As we’ve said a few times, the Raspberry Pi is a Linux-based computer. From a software point of view, this means that you can run Linux programs on your Raspberry Pi – you don’t need special Pi-only versions; all you need to do is check the software requirements and make sure that you meet the minimum recommended specifications.
For most Linux programs, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem because, unlike Windows and Mac software, they tend to be much lighter on resources.
While the Raspberry Pi no longer has an online “App Store” – the Pi Store ceased operating in early 2015 – some handy programs come preinstalled and much more can be
installed without much trouble.
Click Applications > Preferences >Add/Remove Software to launch Raspbian’s Package Manager. You’ll see that the available programs have been neatly categorized to make it easy to sort through them.
Click the tick box next to the name of individual apps you want to add, then click Apply at the bottom right in order to install them. Some of the programs listed here will already be installed on your Pi, in which case they will already be ticked.
Even if your Pi is not connected to a monitor, you can install programs by connecting to it via SSH. You will first need the name of the program. You can then install it using sudo apt-get,for example as follows:
sudo apt-get dosbox
Here is the List of Top 20 Best Apps for Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi can be a desktop computer replacement if you use it correctly, and LibreOffice can help the Pi fulfill this task. With full compatibility with Microsoft Office, it’s the best suite of Office applications that aren’t made by the Windows folks.
Chromium replaced the former web browser Epiphany in the last major update for the Pi. As the similarity of the name hints, it’s related to Google’s Chrome web browser – Chrome derives most of its source code from the open-source Chromium Project.
One consequence of this is that you can install many Chrome add-ons such as the Google Hangouts plugin from the Chrome Web Store.
If you do not already have Chromium installed on your Raspberry Pi, back up any
personal data, then open the Terminal or connect via SSH and run the following commands, one after the other, to upgrade to the latest version of Raspbian complete with this new browser:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Note:- I have written a post for people looking for the Best Monitor for Raspberry Pi to buy?, do read it If you are interested.
3. Minecraft Pi
Minecraft Pi is a version of the insanely successful Minecraft game written specifically for the Raspberry Pi. It is based on the Pocket edition, so may not have all the features of the full-blown version. Gameplay is “Creative” mode only, and multiplayer with users of the regular Minecraft game is not supported. The advantage to this, however, is
that no one can destroy your structures.
If you want to get more from Minecraft or just try Python programming, press the Tab key
and open Python 3 (IDLE) from Applications > Programming.
From here you can type commands to automatically drop blocks as you walk, automatically create structures, and teleport yourself from place to place.
For instance, to place a stone block immediately behind you, type:
x, y, z = mc.player.getPos() mc.setBlock(x+1, y, z, 1)
Visit the official blog here for a worksheet of basic commands.
You can find Minecraft Pipre-installed in Applications > Games on your Pi.
The Raspberry Pi will also happily run a Minecraft server, allowing you and your friends
to build your own virtual world provided you each have the official version of the game.
There are a number of guides available to do this. We recommend that you use the
SpigotMC server software as it runs well on the Pi.
Created by the clever people over at IBM, Node-RED is an application that enables
you to program and connect together Internet of Things devices by using a graphical interface to drag, drop and link different elements, much like you would with chunks of code in Scratch.
Many people like to use their Pi as an arcade emulator, enabling them to play classic games spanning everything from the Amiga to the Game Boy platforms.
RetroPie is the best project for this sort of thing – just make sure you own the original games before you emulate!
6. Deluge ( Download files via BitTorrent)
The Pi supports a number of apps for downloading via BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file
sharing protocol, but Deluge trumps them all in terms of the sheer number of features.
If you run your Pi without a monitor, Deluge can be accessed via a web interface from another device. This is extremely useful if you wish to download files while
away from home. Simply open a browser and go to https:// ipaddressofyourpi:8112.
Deluge is protected by a password (the default is “deluge”). Instructions
are on the Deluge Wiki at https://dev.deluge-torrent.org/wiki/UserGuide/ThinClient.
While there is nothing illegal in itself about downloading files via BitTorrent (most Linux distributions can be downloaded this way), your ISP may restrict or throttle BitTorrent traffic.
Consider using Deluge’s Blocklist plugin to automatically block IP addresses of organizations who are likely to try to prevent you from using BitTorrent.
You can install the Deluge program using the Add/Remove Software window. If you’re
running your Pi without a monitor and want to control Deluge via SSH run the following:
sudo apt-get install deluged
While there are distros like OSMC and Xbian for turning your Raspberry Pi into
a media server, you may just want to do that inside Raspbian. For this, go straight
to the source and download Kodi, the program that the previously mentioned
media server distros are all based on.
