09 August 2012

Raspberry Pi arrived and tested

My RasPi from Farnell arrived 3 days after the shipping notificaton. It came with regular mail from UK.

Setting it up was not so straightforward:
  • pushing the operating system ISO to the SD card was not so easy with MS Windows
  • I had no USB keyboard at home
  • I have no HDMI-capable screen, at home
  • I had no DHCP-enabled network to connect it to
With the help of a colleague I got a working SD card and put my RPi on the net. I ran few apt-get's to update it and install gcompris and childsplay packets. Unfortunately there isn't much choice of software ported to the ARM processor. No problems to get a vncserver running at a decent resolution or 1280x900 over the 100 Mbps network link.

At home I used the composite video out to test how functional it can be, but the result is not encouraging. Both childsplay and gcompris require a minimum screen resolution that is larger than what is available on TVout, while they run OK on the existing home computer + LCD screen.

On the other hand it may work as a digital media center with OpenELEC, but I haven't had the time to test it in the real world. But I can imagine the burden of wires around/behind the TV if an external hard-disk is added, then a USB-to-WiFi adapter, a powered USB hub ... not charming at all!

My RasPi test drive impressions are that it has enough computing power to do interesting things, with an excellent performance/price ratio. I am a bit skeptical about its usefulness in bringing youngsters closer to in-depth computer science and programming. And I doubt I will have much use for it. :-(