back to article Who ate all the Pis?

10/11/2012 I want a Raspberry Pi. I must have a Raspberry Pi. My home PC is drab. My Mac Mini is dusty. My iPad, which in my case I have not got, is a fatuous slab of plastic. Let me see the glimmer of the surface-mounted LED, and smell the green, green circuit board of 'Made in China'. But a Raspberry Pi is an example of …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Useful danish/english translations .. tak!

    1. Andrew Moore

      Forgot "Sounds like 'knee'"="No"

  2. Annihilator Silver badge
    Alert

    Just clicked through that link..

    TWENTY THREE QUID FOR AN HDMI/DVI ADAPTER????

    I know Maplin can be expensive, but that's taking it to new levels. Apparently its connectors are 24K gold. I'd expect the whole thing to be gold plated for that price.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Just clicked through that link..

      Screw plating - at that price it MUST be hewn from a solid block of gold.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just clicked through that link..

        I'd add "forged by Middle-Earthen dwarves, and steeped in unicorn blood for less-inhibited data transfer"... any thoughts on how Maplin will survive the year with this kind of pricing?

        1. Annihilator Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Just clicked through that link..

          " any thoughts on how Maplin will survive the year with this kind of pricing?"

          Yeah, just selling a couple of those DVI/HDMI adaptors will probably see them through 2013!

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: Just clicked through that link..

      The odd thing is that they will sell you a model B Pi, a keyboard, a mouse, a WiFi USB dongle, a powered USB hub, a USB power supply & cable, 4GB SD card with Rasperian Wheezey installed and a HDMI -> HDMI cable for £75. Looks like you could buy the kit, throw away the Pi and be under their RRP on the other bits.

    3. Chika

      Re: Just clicked through that link..

      I've had reason to look in Maplins for various adapters and cables lately. Believe me, Verity is not exaggerating!

    4. Ian Johnston Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Just clicked through that link..

      And it's the same electricity! Mind you, there was a Reg article claiming that the video output from a Mac mini was much better run though an HDMI->DVI adaptor and then to a DVI monitor than direct to an HDMI monitor. Suggesting that the audiophiles have joined the computer age. Directional monitor cables, anyone?

      PS Verity, I bought a cable with an HDMI connector at one end and a DVI one at the other from eBay. Cost four quid, including postage from whatever labour camp for disobedient children in China makes 'em. Works fine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just clicked through that link..

        "Cost four quid, including postage from whatever labour camp for disobedient children in China makes 'em. Works fine."

        You know that strange, pink leathery cover on the cable....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "I mean, who would know?"

    Word documents have a habit of containing metadata revealing rather more than their senders intended, e.g. the dodgy origins of a dossier claiming that a certain middle eastern tyrants had access to weapons of mass destruction. Another example was a quotation we once received for a batch of computers sold more cheaply by the same vendor to another university. The salesman never discovered how we knew, but we got a match on the price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "I mean, who would know?"

      You may note however, that Reg articles are not made available as downloads of Word documents.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: "I mean, who would know?"

        Nano I think might be easier than Vi or Libre Office (for different reasons)

  4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Abiword

    As title....or at a pinch Leafpad!

    After installing XBMC on my Pi I discovered to my joy that I can control it through the TV remote (lucky, as I don't have a poser^H^H^H^H^Hsmartphone...

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Abiword

      TV remote? Try the mobile phone apps and control via the home wifi. Who needs line of sight?

      I use Yatse (android).

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Abiword

        I only have a dumbphone...

  5. Anonymous Dutch Coward
    Thumb Up

    Now look what you've done!

    I want a Pi, too... even when by now everybody who's anybody probably has one! Sniff.

    Verity, once again: great writing!

    PS: I like nano. Yes, I'm a wimp.

  6. T.Omoto
    Alert

    Fancy plastics cases...