8. Synaptic Package Manager (Turbocharge your package management)
Like Add/Remove Software in Applications > Preferences, Synaptic is a pleasant graphical
front-end for installing the vast number of programs available for the Pi. But if you already have something to install new apps, why would you need Synaptic?
First, Synaptic contains a good many more categories than the very broad ones offered by Add/Remove Software. Instead of one “internet” section, for instance, you can select “Communication, “Email”, “Networking” and so on.
Synaptic can also ensure that you have the most up-to-date version of each program. Click the Reload button to scan the available software for Raspbian
and update the Pi.
Another huge advantage of Synaptic is that if you select a program for installation that
requires others in order to work properly, it will automatically mark these for download too.
The buttons at the bottom left help to narrow down the various programs much more easily too.
For instance, clicking the Status button followed by Installing in the window above will list all installed programs. Click Mark all Upgrades to automatically flag any programs that can be updated. When ready, click Apply to download the relevant files.
If you want to access your Pi remotely, you have two options. One is to use the
ssh command on another computer to access the Pi on the command line. The
other is to install TightVNC server and then access the graphical interface on a
PC with TightVNC client installed.
Some people like to set up their Pi as a torrent box, set to download their favorite podcasts or Linux distros automatically and then make them accessible on the home network. Transmission is a great torrent client and is also highly customizable.
11. IceDove ( Let your emails soar )
IceDove is a version of the popular Mozilla Thunderbird email program. Although the Pi
does come with a built-in email client (Claws Mail), IceDove offers much more customization.
The mail setup wizard is very easy to follow, and all common providers’ settings can be found in the Mozilla database. In most cases, you will simply need to enter your email address and password, and IceDove will then do the rest.
You can extend IceDove even further by heading to the Add/ Remove Software window and installing iceowl, which will install a fully-featured calendar; another extension will also add support for Google Calendars.
Install IceDove by going to Preferences > Add/Remove Software and entering the
name in the search bar.
Don’t trust Dropbox with your data? Give ownCloud a shot. Once you set it up, your Pi can monitor a particular folder and, when it sees any updates to the files within, it relays those changes around to all the connected devices, just like Dropbox, iCloud or OneDrive.
13. Pidgin ( Manage all your Messaging from one place)
The popular cross-platform messaging app Pidgin saves you the trouble of managing multiple accounts like Google Hangouts, AOL Instant Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger.
All your chats can be combined in one place. More chat protocols such as Skype and WhatsApp are available via plugins.
Sadly since Facebook dropped support for the open XMPP standard in 2014, Pidgin can
no longer be used to chat with Facebook contacts via the site.
Pidgin does however also support IRC Chatrooms. By default it is configured for the
huge Freenode network. Users can join “channels” to discuss a huge number of topics from programming to jam making.
Install Pidgin by going to Preferences > Add/Remove Software and searching for it
using the bar at the top left.
The Pi can be used to monitor your home or office network for any untoward web
traffic, boosting your security. NagiosPi is an excellent software for this, which
runs on your Pi and is easily accessible and controllable through a web interface
that you can go to in a browser.
GIMP is an advanced image editor. It’s designed to be a serious alternative to some of
the expensive paid-for photo editing apps while still being intuitive to use.
GIMP contains all the tools you’ll need for basic image editing such as altering
the contrast, cropping or cutting parts of an image. GIMP can also open and convert various types of image. This is particularly handy if you have a digital camera which takes high-quality photos that you wish to reduce in size to share over the web.
Choose File > Export to make them compact JPGs or similar. More advanced features such
as selective colorization are available through use of layer masks, allowing you to control the level of transparency and colour of parts of any image.
Pi users can also make use of scripts written in Perl to automate common tasks – for
example to bulk-convert a load of .xcf images to .jpg and add a caption. You’ll find sample Perl scripts plus plugins to extend GIMP’s functions even further in the GIMP Plugins Registry: https://registry.gimp.org.
You might be surprised how professional your images can look after you spend just a little
time with GIMP. If you want to explore further, www.gimp.org/ tutorials offers free tutorials.
Install GIMP by clicking Preferences > Add/Remove Software and searching for it
using the bar at the top left.
16. SD Card Copier ( Quickly and easily back up your entire Pi )
As you start producing photos, personal emails and intricate Minecraft structures on your Pi, you’ll want a reliable way to back everything up. While there are various backup utilities available to install on the Pi, the built-in SD Card Copier will likely meet
It’s at Applications > Preferences > SD Card Copier
To begin the copy process, attach an external disk or other storage device and then select it in the Copy To menu. Be warned that the destination disk will be formatted before copying – any files already on it will be lost.
