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First impressions of the new RaspberryPi

Posted by Mark Stephens on 13:52, 22/2/2015 |
A few weeks ago, the RaspberryPi foundation surprised most of us with a new version of the RaspberryPi (creatively named the RaspberryPi 2). So I ordered one from Cjemicros (they have them in stock!) and here are some observations for you on the new device...
The new machine is pretty much the same size as the old model (so you can use all the old cables and just plug it in place of the original box). The headline change was the upgrade in memory (now 1gig) and a much more powerful CPU (it is 20% faster and has 4 cores in place of the original single core). The machine also has 4 usb ports (up from 2) and uses the microSD card. I have the original RaspberryPi where the old SD card would stick out and actually managed to break a couple of those cards moving the box. In the new model, the Micro SD card sits snugly and safely inside the box..
The big reason for upgrading the Pi was that I wanted to run Raspbian (the official Pi version of Linux) as a GUI on the box. On the original machine, it struggles and Epiphany (the new web browser) is painful. I would not recommend it for general usage and I got fed up with the CPU meter being more of less stuck on 100% usage. Raspbian is able to use all four cores and it is really usable on the new device. Firing up Epiphany showed a usage of 10%.... If you want a cheap, simple machine to run Linux on, the new RaspberryPi is a really nice device..
RISC OS is not able to make use of the additional cores but it does benefit from the faster CPU (and more memory is always useful). Having 4 USB ports is also really nice. I use a USB key for backups and file transfer so the old machine needed a hub as the 2 ports would be used by keyboard and mouse. Some speed tests have shown that some things are actually slower on the new machine (see figures on ROOL forum by Chris Gransden). Speed was never really an issue for RISC OS on the old machine. In practise, both are pretty usable RISC OS devices.
ROOL was in on the secret development so the latest version of RISC OS runs on the new RaspberryPi. It actually uses a slightly different ARM chip and has some minor hardware changes so some tweaks were needed. The software installer (NOOBS) which allows you to install different operating systems does not yet have this latest version of RISC OS so you will need to install RISC OS directly or await the update..
In conclusion, if you want to run Raspbian as a desktop Operating system, upgrade now. If you would like a generally faster RISC OS device and some free USB ports, it is also worth the upgrade. I will probably keep my original Pi for RISC OS and use the Version 2 Pi for running other Operating Systems. Now I just need a switch box.....
What are your experiences with the new machine or will you be upgrading?
3 comments in the forums

RISC OS SouthWest Show 2015

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 21:10, 11/2/2015 | ,
Saturday the 21st of February, a little under 10 days from now, is the date of this year's SouthWest show, to be held at its usual location of the Webbington Hotel near Weston- super-Mare.
A joint venture between R-Comp and Orpheus Internet, exhibitors are set to include:The big attention grabbers this year are likely to be R-CompInfo themselves, who are set to officially launch their new "ARMX6" computer (formerly known as the ARMini.MX). Based on the Freescale i.MX 6 SoC, by all accounts it's set to take the crown of the most powerful RISC OS computer currently available. Or for those working on a budget, it's also expected that there'll be plenty of Raspberry Pi 2's available from CJE - a perfect machine to take along to the Raspberry Jam area within the show.
Check out the show website for further details.
1 comment in the forums

Voting open for RISC OS Awards 2014

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 12:20, 8/12/2014 | ,
Vince Hudd of RISCOSitory and Soft Rock Software has announced that voting for the 2014 RISC OS Awards is now open.
Unlike with previous years, each category no longer has a set of pre-selected options which the voters must choose from. Instead, voters are given the full freedom to vote for whomever or whatever they wish. There are also several new categories to vote for, including best foreign language resource, and the "broken cog" award for the biggest failing/disappointment.
The polls are due to close at the end of January, but there's no reason why you shouldn't vote now if you've already made up your mind.
2 comments in the forums

Mysterious new product to be announced at London Show

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 21:21, 23/10/2014 | ,
Lots of announcements have been coming in in the past few days in the run-up to this weekend's RISC OS London Show. However I think it's safe to say that the most-talked about news is that of a major new product that's due to be revealed at the show. Said to have been development by a coalition of parties for a year, details of exactly what it is or who is behind it are surprisingly stark. However some sleuths over on the RISC OS Open forums believe they have found the answer, hidden in a series of cryptic messages from R-Comp: A new computer based around the Freescale i.MX6 SoC. Could it be true, or is there another?
With only a couple of days left until the show, I guess we don't have too long left to find out.
33 comments in the forums

