Update 12 June: Liz continues to recover, but I’m still not letting her near the blog until she stops coughing like that.
Liz has spent most of this week suffering from an affliction picked up in Tokyo. We’re assuming this is flu, as even the worst sake hangover doesn’t usually last this long. I’ve sent her to bed to rest up; normal service will be resumed when she’s feeling better, hopefully early next week.
Update: Daniel’s blog post here provides some more info, including how to install the technology preview on Raspbian today. And Pekka’s blog post here has some very detailed technical information on the implementation of the Weston backend.
If you’re familiar with the Raspberry Pi desktop experience, you’ll have noticed that windows on the desktop can be a bit slower to move around than you’re used to on your PC or laptop. This is because X, the windowing software (or composition protocol) that we use, is not optimised to use the graphics core of the BCM2835, the chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi. All the work is done by the ARM processor instead, which slows things down and leaves the graphics core twiddling its thumbs. That graphics core is extremely powerful, so we’re working on putting it to good use to fix the issue.
We’ve made the decision to bypass X completely. Over the past few months we’ve been working with our friends at Collabora to implement the open-source Wayland composition protocol on top of the BCM2835 hardware video scaler (HVS). The HVS is a very powerful piece of hardware, with a scaling throughput of 500 megapixels per second and blending throughput of 1 gigapixel per second. It runs independently of the OpenGL ES hardware, so we can continue to render 3d graphics at the full, very fast rate, even while compositing.
Wayland composited desktop with XWayland and native applications.
In comparison to our current X11 desktop environment, Wayland frees the ARM from the burden of stitching together the top level of the composition hierarchy, and allows us to provide some neat features, including non-rectangular windows, fades for windows which don’t have input focus and an Exposé-like scaled window browser (the sort of thing that Mac users will be familiar with). Legacy X applications can still be supported using XWayland. Check out this video from Collabora to see these features in action, and to compare the current state of affairs with the Wayland future. Those non-rectangular shapes? They’re also windows.
We’re still working to improve performance and memory consumption, and don’t expect to be able to replace X11 as our default desktop environment until later in the year, but we will be including a technology preview in our next Raspbian release. Until then, this post on Collabora’s website gives some more background.
As with PyPy, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has funded this work on Wayland; it’s one of the ways we are trying to give back to the open-source community. Obviously, much of the work on this particular project is Raspberry Pi specific, but there’s a large portion of what’s being done, particularly around XWayland and some of the generic effects in Weston, that can be reused on many other platforms.
We’re looking forward to being able to push out the full release in the next few months. We hope you like the look of it!
The camera boards are now available for order! You can buy one from RS Components or from Premier Farnell/Element14. We’ve been very grateful for your patience as we’ve tweaked and refined things; it’d have been good to get the camera board out to you last month, but we wanted your experience to be as good as possible, and we’ve been working on the software right up until last night. Thank you to Gordon and Rob at Raspberry Pi and to Dom Cobley for their work on the firmware (Rob also worked on the documentation); to JamesH for his work on the software; to the Broadcom Cambridge ISP team, particularly David Plowman and Naush Patuck, for volunteering to help with tuning; to Bruce Gentles at Broadcom for his volunteering to help with some of the initial bring-up; to James Adams at Raspberry Pi for running the hardware project, and everybody at Sony Pencoed for making it happen.
Tehzeeb Gunza at OmniVision coordinated things from their end, and helped us with sensor selection. Thanks also to Gert van Loo and Rob Gwynne for their work on the hardware design. (And thank you to Broadcom for letting us take advantage of your team’s willingness to volunteer for us!) This, for the curious, is the camera lab we’ve been borrowing from Broadcom for testing. The mannequin’s name is Veronica. She’s lousy company. The room gives us a calibrated and fixed target to use during tuning; it’s designed to be filled with examples of the sorts of things people tend to take pictures of. Which makes it a kind of creepy place to hang out. Between this and anechoic chambers, we’re getting the full range of testing chambers that give us the shivers.
Click to enlarge. You might be interested to learn that this was snapped with a Nokia N8, which uses an earlier version of the imaging core that’s in the Raspberry Pi (but a different sensor and optics).
For such a small device, this has been an enormous project, and a year-long effort for everybody involved. We’re pretty proud of it: we hope you like it!