After copying, the resulting drive will be an exact copy of the Pi’s SD card, right down to the individual partitions. This can be problematic if you’re using a larger external drive for other purposes, so consider devoting a USB stick solely to backing up/transferring data.
17. Zip Archiver ( Create Zip files with a few mouse clicks )
By default, the Pi is capable of opening a range of compressed files such as Zip files. Simply right-click the file and choose Extract Here. As you use the Pi more, especially for email, you may well wish to compress files
The Pi supports various Linux formats out of the box such as .bz2 and .tar, but these
are not particularly useful if you wish to send a file or folder to Windows or Mac users. So install support for Zip compression by clicking Preferences > Add/ Remove Software and searching for “zip”. The official name is “Archiver for Zip Files”.
Once it’s installed, you can right-click on a file or folder and choose Compress. The system
will ask you where you want to save the Zip file. Choose a location, then click Archive Type at the bottom left and scroll to the bottom to select Zip. Now click Create at the bottom right.
The Xarchiver program will display a dialogue stating “Adding to Archive” and the
archive file will appear.While adding support for Zip files, you may also wish to allow
the Pi to create and extract compressed files using the 7Zip (.7z) format, which is more
efficient and supports options such as splitting files and encryption.
Search for “p7zip” in the Add/Remove Software window to do this. Once it’s installed you will see .7z available under Archive Type when you’re compressing a file.
18. USB Over IP ( Access USB drives on your network )
USB Over IP is a convenient way to access drives over a network. Once it’s installed on the Pi and set up, any device connected to the network will be able to see and modify files as if the drive were plugged into that device.
To install it, search for “usbip” in the Add/Remove Software window. The software also has to be installed on any client devices that are going to access the USB
drive. Versions for both Windows and Linux are available from https://usbip.sourceforge.net
Once installed, it needs only a few simple commands to start. Open Terminal or connect via SSH and start the usbip server with the following commands:
sudo modprobe usbip-core
sudo modprobe usbip-host
sudo usbip -D
Next connect your USB drive, and use the following command to find its “busid”:
usbip list -l
A busid will be something like 1-1.5. Bind it to your Pi with:
sudo usbip –debug bind -b (yourbusidhere)
Once USBIP is installed on your client device, you can run one command from the Windows or Linux command line to make the USB drive accessible over the
network. See the SourceForge page for specific steps.
Be aware that the USB device will be available to anyone who is connected to your network and running the software. It also doesn’t encrypt your data, so use it only on trusted networks.
19. Arduino IDE ( Write code and upload to an Arduino board)
The Arduino is a “microcontroller motherboard”. Microcontrollers are generally used to perform repeated actions – opening doors, checking temperatures and so on. Arduino projects are fantastic ways to get into both coding and electronics. While you can do this with the Pi itself, the Pi is a full-blown computer, much more than is needed for
most such applications.
The Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) makes it very easy to write code
and upload it to any Arduino connected to the Pi. This is usually done via USB, though
some boards can connect wirelessly. By default the software is preconfigured for the
default Arduino Uno board, but you can go to Tools > Boards to select from the dozens available.
Install Arduino IDE using Add/Remove Software by searching for “arduino”. To use it, go to Applications > Programming > Arduino IDE.
To start, you can browse exciting sample projects by clicking File > Examples.
20. Guake ( Become a Terminal virtuoso )
No matter how accustomed you are to graphical desktops and pointing-and-clicking, inevitably there comes a time with the Raspberry Pi where you will come to accept that using the Terminal is much easier.
The Pi’s built-in Terminal is adequate but it can obscure your view of the screen, and the black wall of text can be foreboding to newcomers. Guake tries to address these issues and others by being easier on the eye and much simpler to use.
Guake is technically as a “topdown” terminal. Install it via the Add/Remove Software window, then launch it from Applications > System Tools > Guake Terminal.
A popup verifies that Guake is running. By default you can tap F12 to have the Guake
terminal drop down. Enter your commands exactly as you would using the regular Terminal app.
It’s much easier to pull up and dismiss, and you’ll also note that the window is semi-transparent, so you can see any apps running in the background.
Right-click inside the Guake window to set its Preferences. These range from altering the
look and feel of the window to changing the keyboard shortcuts to show and hide Guake.
Another huge advantage of Guake for budding programmers is that it can open tabs which
are preconfigured to run Python programs. Usefully, Guake can also open a new tab in the current working directory.