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Raspberry Pi – A lot of PC and OSs for £35!

HOLD THE PRESS! Don't buy until Feb 11th 2015 - Upgraded to 900Mhz and 1GB RAM

Old model Computerphile vid:

I'm testing a Raspberry Pi Motherboard Starter Kit with NOOBS, widely available from Amazon etc. and so far I'm quite impressed. A 700MHz ARM CPU, with only 512MB RAM on board, it's not the fastest micro PC experience for desktop use or browsing, but for that price, it's a lot of power and functionality as it can be a Linux system or a Media streaming device and more.

After the experience of the Tronsmart quad core, the main thing for most people may be whether the HDMI connection works with your particular TV or monitor.

I have checked it with the Panasonic TX-P42520BA TV that the Tronsmart won't talk to via HDMI and it worked immediately, so seems a major oversight in the kernel or HDMI driver of the Tronsmart.

Probably the first thing you will want to do is get root level access.

To add a password to the root user account in Raspbian, from the pi@raspberrypi

prompt, type:

pi@raspberrypi / $ sudo su
root@raspberrypi:/# passwd root

then follow the dialogue for adding a pword for root user.

Exit from su account and login as root when you want.

Add new users using:

root@raspberrypi:/# adduser joe
Adding user `joe' ...
Adding new group `joe' (1005) ...
Adding new user `joe' (1002) with group `joe' ...
Creating home directory `/home/joe' ...
Copying files from `/etc/skel' ...
Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: password updated successfully
Changing the user information for joe
Enter the new value, or press ENTER for the default
Full Name []:

So, what's the CPU spec?

stevee@raspberrypi ~ $ lscpu
Architecture: armv6l
Byte Order: Little Endian
CPU(s): 1
On-line CPU(s) list: 0
Thread(s) per core: 1
Core(s) per socket: 1
Socket(s): 1

cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor : 0
model name : ARMv6-compatible processor rev 7 (v6l)
Features : swp half thumb fastmult vfp edsp java tls
CPU implementer : 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant : 0x0
CPU part : 0xb76
CPU revision : 7

Hardware : BCM2708
Revision : 0010
Serial : 000000004773a8a5


stevee@raspberrypi ~ $ cat /proc/meminfo | grep Mem
MemTotal: 447824 kB
MemFree: 277676 kB

As a beginner to Pi and Linux, you may want to follow the Demos at:

The Demo HD vid is impressive for a low spec PC - I filmed it on my phone here:

To run the h.264 binary videos, follow:

As a standalone web server it seems fine, as an Amazon reviewer hosts his photo site using one here:

and it loads very quickly from here in the UK. Reviews are here:

It came with a 8GB micro SD and adaptor, plastic housing, and a UK 5V, 2A PSU.

  • Latest Raspberry Pi Model B+ (512M RAM)
  • UK 5V 2A Power Supply
  • Black Raspberry Pi case
  • 8GB SD Card with NOOBS installed

Epiphany is the default browser, but I installed Chrome, which was also very slow compared to my other desktops and laptops, mainly from sheer lack of memory I assume, and even with a tailored version of Debian, it's asking a lot for only 512MB RAM to handle a whole OS and Apps, after what we are mostly used to these days, say 2-8 GB RAM at least fro most home devices. It does well, considering...

(AND STILL Excellent as a standalone surveillance cam with Motion, samba and 512MB!! 2016...) 

stevee@PIFRONT ~ $ free
total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 380780 259868 120912 0 61980 79836
-/+ buffers/cache: 118052 262728
Swap: 102396 0 102396


uname -a
Linux raspberrypi 3.12.35+ #730 PREEMPT Fri Dec 19 18:31:24 GMT 2014 armv6l GNU/Linux



Adding SSH and a Desktop as part of the base install options, you are up and basically functional after the first reboot. The total net install is about 2GB in size so can take time depending on your Internet connection.

The wired network is setup automatically via DHCP from install, so you should not have a problem connecting to the Internet if your ADSL modem is already setup correctly to hand out DHCP addresses. You can check the contents of the interfaces file if you wish - seems the wifi is partly setup too in this version:

vi /etc/network/interfaces

auto lo

iface lo inet loopback
iface eth0 inet dhcp

allow-hotplug wlan0
iface wlan0 inet manual
wpa-roam /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
iface default inet dhcp

I use Putty to SSH in from a laptop, so can be comfortable setting up the machine how I need, from adding Samba for Windows net shares access to adding Vim for text editing etc. - all part of my usual base setup I require.

apt-get install vim

The Pi has 4 USB ports, so leaves 2 usable spares after mouse and keys considerations. With a 2A PSU, it should handle 5V USB powered external drives, such as newer low power DVDs and hard drives, but I'm yet to test that.

I also bought a micro WiFi dongle addition for 5 quid but it doesn't seem to run in Windows with the driver disk supplied, but does show so far in the Pi when plugged in using:

tail -f  /var/log/syslog

 Jan 26 11:16:18 raspberrypi kernel: [ 1748.102800] usb 1-1.4: new high-speed USB
device number 7 using dwc_otg
Jan 26 11:16:18 raspberrypi kernel: [ 1748.214273] usb 1-1.4: New USB device fou
nd, idVendor=148f, idProduct=7601
Jan 26 11:16:18 raspberrypi kernel: [ 1748.214311] usb 1-1.4: New USB device str
ings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
Jan 26 11:16:18 raspberrypi kernel: [ 1748.214330] usb 1-1.4: Product: 802.11 n
Jan 26 11:16:18 raspberrypi kernel: [ 1748.214344] usb 1-1.4: Manufacturer: Medi
Jan 26 11:16:18 raspberrypi kernel: [ 1748.214357] usb 1-1.4: SerialNumber: 1.0

I am yet to set this up.

Tightvncserver works without a hitch as it always has in Debian, unlike Mint with the issues I showed in a prior Post, so enabled the remote screenshot above, from my laptop.

apt-get install tightvncserver

If you want to access a Win PC from Pi using Windows Rdesktop default port 3389, use rdesktop, which also works fine.

The Samba setup has not changed in years except for the addition of users and their passwords via the PAM database tool as explained in the Post:

This encrypts the user passwords so they are understood for Win share access, so from scratch you won't have any samba users in you PAM database list using

pdbedit -L


pdbedit -a uname

and follow the prompts to add a user and their pword. You need to be root or superuser for this.

Depending what you set in your

vi /etc/samba/smb.conf

file, you will be able to set and access Pi and Win shares on your net.

I need a recap on setting up an Apache web server so I'll do a Pi based Post for that soon.

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