Here’s a current Raspberry Pi Zero Operating System list. Since Raspberry Pi Zero is the lowest-power Raspberry Pi, we only include the OSes that run on RPi Zero. Therefore, we do not include all of the Raspberry Pi Zero OSes in this list (since some OSes only run on Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, for example).
Why? Because there are simply too many “clones” of one operating system. So, to keep it interesting we only show you the “unique” operating systems. Or we at least won’t show you duplicates ;). Without further time wasting, here’s the list:
How Do I Install Operating Systems on Raspberry Pi Zero?
Copy the BerryBoot files to your Micro SD card! It’s the easiest way to install operating systems on Raspberry Pi Zero.
Or try NOOBS, but BerryBoot was better, easier and had more options in my opinion. They’re both free to download. See more details on how to copy NOOBS or BerryBoot to an SD Card just below this list of RPi Zero operating systems:
Raspberry Pi Zero Operating System List:
While there are many operating systems available for Raspberry Pi 2 and 3, there are almost as many for Raspberry Pi Zero. The OSes that run on Pi Zero also run on Raspberry Pi 1, by the way.
Here is the Raspberry Pi Zero Operating system list with download links and install instructions for each:
1. Raspbian Jessie
Raspberry Pi’s Debian Jessie is a version of Linux that now rocks, due to being finely-tuned over the years. This is the “default operating system” for Raspberry Pi’s across the globe.
- Download Raspbian Jessie here
- Install Raspbian Jessie or Wheezy easily with BerryBoot or NOOBs, or use the official install guide located here
- Alternatively you can download a .img file of Raspbian here to import into Berry Boot instead of installing it with the default menu (which is the easiest way!)
2. Kodi (aka OpenElec or OSMC)
Kodi is the favorite media center app for millions of people. It’s conveniently available as its own entire OS (a bonus for this Raspberry Pi Zero operating system list)!
- Check out the official OpenELEC homepage for install details
- Easily install Kodi by first copying BerryBoot to a clean Micro SD card. After that, put the card in your Pi and select OpenELEC > Install!
- Or download a Kodi .img file to use with Berry Boot here
Play classic games of all kinds using Retro Pie. Raspberry Pi Zero handles everything up to N64 (but not including Nintendo 64). So enjoy plenty of SNES games on your RPi Zero.
- Here’s the official RetroPie website and their downloads page is here
- Download RetroPie .img file (download here) for Raspberry Pi Berry Boot here
- Install RetroPie by simply putting BerryBoot on a Micro SD card. Then use BerryBoot to install RetroPie in just a few minutes!
4. Kali Linux
This is the classic network penetration testing (pentesting) and security toolset version of Linux. Kali Linux is our favorite hacking OS in the Raspberry Pi Zero operating system list.
- Kali Linux needs to be installed using a .img file. Download a Kali Pi image file here.
- Use BerryBoot to Import the image file and install it to your Raspberry Pi’s Micro SD card
As the name suggests, PiMusicBox is an online streaming music service-connector that plays tracks from your online music services.
- Install MusicBox for Raspberry Pi by installing BerryBoot
- Download the Music Box image file here
This is simply a surveillance camera / home security monitoring system.
- Install MotionEye OS by importing the .img file (here) into BerryBoot
- Make sure your Raspberry Pi is plugged directly into your router with an Ethernet cable. Otherwise, the MusicBox won’t start! Or use the official MusicBox install instructions to pre-configure your WiFi username and password and write it to the Micro SD card while you’re preparing the .img file.
Rune Audio is another streaming music connector for your Raspbery Pi 0. While Rune Audio seems like just another jukebox for Raspberry Pi, it may give us some added functions not available in other OSes.
- Rune Audio is yet another audio system you install with BerryBoot by importing the image file
- Download Rune Audio img file here
ArchLinux is just another flavor of Linux that works well on RPi zero. So, check it out as an alternative to Raspbian!
- Arch Linux is easily installed using Berry Boot for Raspberry Pi
- Download Ach Linux .img file here
Puppy is one of the oldest and smallest distributions of Linux.
This is basically a slimmed-down version of Kali Linux, which is used for security, hacking, and network penetration testing.
11. Open Media Vault
Open media vault allows you to set up your Raspberry Pi as a NAS device (network attached storage). It basically creates your own personal cloud.