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Author Topic: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts  (Read 7636 times)

Waterbury

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Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« on: June 04, 2012, 03:14:58 AM »
As many of our members have ordered (or plan to order) a Raspberry Pi, I thought I'd share my experiences thus far to save others time.

    256mb RAM is Constraining. I'm sure most of the members here are old enough to remember a time when 256mb RAM was a decent amount of memory. This is no longer the case. Modern web browsers, and by proxy, web sites are memory hogs. Using the Raspberry Pi as a general purpose web device is possible, but not in the way most of us are used to. I imagine many web browsers will have heavily modified builds in the upcoming months to work with the limitations of the Pi, but as it stands, many websites crashed Midori and Firefox calling on plugins not yet, or never to be, ported.

    Other modern apps in linux repositories also take for granted that you have a more powerful machine. As the hardware speed is similar to computers of yesteryear you will be tempted to install software coded for a simpler time. Which takes me to my next point...

    ARM is a different ball game than X86. With an older PC, you could grab a copy of Windows 2000, or even Windows 98 and have an OS built to take advantage of the older hardware. Ditto for software. With an ARM, all those old x86 binaries you would be familiar with won't work, and the hardware isn't powerful enough to emulate them decently. Linux does a good job of deprecating older software, and while you will be able to get away with compiling older sofware for ARM, good luck.. I imagine there will be a community to address the hardware limitations, but..

    The community is not mature yet. On Thingiverse there are scores of cases not aligned properly, and forum posters are no where near experts of the hardware.
    I ran into stability problems. While running Debian "Squeeze, I came across instances where I would be installing from repositories, and the network connection would seemingly crash, and DNS entries would time out. I refuse to believe it was network problems, and put the blame on the Pi.

I'll elaborate more tomorrow, starting to pass out at keyboard, just want to save this thread, for now..
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 11:40:44 AM by Waterbury »
"The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly." ~ John F. Kennedy

tetsuharu

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 10:11:56 AM »
It is a 700MHz ARM 256M RAM Single Board Computer. Though some tablets have come out with similar specs, 700MHz and 256M of RAM is clearly not enough to do web browsing. You need at least 1.2GHz with plenty of RAM to have a decent browsing experience on an Android.

IMHO the rasppi is most impressive if you think of it as an embedded platform, and ignore the video outputs :p. It has tons of GPIO, runs Linux at a blazing fast 700MHz with 256M of RAM (as compared to 16MHz with 32kb ROM), and costs about the same as an Arduino.

If you think of the rasppi as an embedded platform, you wouldn't dream of putting something like Debian on it. There are plenty of embedded distributions of Linux that focus on minimal package size. I used Familiar Linux and Opie back in the iPaq days. I think your DD-WRT router has it installed?

http://elinux.org/Embedded_Linux_Distributions
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 10:21:56 AM by tetsuharu »

f00bard

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 11:00:52 AM »
Disagreed on video.  It has h.264 decoding built in.  This thing was made for XBMC =P

The Beaglebone is using Angstrom Linux: http://www.angstrom-distribution.org

Consider that your DD-WRT had an under 100MHz processor and probably 16 MB of RAM.  Then look at the specs of the Pi, and the cost.  Then consider the possibilities. 

Hybridsix

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2012, 11:23:06 AM »
If you had a high-class SD card, would it get even close to comparing what the RAM speed on board was? if you set up a virtual memory partition?


f00bard

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2012, 11:35:05 AM »
If you had a high-class SD card, would it get even close to comparing what the RAM speed on board was? if you set up a virtual memory partition?

Not even close, no.  Really, you don't want to be swapping on a system like this.  TBH I dont know what the state of the art is in memory managers on Linux these days.  iOS and Android work by clever memory management, and only having one app in the foreground at a given time, and limiting background apps.

Hybridsix

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2012, 11:45:18 AM »
I need to learn much more about embedded linux builds.

Hybridsix

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2012, 11:46:06 AM »
Also. When is our Open Arena/Q3 Rasp Pi tournament going to take place? End of the month? :)

willasaywhat

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2012, 12:39:18 PM »
I get mine tomorrow. Definitely want to echo what others said. This is an embedded linux device, you will have to compile everything for it, and you won't get the compiler hints that have been developed for x86 or x64 (MMC, etc), so it will be slower with current apps. That said, this thing should excel in use cases like that of the Beaglebone and Chumby -- except it is way cheaper. I'm looking forward to playing with it, but likewise have no idea what to do with it.

pwnpi is out already, which is like Backtrack for the Raspberry Pi. Worth a look. :)

Waterbury

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2012, 02:15:30 PM »
Thoughts:

Run the Pi off a USB wall wart that could provide 1A. It will run (somewhat) off a PC USB port...but don't.

Install Fedora Remix. It was compiled specifically for the Pi, and it is very nice. DO NOT install Debian Squeeze. The Debian build was designed with stock chipset drivers, and apparently does not take advantage of some of the Pi's Floating Point circuitry. Also, Fedora will reformat your SD card on boot after you had set up the image on the SD card, Debian won't.

Use an SD card of 4GB or larger size, with Class 6 speeds or higher.

If you plan on installing Quake 3, only run it after you shut down XServer. It is unplayable while X is running in the background.


"The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly." ~ John F. Kennedy

Hybridsix

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2012, 03:28:48 PM »
a batch script to shut down x, start q3, and then restart it on exit, would be cool.


also, if I go do a buy of some SD cards, would anyone else be interested in me picking one up for them?

Waterbury

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2012, 03:34:46 PM »
I bought one of these at Walmart Sunday. They were almost twice as much, $17.50, but I wanted a fast card soon, and finding high speed card in town cheap can be hard. They are really fast though, and I recommend them.
"The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly." ~ John F. Kennedy

willasaywhat

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2012, 03:55:12 PM »
Amazon has their own brand of cards. $25 for a 32gb Class 10, with prime shipping. Just ordered one for my Pi.

Hybridsix

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2012, 04:10:51 PM »
Btw, current clamping on the outputs of the rasp pi is like, 170mA. It has a maximum output of 280mA on each output, but if it gets near there, it will clamp it back down to the 170mA. You can remove the physical fuses, but, the PSU for the whole unit needs to be greater. The total USB available power is something like 700mA, if you're crazy. Just use a powered hub.


willasaywhat

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2012, 04:12:45 PM »
I'll just use an Apple USB charger to make Apple Pi.

f00bard

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Re: Raspberry Pi Initial Thoughts
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2012, 04:54:14 PM »