How to set up the camera hardware
Please note that the camera can be damaged by static electricity. Before removing the camera from its grey anti-static bag, please make sure you have discharged yourself by touching an earthed object (e.g. a radiator or water tap).
The flex cable inserts into the connector situated between the Ethernet and HDMI ports, with the silver connectors facing the HDMI port. The flex cable connector should be opened by pulling the tabs on the top of the connector upwards then towards the Ethernet port. The flex cable should be inserted firmly into the connector, with care taken not to bend the flex at too acute an angle. The top part of the connector should then be pushed towards the HDMI connector and down, while the flex cable is held in place. (Please view the video above to watch the cable being inserted.)
The camera may come with a small piece of translucent blue plastic film covering the lens. This is only present to protect the lens while it is being mailed to you, and needs to be removed by gently peeling it off.
How to enable camera support in Raspbian
Boot up the Pi and log in. The default username is pi, and the default password is raspberry. (Note: if you have changed these from the default then you will need to supply your own user/password details).
Run the following commands in a terminal to upgrade the Raspberry Pi firmware to the latest version:
sudo apt-get update
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sudo apt-get upgrade
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Access the configuration settings for the Pi by running the following command:
Navigate to “camera” and select “enable”.
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Select “Finish” and reboot.
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How to use the Raspberry Pi camera software
raspivid is a command line application that allows you to capture video with the camera module, while the application raspistill allows you to capture images.
-o or –output specifies the output filename and -t or –timeout specifies the amount of time that the preview will be displayed in milliseconds. Note that this set to 5s by default and that raspistill will capture the final frame of the preview period.
-d or –demo runs the demo mode that will cycle through the various image effects that are available.
Capture an image in jpeg format:
raspistill -o image.jpg
Capture a 5s video in h264 format:
raspivid -o video.h264
Capture a 10s video:
raspivid -o video.h264 -t 10000
Capture a 10s video in demo mode:
raspivid -o video.h264 -t 10000 -d
To see a list of possible options for running raspivid or raspistill, you can run:
While we love all programming languages equally here at the Foundation, we do love Python an awful lot. Most users run their code under the “default” CPython interpreter, but over the last few years the PyPy project has made great strides in producing an highly compatible alternative interpreter with an integrated tracing JIT compiler. On x86 platforms this can improve the performance of some workloads by a factor of ten or more, and the PyPy team are now bringing the same sort of boost to the ARM world.
You can download an Pi-compatible alpha release of PyPy for ARM and see some benchmarks here. We’re proud to have been able to contribute a small amount of funding to the latter stages of this project; over the next few weeks we’ll be running an irregular series highlighting some of the other open source projects that we’ve been contributing to.
In last week’s FreeBSD post, we linked to an early version of Nick Hudson’s NetBSD image for Pi. Nick has now released a new version which fixes a number of USB issues, and we’ve placed it in our mirror system. Of the major BSD-derived operating systems this only leaves OpenBSD (for which we’re not holding our breath).
We’ve been amazed by the variety of software that people have written for, or ported to, the Raspberry Pi. Today, together with our friends at IndieCity and Velocix, we’re launching the Pi Store to make it easier for developers of all ages to share their games, applications, tools and tutorials with the rest of the community. The Pi Store will, we hope, become a one-stop shop for all your Raspberry Pi needs; it’s also an easier way into the Raspberry Pi experience for total beginners, who will find everything they need to get going in one place, for free.
The store runs as an X application under Raspbian, and allows users to download content, and to upload their own content for moderation and release. At launch, we have 23 free titles in the store, ranging from utilities like LibreOffice and Asterisk to classic games like Freeciv and OpenTTD and Raspberry Pi exclusive Iridium Rising. We also have one piece of commercial content: the excellent Storm in a Teacup from Cobra Mobile.
