Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Pi is Born!

Merry Christmas, I'm Back!!!

This Christmas I received a wonderful present - a Raspberry Pi 2 (Model B) via CanaKit.  Time to kick the tires!

First impressions:

I can't believe how easy it was to set this up using the CanaKit. This kit came preloaded with an 8g micro sd card with NOOBS (New Out Of the Box Software - essentially a super easy installer for Rasbian OS).  I plugged in the HDMI cable to my tv, plugged in the included WiFi USB dongle to the Pi, and then plugged in the power (which turns it on).  It loaded up and I checked the box for Raspbian OS (running version 4.1 - Jessie) and clicked "Install".  It took a while to run, probably 10+ minutes.  I walked away and came back without checking the clock. After the boat load sequence ran, I was presented with a giant raspberry wallpaper - WOO HOO!

Initial Configuration:

Now that I'm up and running it is time to do some configurations.  First up change the user "pi" password.  Go to Menu (aka Start Menu for windows people) -> Preferences -> Raspberry Pi Configuration.  Here you can do stuff like change the keyboard, timezone, change password, setup whether you want to log in to the GUI or command line.  Next up WiFi.  This was easy.  I clicked on the WiFi icon in the upper right of taskbar, clicked my router id and entered the password and I was all set.  Nice.  Now for the most important part - getting up to date with apt-get.  Open a terminal (which is conveniently in the taskbar) and type in:
sudo apt-get update
"sudo" says run this as the almighty "root" user
"apt-get" is the application that does updates (i.e. windows update)
"update" says update your repository listings so it knows what dependencies to download when you go to update/install a program

After that runs a bit type:
sudo apt-get upgrade
This upgrades everything you have installed that needs updating.

Remoting into Pi:

This was very easy with SSH, however I wanted to do this with a GUI too.  After a couple of quick googles, I found this link:
Very easy to follow and spot on.  I used tightvnc viewer on windows.  The only caveat is that whatever "X" display you set it to (i.e. 0 or 1) you have to connect to that via the viewer like this:
As a quick note, if you left the defaults in the initial config for networking you can use the hostname of the Pi like this:

This works swell so now I think it would be great to save the CPU cycles and only boot into CLI (command line interface).  This can be done either via the configuration GUI mentioned earlier or via a command line GUI application so I did it that way.  Open a command prompt and type in:
sudo raspi-config
Once that loads choose the option for boot and then choose command line with auto login.  Reboot and test. WOO HOO!

Final Thoughts:

I'm impressed overall.  The OS boots quite fast and shuts down fast.  General navigation even through VNC is nicely responsive with no lag.  Browsing the internet is SLOW, but that is to be expected.  The built in browser is based on "Epiphony" which I'm reading is a GNOME Web browser (WebKit based).  I'm not impressed so I tried to install Chromium, but that failed the "sudo apt-get install chromium" so I installed Midori.  It is faster, but not by much.  Either way I won't be doing much browsing on the Pi if I can help it, but heck that's not why I'm using this bad boy, this is a maker machine and I want to make something...  Now comes the hard part, picking a project.  There are some easy installs like a MAME emulator, a media center (XBMC), but all those are just premade stuff and I already have a Roku and an old school NES so it's time to build something.  

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