rkr
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Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:24 pm

I just got this random thought about using the Pi to learn programming. I mean why would I buy a Raspberry Pi if all I need to do is run and IDE or something and compile some code while learning. All that can be accomplished on my old desktop, can't it?

Of course the Pi is great as a headless server/media player and other hardware related projects but nothing special about it in software?

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Dave_G_2
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:29 pm

@rkr

You are of course correct that one can learn to code on a X86 based system running either Win or Linux.
However the advantage the R-Pi has over X86 based systems is the portability/small size and of course
ARM architecture is very popular for portable devices and as such consumes much less power.

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nick.mccloud
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:51 pm

That and there is no chance you can trash the family photo collection.

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DexOS
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:59 pm

@rkr, To a point i agree with you, i believe the only way to really learn and understand programming, is to have access to bare metal ( like a lot of coders learn't on bcc micro, dos).

Now this would be a problem on todays desktop OS's, has they need protection.
But because of the design of the R-PI, i think theymay of mist a opportunity.
As theres not much advantage to programming on the R-PI and maybe a lot of disadvantages.
But a bare bones device like the R-PI, and matching bare bones OS, that had enough to let you do stuff (maybe a modern Dos) would of been great.
Great for game makers, great for electronics and great for anything that will teach kid to understand how the hardware and software works together.

The arduino seems to have done OK working like that and with R-PI power it would of been a winner in terms of teaching kids, it already a winner in terms of sales.
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

rkr
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:27 pm

@Dave Your points are rather nitpicky. Idk but it still doesn't make much sense.

@nick I see. Yeah careless mistakes do happen. But that can be avoided if just install a separate OS on another partition for this. Still no specific need for another computer. ( I mean the Pi isn't very easy to set up than, say, dual booting)

@DexOS My programming experience is pretty much limited to C++ and a little HTML with PHP thrown in but as far as I can say there's no need for the bare metal you're talking about. Unless, of course someone wants to learn ARM assembler. But that wouldn't be some beginner. Maybe I couldn't comprehend what you wrote. Could you explain the need for bare metal for a newbie programmer to learn python etc?


PS I'm not trying to all of you are wrong but I don't see the point and I'm just curious :P

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Dave_G_2
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:40 pm

rkr wrote:@Dave Your points are rather nitpicky. Idk but it still doesn't make much sense.
Nitpicky?
You asked, I gave you an answer as to why use a Pi.

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DexOS
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:47 pm

rkr wrote:
@DexOS My programming experience is pretty much limited to C++ and a little HTML with PHP thrown in but as far as I can say there's no need for the bare metal you're talking about. Unless, of course someone wants to learn ARM assembler. But that wouldn't be some beginner. Maybe I couldn't comprehend what you wrote. Could you explain the need for bare metal for a newbie programmer to learn python etc?
The whole point of the R-PI was that the standard of programmers was falling.
Most only new a bit of HTML, to that end, we need to teach kids how everything works under that HLL.
Python for example is not a good language to learn to program, it a get a job done fast language, its not the same.
Idea behind the R-PI is to get more and better standard of programmers.
So you need to ask why ? the standard has gone down, what was different when we did produce a good standard of programmer.
The difference was we used languages like basic, mixed with asm on bare metal machines.
The only way to fix it, is go back to its roots.
Once they have lean't to program, HLL are fine, the low stuff is still in there blood.
Now you may not be in this group of people, but thats what the R-PI is for.
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

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bigsi111
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:25 pm

As a father of an 8 year old and a 12 year old, I can say that children like it because it's different and it helps focus the mind as you can't simply switch it to play Sims, Battlefield 3 etc. Focus is key

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rurwin
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:55 pm

Let me make another point. I've an argument stewing away with DexOS, because we disagree on just about everything, but enough said.

Most people out there do not understand computers, and I have a couple in mind who grew up in the microcomputer golden age. They have a desktop PC, and they have a couple of laptops. They use them to play games and browse the web. They have friends, including myself who fix them when they go wrong or pick up too much malware. Anything beyond the very few icons they click on on a day to day basis is a black art to them. It would scare them to tell them to click on the control panel. They have no idea what is safe to do and what is not. To them anything out of the ordinary is dangerous. Their teenage daughter was regularly in the frame for breaking the computer, even when she did nothing out of the ordinary. In fact I made her the administrator for as long as they would wear it, and far less went wrong during that time. She still got the blame.

That is the sort of family that the Raspberry Pi is aimed at. They can give their child a cheap computer that they cannot break, and if they do break it, it costs next to nothing to replace. The big scary computer is in no danger, no matter what the child chooses to explore or wherever their curiosity takes them. If they try to change something major like /etc/init.rc, or wonder what "sudo rm -R /" does, salvation is only a reflash away. You and I know that is as dangerous as it gets, but in their mind there might some day be smoke issuing from the Raspberry Pi, and they will know that all it would mean is a few weeks of stopped pocket-money to replace it.

toxibunny
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:02 pm

bigsi111 wrote: it's different and it helps focus the mind as you can't simply switch it to play Sims, Battlefield 3 etc. Focus is key
^this.
note: I may or may not know what I'm talking about...

bredman
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:21 am

I agree with runwin. We should focus on the psychological differences between a RPi and a PC, not the technical differences.

The RPi is aimed at parents more than children. The whole point is that the parents should back off, don't worry, and let the kids run free.

How many parents would actually leave their kids run wild on the family PC? Especially if the kid says "I heard something really cool in the playground today, I want to see if it works on our computer".

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cheery
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:26 am

You could run debian distro in the virtualbox to get a platform which you could less likely break than what raspberry pi is. I still prefer raspberry pi though, as that's still simpler to set up than the virtualbox. Also it's real thing after all and you can use it in practical applications if you happen to find some use for it.

