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Raspberry Pi Hits the 2 Million Mark 246

Posted by timothy
from the chicken-in-every-pot dept.
The Raspberry Pi project that we've been fans of for quite a while now has hit a new milestone: Today, they announced that as of the last week in October, the project has sold more than two million boards. Raspberry Pi is anything but alone in the tiny, hackable computer world (all kinds of other options, from Arduino to the x86-based Minnowboard, are out there, and all have their selling points), but the low price, open-source emphasis, and focus on education have all helped the Pi catch on. If yours is one of these 2 million, what are you using it for? (And if you favor some other small system for your own experiments, what factors matter?)
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Raspberry Pi Hits the 2 Million Mark

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  • by oldhack (1037484) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:15PM (#45449587)
    Tell us about it. What do you cook up with Arduino kits, and how do you use them?
  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:16PM (#45449597)
    ARMv6 is outdated, ARMv7 is the way to go. And I'd rather have a not-so-beefy GPU than one that takes binary firmware blobs.
    • by kthreadd (1558445) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:22PM (#45449639)

      Then you may want to take a look at BeagleBone Black. Costs $10 more but uses a much more modern and powerful chip.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:50PM (#45450141)

        TI fully documents their system on chip (SOC) chips.
        Broadcom doesn't.

        This alone makes Broadcom (which is in the Raspberry Pi) completely non-free and craptastic, and the BeagleBone worthy of consideration by a hacker.

        F Broadcom. F Raspberry Pi. Don't waste your time on non-free systems which you have to reverse engineer because the documentation is purposely incomplete.

        The fact that there are significant reverse-engineering efforts going on
        https://github.com/raspberrypi/firmware/wiki
        https://github.com/hermanhermitage/videocoreiv/
        is proof that the Broadcom chip in the Raspberry Pi is anything but open.

        • seconded. I'm giving the BBB more of a try than the raspi.

          however, trying to use the BBB as a media server for high res (uac2 audio, asynch, with a good usb/spdif converter) is showing buffering or timing problems. note, I was not getting good results with the raspi, either, but the bbb is not so great for media (flac, full res) serving either. I still have to use my fanless atom itx box for that.

          still, I would give the tip of the hat to the BBB rather than the binary blob-based video and poorly laid out

        • by rwa2 (4391) *

          Yeah, on top of that, I had read somewhere that the Raspberry Pi ethernet port is USB-attached and is prone to periodic resets and disconnects, which basically rules out a Raspberry Pi for projects that would rely on a stable network connection.

          Sure, let me google you a citation.... eh, doesn't look particularly trustworthy, but:
          http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/08/24/2228251/serious-problems-with-usb-and-ethernet-on-the-raspberry-pi [slashdot.org]

          But I'm probably mostly upset that the Raspberry Pi is taking away bra

          • I run a collocated Raspberry PI and never had a networking issue (it's monitored). I also ran one at home as a vpn server (slow) for a while and it also was mighty stable. I'm willing to bet that most networking issues on the pi can be traced back to crappy power supplies.

        • by Hemlock Stones (636570) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @10:46PM (#45451731)
          While TI documents most of the am3359 SOC it does not provide any documentation for the Imagination Technologies PowerVR GPU core which is proprietary. To the OP, as far as I know there are no non-proprietary GPUs (more or less beefy) on any ARM SOC so good luck on finding one without binary blobs.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        One thing I couldn't see on the BeagleBone Black page or wiki was the power consumption. An RPi can run indefinitely from a modest solar panel and battery if you use a tickless kernel.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No special mucking around, idle, ethernet connected, no display.
          Pi 340mA@5V, BBB 230mA@5V.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:33PM (#45450379)

          I have a few different arm boards including two raspberry pi boards. Power consumption / power efficiency is NOT a selling point of the pi, if comparing to other arm boards. The pi has no low power states, it is full power all the time. The pi also uses linear voltage regulators, so very inefficient.

          My original model panda board has 1G ram, is several times faster than the pi, and uses half the power most of the time, and has the same peak power.

          My odroid U2 is at least 10 times faster than the pi, has 2G ram, and uses about the same power (or a little less) most of the time (but it has crazy high peak power if running at 100%cpu with a massive heatsink). If you pull the heatsink, it thermal throttles to still way faster than a pi, and keeps the peak power consumption pretty close to the pi.

          I don't have a beagle bone black, but I would suspect it is lower power consumption than a pi.

          The selling point for the pi is the community around it is _much_ larger than any of these other SBCs.

    • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:37PM (#45449739)

      Many people won't care what the CPU is. I thought about getting one and I know I don't care. It's cheap and flexible, has decent enough interfaces, has a huge community, and many people who will be coding on it will be writing Python anyway. I had a problem in mind and needed a small programmable device to solve it. I think many people will approach the pi this way rather than from a spec sheet perspective. I.e. "what can I do with this" vs. "what's it made from".

    • ARMv6 is outdated, ARMv7 is the way to go. And I'd rather have a not-so-beefy GPU than one that takes binary firmware blobs.

      Of course, if the tech doesn't fit, you must ... not purchase it. Or something like that

      On the other hand, 2 million purchases seem to think that forking over $40 for a board isn't a TERRIBLE idea.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ihlosi (895663)
        On the other hand, 2 million purchases seem to think that forking over $40 for a board isn't a TERRIBLE idea.

        It's just another example of a well-marketed product beating technically superior products, which appears to happen 99.9% of the time.

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:03PM (#45449885)

      Meh, makes a perfect DLNA server and irssi box, sat behind my TV downstairs - low power, low noise, cheap and cheerful. I don't see what benefit an ARMv7 would bring for me in any of the uses I have put mine to.

      • by fisted (2295862)
        irssi box, indeed. same here. also, receiving end of the serial console of my desktop.
    • by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:15PM (#45449941)

      ARMv6 is outdated, ARMv7 is the way to go.

      People do still cool stuff with the 6502 even if it's "outdated". ARMv6 is not outdated, it's a stable platform.

    • by ArbitraryName (3391191) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:19PM (#45449975)
      Good for you. This article is for the non-hipsters.
    • by maevius (518697) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:24PM (#45450011)

      You. Still. Don't. Get IT!

      It is not about the power! You have a cheap ass device that has a massive community that have solved almost all the bugs in the thing so any problem you have is a google search away. The foundation pays for ports of software to it. When you buy a new peripheral you can find quickly if it works with the pi and how to make it work. You can find lots of different enclosures and almost any other wacky thing you can think about.

      Also...All modern GPU have binary blobs. On pcs, on phones, on tablets, on embedded. Get over it.

      • by readacc (3401189)

        Interestingly enough, this benefit of the Raspberry Pi (of being so widespread and having side benefits that result from this) is precisely the reason why Windows still reins in the desktop world and why Linux still hasn't and will likely never make much impact.

        Using the most widely available version of a particular product in its field (Windows, iPhone, Raspberry Pi) provides the maximum level of support and shouldn't be ignored as a benefit. Doesn't mean the alternatives aren't useful either - sometimes t

        • by johnw (3725) on Monday November 18, 2013 @06:38AM (#45453073)

          Windows still reins in the desktop world

          What an accidentally apposite comment.

          Just like MS-DOS held back software development on the original PC, now Windows reins in the desktop world.

        • by Alioth (221270)

          Sorry to be spelling nazi...

          Reins - things you use for a horse.
          Rain - water that falls from the sky
          Reign - rules over.

          I think you probably means "reigns in the desktop world". If windows was reining in the desktop world it would mean that Windows was slowing a galloping desktop world to a halt, like you do when you rein in a horse. Oh wait... perhaps that's really what you meant after all :-)

      • by Ihlosi (895663)
        that have solved almost all the bugs in the thing

        How can you be sure that you "solved" bugs in the closed part of the hardware? Oh, you can't.

        All modern GPU have binary blobs.

        As I said, a not-so-beefy, but open GPU would be my preference. This way, you can personally experiment with all kinds of creative ways of using, misusing and abusing the computing power in the GPU.

        I've personally made the step from an ARMv4TDMI to an ARMv7 core and it was amazing how practically relevant the improvements wer

    • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Sunday November 17, 2013 @10:27PM (#45451651) Journal

      We're in the golden age for software development. I prefer an "open" solution like the Beagleboard but I received an R.Pi v2 for free and have made it part of my low-power dev environment. I'll describe this environment for the amusement of ye 'dotters.

      I installed a $10 hardware clock in the R.Pi and I power the it with a spare power cord from an Amazon Kindle.

      I run Raspbian (Debian) with Icewm DE. I use the R.Pi for coding (Java, C++, Perl, Go) and I push Mercurial updates to a code repo on a Sheevaplug running Debian Wheezy. The Sheevaplug's power supply had failed (typical problem, melted capacitors) but I wired the mainboard to an AC adaptor from a USB hub.

