Archives For Raspbian

When the Raspberry Pi foundation announced the release of the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, I ordered two from element 14 ( They were the only vendors at the time who had them in stock for the standard price of $35. When I received them I discovered that when they say the 3B+ needs 5V/2.5A, they really mean 2.5A, not 2.4A like I’d been using before. So I went back online and order a pair of new power supplies, along with two Samsung PRO Plus microSDHC 32GB cards. I also discovered via the dreaded red flashing power LED (four flashes) that the older Samsung EVO+ 32GB microSDHC cards would not boot the 3B+ fully. I don’t know why as they work just fine on every other earlier Raspberry Pi I own, up to and including the prior 3 Model B. Interestingly I didn’t have boot issues with any of the SanDisks I was using, just that particular card brand and model.

I also ran into an issue updating all my Arch Linux ARM Raspberry Pi systems. They all failed to update (pacman -Suy), and they all failed when attempting to get the catalog from the community repository. A bit of checking on the official Arch wikis turned up nothing. This isn’t the first time I’ve faced this update failure and been forced to reinstall Arch as a consequence. This time, rather than reinstall Arch, I decided to switch completely to the “official” Raspberry Pi distribution, Raspbian.

Raspbian has undergone considerable polish over the last 12 months, to the point where I can easily live within the Raspbian graphical desktop. The desktop has a very nice file browser, terminal, and the Chromium browser is now up-to-date with equivalents across all operating systems. I installed Raspbian by pulling down the image file and using Etcher, all of this on my Ubuntu 16.04 notebook. It’s extremely easy to load-and-go with both Raspbian and Etcher. Before I wiped and reloaded, I made full backups of the older /home/alarm home directories to pick up all my earlier work, then copied them back to the pi account home directory via a separate folder.

With Raspbian everything seems to be working just fine. I was even able to start this post on the older Raspberry Pi 3 Model B using Chromium, although I finished the post on my Mac. I had to transfer a photo I took using my iPhone via Google Drive, and I could have done it on the Pi, but I’m a Mac addict, and I wanted to run something undisturbed on the Pi.

One test I ran was using the tools I wrote in Python for the Sense HAT. I won’t go into the details of how I got the Arch Linux ARM set up to work, but I will say that Raspbian was already set up out-of-the-box to run my Python code unmodified with the Sense HAT plugged into the board, and without installing and/or configuring any other Raspbian packages. I look forward to moving my C++ based Pi code over.

One other observation: The 3B+ runs warm, much warmer than any other Raspberry Pi. I’ve done nothing to tweak the operating frequency of the board. My advice is to buy the heat sink kit for the Raspberry Pi and attach it to the board.

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.