discovering kivy on raspbian buster and the rpi4B

3D render of Blender monkey using Kiva

Because of a chance comment on an earlier post (an absolute failure – unable to build qt5 on a raspberry pi 4, https://arcanesciencelab.wordpress.com/2019/09/02/an-absolute-failure-unable-to-build-qt5-on-a-raspberry-pi-4/) by developer outsourcedguru (https://outsourcedguru.wordpress.com/) I have “fallen” for yet something else to get involved with: Kivy (https://kivy.org/). To be honest I’d never heard about it before now. It uses Python like PyQt5 does, to provide the programmatic bones on which to build very interesting applications using other tooling for desktop application rendering, which is 3D in this case.

I went looking and found directions for getting everything installed for Kivy. I then found a GitHub repo with this example in it (https://github.com/kivy/kivy/tree/master/examples/3Drendering). I downloaded everything and got it going as-is. It is now my new favorite thing to just run on my desktop. I’ve been monitoring both CPU usage as well as memory usage, and with this simple example it has basically no impact at all. Startup is near instantaneous. CPU temperature crept up a few degrees C, if that. With Chromium open with fourteen or so tabs and my other tools open as well, it should be doing some kind of work.

Something else for me to explore. I’m going to pull this onto my Macs as well.

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going old-school with emacs on raspbian

Here’s another one for the Raspbian Buster notebook. I spent a bit of time trying to install Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code by following these directions at https://pimylifeup.com/raspberry-pi-visual-studio-code/. After setting up all the dependencies, downloading the tarfile and pulling it apart, then attempting to run the script that would install and build everything else, the VS Code installation failed because the JavaScript engine ran out of heap space. Fine. I’ve used VS Code everywhere else, including Linux systems with only 4GB of memory, but I’ve never had a heap-space issue before now. To be truthful I like working with VS Code and all its various plugins. I would have tried to debug the blocker, but I decided to cut my losses then and there.

I got to the point of trying to install VS Code because I found myself thrashing about looking for a comfortable code editor and almost IDE. I say almost IDE because, after nearly two decades immersed in IDE development environments, I’d grown tired of it. VS Code was a nice step back. But it wasn’t going to happen on the Raspberry Pi 4 with Raspbian Buster. That’s when I turned back to VIM (VI Improved) and rather quickly got it into pretty good shape for my needs. But something still nagged at the back of my mind, and as good as Vim has become, it just wasn’t quite right. I then figure, what the hell. I’ll install and try Emacs again.

I was introduced to Emacs back in the early 1990s by an Emacs goddess. That is no exaggeration. She could code rings around all the other guys, and part of her prowess can be attributed to her mastery of Emacs. She showed me how much better Emacs was over vi and then set me up with some directions and  a beginning .emacs file. I learned how to edit with emacs and how to configure it to fit my tastes. It soon became my default editor, and I carried around my .emacs file from project to project. But a funny thing happened on the way into the 21st century. I got swept up into the bigger-is-better development tool environment and eventually forgot about Emacs.

Until today. It’s been so long since I’ve used it that I’ve had to open up a basic web-based user manual and started to build an .emacs from scratch. Fortunately for me Emacs has evolved considerably. The version I’m using now is a desktop client, and it’s menu support has allowed me to quickly get back up to speed again with regards to setting up a decent visual environment. All the very old muscle memory is coming back, and I think I understand part of my uncomfortable feeling with Vim; a lot of the key sequences are too close together. Being back in Emacs, everything just falls naturally back into place.

Emacs is not better than Vim, and Vim isn’t better than Emacs. But Emacs is best for me.