The creators of the Raspberry Pi credit card-sized computer have added a new version of the Linux operating system to the official list of software it can run.

Raspbian Logo

The Raspbian OS is a free operating system based on Debian Linux software that is used to run larger computers.

A smaller version of Debian known as 'squeeze' had been used to run Raspberry Pis but the dedicated Raspbian OS has been in development since March 2012 and is now available for download.

Raspbian provides more than just the operating system and comes with over 35,000 pieces of user software ready to use on a Raspberry Pi.

"We are pleased to announce the release of our first SD card image based on the Raspbian distribution. This is the result of an enormous amount of hard work by Alex and Dom over the past couple of months, and replaces the existing Debian squeeze image as our recommended install," Eban Upton said on the official Raspberry Pi blog.

He pointed out that the Raspbian OS was the first software to take full advantage of the Raspberry Pi's floating point hardware, which would - among other things - allow much faster web browsing.

"Users who are still using Debian squeeze will definitely want to switch to this, as it contains numerous tweaks and performance improvements to the firmware, kernel and applications," Upton said. "Those who are using the recent Debian wheezy beta will also see a very worthwhile, but somewhat smaller, improvement."

Upton thanked Mike Thompson and Peter Green from the Raspbian project, Simon Hall for his work optimising the ARMv6 chip, as well as Edgar Hucek, whose accelerated media player is preinstalled with Raspbian and Sergio Conde for his work on packaging it for distribution.

New users can learn about how to install Linux on their Raspberry Pi by visiting the 'Absolute Beginners' forum.