AT LAST–the Raspberry Pi in person

Raspberry PiI arrived home this evening from a couple of days meetings to find this small package. I’ve put my hand there to give you a sense of scale.

Raspberry PiWithin the package was a little box and a load of regulatory compliance timewasting stuff from Farnell (about which I could give 2 hoots frankly).

Inside of the box was a metalized package – and inside of the metalized package… the LONG-AWAITED Raspberry Pi!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. The unit plugs into a USB connector – and perhaps a TV and network cable – and that, presumably is where the real magic is supposed to start.

Raspberry Pi

That’s the easy bit over, the rest has not been quite so satisfying up to now.  Anyone used to the likes of the Arduino knows you simply plug the chip into your PC, run up the IDE, select an example program and hey presto, the rest is up to your imagination – just the thing for getting kids interested – instant gratification followed by a learning curve as simple or complex as you want to make it. Was the Raspberry Pi going to be the same?

Erm, no. You can’t run this board off the Micro-USB cable – it needs too much power- so plug it into a suitable adaptor, plug it into your TV or monitor, plug in a keyboard and mouse and…

Now it starts to get more amateurish. Assuming like MOST people you have a PC, you have to go off and get the free program WINDISKIMAGER and the DEBIAN img file (lost already?). You need an SD card to hold the image file. On my second attempt I managed to get an image file onto the SD card. Plug that into the underside of the Raspberry Pi, plug in the power and…

Whew. Lots and lots of horrible Linux-fanatic text including gripes that it could not find a real-time clock… and a retry. After 3 or 3 retries the (text) prompt came up (oh, and my second USB keyboard and mouse – the board seems a little choosy which ones it likes). I put in user name “pi” and password “raspberry (no, none of this comes with the board, you have to go looking)… and up came an old “dos prompt”. I types in the relevant command and HEY PRESTO, graphical interface. Turns out the RTC was not necessary as it gets the time from the Internet – so WHY land the beginner with all that crap?

Still – impressive stuff, a graphical interface – for under £30…

tmp482E

Well, yes, but – there is only one web browser in the Debian installation – and it does not support Flash (this is a FAR, FAR cry from Ubuntu, no, really – a different PLANET to Ubuntu 12)… no big deal  – so I powered up the browser.. this took some patience-  and then punched in the FSB website.

Raspberry Pi

The site has been extensively tested with the major browsers, various Internet Explorers, Firefox, Chrome, Safari on PCs, Macs and iPads – even on the iPhone and Android phones… conclusion – the browser that comes with Debian is CRAP… not only that it took nearly 2 minutes to display the page.

I’m going to give this the benefit of the doubt – and assume I’m using a very, very slow SD card and pass no more comment until I have another to test. If this is the best the unit can do, heaven help the kids who’ll be stuck trying to do something with it – especially a generation used to fast PCs.

The information out there looks… patchy to say the least, perhaps after all it’s as well I didn’t get this in February..

More as I find out more.

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