It’s been just under two years since we released the Jessie version of Raspbian. Those of you who know that Debian runs its releases on a two-year cycle, therefore, may have wondered when we might release the next version, codenamed Stretch. Well, don’t wonder anymore: Raspbian Stretch is available for download today!
The differences between Jessie and Stretch are mostly optimizations under the hood, and you really shouldn’t notice any difference in day-to-day desktop and app use. (If you’re really interested, technical details are in the Debian release notes here.)
However, we have made some small changes to our image that are worth mentioning.
New versions of applications
Version 3.0.1 of Sonic Pi is included, which includes many new functionalities in terms of input/output. Check out the Sonic Pi release notes for more details on what exactly has changed.
The Chromium web browser has been updated to version 60, the most recent stable version. This offers improved memory usage and more efficient code, so you may notice that it runs a little faster than before. The visual appearance has also changed very slightly.
Bluetooth audio At Jessie, we used PulseAudio to provide support for audio via Bluetooth, but integrating this with the ALSA architecture used for other
audio sources was clunky. For Stretch, we are using the bluez-alsa package to make Bluetooth audio work with ALSA. Therefore, PulseAudio is no longer installed by default, and the volume plug-in on the taskbar will no longer start and stop PulseAudio. From the user’s point of view, everything should work exactly as before: the only change is that if you still want to use PulseAudio for some other reason, you’ll need to install it yourself.
Better handling of other usernames
The default user account in Raspbian has always been called ‘pi’, and many of the desktop applications assume that this is the current user. This has been changed for Stretch, so now apps like Raspberry Pi Configuration no longer assume this to be the case. This means, for example, that the option to automatically log in as the ‘pi’ user will now automatically log in with the current user’s name instead.
Another change is how sudo is handled. By default, the user ‘pi’ is set to passwordless sudo access. We no longer assume this to be the case, so now desktop apps that require sudo access will ask for the password instead of simply stopping working if a user without a sweat without a password uses them.
Scratch 2 Sense HAT extension
In the latest version of
Jessie, we added the offline version of Scratch 2. While Scratch 2 itself hasn’t changed for this release, we’ve added a new extension to allow Sense HAT to be used with Scratch 2. Look under ‘More blocks’ and choose ‘Add an extension’ to load the extension.
This works with a physical Sense HAT or the Sense HAT emulator. If a Sense HAT is connected, the extension will control it in preference to the emulator.
Solution for the Broadpwn exploit
A couple of months ago, a vulnerability was discovered in the firmware of the BCM43xx wireless chipset used in Pi 3 and Pi Zero W; this potentially allows an attacker to take over the chip and execute code on it. The Stretch version includes a patch that addresses this vulnerability.
There’s also the usual set of minor bug fixes and UI improvements, I’ll let you look at them!
How to get Raspbian Stretch
As this is a major version update, we recommend using a clean image; these are available on the Downloads page on our site as usual
Updating an existing image of Jessie is possible, but is not guaranteed to work in all circumstances. If you want to try to upgrade an image from Jessie to Stretch, we strongly recommend that you first back it up: we cannot accept any responsibility for data loss from a failed update.
To upgrade, first modify the /etc/apt/sources.list
and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/raspi.list files. In both files, change each occurrence of the word ‘jessie’ to ‘stretch’. (Both files will require sudo to edit.)
Then open a terminal window and run
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade
Answer ‘yes’ to any questions. There may also be a point at which the installation stops while an information page is displayed on the screen: hold down the ‘space’ key to scroll through all this and then press ‘q’ to continue.
Finally, if you’re not using PulseAudio for anything other than Bluetooth audio, remove it from the image by entering
sudo apt-get -y purge “pulseaudio*”
Since launch, we’ve had some small issues reported. Here’s an update on them:
- There’s an error in the Raspberry Pi settings window that means “Set keyboard…” on the Location tab does not work.
- There is an intermittent error in the interaction between the RealVNC server application and the desktop: the taskbar may sometimes disappear at boot if the VNC server is enabled. This is intermittent, so restarting multiple times can help. Otherwise, to display the taskbar, press Ctrl-Alt-T to display a terminal window, and in the terminal enter lxpanel -p LXDE-pi; You’ll have to leave that terminal open while you run.
- There is a bug in hardware video acceleration for Chromium browser, which is causing crashes in some videos and animations.
Fixes for these three bugs are now available for download: to get them, do:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade
Some users have also noticed that Chinese and Japanese fonts are missing, resulting in unreadable text when the locale is changed. This is due to a font pack that was present in Jessie but not included in Stretch. A suitable alternative is the Droid font pack – to install it, do:
sudo apt-get install fonts-droid-fallback