DietPi – A lightweight Raspberry Pi OS Alternative

Diet-Pi - A lightweight Raspberry Pi OS Alternative

Here’s a quick screenshot walk-through of the installation of DietPi OS for Raspberry Pi.  DietPi is a minimalist but fully featured alternative to Raspberry Pi OS.  I’ve run through the install process so that you can see how everything looks before trying it yourself.

Previously, we covered TwisterOS – another Raspberry Pi targetted Linux distribution  which aims to be super user friendly and includes a lot of extra software – check it out if you don’t think the minimalist DietPi is for you.

Download & Install Diet-Pi OS

First up, downloading and installing DietPi OS for your Raspberry Pi.

Head on over to:

https://dietpi.com/

…and follow the download links to begin.

The DietPi OS website is very green.

The DietPi OS website is very green.

The DietPi website makes many lofty promises - will it deliver?

The DietPi website makes many lofty promises – will it deliver?

Downloading the DietPi OS image - be sure to pick the right version for your specific Raspberry Pi.

Downloading the DietPi OS image – be sure to pick the right version for your specific Raspberry Pi.

Balena Etcher is the weapon-of-choice for writing images to SD cards, it can be found at:

https://www.balena.io/etcher/

…download it, run it, and use it to write the DietPi OS installation image to an SD card.

Select the disk image file and storage device you wish to write it to, then click 'Flash!'.

Select the disk image file and storage device you wish to write it to (and overwrite all data on!), then click ‘Flash!’.

It may take a few minutes to write the data to the SD card

It may take a few minutes to write the data to the SD card

Done! Remove the SD card from your computer and insert it into your Raspberry Pi.

Done! Remove the SD card from your computer and insert it into your Raspberry Pi.

DietPi first boot - don't worry, this is normal.

DietPi first boot – don’t worry, this is normal.

When DietPi is booted and ready to use, you'll see the login prompt.

When DietPi is booted and ready to use, you’ll see the login prompt.

Side Note: I really, really like that the DietPi login screen shows you the IP address you can use to access the Pi remotely – saves time!

Configuring DietPi OS

DietPi OS is now installed – the next step is to get it configured and get some software installed.

Accept the software terms to continue...

Accept the software terms to continue…

diet pi screens5

On first login, DietPi will automatically update if there is an internet connection. Again, I like this, as it’s the first thing you should be doing on a fresh install of any OS.

DietPi will ask you about some performance tweaks. I left things at their default values.

DietPi will ask you about some performance tweaks. I left things at their default values.

I'm not really a fan of data collection...

I’m not really a fan of data collection…

You'll be prompted to change the default passwords - and you should.

You’ll be prompted to change the default passwords – and you should.

The serial console can be used to remotely access your Pi via the GPIO pins. If you aren't using it, it can be disabled.

The serial console can be used to remotely access your Pi via the GPIO pins. If you aren’t using it, it can be disabled.

More passwords to change...

More passwords to change…

Next up - software selection. I'm going to leave that for later, so just hit 'Install' or 'OK' to continue.

Next up – software selection. I’m going to leave that for later, so just hit ‘Install’ or ‘OK’ to continue.

Continue, we'll install some software later.

Continue, we’ll install some software later.

Ready to go! Run 'dietpi-launcher' to bring up the DietPi software launcher.

Ready to go! Run ‘dietpi-launcher‘ to bring up the DietPi software launcher.

The DietPi software launcher. There's a lot of stuff here!

The DietPi software launcher. There’s a lot of stuff here!

The file explorer allows you to navigate the filesystem via a series of menus. I didn't find it that useful.

The file explorer allows you to navigate the filesystem via a series of menus. I didn’t find it that useful.

DietPi OS includes tools to make backups of your system - definitely a thumbs up there.

DietPi OS includes tools to make backups of your system – definitely a thumbs up there.

Yes, I would.

Yes, I would.

diet pi screens22

Time to install some software – including a desktop. Make your selections, and press ‘OK’.

New software has been selected, and can be installed from the software menu after being selected from 'Browse Software' (shown above).

New software has been selected, and can be installed from the software menu after being selected from ‘Browse Software’ (shown above).

Confirming software installation.

Confirming software installation.

A desktop environment will require more video memory, and that's alright.

A desktop environment will require more video memory, and that’s alright.

I opted to configure DietPi-Autostart - I want my desktop to load automatically when I power up the Raspberry Pi.

I opted to configure DietPi-Autostart – I want my desktop to load automatically when I power up the Raspberry Pi.

Selecting the desktop environment to auto-start.

Selecting the desktop environment to auto-start.

DietPi has built-in tools for converting to morse code. Neat!

DietPi has built-in tools for converting to morse code. Neat!

Software has been installed - exit DietPi Launcher and reboot.

Software has been installed – exit DietPi Launcher and reboot.

Now, when your Raspberry Pi starts, a GUI login screen will be shown instead of the console.

Now, when your Raspberry Pi starts, a GUI login screen will be shown instead of the console.

DietPi OS desktop running Firefox.  Browsing linuxscrew.com, of course.

DietPi OS desktop running Firefox. Browsing linuxscrew.com, of course.

And there it is! DietPi OS for Raspberry Pi is installed!

From here on out, it’s a fairly normal Linux desktop experience – all of the DietPi console tools are available, and you can add whatever software you want.

And there are a lot of console tools – I’ve only looked at the software installation and backup tools, there is a lot more stuff in there (including the before mentioned Morse code tools).

DietPi OS is definitely different to Raspberry Pi OS – but whether it is better or not will depend on how you’re using it.  There are a lot of cool tools included, but running a system which isn’t as widely covered by support forums and articles may prove irksome if something goes wrong.

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Brad Morton

I'm Brad, and I'm nearing 20 years of experience with Linux. I've worked in just about every IT role there is before taking the leap into software development. Currently, I'm building desktop and web-based solutions with NodeJS and PHP hosted on Linux infrastructure. Visit my blog or find me on Twitter to see what I'm up to.

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