Latest Raspberry Pi OS Release Brings Improved Camera and Networking Support

Raspberry Pi systems can bask in that new operating system glow today, with the launch of the latest edition of the tiny computer’s Debian-based OS. This release features many smaller tweaks, but the headline features seem to be an improved Python camera interface, and a simplified ability to easily make a Raspberry Pi into a wireless access point.

Behind the scenes, this means Pi OS has moved from using the easily edited but slightly obscure dhcphd file to manage networking to the NetworkManager application already used by other Linux distributions. It’s not the default yet, dhcphd is still there, but it will become so in future releases so we’d better get used to it. 

NetworkManager makes it easier to connect to Wi-Fi networks with hidden SSIDs, and smooths the process of dealing with VPNs. Some may find the ability granted by the app to configure your Pi as a wireless access point interesting too. It’s being considered a beta feature for now, and must be switched to using the raspi-config tool.

Elsewhere, the new Picamera2 Python library takes over from the original PiCamera (a community developed project which grew from a personal project) as the “Pythonic” means to interface a camera with your Pi. It is claimed to be easier to use, but differs from the older software. The libcamera library, which offers a command line interface via the terminal is still available for those not ready to PiCamera2.

Keyboard shortcuts, though not particularly exciting, can speed the use of a computer, and they’ve come under the microscope in this release. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi menus can now be accessed without using the mouse, and there are new audio input controls too – right-clicking the new mic icon in the taskbar gives you a level control, and you can switch between input devices too.

The new OS release is detailed in a blog post at the Raspberry Pi site, and can be obtained the usual way by downloading it from the appropriate page, or using the Raspberry Pi Imager tool.