Optimizing Raspbian installation

Just recently I got a Raspberry Pi 2 board to play with. I am really impressed with the speed of the little bugger. On the old one just watching apt-get update taking minutes was painful to watch and got really old soon. On the Pi 2 it takes only a few seconds.

This made me try out the graphical desktop LXDE which is installed by default again and I was pleasantly surprised of how smooth it all works compared to the old Pi.

Here are some steps I usually carry out to optimize a new Raspberry Pi installation.

Remove some baggage

By default a Raspbian install has some packages that I don't use but consume quite a lot of disk space:

  • Wolfram engine/Mathematica: some sponsored thinghy from Wolfram Alpha, saves 460MB if removed. Furthermore it is huge proprietary blob, an open source alternative like Octave would have been more at place on a platform like this.
  • Sonic Pi: if you are into music you might want to keep it, saves 60MB if removed.
  • Minecraft-pi: can't be bothered, saves 4MB.
  • Scratch: nope, save 67MB.

With the above 4 you can already save almost 600MB. If you only have a small SD-card it can help a lot.

Further removal

If a graphical environment is not needed then lxde, the graphical environment can be removed as well, but purging lxde and lxsession only free up about 5MB which may not be worth the hassle.

One could attempt to get rid of the graphic server Xorg itself and all its associated libraries, but many cli programs and libraries still depend on Xorg directly or indirectly so that seems to be a hassle only when you are really tight on space.


It seems that by default the monitor settings are a bit conservative so if you connect a full HD monitor to you Pi it will use a resolution of 1824x984. We can do beter than that!

Really HD capable?

To check if you monitor is really capable of HD and your Pi is using the best of it do the following:

/opt/vc/bin/tvservice -s

Should give you output like this:

state 0x12001a [HDMI CEA (16) RGB lim 16:9], 1920x1080 @ 60.00Hz, progressive

Here it states that the monitor is capable of 1920x1080 so then let's use it.

Open /boot/config.txt in nano or any other text editor and uncomment the line that reads: disable_overscan=1.

Reboot and now your Pi should use full HD resolution.

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