A new Raspbian update: multimedia, Python and more

Today we’re releasing a new update for Raspbian, including a multimedia player, updated Thonny, and more. Here’s Simon with everything you need to know.

VLC Media Player

When I first joined Raspberry Pi, back in the dim and distant past (in reality 2014, but it does seem a long time ago now…), and I started looking at Raspbian, I made a list of the additional features and applications that I thought it needed to be a “complete” modern desktop operating system. Over the years, we’ve managed to tick off most of the items on that list, but one glaring omission has been nagging at me all this time: a decent media player. Windows has Windows Media Player; MacOS has QuickTime Player and iTunes; but we’ve had a big hole where something similar ought to be for Raspbian. It’s been a common request on the forums, and while we’ve had bits and pieces that do some of the job, like the command line OMXPlayer application, we really wanted a nice GUI-based media player.

VLC is one of those programs that “just works” for media playback; it is cross-platform, it has a nice interface, and it plays back pretty much anything you throw at it. It was the player I really wanted to use in Raspbian — but it was unable to access VideoCore’s video decoding hardware, and the software video codecs in VLC were too slow to be anything more than irritating when running on Raspberry Pi, so it really wasn’t worth shipping it. Until now.

After a lot of work (by people far cleverer than me), we are now able to announce that Raspbian includes a fully hardware-accelerated version of VLC. It plays most audio file formats; it uses software codecs for many video formats, and it uses VideoCore’s video engine to accelerate playback of H.264, MPEG-2 and VC-1 video. (Note that you will need to buy additional codec licences for MPEG and VC-1; if you’ve already bought a licence to enable hardware acceleration in OMXPlayer and Kodi, this licence will also enable these codecs for VLC.)

Raspbian update screenshot

This is still a work in progress — we’ve got most of the major bugs out, but there will most likely be the odd glitch, and you’ll probably find that Pi Zero and Pi 1 will still struggle with some content. But once you’ve updated your Pi, you should find that double-clicking on a video file will open it in VLC and play it back with decent quality.

Thonny 3

A couple of years ago, as part of the list of additional features mentioned above, we looked for a nicer Python development environment than IDLE, and we found Thonny — a really elegant combination of a user-friendly IDE with features that are also useful to expert developers. It’s been our standard IDE shipped with Raspbian ever since, and Aivar Annamaa, the developer, has been very responsive to our feedback and requests for new features.

He’s recently released version 3 of Thonny, and this is now the version in Raspbian. Version 3 offers a lot of useful new debugging features, such as breakpoints and an Assistant feature that analyses your code to find bugs that Python’s syntax checker misses. There is a lot more information about Thonny 3 on Aivar’s website — it’s well worth a read.

Raspbian update screenshot

We’ve also made one user interface change this time. We’ve always offered the choice between running Thonny in its regular mode, and a cut-down “simple” mode for beginners, which removes the menus and gives a fixed screen layout. Up until now, switching between the two has happened via different entries in the main Raspberry Pi menu, but that was a bit clumsy. In the new version, simple mode is the default, and you can switch Thonny into regular mode by clicking the link in the top right-hand corner of the window; if you want to switch back to simple mode, select it on the General tab of the Thonny options dialogue, which is available in the Tools menu. (Thonny will always start in the last mode you selected.)

Desktop configuration

One of the other changes we’ve made this time is one that hopefully most people won’t notice!

The configuration of the Raspberry Pi desktop has always been a bit of a mess. Due to the fact that the underlying LXDE desktop environment is made up of a bunch of different programs all running together, trying to set up something like the system font or the highlight colour involves making changes to several configuration files at once. This is why pretty much the first thing I did was to write the Appearance Settings application to try to make this easier than digging around in multiple config files.

Linux desktop applications are supposed to have a global configuration file (usually in the directory /etc/xdg/) that takes effect unless overridden by a local configuration file (in the hidden .config subdirectory of the user’s home directory). Unfortunately, not all the desktop components adhered to this specification. As a result, getting the Appearance Settings application to work involved quite a bit of kludging things about under the hood, and one of these kludges was to always keep a local copy of each of the configuration files and to ignore the global versions.

This worked, but it had the undesirable side effect that any time we wanted to update the appearance of the desktop, we had to delete all the local configuration files so they could be replaced by the new ones, and this meant that any changes the user had made to the configuration were lost. This was quite annoying for many people, so with this release, we’ve tried to stop doing that!

Most of the desktop components have now been modified so that they correctly read the global configuration files, and for future releases, we are going to try to just modify the global versions of these files and not touch the local ones. If we update the configuration, you will see a message informing you that this has happened, but your local files will be left unchanged. To make sure you get the latest configuration, launch Appearance Settings and choose one of the buttons on the “Defaults” tab; doing this will set your desktop to our currently recommended defaults. But if you want to stick with what you’ve already got, just don’t do that! You can even try the new defaults out: press one of the defaults buttons, and if you don’t like the results, just hit Cancel, and your previous configuration will be restored.

Raspbian update screenshot

One final point on this: in order to get this all to work properly in future, we have had to delete a few local files on this occasion. These are files that most people will never have modified anyway, so this will hopefully not present any problems. But just in case, they have been backed up in the oldconffiles subdirectory of the user’s home directory.

Multiple images

When I first started working on Raspbian, the desktop image file was just under 1GB in size. This has gradually crept up over the years, and now it’s around 1.75GB. While downloading a file of this size isn’t a significant problem for someone with fibre broadband, many people are on slower connections where such large downloads can take hours.

