6/15/2012

How the Raspberry Pi Spins

Which Distribution to use for the Raspberry Pi?

There are a number of distributions available for the Raspberry Pi. Which one should you choose? Below I've made some notes about a few that I've tried. I've tried out Qtonpi and Arch Linux but I didn't find them very useful initially or helpful to new comers, but advanced users might also want to consider those distributions.

Debian

Debian is most stable, and it worked with SD cards that other spins failed to boot. Although it does not expand itself to fill your SD card, it can be done as shown in A bigger slice of Raspberry Pi.
This is the one to get right now if you want to get started with both the command line and GUI: http://downloads.raspberrypi.org/images/debian/6/debian6-19-04-2012/debian6-19-04-2012.zip

If you want to get the most updated, and possibly face breakage, then you can edit your /etc/apt/sources.list and replace squeeze with sid, do an apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade to get the latest packages. Before you try this, be sure you expand your SD card image, as described in A bigger slice of Raspberry Pi. You might also have to do a apt-get -f install to finish the upgrade.

Performing a full upgrade from stable to unstable (squeeze to sid) can take over an hour, especially since it will ask several times for information before continuing.

Login: pi
Password: raspberry

Raspbian

Raspbian is a spin off of Debian specifically compiled for the Raspberry Pi. Raspbian.org appear to be down at this time. Update (6/29/2012), when I first wrote this, the www.raspbian.org site was down, but now it is up again.

Login: root
Password: raspbian

Login: raspian
Password: raspbian

Fedora Remix

The Fedora Remix worked with a screen offset issue on the command line, and X wouldn't start in the version I downloaded on May 30th. My first attempt to boot from the installer created image seemed to get the kernel working, but failed to mount the root file system and prompt for a login. It definitely has a nice cross-platform installer, and they are working on an Remix for Fedora 17. I'll be checking back on the following site to see progress: http://zenit.senecac.on.ca/wiki/index.php/Raspberry_Pi_Fedora_Remix_Installation

Login: root
Password: fedoraarm

Raspbmc

Raspbmc is supposed to let you use your Raspberry Pi to run XBMC, but it too was broken the last time I tried to get it working. They even admit their first RC was a complete failure. RC2 was recently released, but I haven't given it a try yet. It seems that DDoS was being used against this site, and it was down for a while. The site claims a RC3 image is done, but, the site still has no links to download an image.

OpenElec

Update 6/30/2012: I have posted about how to get started, change your password, and adjust your video calibration in OpenElec on the Raspberry Pi.

OpenElec is the only working spin to get hardware accelerated video working. To get the current image, follow the link at the top to Get OpenElec, Download OpenElec. Scroll down to the bottom, and click the link for the Official Daily Builds. Then, click the link for openelec-rpi, and click the most recent download OpenELEC-RPi.arm-devel-20120614193607-r11315.tar.bz2. My other post discusses the install procedure, but they also have a decent Wiki to help get you going.

OpenElec will try your patience on the Raspberry Pi. Try counting slowly to ten after you click something, and it might have obviously started to do what you clicked on before you are finished counting!  It is so slow to navigate, but once the video starts playing it is smooth. It seems to be the best option right now if you want to be able to play HD Video using XBMC from the time you boot it up.

Put your content on the second partition, an external USB drive, or share a directory with Windows or NFS.
You must SSH into your OpenElec installation to be able to mount anything other than the second partition, and mount it under /storage.

Username: root
Password: openelec

To navigate the XMBC menus, the mouse is helpful. It only takes one click to choose an item, and then be patient. You can also use the keyboard arrow keys to move, and Enter to select. Esc will back you out. Space bar toggles between play and pause a running video. Control-Alt-Delete will kill the system immediately, but it doesn't reboot the system.

While I was able to watch almost all of my own videos, I was most intruiged by the YouTube Add-on.
Here's what I've navigated with it so far. Using Search and Top 100 Music Chart are my favorites so far.
  • Videos
    • Add-ons
      • Get More (If YouTube isn't installed, then install it)
    • YouTube
      • Explore YouTube
        • Categories
        • Education
        • Feeds
        • Movies
        • Music
          • YouTube Disco!
          • Popular Artists
          • Recommended Music
          • YouTube Top 100 Music Chart
        • Shows
        • Trailers
        • Live
      • Search
      • Login...
        • Be sure to set up your username, password, and download directory


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About Me - WrightRocket

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I've worked with computers for over 30 years, programming, administering, using and building them from scratch.

I'm an instructor for technical computer courses, an editor and developer of training manuals, and an Android developer.