    Bah, pretty boxes. My Pi just dangles freely from the power cable, Ethernet-with-broken-latch and makeshift-PATA-cable-as-GPIO-extension-weighted-down-with-a-workshop-tool just like God intended it to be.

  7. Evil Auditor
    Happy

    I'd throw myself behind a train!

    Seriously, being technologically humiliated by the marketing guy?

    1. Mephistro
      Happy

      Re: I'd throw myself behind a train!

      I'd rather throw the marketing guy before a train. It gives karma points, you know!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd throw myself behind a train!

        Behind a train?

        Was that an intentional joke..?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'd throw myself behind a train!

          Would the train be reversing at the time?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd throw myself behind a train!

        That's a good way of derailing the poor innocent train. MTs are so thick skinned, they make the continental crust seem like tissue paper.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My PI

    I use it as a media centre myself. XBMC runs reasonably well if a little laggy sometimes. I did get the older version with less memory but dont know if the new one would fix the lag issue.

    The HDMI cable is stupidly expensive but people want them so they make their money while the technology is popular. I did intend writing a few simple games for it and maybe some apps but my gf likes the media centre so much I barely get a look in. Even to watch my movies!

    It isnt easy finding like minded individuals wanting to make the board do stuff so playing becomes expensive and can be hindered from only 1 persons experience.

    1. inewham

      Re: My PI

      I've got one of each and the newer version is noticably less laggy running xbmc

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My PI

        Greatly appreciated by me, maybe not so by my wallet :)

        Cheers

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: My PI

      "The HDMI cable is stupidly expensive"

      It's really not. Get it for about a couple of quid, five if you're in the mood for luxury.

      1. Return To Sender
        Thumb Up

        Re: My PI

        @Annihilator - dead right. eBay for the adventurous, CPC / Farnell etc. for slightly more reputable, even Amazon Basics.

        Do a bit of homework and you'll generally find that for short cables, there's little or no difference between cheap and expensive cables. Go long distance at v. high resolutions and you *might* get some issues, data rate definitely falls with distance. That said, I can happily play full HD over a 5m cable that I paid less than a tenner for.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: My PI

          And if you need the cable *now* rather than when the postman next passes your house, then Currys Essentials hdmi cables aren't too much of a rip-off.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: My PI

            "Currys Essentials hdmi cables aren't too much of a rip-off."

            I hope they've got the road gritters ready in Hades tonight...

            1. whitespacephil

              Re: My PI

              Proper laugh from the couch. Thanks for that.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My PI

        One word on the pricey HDMI cable issue: "Poundworld". £1.99, as I recall - I have at least two of their cables, and no Pi>telly display problems with them whatsoever.

        Of course, if that's one of the pound-shops that makes use of workfare: find another chain that doesn't (if one exists)...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My PI

          "One word on the pricey HDMI cable issue: "Poundworld". £1.99, as I recall "

          So in fact, Twopoundworld. I'd recommend you report them to trading standards.

    3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: My PI

      You can also overclock the Pi (even the 256Mb RAM version). Also change the memory split so that 128Mb is allocated to the graphics.

  9. Tom7
    Mushroom

    The green, green circuit board of 'Made in China'?

    It's worse than that.

    It's made in Wales.

  10. Paul_Murphy

    What can you do with a Pi?

    Here are a few ideas:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuYLTudcOaM

  11. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    WTF?

    WTF?

    "Anyway, after a few minutes all the old Unix skills come flooding back: typing backslashes in paths that demand forward slashes"

    You think that mistyping slashes is a skill?

    There was a time when bottom left to top right was called slash, and top left to bottom right was a backslash. Then DOS came along....

    1. Danvighar
      Facepalm

      Slash

      Real DOS experts - and real Windows Admins - know that the forward slash is just "slash". Unfortunately, the ravening hordes of Windows _users_ always get confused. "h t t p : / /" you say. "Is that forward slash or backward slash? And which one is which?" they reply. For the 20th time in the same conversation.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Slash

        On really old DOS (2.11?) you could define switch char

        then paths became / instead of \ They dropped it on Ver 3.x something

    2. Al Jones

      Re: WTF?

