Alternative OS

Are any other Linux OS working well on the Jetson Nano? Is the hardware locked into using the Jetson Nano Developer Kit SD Card OS? Hoping to find a good OS like Mint that works on the A57v8. Thanks in advance.


Hi energyi, some users from the community have ported alternate Linux distributions to the Nano. Please see these related threads:

Thanks for the mesage dusty_nv. Those links tell me that the answer so far to my question is “no”, there aren’t suitable other OS at this time. Armbian was ported, but …“any upgrade (a simple sudo apt-get update) breaks the distribution.”


Over time you should see the quirks ironed out and 3rd-party support for other distro’s improve - it is still early days with that for Nano. We are in the process of pushing the kernel patches for Nano upstream so hopefully that will make it easier in the future. The hardware isn’t physically locked to the official SD card image, that is a reference implementation.

Since you have Docker on Nano, it’s may be easier to just pull images of other distros and run your app that requires the other distro in a container. The kernel will be the same, but Nvidia provides good instructions on how to customize that. Your images will have to be arm64, but that’s very common (if you pull an Alpine image, for example, it will just work).

If you simply want to install Cinnamon, you can do sudo apt install cinnamon-desktop-environment lightdm. You can then choose between Ubuntu’s tweaked Gnome and Cinnamon at the login screen. Likewise there are meta-packages for kde, xfce, etc…

edit: Cinnamon doesn’t work unfortunately :( I recommend not trying the above. If did try it and you can’t log into anything, it’s because some configuration in your user’s home folder is borked. I just created a new user and can log in.

Edit2: I managed to get into cinnamon from the new user. New user works perfectly, however I can’t log into my old user. I thought it must be a configuration file so I cleaned up .config relating to gnome/gtk3, then .local, and so forth until finally i just rm * -rf on my old homedir’s contents. It seems installing Cinnamon broke logging into any of the old users while if I adduser via ssh and restart lightdm I can login without a problem.

Slightly unrelated to the above but:

@dusty_nv: does nvidia have an arm64 CUDA installer that I can use to install CUDA on a new rootfs? Is there a recommended procedure for doing that other than just copying the files?

Thanks for the additional “be patient” suggestions. Being lazy, I just want something easy to work as well as the hardware can manage. Om, or is it Ohm?


Well. If you want to jump right in, it seems to work right now but you’ll have to create a new user via ssh and it appears to lock you out of your previous users so you have to copy your files over and change ownership if you care about anything in that local homedir. This may be an Gnome/Cinnamon/Ubuntu issue and not a Nano issue but I’m hesitent to try to replicate on my workstation.

I have tested the vanilla Gnome enviornment on nano if you don’t like Ubuntu’s tweaks. That does work. You can install it with ‘sudo apt install gnome-session’ and it shouldn’t break your system. If you find the animations are slow or you don’t like the default setup, a lot of the customizations can be found by installing and running gnome-tweak-tool.

How such a conclusion about Armbian ? In Armbian no problems with the update from the official repositories of Ubuntu and Debian (command “apt update\upgrade” work without problems). Installation of any packages from network repositories also works and you can install any necessary shell (mate KDE LXDE etc) or packages.

Any new insights into alternative OS in 2020? Thanks.