In order to try and address this, for all future releases we will now release two separate images. The default Raspbian release is now a minimal install — it gives you the desktop, the Chromium browser, the VLC media player, Python, and some accessory programs. Running alongside this is the “Raspbian Full” image, which also includes all our recommended programs: LibreOffice, Scratch, SonicPi, Thonny, Mathematica, and various others.

The Recommended Software program that we launched in the last release can be used to install or uninstall any of the additional programs that are in the full image; if you download the minimal image and check all the options in Recommended Software, you will end up with the full image, and vice versa.

Raspbian update screenshot

Hopefully, this means that downloading Raspbian will be easier for people on slower connections, and that you can easily add just the programs you want. The full image is provided for everyone who wants to get everything in one go, or who won’t have access to the internet to download additional programs once their Pi is up and running.

We’ll also continue to produce the existing Raspbian Lite image for people who only want a command-line version with no desktop.

Update Raspbian

Both the new images are available to download from the usual place on our site.

To update an existing image, open a terminal window and use the usual commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

To install the new VLC media player from a terminal, enter:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install vlc

As ever, all feedback is welcome, so please leave a comment below!


Hans Otten avatar

Great job again!

Raspbian desktop minimal install, such a treat! Save a lot of uninstalls and reduced download size. Thank you!

horace avatar

awesome! :)

will vlc also play hevc files like kodi?

with kodi hecv works surprisingly well. even with full hd videos performance is great most of the time.

6by9 avatar

8bit HEVC should work, but not 10bit yet – we’re looking into it.
Kodi can display the frames as YUV, whereas VLC has to have them as RGBA to merge into the frame buffer. The conversion to RGBA is a touch trickier with 10bit so requires some reworking. The extra overheads of having X in the way may also mean that it’s not feasible to get to 1080P30 as Kodi currently does.

Dougie Lawson avatar

Something is borken in this

root@apollo:~ # apt -y dist-upgrade
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Calculating upgrade… Done
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
1 not fully installed or removed.
After this operation, 0 B of additional disk space will be used.
Setting up raspberrypi-ui-mods (1.20180926) …
chown: invalid user: ‘echo’
dpkg: error processing package raspberrypi-ui-mods (–configure):
subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 1
Errors were encountered while processing:
localepurge: Disk space freed in /usr/share/locale: 0 KiB
localepurge: Disk space freed in /usr/share/man: 0 KiB
localepurge: Disk space freed in /usr/share/gnome/help: 0 KiB
localepurge: Disk space freed in /usr/share/omf: 0 KiB

Total disk space freed by localepurge: 0 KiB

E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)
root@apollo:~ # dpkg –configure -a
Setting up raspberrypi-ui-mods (1.20180926) …
chown: invalid user: ‘echo’
dpkg: error processing package raspberrypi-ui-mods (–configure):
subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 1
Errors were encountered while processing:
root@apollo:~ #

Simon Long avatar

Thanks for that – we’ve found the problem and are uploading a fix to the repo. Give it an hour or so and then try again.

Dougie Lawson avatar

Thanks Simon, you’ve fixed it on my eighteen Raspberries.

Simon Long avatar

No problem – thanks for confirming the fix works! (And sorry for getting it wrong in the first place…)

Just one point to note – as far as I can tell, the only way this bug can manifest is if a Pi has at some point had the desktop started by the root user – we would strongly recommend against ever doing this, so anyone affected might want to check your config just to make sure you aren’t running as root inadvertently.

Luciano avatar

apt dist-upgrade -y work ok!

Jim Ledger avatar

Recommend you save your previous image before sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

After the upgrade, I couldn’t play live bbc radio over Chromium… “Sorry, you need Flash”

Simon Long avatar

Looks as if something may have gone wrong in your update. Try reinstalling the rpi-chromium-mods package – sudo apt-get install –reinstall rpi-chromium-mods.

Neil Hawkins avatar

I use the file ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart to launch my program on power up but that does not exist now.
What is the best way to autostart a program now in this version?

Simon Long avatar

Exactly the same way – your old autostart file has been copied to ~/oldconffiles/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart; copy it back to its original location.

The reason this file was removed is that a bug in lxsession means that if a local copy of the file does not exist, a local copy is made of the global file, and then any further changes to the global file will be ignored. We’re trying to avoid having to delete local files in future; for anyone who doesn’t set up one of their own autostarts, they don’t need a local copy and so any changes to the global file will now take effect automatically.

Neil Hawkins avatar

Simon thanks, If I don’t upgrade but create a new image is there an new equivalent ‘autostart’ file somewhere? I’m interested because the old autostart file contained a line that I disabled (@xscreensaver -no-splash) so I’m presuming that line is now somewhere else.

Simon Long avatar

The global autostart file is in /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/, but if you want to remove items from it, you shouldn’t need to change that file at all – just create a new local file without the lines you want to remove. In this case, if the local file exists, all the autostarts in that file run, but no others; if the local file does not exist, the autostarts in the global file run instead; the global file is ignored completely if a local file exists.

In general, the approach should be that the global files are defaults which are never changed by users; any changes made by the user should be in the local files, and these will override the globals. In future, we will endeavour to only make changes in the global files and leave user files alone; my apologies that on this occasion we did have to remove your local autostart, but this was just an attempt to get everyone to a consistent state going forward, and we’ll try not to do it again!

Neil Hawkins avatar

Got it, thanks for the explanation.

