After you get your Raspberry Pi, you need to install an Operative System and this is where you start making decisions!
As far as I’ve checked, if your goal is a media center, you have 3 major distributions: XBian, OpenELEC, and Raspbmc.
I haven’t really tested all distributions but from all the forums and comparisons that I’ve read online, XBian may be the best solution in terms of installation complexity, running velocity and customization flexibility. OpenELEC is a really close second and have the advantage of having a big active community.
This is a custom Linux distro with XBMC installed so its small on your SD card (about 100MB) and fast!
You have everything you need already installed (e.g. Samba) and the community is huge.
The installation complexity is almost dummy proof and really flexible in terms of customization.
I moved to OpenELEC because of the active community size and how fast they make new updates.
This is the OS that I will cover on the next posts (unless stated otherwise).
Like OpenELEC, this is a custom Linux distro with XBMC installed. Xbian is build on top of RaspBian, the main OS for Raspberry (the one most people use when it is not meant to be used only as a media center).
You have everything you need already installed (e.g. Samba) and because Xbian does a little overclock to your Raspberry CPU, it’s a little faster!
I had this OS for a long time but it took too long to update to XBMC 13 Gotham so I tried OpenELEC… and stayed with it.
I’ve been following Xbian and sadly it seams to be slowly dying.
This is pretty much a full Linux installation(about 200MB) so you have every possible service installed right of the bat.
The down side is that it makes your Pi a little slower and it takes more space from your SD card when compared with a custom Linux distro.
The community seems to be small but effective. The updates are current.
There is also:
This is the main OS for Raspberry Pi. Does not have XBMC installed so you have to install it yourself.
This makes it slower, takes more SD card space and makes it a not so user frendly process.