Today, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced an end of year update to its 32-bit Raspberry Pi OS, formerly Raspbian. This update sees improvements to Chromium, PulseAudio becoming the default audio server, and printing is made much easier. The update also provides configuration options for the Raspberry Pi 400 and the new Raspberry Pi 4 Case Fan.
Starting with improvements to the Chromium web browser (now version 84), thanks to the Raspberry Pi team's work, we finally see hardware-accelerated video playback for YouTube videos and streaming media services. The team also improved video conferencing clients such as Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams, a welcome addition given the world that we now live in. The final note for Chromium is that version 84 of the browser will be the last to come with Adobe Flash Player. Adobe will retire the player at the end of 2020.
The PulseAudio audio server replaces the long-standing ALSA server. With PulseAudio, we see the ability to play audio from multiple sources at once and native support for Bluetooth audio (unlike ALSA, which uses a third party bluez-alsa package to achieve this).
Simon Long, Senior Principal Software Engineer, explains that the transition to PulseAudio should be seamless for the end user, "The good news for Raspberry Pi users is that, if we’ve got it right, you shouldn’t even notice the change. PulseAudio now runs by default, and while the volume control and audio input/output selector on the taskbar looks almost identical to the one in previous releases of the OS, it is now controlling PulseAudio rather than ALSA. You can use it just as before: select your output and input devices, adjust the volume, and you’re good to go."
Printing in Linux is handled via CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System. With this latest update, we see CUPS pre-installed along with a printer config GUI tool to configure your printer over USB or a network connection easily.
Raspberry Pi 400 and Raspberry Pi 4 Case Fan Updates
The Raspberry Pi 400 was quite a surprise, and we loved the new form factor, but one issue that it shares with the Raspberry Pi Zero range of boards is a single status LED to show power and "drive" activity. With the latest Raspberry Pi OS update, we see an option in the Raspberry Pi Configuration tool that allows users to choose between a simple power LED or to have the LED show drive activity.
A further update to the Raspberry Pi Configuration tool also sees an extra option in Performance for the new Raspberry Pi 4 Case Fan. With this option, we can set the temperature at which the fan is triggered and set the GPIO pin used to control the fan.
The latest version of Raspberry Pi OS can be downloaded directly from the Raspberry Pi website. If you have the Raspberry Pi Imager tool, you already have the update ready to download and flash to a micro SD card. If you would like to update an existing install, there are full instructions on the Raspberry Pi website.