Raspberry Pi – My introduction to hardware

Raspberry Pi in box

Raspberry Pi in boxI just got a Raspberry Pi 2. I don’t really know what to do with it yet!  Its a itty-bitty linux box.   I’m used to writing code but hardware is a whole unknown world to me.  This is my dive into the world of the Internet of Things, robots, drones, smart devices, and electronic dyi gadgetry in general.

Join me as I learn and twiddle.

I’m a programmer and I’m very used to a unix-y command line environment.  I dont know hardware; so I bought a beginners kit.  It comes with case, wireless through connector, power supply and some wires and stuff that I haven’t explored!  Like I said, I’m a software guy.

There’s a  lot of time I could devote to a lot of the cool bundled software that comes with the Raspbian distro … but I dont have history with Mathematica, Wolfram, Scratch, Python, or the other stuff.

First Impressions of the Raspberry Pi

1. Wow, I purchased a whole computer running Linux for under $100. My setup:

  • wireless Logitech keyboard with a built in pad which has a usb dongle that takes up 1 of 4 in the Pi.
  • Black case pictured below came with kit,
  • as did the wifi dongle using the 2nd usb port.  Note that it couldnt find my 5GHz wifi network, it did find my 2GHz one no problem though.
  • power supply came with kit.  I understand that the pi takes much less power than your average laptop/desktop.
  • Monitor,  bought separately, and more expensive than all the rest.

2.  Some great built in software with the default distro… but who has time for that, I want to hack in javascript to build robots, control my home, …   how do I do that?

3. Browsing the web is slower.  First, because the wifi dongle in the pi is on the slower network.   But I see that even taking that issue into account, I get really slow speeds.  I found some blog posts that talk about this issue, I didn’t follow through with them; its on my todo list.      But regardless, just even typing into the address bar is laggy, and that shouldn’t have anything to do with my connection speed.     Maybe this is my first encounter with the inherent slowness of this baby computer?

Playing in the command line

This is my default thing to do on the Pi.

Raspberry Pi with node

Installed Iceweasel and Node.

One of the first things I did was install firefox web browser, which by the way, for whatever legal reasons is called Iceweasel!  I read somewhere that  the Epiphany browser is optimized for the RPi.

I tried going to speetest.net on both browsers.   Epiphany seemed to hang, giving the standard message at the bottom of the browser: ‘Loading”speedtest.net”…’  It eventually redirected to a no-flash version of the website.

Iceweasel behaved much better.  The site seemed to immediately redirect me to a no-flash version.    In the end both did their job.  I’ll have to keep experimenting with both.

 Whats Next?

I have a whole list of software that I want to explore.  I’ll share some of them here:

  • shutter-project.org – screen capture
  • zathura – pdf reader
  • gnu-cash

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