      There's no such thing as a "forward slash" - just slash and backward slash!

    3. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: WTF?

      You think that mistyping slashes is a skill?

      <FoghornLeghorn>It's a joke, son.</FoghornLeghorn>

  12. Tom7

    You paid WHAT for a DVI-HDMI adapter???

    Try ASDA - £10 gets you one.

    It still seems ludicrously expensive to me for what is, after all, two connectors and some wire.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You paid WHAT for a DVI-HDMI adapter???

      £1.65 on Amazon.

      I've got to say though, it was really hard work moving the mouse and pressing 7 keys on the keyboard and I'll never get back the 10 seconds I spent retrieving that information.

      1. Tom7
        Pint

        Re: You paid WHAT for a DVI-HDMI adapter???

        Alright alright. Here, have a beer, see if it helps.

      2. tommitytom
        Thumb Up

        Re: You paid WHAT for a DVI-HDMI adapter???

        I bought one of these for my Pi, works fine.

    2. Return To Sender

      Re: You paid WHAT for a DVI-HDMI adapter???

      But do be careful to get the right one; DVI-I or DVI-D. Could make a couple of quids difference!

    3. Timmay
      Joke

      Re: You paid WHAT for a DVI-HDMI adapter???

      "It still seems ludicrously expensive to me for what is, after all, two connectors and some wire."

      Yeah, and I don't know why this iPad is so expensive - after all, all it is is a load of metal, plastic, bit of silicon, all mashed together into a rectangle with rounded corners.

  13. Mystic Megabyte
    Linux

    PuTTY?

    Real nerds SSH from the terminal but then I wimp out and use nano.

    'I am going outside, I may be some time' it will automatically dock them £10. LOL

    1. AJ MacLeod

      Re: PuTTY?

      Frankly I'm disappointed that not only is Verity actually using Windows as her desktop OS at work, she's even admitted to using Word regularly. I feel cheated.

      The highly accurate VI / fly exit comparison did make me laugh though, I trained quite a few students to use it (VI, not the window) years ago and well remember my own initial struggles!

  14. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    vi...

    "getting hideously stuck inside vi, unable to recall the correct exit keystrokes, and so trampling all over the edit I have just made."

    That sounds like a normal vi session for me. The only thing more unbearable than vi's wonderful interface (do I hit "ESC" or ":" now?) is trying to reverse-engineer what RMS was tripping on when he wrote emacs. Nano is almost always the first thing I install on a new Linux box. It helps make life worth living as a Linux admin.

    1. PhilBuk

      Re: vi...

      My usual strategy with vi was to hit the 'esc' key if I couldn't remember what state I had left an edit in or if I had hit a number of keys before noticing that I wasn't in insert mode. The best vi error came about when I set up up linux box at work to provide a DNS server for our team to access some customer IPs that had changed.

      After a weeks holiday, I came back to find it not working. A collegue had 'just edited the hosts file with some new entries' and the system hung when booting. After booting with a CD and mounting the system disk, it turned out that the host file was about 2M in size. It contained several hundred copies of the original. When inetd tried to load, it read the hosts file and fell over with lack of memory (it was quite an old version of Mandrake). Rather than use the usual ':wq' to exit, my collegue had used some fancy set of control keys which, although they wrote the file out and quit, also managed to replicate the entire buffer several hundred times.

      vi became a lot easier to use with the easy cut and paste in PuTTY. I admit to the crime of copying the buffer, pasting it into Windows Notepad, editing and pasting the result back.

      Phil.

      1. Robert Forsyth

        Re: vi...

        or Esc ZZ (if you want to save and exit) or Esc :q! (if you wish to quit and disregard any changes)

        The Esc exits insert mode (if any), the : (colon) gets you to the "ex" command line, where (in VIM) you can type 'help'

        Sorry to be so yawn-worthy

    2. Sureo
      Unhappy

      Re: vi...