W. H. Heydt avatar

So…if I want just to *add* something that I previously added to autostart, I can make an autostart with just those commands in it?

Simon Long avatar

If you want to add something that you previously added to autostart, you will need to copy the contents of /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart to ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart, and then add whatever you want to that local copy.

autostart will run either whatever is in ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart, if it exists, or whatever is in /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart. The commands in /etc/xdg/…/autostart include pcmanfm to display the desktop and lxpanel to display the taskbar, so those need to be added to any local file you create.

Michael Horne avatar

Have you pre-installed Mu into the recommended software image as well as Thonny? It seems that it’s quite popular in Education and seems like a very good product, and possibly a lot more useful to beginners.

Simon Long avatar

No, only Thonny. It already has IDLE – having two Python IDE’s seems like it ought to be enough for most people; having three feels like self-indulgence… ;)

In all seriousness, it is trivial to install Mu (and remove Thonny) using Recommended Software for anyone who wants to do so.

Art avatar

Simon, many thanks for this. Would it be possible to add the file sizes to https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/ to help us choose the most appropriate download? Thank you.

Simon Long avatar

We’ll have a look at that; I guess there will be people who want to judge whether it is worth the additional bandwidth to get the “big” version, so I can see that file sizes would be useful in that circumstance.

Art avatar

You’re a gent, sir.

kneekoo avatar

Adding file sizes is easy, not to mention it provides very useful information for those with limited bandwidth or even traffic. I hope it gets added soon. :)

James Hughes avatar

Surely you just pick the OS you need, rather than decide by its download size? You either need Lite, or Basic or full featured, irrespective of the size?

alex eames avatar

Excellent and very welcome changes. I’m particularly pleased about GPU-enabled VLC and the new “Desktop Raspbian minus huge apps I rarely use” version. This should save a tonne of bandwidth and SD card flashing time.

Nice one Simon. Thanks :)

Simon Lambourn avatar

If we update an existing raspbian image, will it ‘upgrade’ to the base image? If not, how can that be achieved please? I would prefer to have the base image and add the extras I need, rather than the full image, but I guess that upgrading from an older version to the base image will mean that some software has to be removed.

Simon Long avatar

If you update an existing image, it will update all the optional software currently installed in that image, but it won’t add or remove any optional software. To convert your updated image to the base image, just run Recommended Software and uncheck all the boxes.

Simon Lambourn avatar

Thanks :-)

Aris avatar

I upgraded my distro, nd since then i issue only problems. My vlc shows just a black screen , and the system doesnt reboot after this… also i lost my shortcuts e.g alt+ctrl+t for terminal and alt+ctrl+arrows for window snapping.. what can i do to back to my last smooth condition? can i downgrade.. i dont like it this way

Simon Long avatar

It sounds as if your upgrade failed and corrupted something. The keyboard shortcuts you mention are in Openbox’s configuration – I’d suggest you run Appearance Settings and select one of the options on the Defaults page. One of the main intentions of this update was to ensure that a default configuration was fully-functional on all Pis.

John Davies avatar

Where is VLC? After updating I could not find any trace of it. I used sudo apt install vlc to get a version I could see. It has run all the videos I have tried with no problems. vlc –version results in:

VLC media player 3.0.3 Vetinari (revision 3.0.3-1-0-gc2bb759264)
VLC version 3.0.3 Vetinari (3.0.3-1-0-gc2bb759264)
Compiled by serge on arm-build.pitowers.org (Nov 5 2018 16:42:59)
Compiler: gcc version 6.3.0 20170516 (Raspbian 6.3.0-18+rpi1+deb9u1)
This program comes with NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.
You may redistribute it under the terms of the GNU General Public Licence;
see the file named COPYING for details.
Written by the VideoLAN team; see the AUTHORS file.

John Davies avatar

I have just noticed the VLC installation instructions which I missed.These are detached from the VLC information. I must stop skim reading.

Simon Long avatar

As per the instructions above, you don’t get vlc automatically on an upgrade – you need to add it from apt, as you have done. It will be included in all images from now on by default, but it needs to be added manually to existing images.

SayWhatNow avatar

Astonishing what this single board computer can do. Thanks for the free version of the OS and the continued development.

Randy avatar

Is an update to Firefox in the roadmap?

Raspbian’s current firefox-esr (52.9.0) has passed its end of life, and is also incompatible with newer Firefox addons.

Debian’s firefox-esr (60.3.0) is available for stretch, and even as a security update to jessie.

A user on Reddit said that they compiled Rust and Cargo for armhf a couple of months ago. (link omitted)

Simon Long avatar

Our supported browser is Chromium; this includes Pi-specific hardware acceleration for video, which is not in Firefox. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resource to support multiple browsers.

Debian packages which are compatible with Pi are automatically kept up to date with the Debian release, so if Raspbian’s Firefox is lagging Debian’s, this is because something about the package does not compile or run on Pi; this would require manual intervention to fix.

Daniel avatar

New x86 image! This is newsworthy! You should add a mention to this in the post! Thanks for your effort towards keeping LXDE fresh and relevant!

Simon Long avatar

We did say several months ago that we would try to release new x86 images whenever we released a major new Raspbian image. We’re doing that… ;)

John Davies avatar

VLC plays TV streams from the Pi TV Hat with very little or no stuttering. I am watching Sky News at the moment. I am not sure how I managed to use the commands under Media to do this. I shall have to wait until people much more competent than myself can write a very straight-forward guide.

