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Re: USB - the Elephant in our Room

Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:50 pm

ski522 wrote:
jamesh wrote:Well done. Thanks for 'dissing' this educational product that doesn't do exactly what you want (yet), even though exactly what you want isn't what it's being sold as.
Then they need to change the FAQ
What’s a Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games...
This one paragraph is also used on many vendors websites selling the PI. This leaves many with the impression that the PI can do everything a computer can do including using all kinds of USB devices which is going to happen. The problem with USB is the first word "Universal" which (at the moment) appears not to be the case...that's fine, but it needs to be clear on the PI's website (and maybe at vendors websites too) that the USB port on the PI is quite as "Universal" (yet) that many would like it to be.

It seems odd that people would take the phrase "can be used for MANY" and go "that means it can be used for EVERY" thing a computer can do. It can use all kinds of USB devices, it just can't use *every* kind of usb device (but neither can my windows 7 Enterprise laptop or my Ubuntu Desktop or my grandma's OSX PC). There's no such thing as an OS that can do "Universal" USB coverage so we need to get that firmly out of our heads. That said, the Pi does not yet do the level of USB support that it needs, but that is being actively addressed.

That aside, to address GT's comments, there are literally 10s of thousands of people using it for media centers quite successfully and something in the range of half a million of people using it period without there being massive exchanges so the notion GT put forward of "exchanging [it] until I hit a good one" is fundamentally flawed. You got a bad board, unfortunate, but it will statistically occur no matter what the product is. Indeed, for those unlucky few percentage of people who get a bad board there will be an additional equally small percentage of people who exchange it only to receive another bad board. That, however, does not negate the insanely large percentage of people who get a board and it works just fine. So while I understand the frustration going down, lets avoid the hyperbole of "utter failure" ;-)
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Re: USB - the Elephant in our Room

Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:03 pm

rspitz wrote:Jamesh,

no need to take such criticism personal. And trying to excuse the Pi's braindead USB implementation with its status as "charity led product designed for education" is completely beside the point, too.

Fact is: The Pi is sold as a commercial product via commercial channels, and as such deserves to be treated as such.

As for the "charity" part: When a price was originally calculated for a total sale of 10.000 units and now the number of units sold is climbing towards one million, there must be a margin that somebody is making a nice profit of. I'm pretty sure it is not the Foundation, but whoever is making that profit should take responsibility for improving the known deficiencies, if that is at all possible with the current hardware.

Apparently, this is not being done, so the problem is still only being worked on by dedicated volunteers such as Gordon, who has my greatest admiration for trying to tackle this Sisyphos task.

However, having followed this discussion from the beginning, I'm starting to believe that the USB case is hopeless. The designers of the Pi were mislead by the alleged "USB host" capability of the SoC, which is just badly designed and has limitations that were apparently never really tested or challenged before the SoC was used in the Pi and went into widespread use. Well, shit happens and the Pi might still be mostly sufficient when used just with a keyboard and mouse attached for "educational programming". But the official Pi homepage is still full of "success stories", even for _commercial_ projects, without any prominent warning that there are USB problems. So it is no surprise that there are buyers who are disappointed (to say the least) with the product when they find out the hard way that the USB ports don't work as expected.

Regards, Richard
In your opinion of course. I don't take this personally - I work as a volunteer for the Foundation, and don't like to see inaccurate accusations that may affect the use of this device in education, which is where it has always been squarely aimed. The fact it can do some other stuff, aside from educational teaching, has also been publicised, but at no point have the Foundation every said it could do everything a full blown PC might be able to do. It can do lots of stuff a desktop/laptop can do, but not everything.

In my opinion, there will be a software fix that sorts out the USB, despite a less than great piece of HW underneath. The fact that there are many commercial successes using it already, despite these occasional USB issues is actually great new - indicating the problem is not that widespread! And it can only get better as each new fix comes in to play. I fail to understand why you think the situation is hopeless - we have seen fix after fix arrive. Gordon, who is the expert on this, is simply not seeing any faults on his device, but is more than happy to look at issues when they are highlighted, and each time he does so the software improves.

Oh, and the margin was cut to the bone from the very first, so there profit margins haven't changed that much. The Foundation does make money out of it as do the retailers.
Principal Software Engineer at Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
Working in the Application's Team.

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Re: USB - the Elephant in our Room

Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:16 pm

I've come to the conclusion that this thread has outlived its usefulness. By some weeks. Abishur and James' most recent posts say it all, really. I'm locking the topic.
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