      I used Vi .... once.

  15. Steve Evans

    Curously...

    Having just returned from Christmas in Hungary, where coincidently I gave a friend's son a R-Pi for Christmas, I can confirm the air traffic control, and whole airport organisation is running smoothly and efficiently. So the cleaner's son must have finished the project already.

    More than can be said for those w*nkers Easyjet and Luton airport in general who caused me to miss my flight out in December.

  16. Chika
    Thumb Up

    And my Pi?

    RISC OS - obscurity for its own sake?

    To be honest, I wasn't that interested in a Pi for Wheezy as I'm already a Linux user with plenty of kit around. But RISC OS, given the age and condition of my existing Risc PCs, was too good to pass up! Sling Sunfish on there to share prior backups from Miyuki and Madoka and we are there!

    And RISC OS at 1080p... wow!

    Nice article, VS, but...

    1. druck Silver badge
      Happy

      RISC OS too

      I thought I'd be using mine to play with Linux, but after I put RISC OS on an old 2GB SD card I had lying around, its been in the slot ever since. As Chika says RISC OS does look really nice on a good HD monitor via HDMI, and it's fast due use of the on board video acceleration. Next up is finding something interesting to do with the GP I/O - it's just like having a Beeb again!

  17. Return To Sender
    Linux

    The vi thing

    I know vi isn't the most instantly intuitive tool out there, not surprising given its heritage. I think the thing that throws most folks inititally is the separate insert and command modes.

    I usually make the point that it's the one editor you're likely guaranteed to have available to you. So it pays to spend a few minutes working out a bare minimum of commands (insert, delete, save, exit without save). And if you stick with it, the vi command set is remarkably powerful, more so if you get the hang of regular expressions.

    1. PyLETS
      Linux

      Re: The vi thing

      Vi is much faster and less clunky than any other editor I know once you have learned how to use it, which is why I use it daily for handling email. Driving a car also requires training for very good reasons.

      Besides which for those who don't want to learn vi, wherever you can ssh you can also sftp which means you can edit files locally using whichever editor takes your fancy and manage the remote filesystem and its configuration simply by mounting it in sftp mode as if it were a drag n droppable network drive using WinSCP or Nautilus or whatever file browser with sftp support you prefer.

    2. M. Poolman

      Re: The vi thing

      "I usually make the point that it's the one editor you're likely guaranteed to have available to you. "

      10 years ago I might have agreed with you, but nano/pico has been (IIRC) has been ubiquitous for at least that long, and it's fair to regard it as the basic editor which will always be available.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: The vi thing

        10 years ago I might have agreed with you, but nano/pico has been (IIRC) has been ubiquitous for at least that long, and it's fair to regard it as the basic editor which will always be available

        I can only translate this as meaning "I only ever use Linux". If you got any further than that you would realise just how wide of the mark this is.

        1. M. Poolman
          Holmes

          Re: The vi thing

          "I only ever use Linux".

          This being a thread about editors for *nix systems and all.

          1. the spectacularly refined chap

            Re: The vi thing

            "I only ever use Linux".

            This being a thread about editors for *nix systems and all.

            Precisely. It isn't installed as standard on any on the principal BSDs, Solaris, AIX etc etc. POSIX mandates the presence of precisely one full screen text editor. It's called vi, not nano.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: The vi thing

        10 years ago I might have agreed with you, but nano/pico has been (IIRC) has been ubiquitous for at least that long

        They're hardly ubiquitous. I just checked some of our Unixish systems for confirmation (I'll use nano/pico only under extreme protest), and the AIX, HP-UX, and SuSE boxes I checked have neither installed. The Solaris box had pico only. My Cygwin installation on my Windows system doesn't have nano or pico either.

