is the Raspberry Pi a waste of time?


 
15 posts
by RustyNeX » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:58 am
Hi all,

I already know this is going to be very controversial, there are many people who love the Pi and will not hear a bad word said against it.

first of all i want to make some positive points about the Pi project.

I think the idea of the Raspberry Pi is really great, i love the idea of making computers available to all, and making it part of education. I love the idea that the first computer experiences kids will have will be with open source ideas like Linux and Python. This is a really great idea but i don't think it is working.

The problem i feel is how the Pi is marketed. currently it is marketed as a $35 computer, and that sounds great but first of all $35 will buy you a brick, you cannot use it as a computer without adding other parts, like an SD card, OS, power cable, etc. so any school that thinks they can provide cheap computer projects for their pupils for $35 a head will be disappointed that they will have to be spending more than that to get something that works. Now i understand that this is not a hidden secret, that the website quick start makes it clear that extra parts will be needed, and i am sure that education packages would have some kind of reduced cost or bulk buy, but i still think the marketing is a bit misleading. When i first heard about the Pi, i saw an article saying: "$35 computers now on sale" which i thought would be, $35 and i have a compute i can use.

anyway, i found out later i had to spend more money, and i was perfectly happy with that and i bought a Pi. but the Pi is not made for me, it is made for schools, and i can see this being a catch.

secondly, it is marketed as a "computer" and sure it is, it runs linux, it is about as computer as it gets, but people who don't know how to use linux or command prompt might be a little lost. i have seen kids at the age of 3, playing with games consoles and iPads etc, before they have even got to school they have a base idea of computers. they know that they are graphical, fun, interactive and easy to use. But the Pi is not so straight forward, of course its all a matter of learning, which is the whole point, learning how to use linux etc, but i think this will put a lot of children off. If the idea is to get kids to want to use Linux over something like windows then i think their first experience with linux will be a bad one. For a start anyone who doesn't know linux, (which will most likely be both the pupils and teachers) will find the command prompt a bit backwards, compiling binaries, patching kernels, checking dependencies etc is certainly not the user friendly 'dumbed down' computers they are used to.

But also the Pi has a few more problems with its hardware, things like: it has an SD slot, but not all SD cards work with it. It has a USB cable, but it won't work in all USB sockets. these things take ideas that should be universal, like SD and USB and put some exceptions in the mix. if the Pi came with a jack socket and AC power supply, there would be no confusion and no issues with low power, the USB sockets wouldn't reset the Pi when things were plugged in, the computer wouldn't lock up with low power etc. so an AC power supply would mean that kids could get started quicker and there would be less "weird" power issues causing problems which can be sometimes hard to track down. These kids are trying to be educated and cant spend a whole lesson trying to find out why the Pi keeps crashing.

My first experience with the Pi crashing was actually due to the USB cable. i had a power supply that was rated 5v @ 2A, so it was fine, i bought a USB cable from ebay that had in the listing "for Raspberry Pi" but the Pi kept locking up, eventually i tracked the problem down to the cable, it turns out the internal resistance was too much and the cable just didn't work. i returned it to the seller who confirmed the entire batch was bad. This kind of problem and fault finding was enough of a problem for me and i am experienced with computers and electronics, but for children who are just starting out with computers, this will not inspire them.


The other problem is the Internet, one of the first things kids would probably want to use their new Pi for is to log onto facebook, they want the internet. the latest generation of kids don't know a life without the internet, it is an essential part of their world. but the Pi can barely run the internet, the web browsers don't support some of the basic internet requirements like flash, and the processor is just too slow to run the internet reasonably. Why would any child be inspired to buy a linux computer when they are older if their first impression of linux is that it can't even go on the net? even mobile phones can go on the internet. I think this could be a deal breaker for some kids.

