Lighten up your Raspberry Pi even more by installing Raspberry Pi OS Lite.

By: Patrick H. Mullins |

If you have a Raspberry Pi running Raspberry Pi OS (previously known as Raspbian) operating system, you know it’s an awesome little computer with a great operating system for beginners that includes just about everything you could possibly want. However, once you become familiar with the Pi and want to start using it for other things, you might want an operating system (OS) that doesn’t include everything in the default build.

When that happens, you have two choices: You can pull your hair out trying to uninstall all the cruft you don’t want, or you can use Raspberry Pi OS Lite to build your own custom, lightweight operating system tailored to your exact specs. I suggest saving yourself some time and aggravation and going with the latter option.

Raspberry Pi OS Lite

The “Lite” version of Raspberry Pi OS is really nothing more than a minimal image based on the latest version of Debian. This image contains only the core operating system and boots to a command line instead of a desktop. Consider this the foundation of your custom Raspberry Pi OS. Everything from here on builds on this core.

Head over to the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s website and download the Lite image. After that’s complete, check out the detailed installation guide covering how to burn a Raspberry Pi operating system image to an SD card using Linux, Windows, or macOS.

If you plan to use your Pi for a minimalist system to run scripts and services, you’re pretty much done. If you want to do more, keep reading.

X Windows

To start, it’s good to have a windowing system for the occasional time you want to connect to a Raspberry Pi with a graphical user interface (GUI).

The X Window System, sometimes referred to as X11, is a basic windowing system common on Unix computer operating systems. X11 provides the basic framework for a GUI desktop environment. It is what allows you to interact with the computer using windows, a mouse, and a keyboard.

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