The Raspberry PI OS is the default operating system for the Raspberry PI and if you have followed the guides on this site for installing NOOBS then you will find this guide useful as it will explain all the things you currently have and all the things that may be wrong and or missing in terms of using the Raspberry PI as a desktop computer.
The Raspberry PI desktop by default has a straight forward if somewhat archaic look and feel to it.
If you have used other operating systems such as Windows 10 then you may feel that the look and feel of the default Raspberry PI OS is limited and basic.
This isn’t something to be overly concerned about as it is something that will be looked at in another guide.
By default there is a colourful desktop wallpaper with a single waste basket icon. There is also a toolbar otherwise known as a panel at the top of the screen.
The panel is customisable (another guide will show you how to customise the look and feel for the Raspberry PI desktop) but by default you can see that it is largely split into two sections:
The right side of the panel is akin to the Windows system tray. It includes by default a clock and icons for managing audio settings, network settings and bluetooth.
On the left side on the panel are icons for displaying the menu, launching a web browser, launching the file manager and opening a terminal window.
Clicking on the Raspberry icon brings up the menu and as you can see it is fairly old school in that it is a simple drop down with other menus popping out as you scroll down.
This brings us to the subject of the applications that are installed by default within Raspberry PI OS.
When the Raspberry PI was first released it was envisioned that it would be used as an inexpensive learning aid and as such many of the applications installed by default are of an educational nature.
For a traditional desktop computer you would perhaps expect to find an office suite for home office work, a web browser, a media player for playing both audio and video, perhaps a graphics editor, a way to view your photos, an email client and perhaps some games.
Does Raspberry PI OS cater to all of your desktop needs? I would hesitate to guess that you have around 70 – 80% of what you need to get started.
LibreOffice is installed as the office suite and it has everything the average person needs for writing documents, creating spreadsheets and for creating presentations.
The default web browser with Raspberry PI OS is Chromium which is an unbranded version of Chrome. It works exactly as you would expect Google Chrome to work with one rather large exception. If you try to use Netflix or Amazon Prime or similar sites that require DRM rights then you will get an error. A guide will be available shortly showing you how to get around this issue.
The default media player is VLC and it is more than adequate for desktop use. It can be used to stream video playback over the internet and locally stored files. You can also play output from your web camera through VLC.
There isn’t an audio player installed by default. A guide will be available shortly showing how to install software onto the Raspberry PI.
Another thing that is missing from a default installation of Raspberry PI OS is an image editor but there is a basic image viewer for displaying photos.
The default mail client for Raspberry PI OS is called Claws and for most people it will be inadequate. Connecting to services such as GMail is difficult, if not impossible and things like 2 factor authentication isn’t included by default. You will spend more time configuring Claws to work than you will installing a better mail client.
That leaves us with games. There is a small selection of games installed by default with the most prominent being Minecraft PI which is great for kids of all ages. Other games can be installed as well as games emulators. Don’t expect however to be playing the latest and greatest releases as the PI just isn’t powerful enough.
There are a number of other applications installed by default with the PI which you may or may not find useful. For children there is a program called Scratch (or to be precise 3 versions of Scratch). Scratch is a building blocks tool that enables you to create games using simple programming constructs. There is also an application called Sonic PI that lets you make music using programming constructs.
The Raspberry PI has previously been deemed a tool for people with technical backgrounds or for people who want to have a technical background and therefore there are a number of IDEs and programming tools installed for Java and Python.
Where do you go from here?
So you have a Raspberry PI, you have set it up, installed NOOBS, booted to the Raspberry PI OS desktop and you have read this guide.
What should you do next?