Personally, i wasn't expecting the Pi to be much, i looked at the hardware and i understood that it was going to be limited. that wasn't a problem for me, all i wanted to use it for was to create a graphical interface for some electronic projects. the Pi and its powerful HDMI level graphics processor, would handle the graphics, and then send simple commands out the GPIOs to turn things on and off and receive information from sensors. I chose the Pi over something like an Arduino because it had much better graphics support and higher level programming options, where as the Arduino takes a lot of effort to get a graphical interface of any kind out of it.

but when i look at other people's projects, most of them are not using graphics at all, they are using them to turn things on and off, or as servers etc, which means that these extra graphics are not even being used.

so basically lots of people are using the Pi as a powerful Arduino, and to me that seems like a waste, if the Pi is only good at doing Arduino style tasks then its not really a computer, and with the Arduino being cheaper, better supported, and easier to use, why try and reinvent the arduino?

so i think that if kids are going to get into programming and electronics they should use Arduinos instead of the Raspberry Pi. which is a shame because that doesn't allow them to use Linux and Python, but i feel the Pi will put kids off linux and programming.




so anyway, i want to discuss this. Dont get me wrong the Raspberry Pi concept is great, I understand that a $35 computer is never going to compete with "normal computers" but i think as it is, its going to put kids off computers rather than get them inspired. What does everyone else think?
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by jamesh » Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:04 am
Well, I wouldn't say controversial, you are simply repeating what has been posted many times before. Please use the search option for some of the threads that discuss the points you make, to death if not further. ALso, some of your statements are true, but some are inaccurate.

I'm closing this thread as it is a duplicate of many other already on here.
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by jamesh » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:41 pm
Unlocking to allow a explanatory post.
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by Dietmar » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:48 pm
I am at school and in most points I agree with RustyNeX.
The Cambridge University offers an Assembler course for the raspi.
But not so much more can be done for children to learn programming.
Arduino is good enough for assembler programming, as in good old times
VC-20 with peek and poke.
But we all can learn. May be in not so far future there comes a Model C
from Raspi, where those problems are solved,
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by Jim JKla » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:19 pm
Not particularly controversial however as you say

there are many people who love the Pi and will not hear a bad word said against it”.


So I am going to try and give you a measured response that’s not going to inflame the moderators and I will quote only to keep the responses tied to the points you have quite correctly raised.

I think the idea of the Raspberry Pi is really great, i love the idea of making computers available to all, and making it part of education. I love the idea that the first computer experiences kids will have will be with open source ideas like Linux and Python. This is a really great idea but i don't think it is working.


I have to agree it’s not working YET please remember we are yet to see the full educational release model “A”.

All we have seen so far is a rampant rush to buy the first release model “B” by those that are keen to help develop software and documentation, hobbyists and a block of Newbies who have seen it as a good Linux learning environment.

It’s unfortunate that it’s been the success it has been, there’s a block of experienced users out here in the real world doing a sort of hand to hand combat, supporting those Newbies.

The saving grace is their excellent efforts at finding things for us Geeks to document.

The problem i feel is how the Pi is marketed. currently it is marketed as a $35 computer, and that sounds great but first of all $35 will buy you a brick, you cannot use it as a computer without adding other parts, like an SD card, OS, power cable, etc. so any school that thinks they can provide cheap computer projects for their pupils for $35 a head will be disappointed that they will have to be spending more than that to get something that works. Now i understand that this is not a hidden secret, that the website quick start makes it clear that extra parts will be needed, and i am sure that education packages would have some kind of reduced cost or bulk buy, but i still think the marketing is a bit misleading. When i first heard about the Pi, i saw an article saying: "$35 computers now on sale" which i thought would be, $35 and i have a compute i can use.


The Foundation have always made it clear (Note I am not of the Foundation) what you get for your money.

There will always be press and readers that misinterpret the facts. I was able to put together my Raspberry Pi from stuff I had in the house bar an HDMI cable from Poundland and an SD card (bought online for £8) because the spare I had was usurped by my partner for some photography project.

anyway, i found out later i had to spend more money, and i was perfectly happy with that


I’ve never bought a computer yet that did not need something spending on it although these days I tend to be able to take old hardware and spend a few quid making it at least as good as entry level current hardware. You make a fair point and as you say you are happy with that.

i bought a Pi. but the Pi is not made for me, it is made for schools, and i can see this being a catch.


