Raspberry Pi OS just got a serious upgrade

Raspberry Pi OS
(Image credit: Raspberry Pi)

Raspberry Pi OS is now available in a 64-bit version, up from the previous 32-bit iteration, after a long public beta process lasting just over a year. 

Interestingly, this is a case where the Raspberry Pi hardware has been ahead of the software. Way back in 2016, the Raspberry Pi 3 support a full 64-bit OS, although not the official Raspberry Pi OS for obvious reasons. 

Unfortunately, this does mean that the new 64-bit OS won't run on Pi 1, Pi 2, or Pi Zero, so plan accordingly if these are your main devices. 

If you like tinkering with computers then you've almost certainly heard of the Raspberry Pi, the unimaginably cheap and cheerful computer, which is ideal for, well, anyone who wants to know a little more about how these magical machines work.

Anyone who has used a Pi knows that they're a joy – a very frustrating joy at times, but a joy nonetheless. If you have a kid who wants to learn how to code, or just fancy working on some specialist kit yourself, there is nothing better than rolling up your sleeves and diving in. 

Dos and don'ts

One important thing to note: If you use your Pi to power a TV or home entertainment setup, 64-bit is not for you (yet). As the blog says: "The 64-bit version of Chromium, installed by default, has no version of the WidevineCDM library and therefore, it is not possible to play streaming media such as Netflix or Disney+." 

Unless this is your sole use case, there are benefits. As The Register outlines,  you can run executables that are designed for 64-bit Arm targets and there is potential access more virtual space than the current 3GB limit. (Of course, most Pi machines will have less than that anyway.)

With these things in mind, get coding! The weekend is nearly upon us and there's nothing better than getting stuck into finding a new use for your tiny computer. 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.