The intrepid Martin Wimpress, Director of Engineering for Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical last night announced via his live stream, the release of pre-made Ubuntu MATE 20.04 images for the Raspberry Pi 2, 3 and 4.
Until now the best approach for running Ubuntu on the Raspberry Pi was to download a server image and use the Desktopify tool, also from Martin Wimpress, to configure the desktop environment of your choice. Using Desktopify is still a vialble option if you would like to choose between Ubuntu, Kubuntu (KDE), Lubuntu (LXDE), MATE and other window managers.
These Ubuntu MATE beta 1 images are available as armhf (ARMv7 32-bit) and arm64 (ARMv8 64-bit) and provide a familiar Ubuntu desktop experience for the Raspberry Pi. In Martin’s video he explains the full details of this release, including a few issues with WiFi connectivity which will be smoothed out in a future update.
With this latest release the Ubuntu kernel has been performance optimized providing a slick desktop experience, and hardware accelerated 2D and 3D video is provided out of the box, including 1080P 30fps YouTube video playback. Ethernet and WiFi work, but as Martin identifies in the video, there is a bug with WiFi so until that is fixed Ethernet would be the best option. Bluetooth and audio / video via composite and HDMI is available too.
The GPIO can be used with Python via GPIO Zero and Wiring Pi so projects written in Python using these modules are now possible with Ubuntu MATE.
The Ubuntu MATE beta images are available from the Ubuntu MATE website.
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Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".