefully make for a much nicer browsing experience.
The Raspbian + PIXEL image is available from the Downloads page of the Raspberry Pi Foundation website.
To update an existing Jessie image, type the following at the command lines
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 you use your Pi in an embedded project or as a headless system then the impact of Pixel probably won’t be very great, however if you are someone who uses the Pi to learn coding or as a basic desktop PC then this update will be greatly appreciated as it really does improve the look and feel of Raspbian.
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