Best programs to get the most out of the raspberry pi

The Raspberry Pi is one of the most popular microcomputers we can buy. This small, but powerful, device allows us, for just over 40 euros, to have a fully functional equipment that we can use, literally, for whatever we want. For example, we can use the RPi to mount a retro-console, a home server, a router, and even a fully functional Linux PC. The only thing we need for this is the appropriate software for the use we want to give it.

There are a variety of operating systems for the Raspberry Pi, but the main one, and recommended for most users, is Raspberry Pi OS, formerly known as Raspbian. This distro is a Debian operating system, optimized and improved to run on this micro-computer. This distro brings with it a series of programs with which we can start working. But, as always, we will also be able to install many others.

Leaving aside the programs that are installed by default in Raspberry Pi OS (or, what is the same, starting with the Lite version of this operating system), then we are going to see which are the essential programs that will allow us to get the most out of it to this device.

Edit images on the RPi

It is true that the power of this micro-computer is limited for certain editing tasks, especially video. However, it is more than enough for photo editing and drawing.

GIMP, the OpenSopuce photo editor

GIMP is the Photoshop of Linux systems. This is one of the most complete photo editing programs that we can find. A totally free and open source software that, of course, could not be missing from the micro-computer. It is true that it is a fairly heavy program and that, given the power of the Raspberry Pi, we may have some problems to be able to use it with ease. But working works, and it will satisfy all the editing and retouching needs that we may have.

This program is usually installed on Raspberry Pi OS, but if you don’t have it, we can install it with the following command:

sudo apt install gimp

MyPaint, painting software

If what we are looking for is a software specialized in artistic painting, then a much more focused alternative to this purpose than GIMP is MyPaint. This free and open source program is much closer to Corel Painter or Krita than it is to Photoshop. In it we can find a large number of brushes, adjustments and layer customization options to be able to unleash our imagination.

We can install this program for free by running on the console:

sudo apt install mypaint

Digikam, to edit RAM photos

If what we are looking for is a software that allows us to organize all our photographs, and also retouch and improve all kinds of photos in RAW format, then one of the options we can choose from is Digikam. This software will allow us to manage large photo libraries, and process all kinds of images to improve their finish and optimize them. Of course, although it can work on ARM architectures, if we want to use it on the Raspberry Pi it is necessary that our model has at least 4 GB of RAM. Otherwise, we will have problems.

We can install this software by executing the following command in terminal:

sudo apt install digikam

Turn the Raspberry Pi into a media player

A very common use of this micro-computer is to allow us to play music and movies directly on it, being able to turn it into a complete entertainment center if, for example, we connect it to the TV.

VLC, the default media player

VLC Media Player is, without a doubt, one of the best video players that we can find, literally, for any operating system. Its main strengths include that it is free and open source software, and that it is capable of playing any format without the need to install and configure codecs. If we are going to use the Raspberry Pi to watch videos, it is without a doubt a must-have program that should not be missing from our distro.

To install this player, we must execute the following command on a console:

sudo apt install vlc

QMMP, a specialized music player

Although VLC can also play music, the truth is that, in this sense, it is somewhat limited in terms of usability. Therefore, it is better to have another more specialized music player, such as QMMP. This software is compatible with the main audio formats (MP3, FLAC, Ogg FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, etc.) and has an equalizer to adjust the type of playback and with very curious visual effects to see while listening to music.

We can install this program with the command:

sudo apt install qmmp

Kodi, a complete multimedia center

The truth is that Kodi needs no introduction. This is the best known program to turn any computer or device into a complete multimedia center from which we will be able to centralize all multimedia files (videos, music, photos, etc.) in one place. In addition, it allows us to play streaming content from the Internet and is compatible with plugins that allow us to give the software more usefulness.

We can install Kodi from the official repositories by running:

sudo apt install kodi

Play on the Raspberry Pi

Of course, this micro-computer can also be used for gaming. And we even have a wide range of possibilities to do it.

DosBox, for retro MS-DOS games

If ours are the games of the 80s and early 90s, thanks to DosBox we will be able to relive all those moments. This software allows us to emulate a complete MS-DOS system on which we will be able to execute any type of program or game from that time.

