Witness the new Raspberry Pi interface, shiny and Chrome

Raspbian just got a polished new look, and a Chromium for Pi browser

There's some good news for the many millions of Raspberry Pi owners out there, and indeed those about to pull the trigger on a purchase, as they'll benefit from a fresh new interface which has been dubbed Pixel.

Pixel (which is an acronym for the rather clumsy full name: 'Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight') is the desktop that will ship with Raspbian by default going forward, and it adds some neat features including a nifty new web browser.

Of course, the first thing that will strike you is the redesigned interface – everything looks far better, starting from the new splash screen that appears during boot (and doesn't impact performance, we're assured).

UI elements have been rejigged such as the icons across the taskbar, file manager, and menus, with the design philosophy being to hit a comfortable balance between businesslike and pleasant aesthetics (with a touch of 'playfulness', according to the blog post from Simon Long, UX engineer).

And the introduction of wallpaper further jazzes up the appearance of the desktop, with a selection of some 16 images included (and rather smart looking pics they are, too).

Fonts have also been smoothed over, and the look of a window has been improved with subtle touches like rounded edges – basically, everything looks more modern and nicely streamlined.

Chromium for Pi

Better browsing

But possibly the most important change is to the web browser – Epiphany has been jettisoned in favor of a first version of Chromium for Raspberry Pi.

Long notes that the new browser makes use of hardware acceleration when it comes to playing streaming video, and he says that it is "much more demanding" in terms of resources than its predecessor Epiphany.

However, he's mainly underlining the point that it might not run very well on the original Raspberry Pi or the Pi Zero – it performs nicely on the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3, though.

A couple of extensions are included by default, one of which ensures that YouTube serves up videos in a format that plays nice with the Pi's hardware acceleration, and the other is the uBlock Origin ad blocker.

Pixel VNC

Aside from the custom version of Chromium, other apps bundled with the desktop environment include RealVNC's server and viewer applications, allowing for remote operation of your Pi.

If you already own a Raspberry Pi, you can grab the new version of Raspbian with Pixel from the download page here.

Don't forget that earlier this month, we witnessed the launch of the official Raspberry Pi Starter Kit.