      I've overclocked the R.Pi to 900MHz. This isn't enough CPU to browse the Internet directly from the R.Pi with Iceweasel/Firefox, but Midori and NetSurf work well enough. On a Pogoplug V2 (running Debian, you see the pattern here), I have lighttpd and a Perl program that fetches and summarises RSS feeds for me. I can view the RSS summary from the R.Pi using NetSurf or Midori. (Dillo doesn't do tables well.)

      When I need to do Web research that requires Flash or special plug-ins, I use rdesktop to connect to a VM instance of Firefox (M-Windows XP or Debian) installed on an AMD box running VMware ESXi server. ESXi server is free.

      I have all this running with an APC battery back-up. The APC unit can run for some time with only the ARM kit to power. I have another APC UPS feeding my modem, router, and assorted switches.

      It's a versatile dev environment and it didn't cost much. None of it would be possible without Linux. I'll say it again: this is a golden age for software developers.

    • I work on even older chips. Ancient ones, actually, compared to ARM technology. The controllers I use are 8bit technology, having between 1 and 64k program memory (yes, in Harvard technology) and clocked at up to a stunning 20MHz. And as "outdated" as they may be to you, there are very good reasons to still use them rather than more modern, faster technology.

      1. Price. They are DIRT cheap. And I mean DIRT cheap. Blowing through 10 of them during development means nothing. We're talking in the cent to low sin

  • Purchased 4 so far (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:22PM (#45449643)

    First Raspberry Pi is powers an Asterisk VOIP system
    Second Raspberry Pi, is a low end NAS device for system backups
    Third Raspberry Pi is running RaspFi as a squeeze slave
    Fourth Raspberry Pi is running a Squeezebox server

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I made a Mini Space Invaders machine with mine.

    • by mrclisdue (1321513) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:40PM (#45449769)

      Running xbmc (openelec) on a total of 31, so far. I use 7 here at home, and the rest I've acquired for friends and relatives. I've totally cut the cable, I have moderately high-speed internet and I get a 10 or so tv channels ota. Basically, $70/mo for internet, and all my television (including all live sports (I *do* pay $150/yr for nhl gamecenter, archived games, etc)), music, movies, looked after. Most of the others who have acquired the pis from me have cut the cable, too...

    • by KnightMB (823876)
      Have several Raspberry Pi setup as digital currency servers for Timekoin. Rock solid uptime, low power usage, quick and easy using the pre-made image for them. Also have some that have replaced DHCP servers, File Servers, and Database Servers. Low power, fast enough for the task, low cost is a plus also.
    • by jonnyj (1011131) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @08:58PM (#45451315)

      One Raspberry Pi is a toy. The other runs my home network and presently stands at an impressive 117 days uptime with even more impressive power consumption.

      My lowly workhorse Pi with its ARM 6 processor performs admirably as a:

      - DNS server
      - DHCP server
      - Authentication server (Kerberos, OpenLDAP server and phpLDAPadmin) and publication service for network assets (OpenLDAP again)
      - Mail server (Dovecot, Postfix, Squirrelmail, Spamassassin, ClamAV, Amavis)
      - HTML image gallery
      - Home wiki (MediaWiki)

      Performance is no issue with any of this. MediaWiki is the slowest, but most pages load in 1-2 seconds. We're a busy, high-tech household so it serves up to seven laptops, five destops and nine mobile devices, many of which dual boot. Device management was a nightmare before the Pi saved the day.

  • by jackb_guppy (204733) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:25PM (#45449659)

    This weekend I found IPFIRE (Linux firewall/router follwoing IPCOP like design). Installed a UML295 LTE internet usb dongle with the on-board ethernet, up and running 10Mb/s (Both Up and Down) backup for my internet connections. Can also use it as base for mobile router in the car for the kids. Not bad for the low cost investment.

  • Cue the hate. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:30PM (#45449697) Journal

    For some reason the RPi always seem to get so much bitterness here. Apparently there are a lot of self-described nerds on a tech website for nerds who cannot imagine the use of a very small, cheap, low power hackable computer with moderate computing power.

    I find this very strange.

    • Re:Cue the hate. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rwa2 (4391) * on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:53PM (#45449845) Homepage Journal

      My father gave me one, I put RaspBMC on it because it seemed like the easiest way to get Debian on it.