This is a flaw in your perception the “B” was nominally released as a precursor to the Educational release model “A”

The fact that it is still sort of incomplete in that there is no case should give a clue that it is not the school model.

It’s subsequent run away success with the hobbyist community has flooded the forum with keen as mustard newbies (there appear to be very few children).

Secondly, it is marketed as a "computer" and sure it is, it runs linux, it is about as computer as it gets,


Sure is Linux fully grown up operating system.

but people who don't know how to use linux or command prompt might be a little lost. i have seen kids at the age of 3, playing with games consoles and iPads etc, before they have even got to school they have a base idea of computers. they know that they are graphical, fun, interactive and easy to use.


Please 3 year old , Console, The Raspberry Pi Foundation never said it would compete against that demographic.

But the Pi is not so straight forward, of course its all a matter of learning, which is the whole point, learning how to use linux etc, but i think this will put a lot of children off. If the idea is to get kids to want to use Linux over something like windows then i think their first experience with linux will be a bad one. For a start anyone who doesn't know linux, (which will most likely be both the pupils and teachers) will find the command prompt a bit backwards, compiling binaries, patching kernels, checking dependencies etc is certainly not the user friendly 'dumbed down' computers they are used to.


There is a lot of but's in there but I will try to answer the points.

Yes the Raspberry Pi is not straight forward and for two reasons It is not a console and it is still in development.

At the moment we do not have an out of the box solution there’s a bunch of the geek community working on that. The hope is that when it comes to the Educational release there will be an SD card with the Raspberry Pi that will initially run a script that asks questions the responses will set the Raspberry Pi up for your setup.

At the moment there are millions of variables in how you can assemble your RPi. The cute thing about the Raspberry Pi as it exists is you can tweak (not very technical but a nice word) things.

A lot of people have been comparing the Raspberry Pi to the Spectrum the BBC and their ilk and making the justifiable comparison that when you got those out of the box you plugged them into your TV and the power supply they came with and a simple cassette player and you were running.

In those days a TV had one input the aerial socket cassettes were the only software medium and the PSU was supplied and Each machine had only one Operating system and that was firmware.

The Raspberry Pi as is has multiple options for all of these and it’s not even limited to one operating system as you can see the “Bare Metal” fraternity have their own private hell :lol:

But also the Pi has a few more problems with its hardware, things like: it has an SD slot, but not all SD cards work with it. It has a USB cable, but it won't work in all USB sockets. these things take ideas that should be universal, like SD and USB and put some exceptions in the mix. if the Pi came with a jack socket and AC power supply, there would be no confusion and no issues with low power, the USB sockets wouldn't reset the Pi when things were plugged in, the computer wouldn't lock up with low power etc. so an AC power supply would mean that kids could get started quicker and there would be less "weird" power issues causing problems which can be sometimes hard to track down. These kids are trying to be educated and cant spend a whole lesson trying to find out why the Pi keeps crashing.


Still in development I have to keep brining this back to the fact that this is not the Educational release. The target demographic is the likes of myself trying to produce educational stuff.

As it happens I have been helped by an army of ultra keen hobbyist returnee’s who are keen to relive their Spectrum/BBC/Commodore experience.

Their input is helping no end by the time we get to the “A” and the full educational release we should have loads of shovel ready, de-bugged documentation and software, free to download and surf.

My first experience with the Pi crashing was actually due to the USB cable. i had a power supply that was rated 5v @ 2A, so it was fine, i bought a USB cable from ebay that had in the listing "for Raspberry Pi" but the Pi kept locking up, eventually i tracked the problem down to the cable, it turns out the internal resistance was too much and the cable just didn't work. i returned it to the seller who confirmed the entire batch was bad.


You have to admit that’s not a foundation created problem.

This kind of problem and fault finding was enough of a problem for me and i am experienced with computers and electronics, but for children who are just starting out with computers, this will not inspire them.


I hope you are loosing the obsession with children there are some in the loop but it appears they know how to use Google and the Wiki. It appears to come naturally.

