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First Steps With the Raspberry Pi 241

Posted by timothy
from the free-in-cracker-jacks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Raspberry Pi received an extraordinary amount of pre-launch coverage. It truly went viral with major news corporations such as the BBC giving extensive coverage. Not without reason, it is groundbreaking to have a small, capable computer retailing at less than the price of a new console game. There have been a number of ventures that have tried to produce a cheap computer such as a laptop and a tablet but which never materialised at these price points. Nothing comes close to the Raspberry Pi in terms of affordability, which is even more important in the current economic climate. Producing a PC capable of running Linux, Quake III-quality games, and 1080p video is worthy of praise." Beyond praise, though, this article details the hooking-up and mucking-about phases, and offers some ideas of what it's useful for.
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First Steps With the Raspberry Pi

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  • The Raspberry Pi's creators, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, want to spark children's interest in computer programming and encourage students to apply for computing degrees.

    Why not install Python on whatever computer is already around the house? Or Scratch? Or have them write JavaScript in the browsers they already use? I think that would be a more effective way to introduce them to computer programming.

    • You're thinking on the wrong scale. Consider a school district - you could equip an entire computer classroom for less than $1,000. That's where the Raspberry Pi starts to make sense.
      • But how can we be sure that the Raspberry Pi be manufactured on that sort of scale? Or are we instead likely to run into shortages that parallel those of a newly launched video game console?
        • First run was certainly oversubscribed - hope the demand stays high and it evolves a big support community like BeagleBoard. Hopefully in a few years Broadcom will come out with the next gen chip that will enable closer to Core2 performance at a sub $50 price point - and the Pi community will make it a more painless upgrade than Beagle to Panda...

  • by PingXao (153057) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @08:44PM (#40204911)

    Is the Broadcom datasheet freely available for the SoC? In my experience, Broadcom is evil when it comes to forking over the exact specs and interfacing requirements for its chips. If there's no datasheet for the SoC, then my enthusiasm for tinkering with one of these is basically nil. Still a neat little gadget, I suppose.

    • Re:SoC datasheet? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 03, 2012 @09:07PM (#40205015)

      there u go
      http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-43016/l/broadcom-datasheet-for-bcm2835-soc-used-in-raspberry-pi

    • Your experience probably doesn't include the Pi, then. Broadcom has been pretty decent with the Pi developers.

      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        But the GPU is still very closed, right? I want to have a look at the graphic driver blob as soon as I get mine.

        • Check the Pi site blogs, I'm not interested in diving that deep, but I've skimmed a few blog posts that talk about better than usual access to the GPU details - not Nirvana, but at least there's a community organizing the scraps that are available.

  • Cloud computing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpicon92 (1157705) <kristianpicon@gmail.com> on Sunday June 03, 2012 @08:44PM (#40204917)

    Make your own secure file repository, joining the cloud computing revolution?

    Last I checked, that's called a file server. Not the "cloud computing revolution."

  • The Raspberry Pi received an extraordinary amount of pre-launch coverage

    No kidding? (24 articles on /. ... [slashdot.org])

  • HDMI and DRM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wvmarle (1070040)

    This device has HDMI output, but now I've heard too often here on /. how HDMI is seriously DRM-encumbered.

    There is a lot of protected content out there, and there are too many horror stories how HDMI devices don't want to talk to each other or give degraded video etc. My TV doesn't have HDMI (it's too old); a new one probably will. But I'm really worried about all these stupid restrictions being put on the system. And as such am not really eager to start using HDMI.

    Now a device like this is likely not to ha

    • by Microlith (54737)

      HDMI supports HDCP but it is not mandatory. That said, this is only the video portion of HDMI which is signal compatible with DVI. There are no DRM concerns here, they are simply using a commonly available socket.

  • The bigger picture (Score:4, Informative)

    by sidevans (66118) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:51AM (#40206325) Homepage

    I think many people here are forgetting a few important things about the Pi...