      That said, I've never really been a big fan of XBMC even running on decent hardware, and it's kinda hard to think of much else to do with a Raspberry Pi that doesn't involve sinking a lot of money for an LCD screen and USB wifi, at which point you're better off with a cheap tablet/smartphone. So I kinda just carry it around so I could put the BSOD screensaver on random LCD TVs that I find in public.

      Frankly, I had more fun with the $25 Arduino UNO he sent me. I used it to control one of those cheap Lutron color LED strips:
      https://plus.google.com/109464377854747809155/videos [google.com]
      So if I was a little more motivated, my workstation's mood lighting could correspond to the weather or Nagios or something.

      • by Narishma (822073)

        My father gave me one, I put RaspBMC on it because it seemed like the easiest way to get Debian on it.

        Huh? The official Raspberry Pi distribution [raspbian.org] is Debian compiled for ARMv6.

    • Intel has brainwashed a generation into thinking that MHz is all that matters.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @03:37PM (#45449747)

    Slashdotters know about a lot of different small hardware.
    Suppose you wanted to build a gas pump controller with a touch screen based on Android.
    One issue is that in order to protect customers before certifying the pump, the department of weights and measures wants to see that the gas station owner can't easily manipulate the device to show an inflated reading. What kind of hardware would you consider?

    • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @08:31PM (#45451211)

      Any, but I'd pot the thing in epoxy inside a metal shell and it wouldn't be user-accessible other than a simple non-root interface to change price per gallon and any other required functions.

      If it breaks, throw it away and replace it. If faults are found in the future, ship a later version and swap 'em out.

      • Thanks for the reply. I was thinking that maintenance technicians would need to have access to the system, but you're right, that's not necessary. Assuming the display is separate, a $25 board could be replaced as a unit without increasing cost much, given the cost of the tech's time. That certainly simplifies assuring the customer that the unit hasn't been tampered with.

  • Media center (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jack Malmostoso (899729) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:02PM (#45449875)

    My RPi is loaded with RaspBMC and I use it to watch videos I have stored on my main machine.
    It is hooked up directly to the USB port of my TV so it powers up when I turn the TV on, and turns off when I'm done.
    It is powerful enough to stream 1080p over SMB/CIFS, and I got a 10EUR IR remote that needed exactly zero configuration (plugged in the USB receiver, counted up to 10, it was ready to go).

    Sure, it's not the fastest machine on earth, but for what I use it it's miles better than DLNA or similar crap.

    • by jhol13 (1087781)

      I once tried DLNA as my blueray player claimed it could do it. What a piece of shit DLNA is, for example two clients won't play same content unless you are lucky (same format content with same settins in the DLNA server). Besides, the implementation was horribly broken.

      Now I use Rikomagic as my media player, and have Logitach remote keyboard. The Ricomagic is powered by USB from my amplifier. It also can do whatever Android can, e.g. I have installed some free net-tv applications into it.

      • The biggest issue I have with DLNA is that it wildly depends on the receiving device.
        Streaming through the PS3 allows for high quality content, while streaming directly from my DLNA enabled TV caused the signal to be strongly degraded, I guess because the TV doesn't have enough horsepower to handle the larger stream.

        In any case, good riddance.

        • The biggest issue with DLNA is that it's a marketing toy, nothing else. The requirements to stick a "DLNA able" sticker on a piece of electronic is SO low that I'm surprised the average microwave doesn't have it.

          Seriously, if it's in some way capable of displaying something that might resemble the apparition of something resembling a moving picture, optionally with something that could be identified as sound, it's already way more than enough to get DLNA certified.

  • Mine Scares Cats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:08PM (#45449901)

    I wanted to build a fun little project over the summer to scare cats out of the garden.

    The RPi was a great platform to work with for a casual project like this. Having the GPIO was a real winner here.

    I wrote it all up for others to peruse and have offered enough information that anyone could build it for themselves.

    http://norris.org.au/cattack/ [norris.org.au]

    There are *quirks* to this hardware, but it is not a commercial device, it is for education use. I was telling my teacher-in-training friend that I don't know if I'd want to use the RPi in class with 30 students all finding the quirks at different times: it would be chaos! But for a single enthusiastic student working through these problems will give them a fantastic introduction to troubleshooting and the real life pain that comes with getting something to work.

  • by marcovje (205102) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:21PM (#45449987)

    I mainly use it as always-on machine in addition to the filer. The main reason is that with a filer you are more conservative. OpenVPN, postgresql db. I also have some applicationservers (3-tier) developed for it, but that is not production yes.

    Most important bit is long time usability and support, features are only secondary. In that RPI is unique.

