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Education Hardware Hacking Programming Python Build

Eben Upton Muses on the Raspberry Pi, Scratch and, His Love For Parallela 71

super_rancid writes "In a 7,000 word interview with Raspberry Pi's founder posted on, Eben Upton talks about the challenges of managing such a successful project, what may be in the Raspberry Pi mark 2, and why he wishes he'd backed the Parallela Kickstarter." On interesting answer: "We were thinking of booting into Python or booting into Scratch. For younger kids, boot into Scratch. Have an environment where it’s Linux underneath, boots into Scratch and hold down a key at a particular point during boot and it doesn’t boot into Scratch it just drops into the prompt. So you can play with Scratch for six months, once you’re happy with Scratch you turn over the page and 'Hold down F1 during boot,' and it’s like 'Oh look - it’s a PC!' So I think that’s something we’d really like to do."
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Eben Upton Muses on the Raspberry Pi, Scratch and, His Love For Parallela

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  • the stage size sucks. My kids were able to start some really cool stuff, but the tiny stage meant a lot of their projects turned into dead ends.....
    • by kubajz ( 964091 )
      I was unpleasantly surprised that Scratch 2.0 cannot be downloaded and run on my computer - I had to run it "from the cloud". It's so sad because I really wanted to use it with my kids when we were offline, and the new Scratch has a lot of what I missed from the older version 1.4 for years, making it much more useful to actually teach my kids programming: the ability to easily clone objects in runtime, lists as a data type, and the ability to create custom blocks. At least they're saying that an offline edi
  • Unfortunate to hear the SoC can only talk to up to 512MB of RAM. I have one of the original Pis with 256MB... how I'd love a GB or more (call it a model C).
    • Re:More RAM (Score:5, Informative)

      by CaptainOfSpray ( 1229754 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @10:31AM (#44308187)
      Not enough room on the SoC, apparently. 512 MB is the max that will fit, without a complete redesign (which no-one wants to do, not enough value in it).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      More RAM is utterly pointless. The slow CPU can hardly make good use of what's already there. Even with 2GB, it would still not become a usable desktop system. The Raspberry Pi is slower than your Mom's smartphone. It is a single core CPU with just 700MHz and a low end instruction set. Even slow ARM based NAS devices have beefier CPUs than the Pi. I own a Pi and other ARM devices. The only one I'm not using is the Pi.

      • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @11:14AM (#44308627) Homepage

        However it's really good at doing things that use the GPU, it's a lot more stable and faster than the alternatives at that price point. A single core 700MHz CPU with 256/512MB RAM and 128MB of VRAM was all we had a couple of years ago and we did really well with it. Sure you won't drive the most modern accelerated GUIs with it but a static, usable GUI works pretty well.

        Disclaimer: I have developed a professional embedded advertisement system on the RPi with currently about 50 Pi's deployed.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        More RAM is utterly pointless. The slow CPU can hardly make good use of what's already there. Even with 2GB, it would still not become a usable desktop system.

        Hello Mr. Monoculture.

        Your MP3-player doesn't even have 256MB ram. Does that make it pointless to add more since it won't turn into a usable desktop system if you do?
        The Pi was never meant to be a desktop system or even a media player. Just because a lot of hobbyists picked it up as a cheap replacement for HTPCs or the gazillion different ARM developer cards doesn't mean that 2GB ram would be pointless for its intended purpose.
        It have been clear from the start that the Pi is intended to be an educational to

    • Try either of these: [] [] and run [] on it.

      I haven't powered my Pi up once since I bought the simpler one with 1GB of RAM.
  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @10:36AM (#44308247) Homepage

    In the back of your mind, you havenâ(TM)t got Raspberry Pi 2?

    No, not Pi 2. It must obviously be named 2 Pi.

  • by Anonymous Coward useless and overhyped the Pi is today - and has been since more than a year back - when compared to the some of the so much more capable "Android sticks" that cost not much more. Yes, everyone knows that the Pi has a composite video output and a dedicated ethernet output, but that's not what it all comes down to, especially since most of the "Android sticks" come with 2 (or more) USB ports and Wi-Fi these days. What are his thoughts on offering the barely usable amount of 256/512 MB of RAM and just a

    • by Nevo ( 690791 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @10:49AM (#44308401)
      I think you misunderstand the purpose of the Pi. The Pi was developed to be an educational tool for high-school aged kids. The fact that hackers and makers found it useful and jumped on the bandwagon is a fortunate side effect, but wasn't a design goal of the Pi.
    • by Grench ( 833454 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @11:00AM (#44308505) Homepage Journal

      Useless? Nope. It's not exactly a stellar performer, but it has a lot of uses. Remember, it's designed as an educational product, rather than as a PC replacement. It is not as powerful as your average desktop PC. But it is not useless.

      My own Pi runs Samba4 (it's an Active Directory domain controller for my home Windows PC network, and runs a DNS service), it runs CUPS (for network printer sharing), it runs CrashPlan (for backing up my other PCs' data), and it runs the LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) stack so that it can run some dynamic web-based services - the ones I use are Cacti and Observium (for graphing/monitoring my Cisco devices), and Horde Webmail/Groupware.

      This is exactly what I used to use an old AMD Sempron box for. Granted, that AMD box was free, and more powerful - but it's bigger, noisier, makes more heat, and consumes more power than the Pi does.