Martin Mander avatar

This is so welcome, thank you! I was literally recording a how-to for the TV HAT yesterday and hoping to find a straightforward guide to compiling VLC for hardware-accelerated playback to include, not tested the update yet but this is great news!

Adam avatar

Sorry if dumb question, I use Chromium as my browser and version 65 seems to be still the latest I can get for my Pi, are there any plans to update Chromium to more current version any time soon?

Simon Long avatar

We update Chromium every few months, but the person who hacks it to include the hardware acceleration has been busy doing just that for VLC for the last few months instead! He’ll be back on Chromium again soon, so yes, there will be a new version at some point in the next few months.

Michael avatar

VLC seems to work great, many many thanks for this!!

Fullscreen osd/controls is missing actually, dont know if its a config-problem as I have not checked it…but this is a good step in the right direction at all. Fantastic.

And now Firefox please :P (I already have read the comment regarding that…anyway, hopefully someone manages to fix its compile-problems in near future)

James Carroll avatar

Thanks very much for your continued hard work to support the Pi. This product continually improves at a rapid pace and is a joy to use.

Michi avatar

Would be cool if you’d add the download-sizes of the images to the download-page. That way one can easier choose if it’s worth using the bigger/smaller one.

aris avatar

Simon, i m the guy with vlc problems and lost window shortcuts.
i just flash the os on a new sd and i hve sam pronblems with vlc. no video either from youtube or local sources. only thing fixed is windows snapping but now i cant move and resize them…what is going on? this a fresh install

Simon Long avatar

What Pi are you using? For VLC to work properly, particularly on large resolution files, you need to be on a Pi 2 or Pi 3 – on a Pi 1 or a Zero, VLC will only really work on low-ish resolution files. 1080p will probably fail; something like 480i will probably be ok, depending on bit rate and codec.

6by9 avatar

480i? Please wash your mouth out!
480p should be fairly easy, and quite possibly 720p, but deinterlacing is likely to cause grief (I’m not sure it’s even plumbed into the accelerated VLC).

Simon Long avatar

I bow to my more knowledgeable esteemed colleague on this issue… ;)

aris avatar

i m using the pi 3 b+ model simon. everything was fine and flawless just before the upgrade. i was able to watch every youtube video as well as local files at 1080p flawlessly especcialy using from cli. since the upgrde it plays doesnt work, on both my previous sd and the new i flashed 1 hour ago…i also have moving and sizing problems with openbox

Simon Long avatar

OK, something is wrong somewhere – if you are using a clean copy of the current image on a 3B+, VLC should work with no issues. The clean image was extensively tested before release, with particular emphasis on VLC. I can understand problems that arise from a failed upgrade, but the issues you are describing with VLC and Openbox should not happen on a clean image. Try re-downloading the image, using a different SD card and a different SD flashing tool, because it sounds as if your image is fundamentally broken in some way.

aris avatar

just fixed it loading the fake KMS gl desktop from raspi-config. the openbox isues still remain. can resize move and close windows from their buttons

Simon Long avatar

Ah – yes, VLC is unlikely to work with the GL driver. We don’t recommend use of the GL driver unless people have a specific use case that requires it, as it is still experimental, which is why it is disabled by default and not offered in the desktop Raspberry Pi Configuration application.

Gamecubes0 avatar

Can I add VLC to the start menu?

Simon Long avatar

It’s already in there – look under “Sound & Video”

Jeremy Hall avatar

Thanks for another great release.

Perhaps VNC should go in the middle option as it seems like
an essential bit of system software rather than a heavy weight application program?

Simon Long avatar

VLC (the media player) is in all desktop releases; VNC (which is a remote desktop viewer) is full image only. Did you by any chance refer to the wrong one in your post – I always get them wrong myself!

dmulk avatar

All this effort and I bet Blueooth Headsets (hsp/hfp) is still broken…

Simon Long avatar

We have a limited amount of resource, and an infinite list of things to do. Standard Bluetooth audio output works correctly in this image as it has done for a couple of years now. Bluetooth audio input (which is what headsets require for the profiles you mention) is on the to-do list, but there are higher priority issues.

Richard Park avatar

Simon – Appreciate the update. I try the fixed installer in a bit.. I’m a Thonny user and was hoping Python was being updated from 3.5.3 to 3.7.1 be consistent with other implementations.

Simon Long avatar

We pull Python3 straight from Debian, and the stable version in Debian stretch is still 3.5.3 – anyone using a newer version has manually installed it from a newer source. 3.7.1 is currently only available on Debian’s experimental branch, so Debian’s maintainers don’t seem to view it as stable code yet…

Romney Yeoman Walker avatar

I have created my own admin account and password, and “disabled” the pi user by changing its password to something which isn’t known to most of the civilised universe.

Following a dist-upgrade, my Pi kept logging on to the Desktop as the Pi user instead of my preferred account. I could log off and log in again manually using the correct account, but then my mounted USB memory sticks either did not appear on the desktop and/or were inaccessible because they were mounted as /media/pi/USB*** rather than /media//USB***

I think I’ve now sorted the issue by changing the autologon settings in Raspberry Pi Configuration, and then setting it back to ‘as current user’, after making sure that I was logged in with the correct account.

However, this problem has wasted me quite a bit of time, and I’ve still got several more Pi’s to upgrade. Is it possible please to modify the installation process to take appropriate action when the upgrade is executed from an account other than Pi?

