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Thread: Raspberry Pi- a mini Linux PC

  1. #1
    Shivering Isles resident diosoth's Avatar
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    Raspberry Pi- a mini Linux PC

    I've been talking about this in the hauls thread and thought I'd explain more. A few weeks back I was looking for doll cases and found a case for a "Raspberry Pi" in the listings. A little digging led me to a new mini PC board that runs Linux.

    The initial "model a" had 256 MB onboard RAM and limited options. The newer "model b" doubled the RAM, added an Ethernet port and 2 USB ports. Model a boards can still be bought for $25, but they're a bit of a waste of money now. Model b boards have more features and are only $10 more.



    The system is mainly intended to run Linux- primarily Raspbian, a custom Debian build for the system. It uses the ARM11 processor for HDMI output, but you have optional composite video out. It can handle 1080p HD video. Mojang has recently ported Minecraft to the system as the Pi edition.

    However, one major draw of the system is XBMC. It's a very cheap option to have a separate device to stream video with. There are 2 competing platforms- RaspBMC and OpenELEC. It allows access to many plugins, such as Hulu- which as He-Man and She-Ra in its library, among other shows. However, the Pi doesn't always support add-ons that other XBMC platforms support well.



    And if you want gaming options, RetroPie is an emulator/DOS game custom package




    The downside is the cost. The board itself will run you $43 shipped. And you need extra stuff...

    * SD cards for the OS. Go no less than 4 GB(Raspbian and other installs consume 2 GB). One card for the OS, one for XBMC, etc...
    * plastic case- avoid the acrylic cased, get at least a $10 ABS case. Judge your needs- if you plan to do any programming or need ready access to the GPIO or camera ports, get a acse with the slots
    * power cord. It doesn't come with one. You need a micro USB plug, 5v AC at least 700mA. Get 1A to be safe
    * USB keyboard and mouse
    * if you want to use XBMC a GPIO IR receiver and an RC6 remote are suggested
    * HDMI/HDMI-DVI/HDMI-VGA cable or composite for TV/monitor
    ** if going with composite or anything besides HDMI you will need a 3.5mm audio cable or headphones
    * powered USB hub if you want extra peripherals- especially any extra storage(flash drives, external USB HDD)
    * internet. Ethernet cable or wifi USB adapter

    That $35 computer can get up to $100 pretty fast.

    I'm not saying it isn't worth it- if you just want it for XBMC or retro gaming it's worth it as a second computer. It's worth having a card loaded with Linux as a backup desktop. If you want to do any programming work, or use the camera, its worth it. BUT it does cost more than what they generlaly like to advertise once you factor in all the necessary peripherals.

  2. #2
    plastic vice Phil.Pastel's Avatar
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    I think it's neat. I would have been more into it in the past. But that isn't enough RAM. Also, it's disappointing that it can't run Ubuntu. Linux is continuing to have the problem of too many distributions. Quantity over quality. Device like this exacerbate the problem.
    Last edited by Phil.Pastel; June 19, 2013 at 12:00am.

  3. #3
    Gorilla beastussapien Beastmangler's Avatar
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    This is some interesting stuff.

    Can the Raspberry Pi be powered through a Powered USB Hub via micro USB cable while simultaneously using the Hub to connect to other devices to eliminate a separate power supply?

    If so, that can bring down some of the cost, I guess.

  4. #4
    Shivering Isles resident diosoth's Avatar
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    In theory, yes. In practice, only a few hubs can reliably do the job right. A lot won't offer enough power, some can backfeed which causes issues. The Pi lacks an onboard on/off switch.

    But finding a standard 5V USB wall AC adapter that offers enough power can be tricky. If you go with one of those universal USB jack adapters you need to get lucky and find one that puts out enough power, then find a micro USB cable that doesn't lose too much power. A more expensive $3 cable plus a Gamestop-branded USB wall jack seems to offer me the most voltage.

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