      I think the Pi is a fantastic project. It would be nice to see a more powerful ARM CPU and extra RAM on the next version of the board, but I'd be just as happy to see Ethernet being separated from the USB bus, and a SATA connector with the option to set your Pi up to boot from a hard drive out of the box (note that mine does run off a USB hard drive, but it still has to use the MicroSD card as a bootstrap - a SATA controller could also mean faster I/O throughput).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by omnibrain ( 1917284 )
      So please show me the GPIO Interface of your "Android Stick".
      • Presuming it can be plugged in - there's always the IOIO [], though that does add another few $$ to the price. But since most people tend to use their RPi as little more than a media streamer or bitcoin mining host for FPGA's / ASICs, etc. then the Android devices are a better option - and GPIO can be added on later if they wanted to (and can then be re-used if they switch/upgrade their Android device, etc.).

        • by Agripa ( 139780 )

          If the latency included with IOIO was acceptable, then any USB I/O device could be used.

      • get one based on A10 and you will have plenty of GPIOs

    • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @11:32AM (#44308783) Homepage

      I think you underestimate how useless the Android sticks are and how underpowered it's GPU. The RPi GPU clocks at whatever the CPU clocks at (700MHz), the Mali GPU at 500MHz, the MK802 clocks not at 1GHz but is underclocked to somewhere around ~780MHz to keep it relatively stable. Mind you that you can also clock the RPi to 1GHz if you don't mind a relatively unstable board (800MHz is typically okay).

      I developed an embedded media platform on the Pi and I've tested some other designs as well, the Android stick while being $15-25 more expensive was slower doing ffmpeg tasks and had problems handling more than one video stream, at 100% CPU (ffmpeg conversion tasks) the Pi would chug along for hours while the Android would regularly reboot and heat up tremendously in the process, it also demands a lot more power (roughly double that of the Pi). The Pi overlays one video stream on the other without much of a hiccup. If the Android did any good it was detecting issues with my programs when they were unexpectedly interrupted.

      • But now you can get quad-core sticks for $100 or less. So while the Pi is still cheaper, it's not that much cheaper. The issue is as you say reliability. The cheap ones tend to be garbage.

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          Quad Core CPU, Single Core GPU vs Single Core CPU, Dual Core GPU. The CPU is not really the problem on most of these platforms, it's the GPU. With RPi now getting Wayland builds that finally use the GPU (mind you, everything (compositing etc) was done on that paltry 700MHz ARM CPU which is really only meant to be an interface to the GPU)

          • Yes, the RK3188 trails the competition (Exynos quad, Tegra 3) slightly in GPU performance, but spanks it in every other category but storage performance. Well, beats it in every other category, spanks it in a few. Still Mali 400, but they gave it a 25% clock boost. And meanwhile, the Mali is the only ARM GPU for which there are passable FOSS graphics drivers. If you want some assurance of being able to use the hardware for arbitrary purposes in the future, you should still be opting for a Mali-based solutio

  • by thelovebus ( 264467 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @10:45AM (#44308367)

    When I first read about the Raspberry Pi I was excited because I thought they were going to recreate this boot to a BASIC interpreter-type of experience we used to have on Apple II's and TRS-80's and the like. That's the sort of experience that they claimed inspired the raspberry pi, and they claimed that sort of programming-based, learning-intensive experience was what they wanted the pi to be about.

    So, I was very disappointed to see that by default, a raspberry pi really is "just a pc" that boots into your typical CLI, and the "getting started" instructions actually have the new user start up X right off the bat. Providing scratch and a python IDE are nice and all, but I feel like all the normal trappings of "just a pc" take focus away from the real point of the pi.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    from the boot-to-emacs-for-maximum-terror dept

    No. The basic functionality of Emacs is quite discoverable: You press a key, it appears.

    For maximum terror, boot into vi. The original one, without visual clues in which mode you currently are (or that there are different modes at all).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Something like this should boot in python, with split screen, half of the screen for turtle graphics (yes python includes turtle graphics in its standard library).
    Then we have something like the LOGO environment of old.
    While running a long piece of code it should full screen the turtle graphics, with using ESC to terminate the run and return back to split screen.

  • I totally back this, it's a really good idea.
  • Why would you subject anyone to that
  • > I can’t think of any board that I could build at say $25 or even $35 that would be as good as Pi, let alone better.

    Whole frickin Cortex-A8 Allwinter A13 tablet at $30 []

    how about RK3066 android stick, Cortex-A9 Dual-core 1GB RAM, 8GB Flash at $35? []

    >But it’s a push even at $45. $55 I could imagine that you’d start to get to the point where you can start to get better but it’s interesting that there

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You listed an Android tablet and two Android sticks. I think you missed the part where he said "as good as Pi", since none of those fit that criteria.

      What you should have said was BeagleBone Black, $45: []

      • I'm genuinly interested in the BB Black, how is the GPU offloading? That's the big surprise I've found with the Pi. It outputs Full HD quite nicely for me, but the CPU could do with a touch more grunt.

        Also the community that has sprung up around the Pi is something that shouldn't disregarded. The fact you can hit google and get detailed answers from people doing the same thing as you is quite invaluable.

    • So two products which don't exist (yet? maybe) and the world's cheapest and probably worst-supported RK3188 stick with clearly inadequate ventilation. And the only one which might have decent GPIO somewhere onboard, if you go to the trouble of hacking some leads on, is the tablet.

      I'd love to buy one of those tablets. But this does not answer the question.

      You should also be aware that RK3066 is still bad at 1080p, so is RK3188. RK3188 has overheating problems at 1080p so far. RK3066 is just bad at it. Also,

      • RK3188 has soo much overheating problem at 1080p that my retina android tablet .. just works.
        The point was hardware exists and can be manufactured cheaply (in china just like RPI was at the beginning).

        • RK3188 has soo much overheating problem at 1080p that my retina android tablet .. just works.

          What clock? What GPU clock? Is it actually running anywhere near the theoretical maximum? Hardware can be manufactured cheaply, but most of that cheap hardware is shit, as evinced by Raspberry Pi itself.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?