Today, September 28, 2016, Raspberry Pi Foundation's Simon Long proudly unveiled a new desktop environment for the Debian-based Raspbian GNU/linux operating system for Raspberry Pi devices.

Until today, Raspbian shiped with the well-known and lightweight LXDE desktop environment, which looks pretty much the same as on any other Linux-based distribution out there that is built around LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment). But Simon Long, a UX engineer working for Raspberry Pi Foundation was hired to make it better, transform it into something that's more appealing to users.

So after two years of work, he managed to create a whole new desktop environment for Raspbian, the flagship operating system for Raspberry Pi single-board computers developed and distributed by Raspberry Pi Foundation. Called PIXEL, the new Raspbian desktop offers a more eye-candy design with the panel on top (not on the bottom like on a default LXDE setup), new icons, new Applications Menu, and new theme.

"It’s actually surprisingly easy to hack about with the LXDE desktop once you get your head around what all the bits do, and since then I’ve been slowly chipping away at the bits that I felt would most benefit from tweaking," reveals Simon Long. "Stuff has slowly been becoming more and more like my original concept for the desktop; with the latest changes, I think the desktop has reached the point where it’s a complete product in its own right and should have its own name."

PIXEL now integrated into Raspbian

If you're wondering what PIXEL stands for, we can tell you right now that it's short for "Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight," and if you are curious to know what exactly the developer changed to LXDE in two years to make it look the way you see in the screenshots attached at the end of the article, we invite you to read the entire, lengthy official announcement for all the juicy details.

Long story short, as mentioned above, most of the changes have to do with the appearance of the desktop, such as icons, themes, wallpapers, etc., but you'll also find a couple of new applications, such as the RealVNC viewer Sense HAT emulator, along with new functionality like Wireless power switching for Raspberry Pi 3 devices, which is helpful to turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or both.

Ultimately, PIXEL on Raspbian will no longer ship with the Epiphany web browser by default, which got replaced with Chromium. If you've tried Raspbian before and you never liked the LXDE desktop environment, you might want to give it another shot today. The latest Raspbian build, version 2016-09-23, is already available for download with PIXEL, based on Debian GNU/Linux 8 "Jessie" and Linux kernel 4.4 LTS. Existing users need only to run the following commands below to install PIXEL. Enjoy!

sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get dist-upgrade sudo apt-get install -y rpi-chromium-mods sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu python3-sense-emu sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu-doc realvnc-vnc-viewer
Raspberry Pi Foundation Unveils New LXDE-Based Desktop for Raspbian Called PIXEL

Raspbian with PIXEL

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