Kano OS – get the first public beta

A year ago, we started working on a new software experience for Raspberry Pi. We wanted it to be lean, fast, fun, beautifully designed, and accessible to anyone, any age. For many, open-source and microcomputing are pretty intimidating. We wanted to open up the Pi’s power to anyone by creating an OS that put a premium on simplicity, play, and exploration – without compromising on performance and power for even your boldest hacks.

Today, the first beta of Kano OS is open for anyone to download. It’s filled with fantastic projects: to build and hack games like Minecraft and Pong; to play on the command line, watch video, and make music; and to build in lightweight Linux quickly, with the fastest boot times and front-end web performance yet on the Raspberry Pi. We want to get as much feedback as possible from the community as we move toward optimizing, then start open-sourcing the entire stack in April.

If you already have a Raspberry Pi, you can burn it to an SD card and start making and playing in minutes. Download it *here* or use the SD card burner if you need a bit of help getting started.

We’ve spent months making Kano OS as fun and intuitive as possible, with:

  • Six projects and tons of challenges: Hack Snake, play Minecraft, make Pong, write music, and much more!
  • Kano Blocks: Play with code! Based on Google’s Blockly, our visual programming language makes it easy to play with code and see the games change in front of your eyes!
  • User-friendly setup: Get started in a snap with quick Wifi setup, one-click updating, automatic SD card expansion, lightning-fast boot speed (20 seconds!), simple keyboard setup, and easy remote desktop sharing so you can connect to your phone or tablet.  
  • One-click sharing: Share what you’ve made and download projects from around the world!
  • Tons of extras: Keep exploring withScratch, Codecadamy, and Khan Academy!

We’re constantly improving it, and we’d love to hear your thoughts: what you’d like to see, what you’re loving, what you’re struggling with. Send us your questions, suggestions, and creations in the forum, Twitter, Facebook, or the one-click Feedback tool within the OS itself!

Itching to hear more of the technical details? Then read on:

More on the nitty-gritty

Kano OS is a full-featured, intuitive distribution of Linux based on Raspbian (Debian distribution for RaspberryPi), so you can also use any of the thousands of applications already available for it. For our desktop environment, we’re using LXDE with Openbox window manager with dozens of custom modifications.

Chromium and Epiphany are installed by default for web browsing, and you can use our custom-built YouTube client to access videos. For development, there are a suite of languages available out of the box like Python, Ruby, Perl, bash and dash shells, and web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Most of the source code is available in the image, so feel free to check it out and modify it!

So explore, create, and let us know what you think!