The other problem is the Internet, one of the first things kids would probably want to use their new Pi for is to log onto facebook, they want the internet. the latest generation of kids don't know a life without the internet, it is an essential part of their world. but the Pi can barely run the internet, the web browsers don't support some of the basic internet requirements like flash, and the processor is just too slow to run the internet reasonably. Why would any child be inspired to buy a linux computer when they are older if their first impression of linux is that it can't even go on the net? even mobile phones can go on the internet. I think this could be a deal breaker for some kids.


Yes the very kids you claim won’t be able to handle the Raspberry Pi live on line in their phones, facebook accounts and twitterings.

Remember the early postings Eben made pre-release where he took an early “B” to a school and almost had to crowbar the kids away from it.

I am on record in past postings with a prediction that the software that will make the Raspberry Pi sing is still inside the head of a child that thinks you eat a Raspberry and the only way to spell Pi is Pie. Oh and Linux is some secret word a lot of grownups don’t even know.

Personally, i wasn't expecting the Pi to be much, i looked at the hardware and i understood that it was going to be limited. that wasn't a problem for me, all i wanted to use it for was to create a graphical interface for some electronic projects. the Pi and its powerful HDMI level graphics processor, would handle the graphics, and then send simple commands out the GPIOs to turn things on and off and receive information from sensors.


Remember the Raspberry Pi GPIO interface is still waiting for a mass release of the Gertboard but I actually have seen and responded to a post (from a early teen) who was trying to find a source of fly leads so he could wire his GPIO to a project board.

I believe we have actually lost this would be experimenter researcher somewhere in the deep dark jungles of the Bare Metalists (think heavy metal with soldering irons).

I chose the Pi over something like an Arduino because it had much better graphics support and higher level programming options, where as the Arduino takes a lot of effort to get a graphical interface of any kind out of it.

but when i look at other people's projects, most of them are not using graphics at all, they are using them to turn things on and off, or as servers etc, which means that these extra graphics are not even being used.


Sounds like you have given up.

so basically lots of people are using the Pi as a powerful Arduino, and to me that seems like a waste, if the Pi is only good at doing Arduino style tasks then its not really a computer, and with the Arduino being cheaper, better supported, and easier to use, why try and reinvent the arduino?


Yes you are right why try and reinvent the Arduino yes that is a “waste of Pi”. It’s their Pi they are wasting, not yours and it’s a free world if that’s what they want to do then let them it’s not like they are using your RPi, electricity and bandwidth.

so i think that if kids are going to get into programming and electronics they should use Arduinos instead of the Raspberry Pi.


Yes

which is a shame because that doesn't allow them to use Linux and Python, but i feel the Pi will put kids off linux and programming.


Your opinion here is that for some things the Arduino is better than the Raspberry Pi an that has to be true. Arduino and it was equipment I had not heard of till I started at this forum is a hardware led solution with software support.

Where the Raspberry Pi is a software led solution/s with some hardware yet to come again I must emphasise. It is not here yet (cameras and Gertboard pending)

so anyway, i want to discuss this.

I had to twist a Mods arm to let me print a response I felt you were due

Dont get me wrong the Raspberry Pi concept is great, I understand that a $35 computer is never going to compete with "normal computers"


UNBELIEVER :lol I would contest “normal” and replace it with “other” the Raspberry Pi is based on an ARM Architecture RISC chip an architecture that powers nearly all of our current technology the Raspberry Pi is just another arm to that processors influence.

but i think as it is, its going to put kids off computers rather than get them inspired. What does everyone else think?


Time will tell the Raspberry Pi could well end up as a hobbyist cul-de-sac there is a possibility that the educational release could be a game changer as could the camera and the Gertboard but we have to be clear the Raspberry Pi has already written it’s place in history however flaky the command line startx it has had to date.

I suspect this will never be a long thread but it’s going to take it’s place in the history of the Raspberry Pi and as I am wont to point out the big release is yet to come. It may well prove to be a dam squib. We may yet get to revisit this discussion and you may get to say “I told you so” But I am minded of Winston Churchill’s response to the end of the North Africa campaign
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.


