First Look at Ubuntu 23.10 on Raspberry Pi 5

Ubuntu Raspberry Pi 5

My Raspberry Pi 5 finally arrived yesterday, so the first thing I did after I set it up was to try various GNU/Linux distributions, ending up with Canonical’s latest Ubuntu 23.10 (Mantic Minotaur) release. Expect this to be a review of both software and hardware.

Why Ubuntu 23.10? Because it would be redundant to write about the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s own Raspberry Pi OS on the Raspberry Pi computer, and because, right now, Ubuntu 23.10 is the only GNU/Linux distribution that offers official support for the Raspberry Pi 5 model.

I initially wanted to make a versus article (e.g. Fedora Linux vs Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi 5), but Fedora Linux 39 doesn’t appear to work on Raspberry Pi 5 as it’s not officially supported, and that’s a shame. Hopefully, next year’s Fedora Linux 40 will offer official support for Raspberry Pi 5 computers.

Until then, we have Ubuntu 23.10 to play with on the Raspberry Pi 5, and it is quite nice. I really like the speed of Raspberry Pi 5 compared to Raspberry Pi 4, but don’t expect it to replace your laptop or desktop computer anytime soon.

Ubuntu 23.10 boots directly to the desktop in like 4-5 seconds. The GNOME 45 desktop looks and acts great, as expected, however, it doesn’t do a good job of detecting the Raspberry Pi hardware. Only the RAM and graphics are shown in the System Details pop-up in the GNOME Control Center.

You have access to most of the apps you will probably need for your daily home office tasks, but the eternal issue with accessing DRM-protected content is still there, and that’s a downright shame.

Ubuntu 23.10 comes with Snap versions of both Mozilla Firefox and Chromium web browsers, but they’re not patched against Widevine, Google’s content protection system. There’s no way to enable DRM playback and I don’t understand why this is an issue in 2023, especially since Raspberry Pi OS comes with DRM support out of the box.

Even if you install Firefox as a DEB package or download Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Chromium DEB builds with Widevine, you still won’t be able to play DRM-protected content from Spotify, Netflix, Prime Video, etc. Therefore, YouTube will probably be your only option for watching videos and playing music.

The lack of playback of any DRM-locked content may be a dealbreaker for many of you as well if want to use Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi, so, for now, you will have to stick with the Raspberry Pi OS for that. On top of that, it looks like Raspberry Pi 5 is not capable of playing 4K content from YouTube, but QHD (1440p) content is watchable.

Playing QHD YouTube on Chromium

However, watching QHD content on a web browser and doing other things in another web browser, and also editing images on GIMP, will make the entire Raspberry Pi 5 experience quite sluggish.

I like Raspberry Pi 5’s new active cooler because it makes the entire computing experience very quiet due to the combination of an aluminum heatsink and a temperature-controlled blower fan. Overall, it looks like Canonical did a pretty good job optimizing its Debian-based operating system for the new Raspberry Pi.

Running Firefox, Chromium, and Nautilus at the same time.

For those that aren’t aware yet, Raspberry Pi 5 doesn’t come with a 3.5mm audio jack, which was present on all previous Raspberry Pi models. That’s an annoyance for me because I can no longer connect my stereo speakers and I have to rely only on a Bluetooth speaker from now on.

I should mention the fact that I am running Ubuntu 23.10 on the Raspberry Pi 5 computer from an SSD drive in a USB-C enclosure connected to one of the USB 3.0 ports. There’s currently an issue if you change the boot order to USB boot first as Wi-Fi will no longer be available on the Raspberry Pi 5.

Until a firmware update solves this nasty issue, the only solution is to leave the boot order as it is from the factory or switch back to SD card boot first if you already changed it to USB boot first.

All in all, I am impressed with the Raspberry Pi 5, and with Ubuntu 23.10 on the Raspberry Pi 5, which delivers a nice computing experience for a small home office without any big expectations, but then again Raspberry Pi 4 was already capable of doing that. Luckily, the Raspberry Pi 5 is not that expensive.

Personally, I’m waiting for the official M.2 HAT for Raspberry Pi 5 to attach an NVMe SSD for a tidier setup of my Raspberry Pi-powered office and, hopefully, for a more streamlined experience, because let’s be honest here for a moment, SD cards are a thing of the past and I don’t think Raspberry Pi Foundation expects us to run a full-fledged distro on the powerful Raspberry Pi 5 from a microSD card.

Last updated 5 months ago

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