Archives For Raspbian

raspian pixel

December 21, 2016


Just a quick entry about Raspian Pixel, the latest Debian-based distribution for the Raspberry Pi. In this entry, I have it running off of a 32GB microSDHC card, a Sandisk Ultra Extreme with an 80MB write speed, plugged into the Raspberry Pi 3. The Pixel desktop is something of a minor wonder, a reasonable graphical desktop that isn’t glacially slow. This entry is being written on the Pixel desktop within Chromium “Version 51.0.2704.91 Built on Ubuntu 14.04, running on Raspbian 8.0” according to the about screen. I’ve been dabbling with some of the more current distributions lately, specifically Raspbian and Fedora 25 for ARM.

Raspbian Pixel is a nice, clean, reasonably fast distribution for the Raspberry Pi 3. My only real complaint is that Raspbian, like Arch Linux ARM and Fedora 25, is still compiled for 32-bit ARM, not 64-bit. Other than that I can’t really complain. If anything, I have high praise for Pixel, especially its inclusion of Chromium/Chrome. Everything on the web I’ve attempted to view on Chromium renders as well as a regular Chrome on Windows, macOS, and Ubuntu. It handles multiple tabs, although with the limited memory on the RPi 3 I make sure to have as absolutely few open as possible.

I won’t be able to do anything of significance until after Christmas. But with a decent version of Raspbian on one of my RPi boxen, I now have a reference installation that will allow me to check to see if any of my more esoteric projects failures are due to me or the fact that Arch Linux doesn’t fully support what I’m trying to do.

Unfortunately, Fedora 25 has taken the place of the older versions of Raspian as the slowest, least usable distribution you can install on the Raspberry Pi 3. “Glacial” doesn’t even begin to describe how slow it is. After 30 frustrating minutes of dealing with “did it crash or is it just that slow,” I installed Raspbian Pixel over the top of it and moved on. I’ll admit Fedora looks pretty, but that’s no reason to keep it around. Ugly but highly functional will always beat pretty but slow as molasses in a New England winter. If you’re reading this and trying to make a decision, take my advice, and install Raspbian Pixel. Don’t even waste bandwidth and diskspace on Fedora 25 for ARM.

raspberry pi 3 model b

March 6, 2016
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

I ordered the latest and greatest Raspberry Pi over the weekend from Amazon, along with a couple of C++ reference books, two Samsung micro SDHC 32GB cards, and a Sunbeam heating pad for my right leg. Everything arrived earlier this evening with a doorbell ring that sent the dogs into their usual barking mode.

Earlier in the day I’d grabbed the latest Raspbian image from the Raspberry Pi foundation and had it uncompressed and ready for use for when the Pi3 arrived. Then, in between getting supper ready, I copied the image to one of the 32GB cards and booted up the Pi3.

Raspbian desktop – Feb 2016 boot image

I used this image rather than the image I could get from I wanted to play it safe and make absolutely sure I could not only boot it, but be able to bring up the WiFi interface that is now built into the Raspberry Pi 3 board. And I did. Connecting to my wireless router was absolutely dead simple. What I found interesting is that the system booted immediately into the desktop, and didn’t even attempt to resize and use the full 32GB micro SDHC card on first boot. I’ll investigate why later.

I didn’t do much more than power on the board and take a quick peek at some of the features. Since this image is built for 32-bit rather than full 64-bit, I was unable to see if the kernel could identify it as a 64-bit ARM architecture. As far as this Raspbian is concerned it’s still running on a 32-bit machine.

And run it did. I can’t believe how much smoother and faster the Pi3 is over every other earlier release. What I find amazing is that it’s all still just $35 for the board. It now feels like a “real” computer. Everything is very smooth, with no jitters and delays, especially when working on the graphical desktop.

I will be digging deeper going forward, in particular picking up where I left off a good year ago using Node.js to provide control and an interface. A lot has happened and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to so-called Internet of Things devices, of which the Pi3 is a very good example. I want to add solid encryption to the device now, both for data at rest (the file system) as well as data on the wire. I was already headed down a path of locking down all but the absolutely needed ports into the Pi2 when I stopped.

2016 is going to be an extremely interesting year for cheap, powerful itty bitty computers.