Crosstopher Tech Enthusiast, Aspiring Linux Jedi, Gamer, Father of Twins.


Raspberry Pi

A few months ago I had ordered and received my Raspberry Pi from Element14 and I haven't truly been able to put any time into tinkering about with it. Recently there has been a nagging in my thoughts about it and have spent the past few days getting re-acquainted with the little machine.

I originally started with the Raspbian distribution. I found that the LXDE desktop was incredibly slow especially with two or more windows open. That is where I left it after receiving the device, sitting there not doing much at all. I kept it out, always within eye sight or in my backpack that I take to work so I would have a reminder that I have this cool little thing and I need to do something with it. With the constant reminder there I would think about what to do with it, media player, tiny web server, home automation, there are a lot of possibilities there.

I set out to get the device running raspbmc, a media center distribution based on XBMC. That install was fairly simple and I had the device up and running on my HDTV in relatively short order. I was able to get to grab content from the NAS I have on our home network and stream some movies. There was an occasional stutter in both audio and video but watchable. I had an issue with the device "locking up", I am not really sure it was a true lockup, but I would lose mouse and keyboard input (bluetooth and wired). That was annoying and instead of trying to fix it I moved on to another distro, Arch Linux for ARM. In hindsight, this being my first taste of Arch was probably a mistake. I couldn't get a desktop running at all and the package manager was foreign to me so my adventure into Arch Linux was short lived. I do intend to get Arch running on one of the PCs I have around the house because all the good things I hear about it definitely have me interested.

Currently, I have gone back to Raspbian and installed a fresh image from their site. One of the things that I took notice of right away is that the ability to overclock the device is built in and is actually a function of the raspi-config tool. I didn't do this right away because I am starting to think about the Raspberry Pi in a different way and thinking more about what I want it to do. In doing so, I am sticking to the command line and working that way. This is a good thing, you learn a lot more about Linux by using the command line and I am always looking to learn more. I am about to jump into nginx for the first time and I think this device will be perfect for learning how to get that all set up. I intend to use nginx to serve up pages designed to operate the home automation stuff I have brewing in my head but are a little way off.

I did experiment with overclocking the Raspberry Pi, I only took it to 900 MHz, up from the 700 it runs at stock. I found that doing that greatly improved the performance the LXDE environment, making it moderately usable. This is an improvement over the frustration that it induced when I first started out.

This device still hold a lot of promise for me and now that I have spent some time with it I am further encouraged to continue working with it.

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