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back to article Manual override: Raspberry Pi beginners' books

The Raspberry Pi has been out for just over a year now. It has undergone a couple of revisions during that time, most recently around October 2012, but a short while ago I decided it was time I ought to try it out and see what the diminutive, Linux-running micro can do. Entirely coincidentally, the Raspberry Pi Owners’ Workshop …

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Haynes manual

I've got a copy of the Haynes manual and I have to say that I thought it was a really good guide to the Raspberry PI. Like most of the other Haynes manuals, it gives excellent step by step information without making it sound as if they are treating you like an idiot.

If I were being a touch picky, I would suggest that they might have usefully added a little more information about programming the Pi; there is some detail in there along with sample code and it is very helfpul, but I felt that a few more samples from specific example projects to give the user some ideas on how they might use it would have been of real benefit.

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Re: Haynes manual

Interesting you should say that - I'm given to understand that Gray wrote at least two more chapters that were omitted from the book for space reasons...

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Re: Haynes manual - sample code

That sounds like the sort of thing that should be hosted on a website. Does the book recommend any? That and user forums of course.

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Re: Haynes manual - sample code

Yes it does have some links to a number of sites; some of which do have more of the code samples. I just felt that those didn't quite provide quite the same level of explanation as in the book.

However, I suppose that it's like a lot of things; once you get stuck in and start experimenting, you learn more by doing your own thing.

Still think that it's a really good book and well worth buying.

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Pint

Re: Haynes manual

It's traditional in Haynes car repair manuals to include one or two incorrect pictures - for example, of a brake system from a completely different type of car.

So the Haynes Pi manual should have an incorrect picture, perhaps of some other single board computer completely unrelated to the Pi. Even better, a picture captioned 'Raspberry Pi I/O ports', but actually showing the drum brake under a Ford Cortina.

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Re: Haynes manual

Which model of Cortina? The drum brake sizes do vary from model to model. (8 or 9" IIRC, and I think the brake cylinder also varied from single to dual piston).

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Re: Haynes manual

It should also have a two-page spread showing different coloured spark plugs, and another with a Peugeot being bodged up with bodyfiller. That's the law.

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Coat

Am I the only one to see the name 'Shawn Wallace' and think:

"INCONCEIVABLE!"

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Re: Am I the only one to see the name 'Shawn Wallace' and think:

I thought of Aardman

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Happy

Heh

"a short while ago I decided it was time I ought to try it out and see what the diminutive, Linux-running micro can do."

Run RISC OS really really well.

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Re: Heh

And anyone in the vicinity of Wakefield this Saturday (April 20th) has the opportunity to see it doing exactly that - quite a few exhibitors at the annual RISC OS Wakefield Show will be running their wares on the Pi.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Heh

Having fond memories of my school's Archies (any my one at home), I got RISC OS for my Pi and have to say that I've been quite disappointed with it. It doesn't seem to properly support 1080p screen resolution and doesn't refresh the screen, leaving artifacts all over it. The earlier versions of RISC OS on far lower powered hardware never did this...

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Re: Heh

I also ran RiscOS for a while on it, but didn't know what to do with it (never used it before, felt a bit awkward).

Right now my RasPI runs:

root@rpi / # uname -a

NetBSD rpi 6.99.19 NetBSD 6.99.19 (RPI) #4: Sat Apr 6 13:27:49 BST 2013 sysbuild@....:/home/sysbuild/Sysbuild/evbarm/obj/home/sysbuild/src/sys/arch/evbarm/compile/RPI evbarm

which I cross-compiled myself; presently it is slaving over pkgsrc compilations:

root@rpi / # pkg_info | wc -l

115

(doing some Common Lisp ATM...).

All the hardware seems to be recognized; X works fine, using WindowMaker as a window manager.

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Re: Heh

"The earlier versions of RISC OS on far lower powered hardware never did this..."

...on far lower resolution screens.

The version of RISC OS that runs on the Pi is, I believe, still officially a beta release and, as such, it can't be said to be without issues - the artifacting (which I haven't seen in the version dating from last October that's running on my Pi*) likely being one such issue. As for saying it doesn't properly support 1080p - in what way is that not supported?

* The only issue I've had with it is that it sometimes misses mouse clicks (and, less frequently, releases) from a wireless keyboard/mouse combo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Heh

@Chavdar Ivanov - NetBSD on the Pi? Top man. I seem to recall your name from the NetBSD mailing lists as well. I'm trying to resist the lure of the Raspberry Pi, since I know I'll spend ages tinkering with it, but NetBSD support may push me over the edge. It would be quite neat to implement some sort of MIDI controller with it, assuming I can easily interface a bunch of sliders or rotary dials with it.

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Re: Heh

I wouldn't know about MIDI controller, but NetBSD itself runs quite well on mine - there was just one crash due to some bad blocks on the SD card (which in itself is somewhat slowish under NetBSD, I do the compilations over NFS).

Lately -current builds well under evbarm, rpi.img live image is what I am running (just follow the wiki in resizing the partitions).

To be honest I still haven't decided what to do with mine, I've got plenty of other hardware to tinker with NetBSD, but why not on the RPI as well...

