First Steps with Raspberry Pi

I received a Raspberry Pi as a gift (Thanks T.H!) last Friday and couldn’t wait to tinker with it. In case you are wondering,  Raspberry Pi is a credit card size computer that is going to revolutionize education & computing. Step 1 was a trip to Fry’s to pick up an SD card that would work with Rpi and a USB mouse/keyboard. There is a list of compatible cards here. I got a 16GB Class 10 Samsung SDHC card which ended up working well.

I created a Raspbian “wheezy” image, which is a modified Debian image recommended for starters. I wrote the image on the SD card, hooked up my TV with a HDMI cable, connected a Ethernet cable from my router (thankfully there was one open port, and I had a cable lying around), hooked up the keyboard & mouse and powered it up. Bingo! It was exciting to see the linux bootup sequence on the TV and get to the login prompt. I could log in, but after some keyboard difficulty. And then I ran ‘startx’ to bring up the UI. The kids and I were delighted to see the big raspberry image and the UI coming up, but alas, we could not move the mouse pointer and it would not respond to keyboard. It just got stuck! Looking for solutions, I tried many things, but finally figured out it was due to the most common issue with raspberry pi, the power supply! I managed to find a USB charger rated at 0.85 Amps, plugged it in, and voila! everything began to work!

My kids were excited to see the Scratch program that came preloaded. It worked fine, although much slower compared to its PC counterpart. We fired up the web browser. It was really slow, but web pages loaded fine although no Flash. I wanted to see how far I can push this tiny computer. So I ssh into it and quickly setup a LAMP stack. It was exciting to have it serve web pages! Then I installed WordPress on it, and within minutes, had a full fledged blogging system up and running! You can see it in action here: http://geekraj.no-ip.org/. I’ll explain the details of how to setup WordPress in my next post.

Happy Christmas!

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