        Sure, they're available for all those platforms (and indeed I was a little surprised that the SuSE system didn't already have them installed, given the way sysadmins often install packages with wild abandon on Linux distributions). But it's clear that not everyone who administers a Unix-like system feels the need to put nano or pico on it. So I'd say vi's advantage in this area remains.

    3. Pirate Dave Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: The vi thing

      True, vi is almost universally available on *nix boxes, but then...so was EDLIN on MSDOS boxes... :)

      1. spegru
        Stop

        Re: The vi thing

        blinkin eck I had completely forgotten edlin!

      2. Rebecca M

        Re: The vi thing

        Actually Edlin was ditched from DOS 6.x...

        1. dajames
          Windows

          Re: The vi thing

          Actually Edlin was ditched from DOS 6.x...

          DOS 6 contained the rather easier-to-use full-screen editor imaginatively named "edit", but it still had edlin for the truly masochistic.

          In fact, Windows 8 still has both (though it will grump at you for wanting to run 16-bit applications).

      3. Return To Sender
        Boffin

        Re: The vi thing

        @Pirate Dave "so was EDLIN on MSDOS boxes..."

        <pedant "mode=strictish">

        Yup, and eventually it got supplemented with EDIT, a full-screen editor as opposed to the line-mode EDLIN. Equally, vi is a full-screen character mode interface for ex, the line editor that came before it, which helps to explain some of the more err, quirky, corners of vi. So your reference isn't quite on the mark - har har, have at ye, matey!

        </pedant >

        Bear in mind these editors appeared before the world of GUIs, and in some cases before terminals with cursor keys, and some things make more sense. Doesn't make them obsolete, necessarily; surely one of the lessons we learn as *nix admins is you use whatever tool does the job best for you. Nano, Pico, Kate etc. are excellent tools, but give me an AIX image that I've had to take to a minimal maintenance shell 'cos some daft bugger's fubar'd the OS without a backup, and I'm bloody glad I can navigate vi!

  18. Christian Berger

    I'm considering t obuild one into a model car

    The GPIO ports might be fast enough to generate the signals for the servos, it's trivial to connect a webcam to it, as well as a WLAN dongle.

  19. Tim Worstal

    Takes all sorts

    For me, all of the projects described above would be the most ghastly torture. I'd be complaining to the human rights people if anyone even threatened to force me to try doing any one of them.

    Then again, I did actually read the Stern Review just for kicks, trying to work out what he was fiddling. Something that would no doubt strike most here as deeply unenjoyable.

    Thank goodness we've got this division of labour stuff, eh?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Takes all sorts

      And the Mysteriously Downvoted Post of the Week Award goes to Tim Worstal!

      Apparently at least one reader doesn't agree with the sentiment that it takes all types, and feels that anyone who doesn't want to learn about Haskell and monads is some sort of filthy reprobate. Me, I'm just as glad; I find it useful from time to time to dismiss an idea by waving my hand and saying "well, you know, with monads...".

  20. Spoonsinger
    Unhappy

    I like the PI ethos....

    i.e. build something which is base line and sell it for peanuts using early 80's production practices. Persuade the world that allowing 'da youth' to learn programming is where it is at. Then provide a platform where ready made o/s's have already been developed and compiled. Therefore 'da youth' is actually just doing the same ICT crap they were doing on mainstream O/S's anyway, (but with more hassle). Makes me sick, but hey it's British, so always worth promoting.

    1. JonnyBravo
      WTF?

      Re: I like the PI ethos....

      I partially agree, but tell me more of these "early 80s production practices" of which you speak.

      I don't know any early 80s computers that were surfacemount 4-layer boards.

    2. spegru
      Linux

      Re: I like the PI ethos....

      Sorry but that's b*ll*cks. It just shows that you *think* you know what a computer is.

      The future for this type of gear is embedded and the PC as such will mostly disappear. The skills that kids (and others) learn will be used pretty much anywhere, but It wont look like what you are used to.

