You Can Now Set up a Legacy Model of the Raspberry Pi OS

The latest version of the official Raspberry Pi OS, based on Debian 11 'Bullseye', adds many new features and improvements. However, some Raspberry Pi users have asked for an option to reset certain parts of the operating system in order to restore some functionality required for certain projects.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has therefore made a 'legacy' version of the operating system available. Let's take a look at it and why you might need it.

What has changed in Bullseye?

As a major update, the Bullseye version of Raspberry Pi OS offers some changes. Most importantly, all desktop components and applications now use version 3 of the GTK + user interface toolkit instead of version 2.

For Raspberry Pi models with 2 GB or more RAM, a new mother window manager is used instead of the previous Openbox, which leads to a more modern and appealing desktop user interface. There is also a switch to the KMS graphics driver to control the connection to a display.

For users of Raspberry Pi camera modules, Bullseye has discontinued support for the old tools raspistill and raspivid for capturing still images and videos in favor of libcamera.

A bullseye bonus is that it can even make your Raspberry Pi 4 run faster.

What is the problem?

As noted by Raspberry Pi Chief Product Officer Gordon Hollingworth on the official blog post, moving to a new upstream branch of the operating system can cause significant problems for some users.

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“With the new branches come new versions of libraries and new interfaces. Old software and interfaces are no longer supported and the way certain things are done is changing, ”says Hollingworth.

This can cause problems for some users, including those who work in education and run industrial applications on Raspberry Pi, who value an immutable operating system, or who have developed software to use certain library versions.

What is Raspberry Pi OS (Legacy)?

The legacy alternate version of Raspberry Pi OS is rolling back certain changes to restore functionality that some users relied on.

Based on the previous version, Raspberry Pi OS Buster, Legacy replaces Bullseye's hardware accelerated version of Chromium with the upstream software browser.

The Linux kernel is branched out at 5.10.y and only takes security patches from the Linux kernel. The Raspberry Pi firmware is branched and only needs security and hardware support patches for existing products.

Camera control

The new libcamera driver for camera modules in Raspberry Pi OS Bullseye no longer works with the Picamera-Python bindings. While a new version of the latter, Picamera2, is being developed, there is currently no way to simply operate the camera from within Python programs.

Raspberry Pi OS (Legacy) provides the earlier raspistill and raspivid commands for capturing still images and videos that work with the Picamera library in Python.

Bullseye users can still restore access to raspistill and raspivid. First, make sure the operating system is up to date, then open a terminal window and enter sudo raspi-config. Go to Interface options, then choose Old camera and restart.

How do I get Legacy?

Raspberry Pi OS (Legacy) can be downloaded from the official Raspberry Pi software site in desktop and lite versions. It is also available in Raspberry Pi OS (other) Menu of the Raspberry Pi Imager Tool for flashing a microSD card. Legacy runs on every Raspberry Pi model, including the new Zero 2 W.

Support for Debian Buster will be available through June 2024. For the Linux 5.10 kernel it will be until December 2026. Note that if Debian Bookworm becomes stable within this period, Raspberry Pi OS (Legacy) will switch to Bullseye.

Roll back to the Legacy

While the latest bullseye version of Raspberry Pi OS offers a slew of new features, additional functionality, greater open source and Linux standardization, and improved usability, it may not be suitable for all users.

Therefore, the & # 39; new & # 39; Legacy version is a way to stick with an alternate buster-based branch of the Raspberry Pi operating system in the future, and according to the Raspberry Pi blog post it will "remain supported while the various components continue to receive updates". . "

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About the author

Phil King
(27 published articles)

Phil is Junior Editor for DIY Projects at MUO and a freelance writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience. He has published numerous official Raspberry Pi books and is a regular contributor to MagPi magazine.

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By Phil King

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