How to install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi 2

Snappy Ubuntu

When the Raspberry Pi was first announced in late 2011 there were murmurs of Ubuntu support, but alas it didn't materialise because of the choice of CPU powering the original Raspberry Pi.

This situation continued for three years until the release of the Raspberry Pi 2 and its new Arm7 CPU, which has enabled Ubuntu to be installed on your Raspberry Pi 2.

In this project we'll install it and configure it for daily use. (Note: this version of Ubuntu is still in its early stages.)

First download the Ubuntu image and then extract the contents using an archive manager. This will leave you with a 3GB image file. This needs to be written to your SD card using the dd command.

With Ubuntu on your SD card, insert it and your mouse, keyboard, HDMI and power on your Raspberry Pi. Ubuntu will boot to a login screen within 30 seconds.

You will see the username linaro on the login screen, make sure that it's selected and enter linaro as the password and press Enter. After a few seconds the desktop will load.

How to install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi 2

The Ubuntu desktop is handled via LXDE, a lightweight desktop environment

You will notice that it's not the default Unity interface, rather it's the LXDE desktop, as it's lighter on system resources.

Add some apps

Next, we will install some applications, but first we will need an internet connection. If you have a Wi-Fi dongle make sure that it's inserted into your Raspberry Pi and then go to the menu and navigate to Internet and select wpa_gui.

If your Wi-Fi dongle is listed in the Adapter menu then you can connect using Wi-Fi, if not then plug in an Ethernet cable to continue.

For those that are keen to hack Wi-Fi you can create a config file by typing:

sudo leafpad /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

Inside the file, type the following (inserting your SSID and password in the relevant sections):

network={

ssid="your network's ssid here"

psk="your network's password here"

proto=RSN

key_mgmt=WPA-PSK

pairwise=CCMP

auth_alg=OPEN

}

For those following the Wi-Fi instructions, once you've completed editing the file, save it and reboot the Raspberry Pi then log back in.

How to install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi 2

So now lets install some software. First, we shall make sure that our system is up to date. Open the terminal once again and enter the following commands:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

With our system up to date, let's install LibreOffice, the free office suite, by typing the following:

sudo apt-get install libreoffice

This will take a few minutes to download and install but once installed you can find it in the Office menu. Other applications to install are Gimp and Inkscape, these are image editing applications and can be found in the Graphics menu.

sudo apt-get install gimp

sudo apt-get install inkscape

Ubuntu won't replace Raspbian as the default distro for Raspberry Pi, but it's great to see another alternative distro.

For the latest developments keep an eye on the official forum.

Debian roots

Ubuntu and Raspbian both come from the same Debian upstream source. This means that you can install applications in the same manner for both distros.

At the time of writing you can only install from the Ubuntu repositories for 14.10, Utopic Unicorn, but the community are hard at work bringing applications from the Raspbian repositories to the Ubuntu repos.

During this tutorial we tested to see if we could add the Raspbian repos to our list of sources and while they imported without an issue, when we tried to install applications from the Raspbian repos it caused many issues with our system and so we stuck to the Ubuntu repository.

Currently, the Ubuntu project for Raspberry Pi is based on Snappy Ubuntu, an extremely lightweight version of Ubuntu that's intended to work with IoT (Internet of Things), and enable makers to use Ubuntu as a base in their projects.

You can download the minimal Snappy Ubuntu from the Raspberry Pi website.