TIL Raspberry Pi OS (And Debian) Versions Are Named After Toy Story Characters

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Zach Zach (248)

I'm slightly embarassed

I've been writing about the Raspberry Pi for years. Embarrassingly enough, I never noticed that versions of Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian) (and thus Debian) are named after characters from Disney Pixar's Toy Story movie franchise. This was pointed out to me yesterday by howchooer Ash (thanks Ash!)

Raspberry Pi OS is Debian Linux

Raspberry Pi OS, the official Raspberry Pi operating system, is based on the Debian Linux distribution. In order to give Raspberry Pi OS that look and feel we all love, a thin application and presentation layer is placed on top of Debian, alongside a set of preinstalled packages, allowing you to easily do things like add a power button to your Raspberry Pi.

By using Debian as a basis for Raspberry Pi OS, the developers at the Raspberry Pi Foundation didn't need to build an entirely new flavor of Linux, which would add to the already available 630+ Linux distributions.

Origins of the naming scheme

Therefore, it was actually the Debian developers who came up with this naming scheme starting with Debian Buzz, the first Debian version to receive a codename, in 1996. Naturally, the first Raspberry Pi was released in 2012—a full 16 years later—when Raspbian inherited its first name, Wheezy.

Bruce Perens was the Project Leader for Debian 1.1 and also worked for Pixar at the time.

According to the Debian Wiki, Bruce Perens was the Project Leader for Debian 1.1 and also worked for Pixar at the time. He was the one who started the tradition of naming Debian releases after Toy Story characters.

With the recent release of Toy Story 4 coinciding with the release of the much-heralded Raspberry Pi 4 and Raspbian Buster, I thought it would be fun to briefly cover the various Raspbian versions and the characters who defined them.

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Raspbian Buster Toy Story character comparison
Buster is Andy's living dog and the latest version of Raspbian.
  • First film: Toy Story (1995)
  • Raspbian release date: June 24, 2019
  • Based on: Debian 10 Buster

Raspbian Buster was named for Andy's living dog, which he received at the end of the first Toy Story movie. He remains one of the few non-toy characters who knows toys can come to life. He returns as a fully-grown dog in Toy Story 2 and reappears as a senior pup in Toy Story 3.

Raspbian Buster

To coincide with the release of the Raspberry Pi 4, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released Raspbian Buster. Buster takes numerous design notes from Windows 10 and macOS, drastically improving the user interface.

Raspbian Stretch Toy Story character comparison
  • First film: Toy Story 3 (2010)
  • Raspbian release date: August 17, 2017
  • Based on: Debian 9 Stretch

Raspbian Stretch was named for Stretch, one of the (former) antagonists of the series who first appeared in Toy Story 3. She's a glittery purple rubber octopus who eventually lets Woody and the gang escape after Lotso is pushed into a dumpster by Big Baby.

Raspbian Stretch

Released in 2017, Raspbian Stretch added native support for bluetooth audio, fixed the Broadpwn exploit, and added other various improvements.

Raspbian Stretch Toy Story character comparison
  • First film: Toy Story 2 (1999)
  • Raspbian release date: September 28, 2015
  • Based on: Debian 8 Jessie

Voiced by Joan Cusack, Jessie first appeared in Toy Story 2 as a friendly, excitable cowgirl doll. She is the only "Rasbian" Toy Story character who's continued as a major main character in the series.

Raspbian Jessie

In addition to slight visual tweaks, Raspbian Jessie added the LibreOffice suite, giving you access to a wide range of office and desktop publishing tools. It was also the first version to boot directly into the desktop GUI rather than the CLI, cementing Raspbian's stance as approachable to new users.

Raspbian Wheezy Toy Story character comparison
Wheezy is obviously Tux, the Linux Penguin, masquerading in a red bowtie.
  • First film: Toy Story 2 (1999)
  • Raspbian release date: September 27, 2013
  • Based on: Debian 7 Wheezy

Wheezy is my favorite character on this list because of his striking resemblence to the official Linux mascot, Tux the penguin. In the second Toy Story film, Wheezy first appeared as a singing penguin who was once one of Andy's favorite toys until his squeaker broke. He was then left abandoned on a shelf where his squeakerlessness meant he couldn't be heard or rescued.

Raspbian Wheezy

Raspbian Wheezy was the first official Raspbian version released. Although it's long been deprecated, you can still find a copy for download on the Raspbian archive directory. It remains to be seen whether it will run on the latest Raspberry Pi 4 architecture, though I'm not sure why you'd want to. ;)

The entire Toy Story cast in one photo

Of course, Wheezy was the first official version of Raspbian. However, several other characters made appearances on the Debian side of things:

  • Debian 6 Squeeze (2011)
  • Debian 5 Lenny (2009)
  • Debian 4 Etch (2007)
  • Debian 3 Woody (2005)
  • Debian 2.2 Potato (2000)
  • Debian 2.1 Slink (1999)
  • Debian 2 Hamm (1998)
  • Debian 1.3 Bo (1997)
  • Debian 1.2 Rex (1996)
  • Debian 1.1 Buzz (1996)
  • Prior to Debian 1: No codenames

To learn more, check out the Debian release history page.

John John (304)
15 minutes

Important: Raspbian has been replaced by Raspberry Pi OS! Raspbian is a free Debian-based operating system optimized for Raspberry Pi hardware. "Buster" is development code name for Debian 10.