  • How I use my RP (Score:5, Informative)

    by yossie (93792) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @04:22PM (#45449999)

    Most of the time, my RP, coupled with a 8-Relay board ($20 on ebay,) reports (via SMS) whenever any of my house doors are opened or closed, as well the garage door. Further, it has a web server with a small app that allows me to raise/lower the garage door.
    A picture of the board I constructed can be seen at http://www.blacksteel.com/pics/RP.jpg - the board has since been re-arranged a bit to give me better access to the HDMI port. The software is pretty minimal - a shell script to handle periodic polling of the various magnetic reed switches on the doors, it also keeps track of all changes in a mysql database. A php script to handle opening/closing the garage door (and animating the process in an image using data from the switches!)
    Also, whenever I have a movie that can't be played back by my old but still working Apple TV 1 running XBMC, I use OpenElec XBMC on my RP - it's not the most responsive XBCM in the world, but it plays back high resolution MKV's whereas the ATV1 can't keep up.
    All in all, it's an amazing board and I have other plans for it, grin. I likely will get another one or two at some point.

  • I bought two Raspberry Pi's in October. One of them is currently doing duty as an IRC server inside of one of my Broadband-Hamnet mesh nodes (formerly HSMM-MESH), the other is for use as a backup, and for experimenting.

    http://www.hsmm-mesh.org/ [hsmm-mesh.org]

  • Photo Booth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SgtKeeling (717065) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @05:30PM (#45450359) Journal
    I made a photo booth which was installed inside of an old phone booth in a local cafe for a new-media art festival this past summer. I used a Raspberry Pi, a usb webcam, a big red button connected via GPIO, a coin slot connected via GPIO, and an ethernet cable running to the router in the back room. People would insert their dime or two nickles and the button would light up. Pressing the button would take a photo. The Pi then uploaded the photos to a website which looped through all of the photos taken during the festival. People could visit the website on their own devices, but there were also a few screens set up around the town in shop windows displaying the photos. The program to do all this was a simple python script with a loop.

    You can still see the photos taken here: http://donttakemypicture.org/ [donttakemypicture.org]
    The site uses javascript to keep checking for new photos and to change the photo displayed for you every few seconds.
  • Sleeping in a drawer (Score:2, Informative)

    by damaki (997243)
    I bought this to use it as a lightweight server, found it highly underpowered, CPU and memory wise, and discovered that some software I needed was x86 only. So I left it gathering dust in a drawer. I have been tried finding a use for this thingy but could not. End of the story.
    I end up using the t-shirt more than the pi itself.
  • by darkgumby (647085)
    I use my Raspberry Pi for a PBX. http://www.raspberry-asterisk.org/ [raspberry-asterisk.org]
  • by dominux (731134) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @08:03PM (#45451093) Homepage

    I like Raspbian, but it would be nice to have the Ubuntu packages built for the Pi.
    Bit of the back story on the project page explaining why the Pi didn't have Ubuntu from the start.
    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-raspberry-pi-build-cluster-for-ubuntu/x/5206923 [indiegogo.com]

  • by anwyn (266338) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @09:27PM (#45451459)
    Some computers much more expensive than the PI do not have a Hardware RNG built in. Both my intel desktop and my laptop don't have a hardware RNG. If you try to generate a key, these computers will stop while gathering entropy. But not any more. I use my pi to dump random numbers into the entropy pools for all my computers that don't have an RNG.

    There are other hardware RNGs available, but none as inexpensive as a PI. Also because the PI has an RJ45 connection, it can be plugged into my router where it can serve random numbers for all computers on my lan.

  • by tbuskey (135499) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @11:44PM (#45451909) Journal

    Remote wifi temperature sensor. I have an existing 1-wire temp sensor net & wanted to put something in the greenhouse w/o running a wire. I just needed to add a cheap wifi dongle and it just worked. I took a small $ risk and almost no time. If I was doing 10-20, there are cheaper solutions for more time spent, but I think I got a good value.

    Since then, I played with RiscOS on it. I'm now playing with it as a thin client that someone built. I'm also going to play with Plex on it. Maybe I'll play with Plan 9 on it.

    The first task could probably be done on on any of the other ARM boards that run Linux. The others tasks might work on other boards, but people are building and optimizing for the RPi.

    All these ARM and microcontroller boards are fantastic. RPi made the others hit the under $40 price point. It reminds me of the days of Apple vs C64 vs Atari vs IBM and I hope they stick around.

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