Many thanks, Romney

Simon Long avatar

That’s strange – nothing about the upgrade process should be specific to the pi user, and in fact the scripts that run to update files etc are all deliberately designed to do the same thing on every user account which exists on the system. I’ll try and repeat the issue you describe next week and see if we’ve got something wrong somewhere.

Simon Long avatar

OK, there is something odd going on – something in the upgrade process is resetting the autologin user to “pi”. That shouldn’t be happening – I’ll try and find out why it is. Out of interest, is this the first upgrade you’ve tried from a new user – did this work before? I can’t see anything specific to this release which is changing this setting, so I’m not sure whether this is a problem with the update process itself or something specific to this update.

Romney Yeoman Walker avatar


Thanks for your reply.

I have a script which actually uses ‘sudo apt full-upgrade’ instead of ‘apt-get dist-upgrade’ I wonder if this is part of the problem? I’ve been running this script under my custom user account for a year or more on seven different RPis (a mix of 2,3,3+,zero,zeroW) without any previous problems – that I have noticed at least…. Typically, I try to keep my Pi’s up-to-date, and run the script on each Pi about once a week on average.

I have still got problems with the one Pi (3+) which I have upgraded so far. Initially, I was experiencing very slow performance when connecting to the CLI via SSH, or to the desktop via VNC. This was with VLC running, but I think normal performance has been restored since I was able to reboot the Pi via SSH.

CLI via SSH now appears to be working normally, but if I try to VNC to the desktop, I get what appears to be a successful connection, but the desktop is black. I get the same result whether I use the Pi account or my custom administrator account. Incidentally, the Pi account still has my changed password, and not the default fruity one.

I usually run my Pi’s headless, but do have the facility to connect a monitor and wireless keyboard. I’ll do some further experiments as soon as i can, and report back on the results…..

Best wishes, Romney

Romney Yeoman Walker avatar

BTW I’ve spotted what might be a typo/bug in /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart The last line of this file reads ‘point-rpi’

My customised (local) autostart file now saved in oldconffiles contains the equivalent line ‘@point-rpi’, followed by the line I added to run clementine audio player at startup (@clementine).

Has the @ symbol been omitted from the new autostart file deliberately, or is this a typo….?

Simon Long avatar

No, that’s deliberate. A line in autostart which is prefixed with an @ indicates that the program in question should be restarted if it terminates; a line without an @ is a program which should only run once. The first three lines are the desktop, the taskbar, and the screensaver controller – all of these should be restarted if they terminate. The final line, point-rpi, is just a simple utility which moves the mouse pointer over the start menu icon so the tooltip is displayed on startup; this should only run once and would be quite annoying if it restarted… ;)

Simon Long avatar

Thank you for that – I’ve done some testing and discovered that it is not the upgrade process per se which causes the problem, but one specific package. The only problem is that an update currently installs updates to 40 or 50 packages, and I now need to step through them one at a time and find out which one it is! All I know so far is that it is indeed a package that we have updated relatively recently, but that doesn’t narrow it down much.

I’ll look into this over the next couple of days – in theory, if I can identify the package and find why it is updating the autologin, it’ll be trivial to stop it from doing so. I’d hold off updating your other Pis for a couple of days to give us a chance to find the fix and push it to the repo.

I have found one other issue while investigating this, to do with the autologin changing for the desktop but not for the background TTYs when Raspberry Pi Configuration is used to enable autologin – I’ve already fixed that, and we’ll have a patched package available early next week.

My apologies for introducing a bug, but this is one of those occasions where you just can’t test everything people have done to customise their configurations in house. Give me a day or two, and I’ll report back…

Simon Long avatar

I’ve now identified the problem – the package which installs the greeter (the screen which is displayed to prompt for a user when logging in to the desktop) was resetting the autologin user to “pi”, because under stretch the greeter didn’t run correctly without an autologin set. I’ve now modified this to only set an autologin user if one does not already exist; we’ll need to give this a bit of testing to make sure it doesn’t break anything else, but we should have a fix available in apt in the next day or so.

Jumbo Shrimp avatar

Did the update, that went smoothly. However, when I open videos in vlc, I’m not getting a window per say, but rather the video is dumped directly to the framebuffer like in omxplayer. Not really sure if anyone else is having this problem or not.

liking that vlc is working out of the box now though

Simon Long avatar

Something has gone wrong there – VLC should be playing in a window. Try reinstalling VLC (sudo apt-get install –reinstall vlc), and make sure you have done a sudo apt-get update first.

Jumbo Shrimp avatar

Thanks for the input!

Amongst my friends, I’m known for breaking things, so this might be a break to discuss. I have attempted to compile vlc with hardware acceleration (interesting side note, a friend sent me a link to this article as I was attempting that again). I think the break on my end is due to not having the proper perquisites installed. The only video output mode listed that also works is “MMAL-based vout plugin for Raspberry Pi”. One of the problems I was having following tutorials was the proper output was not listed.

Am I missing a package that’s needed to get windowed output to work and if so which one?

6by9 avatar

You should have VLC version 3.0.3, and an output option of “MMAL x11 splitter for Raspberry Pi”.
The “MMAL-based vout plugin for Raspberry Pi” output mode is the older plugin which does only support full screen mode with no overlays.

KenT avatar

Hi Simon
Finally decided to ditch Windows on my old machine in favour of Raspbian which is the best Linux desktop by far.

Am having a problem with the x86 image. The pointer initially shows but disappears just after the task bar is drawn, never to be seen again. The mouse continues to work as buttons etc. change when moused over.

