Over the past nine years, Raspberry Pi has only ever supported a single release of the Raspberry Pi OS (formerly known as Raspbian). This can cause significant problems when we move to a new upstream branch (for example when we moved from Jessie to Stretch or from Stretch to Buster, or the recent move from Buster to Bullseye). With the new branches come new versions of libraries and new interfaces. Old software and interfaces become unsupported, and the way to do specific things changes. Some of those come from the upstream and some from our own desire to move to open-source interfaces.
Of course, we understand this isn’t always the right decision for particular users. For example, some of you are educational users who would like to follow instructions and tutorials online. Others are industrial users, who’ve developed software to use particular library versions; or who value a stable unchanging operating system. Some of you have asked for an option to roll back certain parts of the OS to restore some functionality that you have been relying on.
Raspberry Pi OS (Legacy)
For this reason, we’ve decided to create a legacy version of the Raspberry Pi OS based on the Debian Buster release (or, to be more specific, the Debian oldstable release). This is based on:
- The previous release of the Raspberry Pi OS based on Buster
- Hardware-accelerated Chromium removed and replaced with the upstream software browser
- Linux kernel branched at 5.10.y and only taking security patches from the Linux kernel
- Raspberry Pi firmware branched and only taking security and hardware support patches for existing products
Hardware acceleration of Chromium takes a significant amount of support time; for every release we have to re-port our hardware interfaces. At the same time, it is important that Chromium is supplied with the most recent version available in Debian, since it has many security patches applied to it. For this reason we think using the upstream software-accelerated version by default will be better, although we will still keep the hardware-accelerated v92 browser.
The Linux kernel APIs are also important. With new versions of the kernel, the interfaces between different layers changes. This means that a driver compiled against 5.10 may not work when compiled against 5.12; it is therefore important to choose a long-term stable Linux kernel such as 5.10 and only take upstream changes.
The firmware will be branched to avoid de-stabilising its functionality as it continues to support future hardware. Although we will not support new products on the legacy image, we will make sure any new revisions of older products continue to be supported. So, for example, if we were to release a (currently imaginary) new Raspberry Pi 4 rev 1.5 (which usually means component changes for supply reasons), it would be supported on the legacy image, whereas a new Raspberry Pi product (a future 5 for example, also currently imaginary) would not.
Raspberry Pi OS (Legacy) will remain supported while the various components continue to receive updates. For Debian Buster, support will be available until June 2024. For Linux 5.10 kernel, December 2026. If Debian Bookworm becomes stable in this time, Raspberry Pi (Legacy) will switch to Bullseye.
Download Raspberry Pi OS (Legacy)
If you want to add the legacy camera interfaces to Bullseye, please click your update icon in the taskbar to update. Then open a terminal (Ctrl-Alt-T) and type ‘sudo raspi-config’, go to ‘Interface Options’ and then ‘Legacy Camera’, and reboot. These camera interfaces are deprecated, and we are not supporting them going forwards.
If you were hoping for a blog post about the 64bit OS, that’s coming next, we’re just fixing some issues in Bullseye before we release it.