Latest Raspbian update

Amid all the excitement last week, some people have noticed that we also released an updated Raspbian image, and have been asking what is in it.

Obviously, one of the most important features of this image is support for Pi Zero (which is also the main reason we didn’t make any fuss about it in advance…) But there are a few other small changes which apply to all versions of the Pi, so here’s a list for the curious.

Node-RED
Node-RED
IBM’s Node-RED Internet Of Things application is now included – this allows you to rapidly create IoT applications by connecting blocks in a graphical editor. We’re going to run a full blog post on this in the near future, but for now have a look here for more details. To get started, run the Node-RED application from Programming in the main menu, and then use the web browser to access port 1880 at your Pi’s own address to see the editor.

To install Node-RED on an existing image, use apt:

sudo apt-get install nodered

New graphical package manager
Package Manager
Under Preferences in the main menu, you will now find an option for Add/Remove Software. This launches a modified version of the Gnome Packages application, which allows you to add and remove software on your Pi.

The window shows a list of categories on the left hand side, and there is a search box at the top – type in a search term to look for a particular package or feature. Software which is already installed appears in the list with a tick in the box next to it; software which is not installed appears unticked – simply click on the box to tick or untick it, and hit Apply to install or uninstall.

One limitation is that you can only either install or uninstall in one “Apply” – once a package is selected for installation, you can’t select other packages for removal at the same time (but you can choose to install additional packages). Similarly, once a package is selected for removal, you can’t select other packages for installation at the same time.

You will be asked for your password to confirm any installation or removal operations.

To install the package manager on an existing image, use apt:

sudo apt-get install pi-package

GPIO Zero

The new GPIO Zero libraries are included, which vastly simplify access to GPIO pins from Python scripts. Read more about it in Ben’s blog here.

To install GPIO Zero on an existing image, use apt:

sudo apt-get install python-gpiozero python3-gpiozero

Updated Scratch

Scratch has been updated. Changes include support for MIDI general instruments, improved support for the PiFace interface board and fixes for the Scratch mesh server, along with some bug fixes and minor tweaks, plus updated Japanese translation files.

Updated Epiphany

The Epiphany web browser has been updated – most of the changes are to improve playback of videos from sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. Many more videos should now play than in previous releases, and overall stability when playing video should be improved.

Updated Raspberry Pi Configuration application
Raspberry Pi Config
This adds the option to “wait for network” at boot. By default, the jessie boot process runs as quickly as possible, but this can mean that the boot completes before a network connection is up and running, and this can cause problems in some applications that run at boot. By selecting this option, boot will not complete until a network connection is established, but at the cost of making boot-up take longer – this is disabled by default, so if you are having problems with applications which need a network connection, try enabling it. This option has also been added to the raspi-config command-line application.

There are various other small bug-fixes, tweaks and performance improvements, but no significant UI changes this time around – it should all look and feel the way the previous version did. To update your existing image, run

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

but bear in mind that this won’t add the new packages listed above – use the individual apt-get install commands above to add those.

As ever, feedback is very welcome, and I’ll respond to as much as I can.