We hope that the Pi Store will provide young people with a way to share their creations with a wider audience, and maybe to a make a little pocket money along the way; as well as offering commercial developers an easy way to get their software seen by the Raspberry Pi community. To start with, we’ll be encouraging the winners of our Summer Programming Contest to upload their entries to the store. Anybody can submit their own project for moderation and release. You can choose whether to make your content free or paid: the store has a tip jar mechanism, so even if you’re not charging (and not charging will get you far more downloads), you still have the opportunity to make some money from your development work if people really like it. You can submit binaries, raw Python code, images, audio or video; and soon you’ll be able to submit Scratch content too. Raspberry Pi-related media of all kinds also has a place in the Pi Store – we’re carrying the MagPi, and hope to be able to host as many of your homebrew tutorials there as possible. We’re hoping to see everything, from hobbyist content to full-blown commercial software.
As ever with things Pi, the community is going to be key to making the Pi Store great. As well as submitting your own projects (and there are tools in there to help you get started, like free sprite packages for budding games developers), you can help us out by reviewing and rating the stuff you download. The Pi Store has a recommendation engine which is tailored to you and your preferences, so the more you review, the better the recommendations we’ll be able to offer you (and other users) will be. If you rate and review constructively, it means the really great content that gets submitted will percolate up to the top, where everyone can see it. If Liz rates games I hate highly (and believe me, she does: most of her favourite PC games have customisable half-elves in them), that’s no problem: the engine reflects your personal taste, and will learn that, displaying a different selection of recommendations for everyone, once enough ratings are in. We’ll also be adding achievements and leaderboards shortly.
Content page for Storm in a Teacup
An updated Raspbian image which includes the Pi Store is available from the downloads page. Raspbian users can add the Pi Store application to their existing install by typing:
We’re very pleased to announce the immediate availability of RISC OS for the Raspberry Pi. First released in 1987, its origins can be traced back to the original team that developed the ARM microprocessor. RISC OS is owned by Castle Technology Ltd, and maintained by RISC OS Open Ltd. This version is made available free of charge to Raspberry Pi users.
Steve Revill, from ROOL, shows off RISC OS on the Pi
We really recommend a download; it’s very smooth, very fast to boot, and we’re delighted to be able to offer RISC OS for the platform. You’ll find a RISC OS image on the downloads page; and if you’re completely new to the OS, you’ll find Burngate’s Stroll around RISC OS in pdf form very useful.
An updated Raspbian “wheezy” SD card image is now available from the downloads page. This is a minor point release, adding support for the 512MB Model B and permitting arbitrary partitioning of memory between CPU and GPU by editing the gpu_mem property in config.txt.
Update: On Pete’s advice I’ve removed the caveat about the redundant pins on the GPIO connector. We’re committing to these remaining as power and ground pins from here on out. Damn my conservative hide
We are pleased to announce that schematics for the revision 2.0 Raspberry Pi Model B are now available here.
This post describes the key changes introduced in the new board revision. Note that although we have not yet exercised our option to add additional signals to the expansion connector, developers of expansion boards should continue to treat pins 4, 9, 14, 17, 20 and 25 as DNC (do not connect).
Update again: We’ve now added the ability to adjust the split between GPU and CPU memory with 1MB granularity, rendering the instructions in the previous update obsolete. Now you simply copy the updated firmware here, including the file fixup.dat, into your /boot partition. You can adjust the split manually by setting the gpu_mem property as described here.
Update: Those of you lucky enough to receive a 512MB Pi this morning can download updated firmware here. For example, download arm384_start.elf and rename it to start.elf on /boot partition. You will then have a 384M/128M memory split.
One of the most common suggestions we’ve heard since launch is that we should produce a more expensive “Model C” version of Raspberry Pi with extra RAM. This would be useful for people who want to use the Pi as a general-purpose computer, with multiple large applications running concurrently, and would enable some interesting embedded use cases (particularly using Java) which are slightly too heavyweight to fit comfortably in 256MB.
The downside of this suggestion for us is that we’re very attached to $35 as our highest price point. With this in mind, we’re pleased to announce that from today all Model B Raspberry Pis will ship with 512MB of RAM as standard. If you have an outstanding order with either distributor, you will receive the upgraded device in place of the 256MB version you ordered. Units should start arriving in customers’ hands today, and we will be making a firmware upgrade available in the next couple of days to enable access to the additional memory.
I’d like to thank our partners, RS Components and element14/Premier Farnell, and the suppliers, particularly Samsung, Sony and Broadcom, for all their help in delivering a smooth transition to the 512MB. I’m looking forward to seeing what you all get up to with your shiny new Pis.