Raspberry Pi Lab

Archive for December, 2013

Installing Occidentalis

by on Dec.26, 2013, under Installation

First step is to download the latest version of Occidentalis here.

The download page states that an SD Card of at least 4Gb will be necessary to install the Occidentalis image.  No problem.  I have a couple of 8gb SD cards and a 4Gb card.  Since this is my first install and I don’t know how much additional space I’ll need.  I’m going to go ahead a chose the smaller, 4Gb card.

tux-transparentNext, I’ll follow the install instructions found here.  These are  instructions for Raspbian Wheezy, but they should work to get my Occidentalis up and running.

Ok, so the “instructions” on that page are a bit, shall we say, wordy.  Here is what I did to get the SD card imaged.  I’ve already downloaded Occidentalis and extracted the archive to the HDD on my laptop.

1.  Mount the SD card on my laptop.

2. Determine the disk. NOT the partition.  Using the ‘sudo fdisk -l’ command I was able to determine that my 4Gb SD card is ‘/dev/mmcblk0’.  This will be different on your computer.

3. Next I’ll write the image to the disk using the ‘dd’ command.  Like this…’sudo dd bs=1M if=<your image file>.img of=/dev/<disk# from step 2>’.

Note… You will see that my dd command had a capital M in the ‘bs-1M’ parameter. There is no lower case m as a byte multiplier in dd.  See ‘man dd’ for more details.

Also note… The dd command gives absolutely no indication of it’s progress and can appear frozen.  Be patient.  This process could take several minutes.  Fortunately, my SD card reader has an activity LED, so I knew it was working.  Like I said… patience.

4.  Run the command ‘sudo sync’.  This will flush the write cache and unmount the SD card.  It is now safe to remove the card.

5.  I re-inserted the SD card.  Two partitions were mounted and appeared healthy  Of course, I issued the ‘sudo sync’ again before removeing the card.

6.  Put the card in the Rpi and it should work.  That is according to all the instructions.  It didn’t work for me and that will be the topic of my next article.

 

 

 

 

 

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Which Linux Distro?

by on Dec.25, 2013, under Operating Systems

Well, with Linux, there is not one right answer.  The only that that is for certain is that the Linux distro chosen must be for an ARM processor.  That means my personal favorite desktop and server distro, Ubuntu, is out of the running.

But there are good options.

The absolute best option would be Gentoo.  Start from the absolute bare bottom and custom compile the entire operating system specifically for the piece of hardware on which it is running.  While that would be the best option, I don’t have the time or desire to spend hours (perhaps days) tweaking, compiling, and re-compiling absolutely everything, so Gentoo isn’t an option for me.  At least not right now.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation recommends a customized variant of Debian Linux they call Raspbian Linux.  It is a distro specifically optimized for the Raspberry Pi.  Sounds like a good option.

However, Ada Fruit recommends a Raspbian variant she calls Occidentalis Linux.  It is a Raspbian base that has been further optimized and tweaked for building and controlling your own DIY circuits.

So, If you are going to build something that doesn’t require controlling an external circuit, then go with Raspbian.  But I want to build stuff, so I am going to start with Occidentalis Linux.

Tell me about the distro you use and why you chose it.

 

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Can I Run MS-Windows On My RPi?

by on Dec.24, 2013, under Operating Systems

Well, since the Raspberry Pi is based on an ARM1176JZFS microprocessor, an ARM operating systems is required.

According to the Raspberry Pi Foundations’s FAQ, running any version of Microsoft Windows, even the Windows 8 ARM, edition is out of the question.  It just, simply, will not work.  The ARM edition of Windows is just too much of a resource hog for the Rapberry Pi hardware.  But “resource hog” has always been a Microsoft hallmark.

You might be able to get DOS/Windows 3.1 running inside of an x86 emulator on the RPi.  If you have a specific application that needs that configuration,  give it a shot.  Please post back here and let me know your results.

As for Windows 95 or anything newer.  It just isn’t gonna happen – even in an x86 emulator.  According to the RPi FAQ, “trying to use a version of Windows even as recent as Windows 98 can take hours to boot into, and take several more hours to update your cursor every time you try to move it. We don’t recommend it!”

So, Windows is out!

Not a big surprise there!

I actually prefer Linux anyway.  I was just curious if Windows could be used.

Next, I’ll explore which Linux distro should be used to start my explorations.

 

 

 

 

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Blog is Up!

by on Dec.24, 2013, under Blog

Of course if you read my previous post, “Total N00b,” you know the blog is up.  After playing with some different templates, I settled on this one and made a couple of template hacks to “correct” some annoying little things.

I think I’m ready to roll!

 

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Total N00b

by on Dec.24, 2013, under Uncategorized

raspberrypiWell, I am a complete and total n00b with respect to the Raspberry Pi, but I am anxious to learn.

Actually, I’m not new to computers.  I’m 41 and got hold of my first computer in the 5th grade.  I’ve never looked back.  I have loved computers ever since that first day.

I have a B.S. in Management Information Systems and have worked as a tech on a help desk, an Internet programmer, and a Systems/Network administrator.  So this isn’t my first rodeo.

But I am completely new to the Raspberry Pi and building computer controlled circuits.

This blog is going to be my notebook.  As I explore, experiment, and learn, I am going to write about it here.  Together, you and I will explore the Raspberry Pi and learn what it can do.

I’m excited to get this journey started.

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