      ...AAAND with devices like that around, the future for personal tech can be democratised by anyone who wants to - thus helping avoid the proabably imminent threat of corporatisation of both the Internet and of personal computing that we have (mostly) enjoyed over the last 30yrs - like Apple and even Google would like.

      BTW one of the best Pi things I saw demo-wise was simply the thing running rasbian with the XFCE desktop in Maplin - that's the High St you know (well ok Lakeside Retail park in my case). I wonder how many complete outsiders marvelled at that!

  21. A J Stiles

    Oh, goody, other Pi users are here .....

    I'm building a (totally overkill if fully populated, but you can never have too much I/O) I/O expansion board for my Pi; using eight GPIO lines as a bi-directional data bus, 6 as an address bus and two as read and write strobes respectively.

    The big question is: Should I dedicate a digital output port to controlling the analogue multiplexer; or should I just control it directly from address lines A1-A4 (A0 is needed to select LSB / MSB) with A5 selecting between the analogue and digital inputs? It will mean having only 32 8-bit digital input ports available .....

  22. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Re: The vi thing

    Trouble with the vi UI? I don't believe it! What could be simpler?

    --

    Disclaimer - These opiini^H^H damn! ^H^H ^Q ^[ .... :w :q :wq :wq! ^d exit X Q ^C ^? :quitbye CtrlAltDel ~~q :~q logout save/quit :!QUIT ^[zz ^[ZZZZZZ ^H man vi ^@ ^L ^[c ^# ^E ^X ^I ^T ? help helpquit ^D man quit ^C ^c ?Quit ?q CtrlShftDel "Hey, what does this button d..."

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: The vi thing

      Snigger.

  23. captain veg Silver badge

    ssh

    Yes, you can set one up with ssh. For some reason, possibly related to the extremely low purchase price, the LCD telly I hooked mine up to refused to recognise any signal from the pi until the X desktop was showing. Got the IP address off the router config and ssh'ed in no problem. Reboot and the TV screen sprang into life. With a bit of the desktop missing around the edge. Did I mention that it was cheap?

    -A.

    1. A J Stiles

      Re: ssh

      That will be your overscan setting in your config.txt. Whichever way it's set, is wrong. It's counter-intuitive anyway. Just change it, and it probably will work.

    2. Return To Sender
      Happy

      Re: ssh @caption veg

      IIRC, there was a recognised problem with the HDMI config in some combinations. Especially cheapo Chinese TVs... Can't say I've seen a problem with feeding my BenQ monitor. Once I remembered to plug the other end of the HDMI cable in, that is :-)

  24. Tom Maddox Silver badge
    Trollface

    Project manager

    The project manager, meanwhile - and this is a man who is known to have struggled for some minutes to find the main menu in the new FireFox - has written a Python program that interrogates his diary in Google Calendar and switches on the central heating in his holiday cottage in Wales so that everything is nice and toasty when he arrives for the weekend.

    So, the typical Reg reader, then?

  25. Nick Pettefar

    Lunix vi

    Sadly the lunix crowd decided that vi wasn't good enough and made changes. Why change a standard? But them that is the joy of linux I suppose, just to confuse everyone. First things I do when having to log into a linux box is unalias -a and then remove al the hideous colouring. Unfortunately they have chosen Debian for the Pi - have you seen what the Debians have done to Apache?

    Open Solaris for Pi anyone?

    1. A J Stiles
      FAIL

      Solaris on Pi

      OpenSolaris is mostly a bunch of Open Source wrappers around proprietary binary blobs. It will build under GCC, but not on any architecture besides 80x86.

      RISC OS (which is available for the Raspberry Pi) isn't very open either (though early versions were written in ARM assembler and BBC BASIC and may well have been hackable by a sufficiently-skilled programmer), but at least it's sufficiently well-documented for anybody to be able to write a drop-in Open Source replacement in theory -- and good enough for nobody to have felt the need to bother in practice.

  26. Pastafarian

    The life of Pi

    I have written a version of Conways game of life and, of course, called it the life of pi.

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