VirtualRPC gets a Spring clean

Posted by Mark Stephens on 18:20, 14/10/2014 |
There is now an update to VirtualRPC for Mac and Windows (a commercial program which has been around for over a decade now). There is a selection of free and commercial emulators on offer for Windows and Mac to 'upgrade' your machine into a RISCOS machine. So what is on offer in the long-awaited update for this commercial package…
I already have a copy so sent off my 15 pounds to get the upgrade (you also need to send your old disk back). I received the new disk back and installed the Mac version. The old installer no longer worked on my Mac so it is very nice to have the ability to install the software. The disk also acts as a key on the product as you need the code from the disk to activate the software. The product version is now 1.7.5 (my old version was 1.6.6).
Installing the software is painless and gives you a new installation with a Mac application, some help files to remind you on the security settings on your Mac (which may cause some problems) and a HardDisc4 folder with a full RISCOS 4.39 installation. A selection of software comes with the installation although some of it is quite old (Netsurf 2.1 from 2009). There are also some additional zips containing additional public domain software.
If you have an existing installation you can copy across the HardDisc (or the new VirtualRPC binary) and the software works without issue. Nothing internally has changed so all the configuration is inside a file called va.cfg inside the VirtualPRC application. This includes the type of Arm processor emulated, whether the user sets this on startup, control on mouse emulation for 3 buttons and memory allocation.
The software runs smoothly on the latest Macs (including retina displays) but does not appear to offer any major new functionality.
If you are new emulation on Mac, VirtualRPC offers the most polished emulation (with a nice full-screen toggle between a Window and fullscreen).
I had upgraded my old installation to RISCOS Six, and this runs pretty much as before with the new version.
I was intrigued that there is no mention of upgrading to RISCOS Six, which is now owned by 3QD developments. It would be nice to see this as an official option as it has five more years development over 4.39
So overall, very nice to see the software being updated and working properly/installing on the latest Macs. Does very much what it says on the tin and turns your Mac into a Virtual RiscPC running RISCOS 4.39.
More details http://www.virtualacorn.co.uk/
12 comments in the forums

RISC OS London Show 2014 [Updated]

Posted by Bryan Hogan on 08:40, 4/10/2014 | , ,
***** STOP PRESS *****
With just two weeks to go ROUGOL have heard that a major new product that has been in development for a year will be announced at the show.
However we are not allowed to say what it is yet! So get yourself along to the show and don't miss out on the chance to be one of the first to see this exciting development in action smile
This year’s RISC OS London Show is on Saturday 25th October, open 11am-5pm, at its usual venue of the St Giles Hotel, Feltham, TW14 9AD. Entrance is £5 with under 16s free.
The exhibitors list is still growing, but already has lots of regulars and new faces.
We'll have on display the biggest ever RISC OS desktop with a 3840x2160 resolution on a 40inch ultra-hidef 4K TV.
Also a first chance to see an early port of RISC OS running on the ARM Cortex-A15 based IGEPv5 board.
Plus for retro fans, there will be some new Beeb games to play smile
Then there are the usual suspects:
  • ROOL with RISC OS 5 running on a variety of hardware, including the new Raspberry Pi B+
  • RComp with the ARMini and ARMiniX, plus the latest updates to their software collection
  • CJEInfo with the PandaRO and RaspberryRO, along with an extensive set of accessories
  • Archive and Drag n Drop have new issues for your reading pleasure
  • RiscDJ and 3rd Event will be tickling your ears
  • Riscy Robots will have a Pi controlled model railway
There will also be a theatre programme of talks throughout the day.
Keep an eye on the website for the latest news – http://www.riscoslondonshow.co.uk/
2 comments in the forums

You wait ages for ONE browser update for your Raspberry Pi...

Posted by Mark Stephens on 20:02, 4/9/2014 |
In my personal computer usage, the web browser has always been the weak link on RISC OS so it is really nice to see an update to Netsurf appearing with NetSurf 3.2 being released at the end of August. It looks like essentially a bug-fix and code tidy release, with some incremental improvements to support for CSS handling, but always welcome features. You can get the RISC OS release from here
One of the really cool features of the Rasperberry Pi is the ability to run the NOOBS software which allows you to install several different Operating Systems. With multiple SD cards ,swtiching between Linux and RISC OS is as easy as rebooting with a different card. Raspbian works well but its bowsers have been slightly disappointing (there is lots of choice with NetSurf, IceFox, experimental builds of Chrome but I have found them all either under-powered or sluggish).
So it is really great to see the release of Epiphany ( a new browser heavily optimised for the Raspberry Pi ). This is easily installed on your existing Linux SD card. You can read the official announcement here. It is especially interesting to note the heavy involvement of Ben Avison (one of the key memebers of RISC OS Open) in the development.
Happy browsing on your Pi...
5 comments in the forums

RISC OS Midsummer MUG Show 2014 - Saturday 12th July

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 21:32, 4/7/2014 | , ,
The RISC OS Midsummer Mug Show 2014 takes place on Saturday 12th July 11:00am - 16:30pm at St John's Church Hall, 205 Warwick Road, Kenilworth CV8 1HY.
Entrance fee is £1.00 and free for children
Exhibitors include CJEInfo, RComp, RISC OS Open Ltd, Orpheus Internet, Sine Nomine and many more.
RISC OS and Raspberry Pi what better summer combinations can you find in one location so why not come and see the future with hopefully a good dollop of Raspberry Pi's running your favourite operating system along with RComp's ARMini plus RISC OS running on a variety of machines and through emulation.
There will also be a charity stand run on behalf of Tools with a Mission, a charity sending tools across the world. Donations can include old handtools and also working PC's less than 5years old, Flat screen monitors and printers etc.
So come along and support the RISC OS community and when you have finished and spent nearly all your money then why not take in the best that Kenilworth has to offer and take a stroll around this delightful Warwickshire town which includes a CastleInfo and many fine restaurants and pubs or perhaps have a picnic in the Castle Grounds, weather permitting of course unless you're of the hardy variety.
For more details visit:
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