The previous x86 image works fine.

Simon Long avatar

I’m not aware of anything we changed in this image that would have affected the mouse pointer, and I didn’t see the problem you mention when testing the x86 image before release. I’d suggest downloading a clean copy of the x86 image and reflashing it to see if the problem goes away. I’ll try the x86 image on a couple more machines next week and see if I can repeat the issue you are seeing.

MW avatar

x86 Debian Stretch with Raspberry Pi Desktop (not Raspbian Stretch) fresh install of the 13th November release works perfectly, even after the software updates available.

x86-64 Kernel / 32bit Userland

KenT avatar

Did you Install it or Run it, I am Running it with and without persistance. Have checked SHA-256 and flashed with Etcher and Rufus but still have the problem of the pointer disappearing. Machine is a Samsung N140

MW avatar

I always use Etcher in Windows 10 Professional x86-64 OS, I downloaded the .ISO via torrent, though did not undertake a SHA checksum.

MW avatar

I initially ran from a LiveDVD to ensure it was AOK.

Now running from a 16GB Class10 SD Card in a USB Card Reader.

Isaiah avatar

The VLC Media player is great thanks.

Silvio avatar

SD size requirement is the same for Raspbian “minimal” (not lite) and “full”?

Simon Long avatar

You can almost certainly get away with a smaller card for the minimal install. The full install requires at least an 8GB and preferably a 16GB card; I’ve not tried it, but I suspect the minimal install will work on a 4GB card.

Bill Stevenson avatar

Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into helping people who do not have access to the internet all the time. In fact, a lot of thought and effort about everything. Excellent!

Brendan avatar

Congrats on making this amazing os even better and I like the changes you have made in order to allow Vic to work more effectively on the pi. Can’t wait to see what future updates will be made though I do hope that one day you will allow the wifi to connect to enterprise wifi connections as I have always wanted to bring my pi to uni.

hampers avatar

This looks good.
Will it be OK on a Raspberry PI A+ ??

Simon Long avatar

If you mean the new 3A+, yes, it will work fine on there. It’s been tested on a Zero and runs fine on that, albeit a bit slowly and with some limitations on the video resolutions at which VLC will work.

beta-tester avatar

the basic image is very welcome.
now i don’t have to purge all the unneeded packages from the full image anymore or install a desktop to the lite image… thank you very much!

the issues with the desktop i could fix by hand.
(broken auto login and broken autostart)

Wire Paladin avatar

I suggest putting the size for each download file on https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/

PeterF avatar

Simon – Thanks for the hard work and the new slimmer version. Like many others I sometimes want a “desktop” version without some of the larger packages, so this will certainly make life a lot simpler.

I download my images from the download site (at https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/). Here I’ve noticed a slight inconsistency with this release. The directory named “raspbian” has, until now (release raspbian-2018-10-11), had the _full_ raspbian images within. With this release, the full raspbian image has been stored in a new branch called “raspbian_full”. The raspbian image with just the desktop software is now stored under the directory called “raspbian”. To make the archive consistent, would it not be better to keep the full raspbian image (described as “Raspbian Stretch with desktop and recommended software”) in the “raspbian” directory tree, and create a new tree for the slimmer desktop-only image – perhaps called something like “raspbian-base” (or “raspbian-desktop”)?

However, I can see that the directory called raspbian_full is a useful descriptive name, so one could create a soft link from raspbian_full to raspbian, or even change the name of raspbian to raspbian_full, but make sure there is a similar descriptive name for the slimmer desktop-only range to avoid confusion with the current “raspbian” directory.

Just a thought…


Filip Š avatar

Can you make some upgrade that will automatically install (or remove) new programs (like vlc in current upgrade)?

Simon Long avatar

It’s something we have recently started considering for a future update, so yes, it’s likely we will produce something along those lines at some point.

Harry Hardjono avatar

All these talks about what works for Pi and what not, shows that you do a lot of testings to make user experience seamless. So thank you very much for that!

Love the new minimal build and user custom options. I always think that you should split large downloads into manageable pieces, but for some reason no one does that. We have _split_ and _join_ in Linux, so why not make use of them?

I know you did C programming book a while back. Would C desktop programming book a worthwhile project? I know the Foundation prioritize Python and Physical Computing, but I’m all about computer games and apps, and other than SDL 2, I’m clueless about graphical desktop programming.

Harry Hardjono avatar

Any advice on how to do video capture of desktop screen? I don’t see any background video capture program on the video above. Also, any recommendation for a good easy to use video editor so I can upload Raspi sessions to YouTube? I’m itching to put the new computing power of Raspi 3B+ to good use. Thanks.

John Davies avatar

I believe that the recent addition of an enhanced VLC
to Rasbian will do this (sudo apt-get install vlc). I cannot say how it can be done but Google and Youtube should provide a solution. I am only just beginning to use VLC but I am fairly sure I have seen this facility mentioned on a Youtube video.

Romney Yeoman Walker avatar


Many thanks for finding the cause of this problem so quickly – and over the weekend too! No apology is needed. I think it’s pretty amazing that the apt process works as well as it does – considering there’s something over 19,000 files installed in Raspbian (I believe). I guess I’m doing something a little different to many Pi users and you can’t possibly be expected to test every customisation which the millions of us users could dream up. That’s why I believe it’s important to feed information back to you so that problems can be identified and fixed.

Good news! The mystery of the black desktop is resolved!

