I was fortunate enough to receive a Raspberry Pi board for review (Thanks, DesignSpark!) a couple of days ago and I have been playing with it pretty much non-stop ever since.
(More photos available at this Flickr set)
So, what's the verdict after a few days of (ab)use?
Before you hear me talk about the 'Pi on the video embedded below, a couple of points:
Preparing the SD Card
Getting an image onto the SD card, ready to go into the 'Pi is now a well documented process so I won't go into the specifics too much, although after dd'ing the image onto the card (which was a 4GB Class 4 SDHC by Sandisk) I've noticed that I could tweak the partitions to utilise the empty space by moving the swap partition to the end and resizing the ext4 partition. The following screenshots are from gparted, the GNOME Partition Editor (you should be able to find that on your distro's package manager)
The 'Pi is powered via the micro-USB jack on the board, plugging it into an old phone charger (5V, 1 Amp) seems to work okay. I must admit I am not a huge fan of the micro-USB plug but this one seems sturdy enough. Time will tell!
No monitor? No problem!
I forgot the HDMI to DVI cable back at the office (and didn't have a spare at home), so I had to resort to using SSH to connect to the board. Luckily, it's setup by default so you don't have to manually install it.
Another option, where networking isn't available is to hook up a USB to TTL Serial converter (an "FTDI Breakout") to the UART lines on the board (Details here) and open up a serial terminal on your development machine. Make sure you're using a 3V3 level adapter though, you don't want to burn your 'Pi!
I am not a believer in artificial benchmarks but since I know people like numbers -- it achieves a respectable 86.0 on UnixBench. For comparison, my laptop (an X41, with SSD) does something in the region of 400. I've posted the output of UnixBench here)
I must admit I haven't spent enough time on the graphical side of things on the 'Pi to comment on it's usability as an everyday computer. As far as embedded platforms go, it has quite a decent amount of processing power and memory. I think it's worth noting that while there is a serious bit of graphics capability on the Broadcom SoC, ultimately this is an embedded platform and as such, desktop computing (running desktop environments etc) is not what it is designed for.
'Pi and friends!
The video review (and a shameless plug)
I promise this will be interesting, we have concurrent blinkenlights at the end of the video!
(And that proves once again that I should really stick to hiding in the lab and not being in front of the camera!)
For my day job, I work on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project between Erlang Solutions and University of Kent, which essentially means I get to play around with Embedded Linux boards exploring how we can utilise Erlang in this domain.
Erlang is a open-source programming language traditionally used to build massively scalable soft real-time systems with requirements on high availability. Some of its uses are in telecoms, banking, e-commerce, computer telephony and instant messaging. Erlang's runtime system has built-in support for concurrency, distribution and fault tolerance. More information can be found at erlang.org.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be developing material to showcase some of these futures which are highly relevant in the modern embedded systems development. Keep an eye out for upcoming articles and videos! (We're @ErlangEmbedded on Twitter, I am @OmerK)
Raspberry Pi is a very exciting and ambitious project. Change in teaching/academia is surprisingly difficult to achieve, so influencing the ICT curriculum in schools will take time. Once it's rolled out to the classrooms, it has the potential to shape the future of computing around the world though and that is infinitely more important and exciting than it being a cheap Linux board for hackers.
The buzz it generated so far has led to the creation of many user communities, blogs, video tutorials, podcasts and even a number of add-on hardware designed *and* manufactured (even before people received the physical boards they were developing for!). This is fascinating and also encouraging. I think we all know the fact that community can really make a difference in the Open Source software and hardware world -- just look at Linux and Arduino!
Future of Raspberry Pi is very exciting and as I complete this review, I raise my bottle of ale to the fine folks behind this amazing project.
PS: Dear fine folks of R-Pi Foundation: Could you *please* include some mounting holes on the next revision of the board, which will make life so much easier for people developing add-on boards and cases?
PPS: I managed to get the WiFi working just as I conclude this review. I'll add a link to the instructions once I tidy them up a little bit.Like this Leave a comment