Raspbian from Raspberry Pi Gets New Features: File Manager, Thonny Python IDE Updates

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released a new version of its Raspbian operating system, bringing improvements to the file manager, the Orca screen reader for the visually impaired, and a new way to configure preferences for audio devices.

The last time Raspbian got a major release was Raspbian Buster, released with the new Raspberry Pi 4. Since then everything has been fixed. However, according to Simon Long, senior software engineer at the Foundation, the new Raspbian update is worth pointing out to Pi enthusiasts.

In previous updates, the Raspberry Pi Desktop’s built-in PCmanFM file manager got a paired default mode that removed infrequently used functions.

One of the removed features included the Places view, as the Directory Browser was more useful. The Raspberry Pi Foundation decided to bring back Places because it also very easily displays external devices, such as USB sticks.

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The new version features a small panel at the top of the Directory Browser designed to give users easy access to USB drives and directory view.

This release of Raspbian brings desktop accessibility improvements in the form of Orca screen reader support. The tool uses speech, reads menus, window titles and button labels. Even though it is a Linux application, visually impaired people have discovered that it does not work with Raspbian.

“After a lot of guts and puzzles, Orca is now performing as expected. It will read a lot of preinstalled applications and should work with a lot of other Linux software as well,” Long said.

There are also updates for the Scratch programming tool and the Thonny Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Long promises that the new version of Thonny is “noticeably faster”.

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The new version of Raspbian removes audio device preferences from the main menu, with all volume and mixer controls now in the taskbar volume plug-in.

Raspbian is also now a bit more like Windows. Ctrl-Alt-Del on Raspbian historically launched the task manager. But now just like Windows, Ctrl-Alt-Del launches the shutdown dialog.

Long says that Raspbian has “since the dawn of time” aimed at being more consistent with Windows. The new shortcut to access the task manager is Ctrl-Shift-Escape.

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The Places view has been restored and is no longer a separate switchable view but now a small panel at the top of the directory browser.

Image: Raspberry Pi Foundation

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    Donald E. Hollingsworth

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