Connecting a monitor to the HDMI port confirmed that the Pi was booting to a black desktop. I believe there is nothing wrong with VNC, which was correctly displaying the (lack of) desktop on the Pi.

After some thought, I recalled that I had started to go through my oldconffiles, looking for things which need to be restored. Having read your original blog post about /etc/xdg, I compared the global lxsession/LXDE-pi/autostart with my custom “local” autostart and found they were almost identical.

I had restored a copy of my autostart to the local ~/.config/lxsession/LXDE-pi/ and then removed the duplicated lines. From other comments and replies above, I now understand that the local autostart completely replaces the global file, which is only read if no local file is present. So I’ve copied my original autostart in full and all now seems to be fine. The black desktop was probably the result of me failing to start pcmanfm, in the mistaken belief that the global autostart was already doing that for me….!!

I have also removed the @ from the @point-rpi line in my local autostart in accordance with your earlier response on this subject.

Considering that you’ve identified a solution to the problem earlier than I imagined you would be able to respond to my original report, I am more than happy to wait the necessary extra time required for further testing and publication of the update to the repositories. Many thanks indeed for your help!!

Simon Long avatar

OK, I think the autologin problem is fixed – if you do a sudo apt-get update / sudo apt-get dist-upgrade now, you should get the fixed versions of the relevant packages, and your autologin user should stay as you had it rather than reverting to “pi”. Do shout if that isn’t the case, though!

With regards the autostart, yes – if the local file exists, the global file is completely ignored. This seems a bit non-intuitive, but is because otherwise you couldn’t use the local file to remove entries from the global file.

After feedback over the weekend, I have now slightly modified the behaviour of the autostart changes; the local file is now only deleted if it is identical to the current global version. This is still not an ideal solution, as it means that anyone who hasn’t updated recently enough to get the last change we made to the global version will never get any future updates, as their local file will already be different from the latest global version. Issues like this are a real headache, as there is no good solution which will work for everyone, and anything you do will make someone unhappy!

Many thanks for all the feedback – it’s been very helpful – and thanks for being so understanding and bearing with me through the glitches.

Romney Yeoman Walker avatar

Many thanks for the update, and I’m sorry that it’s taken me a while to report back. I have now upgraded all my Pi’s and I’m happy to report that they have all upgraded successfully, and that my custom admin account is now preserved during the upgrade process. I’ve tried the upgrade in various ways (SSH, a terminal window via VNC, VNC/terminal from another Pi via SSH, etc) and I’ve typed update & dist-upgrade manually at the CLI, as well as running my custom apt-based script. All is well!

I have seen a few passing error/warning messages, but I’m fairly certain that they are all related to the way I’m running the upgrade (either your pop-up warning about configuration change or the fancy progress bar in apt not able to function correctly via an SSH login perhaps) and not directly related to the upgrade itself. I’ve kept transcripts of the upgrades which I will check carefully (sometime!!) and let you know if there’s anything unusual – but I’m fairly sure there’s nothing to worry about…..

Thank you for all your hard work, on this problem particularly, and also in general for keeping Raspbian up-to-date. I’ve been a database programmer myself, so I appreciate how difficult it can be to spot bugs before they start to bite – users are probably the most thorough software testers available (!!! ?)

Thanks too for the desktop version of Raspbian (yes I know that’s not quite the correct description, but….) Sometime soon, I’m going to install it one one of my older PCs. Based on my experience with Raspberry Pi’s, I’m slowly converting a lot of my world from Windows to Raspbian…

Thanks again, Romney

Filip K. avatar

Congrats and thanks for this and every release.

I do have a question tough:
What is the status of php 7.2 or 7.3?

KenT avatar

Hi Simon
Found that a fresh install of the base Pi image does not have lxterminal set as the file manager terminal.

Simon Long avatar

Hmmm – are you sure? I’ve just checked on a clean image, and Tools->Open Current Folder In Terminal opens lxterminal as it should. Is that what you mean, or am I looking at the wrong thing?

In the Preferences dialog for the file manager (under the Edit menu), on the Advanced tab, there should be an entry for Terminal emulator – this should be set to “x-terminal-emulator %s”, which then uses the X alternatives system to map to lxterminal.

KenT avatar

You were looking at the right thing. I tried another clean install and repeating the configuration steps I do but this time all was OK. Sorry about that, seems I am not doing well reporting bugs :-(

Simon Long avatar

No problem! Just glad it’s working for you.

Mark avatar

Just a note, this release does not include Python 3.7, it is still Python 3.5.

The release states that new Thonny is included and the supplied link to their site reads “Thonny comes with Python 3.7 built in” but this is apparently not the case for Thonny on Raspbian.

It may save some people some time to know this.

Arthur NIO avatar

After updating, the following error was displayed:
** (zenity:1390): WARNING **: Error retrieving accessibility bus address: org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.ServiceUnknown: The name org.a11y.Bus was not provided by any .service files
Gtk-Message: GtkDialog mapped without a transient parent. This is discouraged.
However, I have not noticed any issues after re-boot

Simon Long avatar

That message is nothing to worry about – it’s from a bug in the Zenity application used to put the warning dialog on the screen.

Pearl.852 avatar

Hi Simon,

Thanks for making this latest update. Especially love the new hardware-accelerated version of VLC.

Here I have found a strange behavior where the vlc windows will relocate itself every time the program starts. It moves up vertically by the amount of the Windows Title Bar height and moves to the left horizontally by 1 pixel.

Pearl.852 avatar

Hi Simon,

Could you comment on this stranger behavior of vlc please?