We can install this software with the command:

sudo apt install dosbox

RetroArch, a complete emulator hub

And if what we like is retro console games, we can also use RetroArch to turn our Raspberry Pi into a retro-console. This software will allow us to emulate, without complications, all kinds of console games, from the classic ones, like the NES, SNES or the Game Boy, to some more advanced ones, like the GameCube, and even the PlayStation 1.

The best way to install this software on the Raspberry Pi is through snapd with the following commands:

sudo apt install snapd
sudo reboot
sudo snap install retroarch

Steam Link, PC games anywhere

It is true that we will not be able to run triple A games on this micro-computer, both due to hardware limitations and because we cannot install Windows. However, what we will be able to do is install Steam Link so that we can connect it to the TV and use it as a streaming device to play games on our computer remotely and without problems.

We can install this app by running:

sudo apt install steamlink

Programs to download files

Of course, we can also use our Raspbery Pi in a file download center for which we propose the following applications.

Deluge, very light and simple torrent client

Deluge is a torrent download client that will allow us to easily download all kinds of files from the Internet through P2P networks. Thanks to this program we will be able to turn the micro-computer into a complete file server from which we can download all kinds of data from the Internet, and even use it to access our files remotely and safely.

We can install this program by running:

sudo apt install deluged deluge-console python-mako deluge-web

Transmission, another excellent torrent client

Transmission is an alternative to Deluge. Broadly speaking, both programs serve the same purpose: to download files from the torrent network. And in terms of features and performance, they are very similar. Thus, each user can choose the one they like the most, the one that best suits their needs.

We can easily install Transmission by installing:

sudo apt install transmission

Edit audio and video on the Raspberry Pi

Our Raspberry Pi can also be used to make audio or video edits that we need to make at some point in time, so it is worth having any of the following options.

Audacity, edit audio like a pro

It is undoubtedly one of the best audio editing programs that we can find and that the most professional and paid applications have little to envy, since it can be considered as a home recording studio. With this application it is possible to cut, copy, splice or mix all kinds of sound together. In addition, it includes numerous effects such as changing the speed or pitch of a recording.

It is possible to install Audacity using the following code:

sudo apt install audacity

Kdenlive, non-linear video editor

This application is a fundamental element for editing non-linear videos, offering greater control and precision when developing projects than conventional editors and that we can also install on our Rasberry Pi. It has support for all FFmeg formats, such as AVI, MOV, MPEG, FLV and XviD. This allows us to handle them without the need to convert or re-encode our videos or fragments.

We can install Kdenlive with the following code

sudo apt install kdenlive

OpenShot, video editor for newbies

If Kdenlive is too advanced for us, OpenShot is a much simpler and more complete video editor aimed at users with little experience and knowledge in the field. This tool allows us to add effects and transitions. In addition, it has multitrack options for audio.

It is possible to install OpenShot with the following code

sudo apt install openshot

Other essential programs and tools

We also present other types of programs and tools that may be essential for us to be part of our Rasberry Pi, so they should be taken into consideration.

LibreOffice, to open and create all kinds of documents

Of course, another software that could not be missing from our distro is an office suite. LibreOffice is one of the best alternatives that we can find to Office for Linux systems. This suite brings us everything you need to be able to work: a word processor, a spreadsheet and software to make slide shows. All this, of course, while maintaining full compatibility with Microsoft software.

We can install LibreOffice on the Raspberry Pi with:

sudo apt install libreoffice

Protect connections with OpenVPN

If we are going to have the Raspberry Pi connected to the Internet, or we plan to connect to it remotely, and we want to do it safely, one software we can use is OpenVPN. This program, totally free and OpenSource, allows us to establish a virtual private connection between the micro-computer and a VPN server connected to the network so that the connection travels from point to point in a secure and encrypted way.

We can install this software easily with the command:

sudo apt install openvpn

Synaptic Package Manager – Better Manage Linux Packages

Longtime Linux users consider Synaptic one of the essential programs for any distro. This software will allow us to see all the packages that we have installed in the distro, know the dependencies of any of them, remove packages or add new ones to our distribution. All this without commands, from a very clear and easy-to-use interface. Without a doubt, it is one of the essential tools to simplify working with Linux packages and programs, something that has always been relatively complicated.

We can install this software easily by executing the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install synaptic

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