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Raspberry Pi: What it is and what components I've used with mine - One person's lack of compassion does not equal another's comfort.
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Raspberry Pi: What it is and what components I've used with mine
This Wikipedia link (click image below) gives you some insight into the history, intent, stated purpose and a consumer's perspective of the Raspberry Pi. Behind this cut I have listed several links of options for purchase and accessories for the pi with the focus primarily on what I decided to purchase or plug into it, all with currently active links to purchase any and all should you choose.


Despite the naked appearance of the bare board, the connections are easy. The case, be it plastic or metal, is really only to protect the board. You cannot get an electric shock, as the entire board runs off of 5volt USB power. (examine the link below to see a diagram of all ports)


This company has lots of fun cases and accessories (click on image below)


I bought fully assembled and operational Pi from MCM at one of the best prices around, $35 plus S&H: (click on image below)


With this very basic $9 case (click on image below)


Everything else came from Amazon, whether I'd purchased it previously for another purpose or purchased it expressly for the Pi: (Items purchased with other systems in mind marked with asterisk)

This $10 hot pink 2amp USB power supply (click on image below)


*This name brand Samsung $3 micro USB power cord (click on image below)


*This tiny $9 Wifi adapter (click on image below)


*This wireless keyboard with built in trackpad (click on image below)
(also good with other pcs of course. Also this one features two finger functions which not all trackpads have!)


And this 32gb 95mb/sec (overkill) SD card, (click on image below)
(but you can use one a lot slower and as small as 4gb)


The speed of the SD card is far more important to the performance than the size. Most Linux software is pretty compact in terms of how much storage space you need for it. The odds are you have an old 4gb SD card you aren't using which you could use to get started if you don't want to invest that much, but it could give you the false impression the computer itself is slow when the actual slowness is in the card. Also you'll probably have to install the OS twice as I did, and each time you do it with your laptop or desktop onto the card, it will go much faster if the card itself is faster. With this card it boots way faster than most laptops or comparable to my netbook running Linux.

The OS I installed on my SD is Raspbian "Wheezy". To get it, you go to a site which supports the Raspberry and then you download the ".img" file. Installing it on the SD card is not as straightforward as merely copying it. You have to install a utility to do so, and which one you use depends on the OS you are using. I am using Ubuntu Linux so I used, "imagewriter", but there is another one recommended for windows. All the software you need is on the support site which I am linking to here.

This link contains yet more information about installing the OS on the card if you need more guidance:
http://elinux.org/RPi_Easy_SD_Card_Setup

That said, I've noticed that the software that came with its Raspbian OS seems more rudimentary than the software I used under Ubuntu Linux. It would be unfortunate if the popularity of the Pi were to give mainstream users the false impression that Linux is inherently a crude OS which only runs crude software.

Also, about the power source, I'm actually using a portable USB battery as the power supply just out of curiosity to see what sort of runtime I can get out of it. I bought the battery for $20 from buy.com and it contains a built in ac adapter. I'm not listing it because you should be able to find something similar and even if I listed exactly what I bought, you'd never be able to beat the Buy.com price.


First booting the Pi:
The first time you boot your Pi you will get a menu offering you several options including but not limited to Changing your password, giving you the opportunity to turn off over-clocking, and whether to default to the GUI interface (strongly recommended). If you choose to update off the web but as the wifi won't be working yet (probably) you'll need to be connected by an ethernet cable. A copy of the menu is directly below:


After you have configured the Pi, you need to reboot. You will be greeted with a functional but not very pretty GUI desktop which reminds me just a bit of Windows 3.0 and maybe a bit like the Gnome Desktop. What I chose to do to make it more pleasant was to open terminal from the terminal on the desktop and enter the following commands

sudo apt-get update (press enter). this will update the OS if you have not done so already.

sudo apt-get install synaptic (press enter). this installs a graphical desktop program which makes it possible to install other programs such as, but not limited to Google Chrome Browser.

Using Synaptic I installed a gnome desktop along with some Mac OS X desktop features and Google Chrome

Then I changed the wallpaper by Googling for wallpaper I liked and then installed it using the desktop preferences.

Synaptic can be opened at any time opening terminal and typing:
sudo synaptic (press enter)

Under the new desktop, synaptic can be opening by opening applications, system tools, Administration, Synaptic Package manager.

At this point, the look and feel of the desktop appearance, feels like something I can work with.

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