Simon Long avatar

To be honest, VLC integration is at such an early stage – we literally only got hardware decode working reliably within the last few weeks – that minor glitches like that are not something we have even considered; that said, I didn’t notice what you describe happening in our own testing. It doesn’t sound as if it affects performance, and it is unlikely to be anything to do with our customisations, so it may be a bug in this particular version of VLC which will go away of its own volition when we upgrade.

Milliways avatar

I installed the new image, and it seems good, and fits on an 8GiB card, even with my additions.

There still seems a lot of un-necessary stuff. Who needs python code for 32 HATs – no one could possible connect a small fraction of these. (These were some of the things I removed on older Raspbian to get a small enough image for 8GiB card.

Mark Routledge avatar

Thank you very much for the update. I hope your update list keep getting shorter. Seems like a very difficult task. Running multiple Pis that do everything from Servers, controlling 3D printers, hooking up to company PCs via Citrix and a virtual gaming PC via Parsec. This really is the little board that can. (My daughter) and my main Desktop is a Pi! Only ever broken 2 Pis, an that was as I broke the memory card holder. I’m hoping a Pi4 at some point with 4K, 4xUSB 3s! I can dream.

But seriously. Just thanks.

VLC plays ok, but still seems to struggle. CLI MPV and SMTube still the best option for Youtube streaming!

Ian M avatar

I’m using a 3.5″ Raspi HD-TFT screen on a 3B. When VLC is playing a video only a little more than the left half of the video frame shows. The only way I’ve found to get the full image of the video to show is to add gpu_mem=16 to /boot/config.txt. No other value works (and 32 results in just the VLC road cone showing). Sadly, doing this workaround means some videos don’t play smoothly.

When I set the screen orientation to portrait it was able to show the full image, but it was quite small, being across the width of the screen.

Ian M avatar

Setting gpu_mem=16 also makes the CPU much warmer, apparently causing thermal throttling. I guess it turns off hardware acceleration.

Steve avatar

Something I’d really like to see: a step-by-step recipe for transforming Raspbian Lite into the full desktop version…and ideally, one for going the other way as well. It would have some practical value, as I have encountered situations where I’ve had a fairly complicated install on Raspbian Lite that eventually needed facilities from the desktop version. And it would be supremely instructional for non-experts like myself to see explicitly what needs to be done to transform the lite into the desktop.

Simon Long avatar

We really don’t advise attempting to transform Raspbian Lite into the desktop version, or vice-versa. Either you want a desktop, or you don’t, and we strongly recommend making that decision before you start! There are just too many components which need to be added to convert the command-line environment into the desktop, and it’s no easier trying to work out how to make sure to remove all the desktop bits to go the other way. There may be third party advice on how to do this, but because it’s not something we advise, we won’t be producing a guide for how to do it – apologies.

MOB avatar

I normally run Raspberry Pi 3 with most updated Raspbian and “G1 GL (Full KMS) OpenGL desktop driver with full KMS” so I can run Blender. When I started vlc /opt/vc/src/hello_pi/hello_video/test.h264 it hung and I could not kill vlc using any means and had to reboot, but reboot hung, so I had to pull the plug.

I had to switch to “G3 Legacy Original non-GL desktop driver” and reboot. Then vlc /opt/vc/src/hello_pi/hello_video/test.h264 worked.

Simon Long avatar

Yes, as you’ve discovered, VLC won’t work with the full KMS driver – apologies for not mentioning that in the post.

Ric Watson avatar

Hi Simon,
Thanks for the update. Improvements as usual :). But, since I’ve updated my system, the application code I compile using CodeBlocks no longer runs on pre-update systems, of which we have dozens in the field. In addition, after installing the updated application, the pre-update systems no longer boot to desktop. I’m trying to work out which package update has broken things. Ric

Ric Watson avatar

To my surprise the culprit is libmariadbclient18.

Simon Long avatar

In that case, I’m going to plead “not guilty” – that package comes straight from Debian, and we don’t touch it ourselves…

Akito avatar

Still waiting for optional aarch64 kernel + armv7 system..

Simon Long avatar

…which won’t run on a Pi Zero or Pi 1. Backward compatibility is more important to us than the small performance gains from running 64 bit code.

Mark avatar

The newest image broke hifiberry DAC Plus, I tried fresh img install. I updated an earlier image from May and and hifiberry was working before the update and it works after. The image I upgraded I can’t get vlc to work. Probably at one time I tried to install vlc not knowing it wouldn’t work. Would like to have both work at the same time if possible. :( I will try to install clean with an image from may, get hifiberry working then do the upgrade then install vlc and see if that will work. That is the long way around to it but I don’t see any other way since new img doesn’t work with hifiberry.

Mark avatar

hifiberry on new img files does not work

mitu avatar

I found a problem with the new VLC version – what is the proper channel to report it ?

Liz Upton avatar

Please go to the Troubleshooting forum (link at top of page).

Afz avatar

This update has sadly broken my Pi’s wlan and rfkill :(

Ben avatar

Have you hidden Python Games somewhere else? ;)

Simon Long avatar

It’s now an optional install in Recommended Software. The files themselves now live in /usr/share/python_games rather than /home/pi/python_games – this is in keeping with the location used for examples for Scratch and other languages.

Bruce Orr avatar

Hi Simon, I REALLY want VLC to work, but I am having problems, any chance you could get one of your guys to have a look at this Forum thread ….
… and give me an idea of what to try next.

Comments are closed