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Re: Heh

Right now my RasPI runs:

root@rpi / # uname -a

NetBSD rpi 6.99.19 NetBSD 6.99.19 (RPI) #4: Sat Apr 6 13:27:49 BST 2013 sysbuild@....:/home/sysbuild/Sysbuild/evbarm/obj/home/sysbuild/src/sys/arch/evbarm/compile/RPI evbarm

which I cross-compiled myself; presently it is slaving over pkgsrc compilations:

root@rpi / # pkg_info | wc -l

115

(doing some Common Lisp ATM...).

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why most people prefer to run Windows...

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Re: "And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why most people prefer to run Windows..."

I think even the ARM build of Win8 would struggle to run on a pi, although I'm sure someone would do the port (just for kicks) if Microsoft open-sourced the code.

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Re: Heh @Anon IV

Indeed some people do prefer Windows. It's easy/familiar and requires no knowledge or effort to use. Which shows exactly why the Raspberry Pi is a great idea. It forces people to LEARN how this stuff works under the skin.

Although there is a quite usable desktop as well, which windows users would find very familiar.

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Happy

Re: Heh

"...And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why most people prefer to run Windows..."

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why Windows fanbois tend to have the urine relentlessly extracted from them when they try to say anything meaningful about systems like this.

And yes, I have a RasPi myself which is quite happy running RISC OS with a Sunfish NFS link to my Linux server. I had some trouble with the display until I reloaded the OS. No problem since.

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Meh

Re: Heh

Fair enough, but what does it actually do?

Better still, what does it do that my existing iMac doesn't?

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Stop

Re: Heh

Serious question though - I'd love to have one to play with, but can never think of anything worthwhile. Everything I've seen online seems to just be a masochistic way of doing something that doesn't need to be done, in a much harder way than any normal person would do.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Heh

Easy, you can use it to lean how to bring up OSes on bare metal. It's very forgiving of hamfistedness.

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Anonymous Coward

Plus three more

Plus one Apress's 'Learn Raspberry Pi ith Linux' .by Peter Membrey & David Hows.

Chapter 1 contains basics (by basic, I mean basic - including a photo of different USB connectors, just in case the user attempts to put a standar B into/around the microUSB socket). Chapter 2 deals with the GUI, and from then on i't into Linux territory - files & paths, essential commands, vi, a bit of Bash, and finishing up with LAMP, WiPi (sic) & a media center. (249 pages - 14.88 from Amazon, 9.72 Kindle)

Meanwhile, the final chapter from 'LeanRPi with Linux' gets a book of it's own from Pakt - 'Raspberry Pi Media Center' by Sam Nazarko. Another I haven't seen is Richard Golding's 'Raspberry Pi Networking Cookbook' again from Pakt.

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"Unless your old man bought your computer for you from Boots or WHSmith, you had to send off for it, clipping out a coupon from a magazine like Personal Computer World and posting it off with a cheque. Maybe your computer would come in a month, maybe it wouldn’t."

Brilliant; that captured the era in just two sentences better than any 'retro' article I've ever read

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Anonymous Coward

Soldering on

I see what you did there..

Of course the merkins can't speak proper English so won't get that.

The rest of the world says the L is not silent...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Soldering on

Blimey, never knew the North Americans pronounced it without the 'd'. One of the weirder ways in which English differs from country to country.

Now I need to go and put something in the boot of my car, then head to the garage to fill up with petrol. I'll have to take care as I pull away, as I'm parked on the pavement and will have to use my hooter if anyone's in the way.

Now I need to go and put something in the trunk of my car, then head to the station to fill up with gas. I'll have to take care as I pull away, as I'm parked on the sidewalk and will have to use my horn if anyone's in the way.

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Re: Soldering on

Except the French, who don't put the "L" in in the first place (according to your link). Probably explains the variant pronunciation in the first place.

It's hard for me to maintain the proper air of British superiority in here New York when British people freak out over stupid minutiae like this every five minutes.

Well done for once again giving lie to the mythic British stiff-upper lip, Captain Link The Bleeding Obvious.

Next up : OMG Fahrenheit???!!11!!

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Free ebook

Free Pi book details on Tpradar http://www.tipradar.com/grab-your-unofficial-raspberry-pi-manual-for-free.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Soldering on

@chris use different words all you like. the point was about the same word variance. try tomato, or colour/color.

@stevie I can tell which way you've taken the post, but go back and you'll see its actually explaining the pun.

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Joke

I think you've alleviated some of the difficulty in making a choice of publication...

In fact i'd say you've given us Manual Relief

(Surprised you didn't use that as the headline in fact!)

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dummies guid

I purchased the dummies guide when it popped up on Amazon (sorry Kobo) just for the guid to the I/O pins.

I felt the book was a but of an all rounder touching on *nix basics, web page design and a foundation to scratch and python. Not bad all-in-one resource.

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Anonymous Coward

http://www.themagpi.com/

Given that we've mentioned Personal Computer World, should we also mention its modern Pi equivalent (and far far more)? The magazine for Pi users - the magpi?

http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/tag/the-magpi

or go direct to

http://www.themagpi.com/

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