Raspberry Pi: How, what and why.
Here's my experience with the first steps of a Raspberry Pi.
A comparison between Arduino and Pi
I bought an Arduino last year, and had a lot of fun with it. I was curious about the differences
between the Pi and the Arduino, so I bought a Pi and found out.
What's it all about ?
Working with the Raspberry Pi is firstly about creating a linux system, with the software packages
installed that you want. Raspbian is the name of this linux distribution; it's based on Debian linux, there are 30,000+
packages to choose from. After the initial installation, you are likely to find about 20 of these will be essential,
50 of them will be fun to install and see what the Pi can do, and the rest can be browsed and/or
installed as you explore further. If you install too much or if you mess your system up, then
don't worry - reinstall and start again.
You will use the GUI program 'synaptic' to browse and install new software, as well as apt-get.
Once you have a working linux system (which is quite simple), you can plug sensors in and develop programming
skills to control them. This is the main purpose of the Pi. Other computers simply don't have the pins built in
to connect stuff, and other operating systems simply don't have the programming tools. (eg C compiler, python interpreter
and shell scripting). These are what you will learn.
One of the side benefits of course, is learning how to install and maintain a professional computer
operating system. It is much, much easier to reinstall from scratch than either MacOS or Windows; either
when you need to or simply when want to learn how.
What is VNC ?
VNC allows you to view the Raspberry Pi display from another computer.
This means that you can unplug the keyboard, unplug the mouse, unplug the Pi from the HDMI television or monitor, put
the Pi in a more convenient location, and use your usual computer to program your Pi.
It's incredibly useful.
For the first few weeks, I suggest you avoid VNC until you are familiar with what the Pi should
do. Familiarity is everything, plus there are some things best set up using the Pi directly, such as
your internet connection and the VNC software itself. Once you are familiar with what the Pi screen normally looks like,
then switch to VNC. If it looks unusual, then you know the problem is with VNC - not with the Pi.
Download the user guide
The official user guide is available as a pdf download,
here, and is strongly recommended.
It's plugged in - what's first ?
I figured the first thing I should do is to play an mp3 and watch a film. It's a good test of sound and graphics, plus
shows the file manager and incidentally is fun.
So - go and have a look at the next page.