Well nearly the end of the beginning. :D
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by dextrus » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:33 pm
While I agree with the response above, it's a bit rich to open the thread for this. Moderators: Please live with a modicum of dissent and stop being so grumpy. The OP had a point, from his point-of-view, and you ended the discussion with a good post that was entirely one-sided.

/Dextrus
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by Spid » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:34 pm
All I wish to say is the HYPE surrounding the Raspberry Pi far outweighs the truths, and yes I expected more, but have sat back and over the last 6+ months have used it as a learning tool which it does admirably. Please can we have no more moans and whinging !
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by Kaspaas » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:46 pm
It depends what a waste of time is.

I found that my unboxed 'Pi attracted a lot of interest...does this piece of junk actually work?

I took it to work (IT does not feature very high :( and a co-worker actually took my spare home and booted it - and now his children (Senior High School) found a new interest...the challenge of beating a beast is major :lol:

No, the 'Pi is not a waste of time from this perspective...It got people to try another aspect of computing they would not have done if the 'Pi was not around
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by adlambert » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:56 pm
Maybe for some it is a waste of time, but it suits some. For me it was a revelation and I have ended with 5. I haven't spent a single penny on extra things to make it work because it was designed to work with things that people already own. It's for me to tinker.

And by happy consequence the Pi has introduced me to Arduino, which is a different animal with different strengths and the two go together very well.

And it is not meant to spoon feed you, it asks you to put thought and effort into getting it working and as a result you learn more.
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by Barepi » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:15 pm
I am 57. Lifetime electronic tech. I bought the Pi and am learning, at this point, a rudimentary understanding of programming and linux. I never had an expectation that it would "Take over the World" of computing. I am having fun - lots of fun- and, heck, I had a bunch of keyboards, sd cards, mice, dingles, dongles, wires and computer junk destined for the dumpster that now are getting used. So it is a cheap hobby and it makes me think and learn. OR I could use my spare time sitting in front of the tv watching that ilk. This is much more fun. I can't wait to show it to my grand daughters! In fact, I bought 2 pi's and gave one to a friend of mine, just for fun. He is playing with it also. He is having fun also. WooHoo! I have seen a few things around on Pintrest that combine Pi and Arduino. That sounds fun also. Tinkering used to be national passtime insted of violent FPV shooter games.
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by KenT » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:32 pm
Interesting point about people not using the Pi for graphics but for GPIO; it surprised me and I seem to remember Eben saying the same.

Graphics is much more difficult than GPIO and the software is probably the least mature part of the Pi. However developments like Pi3D will make powerful graphics much more accessible so things may change.
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by jamesh » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:44 pm
dextrus wrote:While I agree with the response above, it's a bit rich to open the thread for this. Moderators: Please live with a modicum of dissent and stop being so grumpy. The OP had a point, from his point-of-view, and you ended the discussion with a good post that was entirely one-sided.

/Dextrus


Well, it's the moderators decision here, so I suggest you keep your views to yourself. Given the number of PM's and reports on this thread, I think I was right to close it straight away. So closing it again since I don't think anyone can be trusted to keep it polite. DIsent? I've heard of it.
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by Metatronin » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:13 pm
Arduinos are great but usually require a computer to program them, and the raspi can acually program Arduinos and Parallax Propellers. I don't think the raspi needs to support facebook in any way(as anyone under 16-18 should not be on facebook). But you can still use facebook using ice weasel, just no videosupport.Plus nearly all new electronics are net enabled(tvs, blu-ray players,ect) so it's almost redundant to work on features that are not needed. I use one of the 512mb raspis as a dedicated computer and it works fine. My only major want on the system is a port of the android openGL ES Blender software(only because it would make 3d game dev on the pi free from the requirement of another computer). It's a fully capable dev platflorm and it's quite easy to use. Outside of using the command line for updates a person could stay away from it if its that scary of a thing. The synaptic package manager or pi store seem quite easy to use as well.
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by Spid » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:21 pm
If one wants Facebook etal just buy a Rikomagic MK802 for £40.00 on Ebay !
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by jamesh » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:26 pm
I just wish that when I make statement like 'locking thread', I actually remember to press the locking thread button.
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