    - Linux vs Android : I've had a few Android devices now - none of which have the functionality and ease of use compared to a Linux device, all the way from a Linux Modem or VoIP system to the back end of an ESXi cluster (or vSphere or whatever they call it these days), for someone with a decent understanding of Linux/Unix varieties the Raspberry Pi is the obvious solution. Entire companies have ran on server's that have less grunt than a Pi and now its all been reduced down to the size if a phone... AND

    - Power Consumption (and price) : 3 watts at peak usage.... 3 watts!!! Does this mean that I can just use 4 x AA rechargable batteries and a 30cm (12") x 30cm Solar panel and run it forever (or until the batteries need replacing)? Maybe put a small panel on the parcel shelf in your car so your CarPC is always running and ready to go? How about something more critical like medical equipment which can have sensors plugged into the GPIO and use solar/wind/batteries to monitor patients in poor areas? No other commercially available system in the past has had this much CPU Power/Ram with such little energy consumption and price, citizens of 3rd world countries might have a chance to "own" a computer and, even better - its open source - which will boost Linux usage worldwide and take a market share from the big players like Apple and Microsoft.

    - Size : And weight. It wont be too long until we see computers like this embedded into clothing and other parts of every day life, and the Pi is just the start of that, as tech gets smaller and cheaper, we'll be able to product it in abundance - data for example - we went from trading Floppy Disks, to Harder Small Floppy Discs, to CD's, and hard drives, to DVD's and now its time for solid state joy, what next? Trading complete plug in system.....

    - Autoplay? Screw that... for $50-$100 my cost, I can now give a customer a box and all they need to do is plug in HDMI and turn it on, it will give a full length video presentation on any screen or TV with HDMI in, with a keyboard and mouse you can give them a fully interactive product to play with, and with a wifi adapter and internet access you could use the box as a tech support node in their office, add a camera you have a portable video conferencing screen.

    - Hmm I might want Autoplay (Annoying Customers) : You know, the type that harass you on how to play their mp4 rip of Game of Thrones, generally family members and friends that charging a decent rate to help would make you look like an ass so you do it for free to be nice? They will be a thing of the past, you can give them a box that plugs into their TV - which they plug *THEIR* USB stick into, and it will play almost any format with an easy to use menu. I'm no economist but I predict the savings and health costs purely because of this will be in the billions.

    People need to stop being so obsessed with having the fastest and greatest and look at what they can do now. I paid almost $2000 for a Dual Celery 466 with 256 meg ram, 18 gig 7200 rpm HDD and a Voodoo 3, now days a $50 card would eat it alive and use 1/200th of the energy. In a time when the world is having an energy crisis this kind of thing is kind of important. I run my laptop, stereo and lighting in my smoking/drinking room on 12v batteries (also preparing for zombies), and once we get decent USB LED projectors, the Pi is going to be the main part of it all.

      fuck I feel old now /rant...

  • I like my RaspPi (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hamster_nz (656572) on Monday June 04, 2012 @05:07AM (#40206765)

    I've been playing with my Raspberry Pi today (just twiddling with 'ncurses' under C). I see it being excellent for learning it is perfect as the standard reference platform for a lot of CS courses from "Introduction to Programming" up - but maybe a bit out of it's depth at OS the design level.

    For around the same cost as a text book everybody it ensures that everybody will have the same hardware, the same OS with all the same toolsets. This will avoid the "Jimmy owns a Mac, and I have 32 bit XP, and Bob has an Android tablet" problem. As a bonus it also has zero product licensing issues...

    Sure, you wouldn't want to compile a big project on it, but for anything you would do in school it would be fine.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday June 04, 2012 @05:27AM (#40206799)

    In the 80s (or was it the 70s) there was a craze to get people cooking with chinese woks. Basically, they were just frying pans and were promoted for making stir-fry food (other uses are available: satellite dish, giant saucer).

    Because of the publicity and cheap prices they were popular for a time. Lots of people bought one - or were given one. There were books published on the back of that popularity. However, after a brief trial most woks ended up in the graveyard of kitchen gadgets; the cupboard under the sink.

    The Pi is going through the same phase. It's received massive (in the geek world, at least) publicity - enhanced by its scarcity: an accidental piece of marketing genius, given that many better alternatives exist. The "buzz" around it is truly amazing and lots of people either have bought one or are waiting to order one. However, I haven't actually seen anything that anyone has made using a Pi.
    Mine arrived a few days ago and it's like going back to the 1990's so far as having to futz around to get it to do anything useful. The Linux implementations for it are poorly documented, incomplete and lack features. I'm sure that most people, once they get past the novelty of connecting a naked circuit-board to their TVs and realising it's too slow to play videos, too limited to surf the internet and too lacking for games, flash and anything else except terminal-level programming that it, too will end up in the cupboard under the sink, next to the wok.

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