Unix: Raspberry Pi: A Quick-Start Guide, Second Edition, Maik Schmidt

Get yourself a $35 computer, a copy of this book, and you will likely discover a side of computing that expands your view of what computing is all about

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This was the "tinker toys" phase -- fitting the parts together so that I could prepare an SD card that I was going to be able to use to house my Pi's operating system.

The book provided advice on how to prepare the card, what OS images I should consider downloading, how to verify the OS image that I had downloaded was OK, and then write the image to the card.

Hooking the system up to a keyboard and mouse was easy as the Raspberry Pi has two USB ports on one edge of the card.

I then plugged the little power adaptor and the SD card go into what I'm calling the "front end" of the board only because I got a Pi kit that included a set of clear plastic pieces that form a case and provide labels for the various ports and that end of the unit has the logo. Then I looked up.

Initially, I had a problem getting video using my daughter's HDMI monitor (I didn't have
an adaptor that would have allowed me to use my VGA/DVI monitor). Fortunately, it was fairly easy to overcome this problem by 1) attaching the prepared card once again to my laptop, 2) editing the config.txt file on the card with a text editor, and 3) adding this line:

hdmi_force_hotplug=1

This command sets the Pi to use HDMI mode. The next time I plugged the card and power adaptor into my Pi, my daughter's monitor lit up with boot messages and the fun began.

Once my Raspberry Pi was booting with the modified config.txt file, I was back to looking
through the book for advice on how to make a number of configuration choices for my keyboard, my timezone setting, and whether or not to use overclocking. I also got some insights on the system's memory and what I should expect to see when I issued the free command.

The book takes the reader through a number of important phases in setting up and using their Raspberry Pi systems including adding and removing software, finding packages,
configuring the firmware, configuring the video output, and testing and configuring the audio system. In short, a lot of detail that I would have had trouble if I'd had to google it one issue at a time.

Later chapters include more advanced and, frankly, somewhat mind boggling options for what I can do with my Pi now that I can log in and start the windowing system. This includes:

building a kiosk -- an informational display driven by a web service networking -- adding browsers, configuring a web server, setting up and using ssh, using public-private key pairs, sharing desktops with VNC, going Wi-Fi (this requires an additional Wi-Fi stick) and configuring my Wi-Fi setup multimedia -- making the Pi a media center playing games -- some native to the OS, some not and what can be expected in terms of graphics and performance tinkering with GPIO pins -- going beyond the OS to tinkering with the electronics

My Raspberry Pi kit came with breadboards, LEDs and resistors for doing more hardware-centric things than I've done in many years.

Photo Credit: 

The Pragmatic Programmers, LLC

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