I think of raspberry pi as a phone platform spinoff. Android systems run java, and therefore it's not very user friendly for common applications. Slow development process meant for stupid professionals. Worse, raw platform is much better in this sense! You can develop your app with the pi if you like and it's faster than developing android apps. The size, price and ease of programming are the key factors here.

For me raspberry pi is a step away from nvidia binaries. This means no more X or retarded linux input system! If you want a proper desktop you can finally just program it in. I'm sure the fixed, simplified, hardware nature of pi will be beneficial for os development projects as well. We'll likely see many new desktop kernels stemming from raspberry pi.

Because it's good for battle-hardened hackers can become, it's probably good for beginning hackers as well. It's a community thing.

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Dave_G_2
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:30 am

rurwin wrote:Let me make another point. I've an argument stewing away with DexOS, because we disagree on just about everything, but enough said.
Naughty DexOS, when will he realize that rurwin is always right!

andyl
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:53 am

bigsi111 wrote:As a father of an 8 year old and a 12 year old, I can say that children like it because it's different and it helps focus the mind as you can't simply switch it to play Sims, Battlefield 3 etc. Focus is key
Yep.

But also for me, the Pi is a constrained device. You will be bumping your head a lot more. Therefore a lot of lazy programming techniques are just not as viable.

hippy
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:32 am

rkr wrote:@nick I see. Yeah careless mistakes do happen. But that can be avoided if just install a separate OS on another partition for this. Still no specific need for another computer. ( I mean the Pi isn't very easy to set up than, say, dual booting)
If you are happy doing that then go ahead and do it. Some people prefer learning and experimenting on a separate PC because accidents can still happen and the R-Pi fits the bill as a cheap second PC. Others don't have a PC they are allowed to experiment with and the R-Pi gives them their own PC to do that.

The R-Pi is really there to kick-start people into programming when they aren't doing that with their desktops, through 'cool' appeal and providing a means to do that. Others don't have to buy into that and can go other routes if they choose to.

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nick.mccloud
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:55 am

hippy wrote:
rkr wrote:@nick I see. Yeah careless mistakes do happen. But that can be avoided if just install a separate OS on another partition for this. Still no specific need for another computer. ( I mean the Pi isn't very easy to set up than, say, dual booting)
If you are happy doing that then go ahead and do it. Some people prefer learning and experimenting on a separate PC because accidents can still happen and the R-Pi fits the bill as a cheap second PC. Others don't have a PC they are allowed to experiment with and the R-Pi gives them their own PC to do that.
Yup, accidents like right clicking on a drive and formatting it ...

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DexOS
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:31 pm

rurwin wrote:Let me make another point. I've an argument stewing away with DexOS, because we disagree on just about everything, but enough said.
Cool, that makes me different from the crowd, not a sheep.
Maybe crazy to some.
But we need crazy people like these:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUfH-BEBMoY
Batteries not included, Some assembly required.

StillHuman
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:25 pm

@rkr:
If you want to learn programming in some language like C/C++ or Python and you just want to write some code that will give you an output to the console or to a GUI, you will be best served by using the system you are used with (may it Windows, Linux or what ever). Millions of programmers do it that way, without the RPI.

The RPI on the other hand, can be a nice tool to learn more about the inner functionality of such systems.

The main things, why people are so interested in the RPI are mentioned before. Additionally, the RPI has GPIO's which can be used to control many things.

So, if everything you want to do with the RPI can be done by your OS (more or less out of the box like programming with output to your screen), I would suggest, you do it with your system.

cheers,
SH

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rurwin
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:25 pm

@DexOs
I wouldn't call you crazy. I wouldn't call you wrong. I just disagree with you. Maybe I'd enjoy a good polite debate with you at some point. But here is not the place, and probably this forum is not the place.

I see your Apple commercial and raise you Carl Sagan.

@StillHuman
In fact the PC is a better platform to do OS development on. It has a BIOS with a very well understood interface that lets you talk to a screen and keyboard without writing USB and HID drivers first. The RPi by contrast has no documentation (at the moment) and no drivers.

cupcake
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:44 pm

Since I didn't receive my RPi until a few days ago, I started working on my (relatively simple) C++ program on x86 (in Eclispe CDT).

Now I'm looking to move what I've written to the RPi.

That said, I'm torn between continuing to develop on x86 and cross-compile to RPi or to set up a lighter development environment on the RPi and move it all there.

Are there any RPi-specific tutorials for doing the x86->ARM cross-compilation on Debian?

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bigsi111
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:17 pm

andyl wrote:
bigsi111 wrote:As a father of an 8 year old and a 12 year old, I can say that children like it because it's different and it helps focus the mind as you can't simply switch it to play Sims, Battlefield 3 etc. Focus is key
Yep.

But also for me, the Pi is a constrained device. You will be bumping your head a lot more. Therefore a lot of lazy programming techniques are just not as viable.
Defo Andy.

Like the old days on TRS 80, ZX80,81 Spectrum etc., and those machines required very tight coding.

Crook
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:33 pm

It is about ownership, which is a big thing for kids. This is a device that they can OWN - it is their computer, not the family, or dads ' break this and i'll break you' PC. They can mess with it all they like. SD cards are cheap and plentyful, and swappable by other kids with RPi's.

And they can take the entire device round to a mates house in their pocket, and plug it in to play. I hope the community gets a lot sorted quickly and a more child friendly cased version comes out ASAP. I don't mind the uncased version, but that's really for devs and tinkerers. A kid should have a case, to avoid careless shorts if nothing else.

I also don't see a problem in mixing - I'm currently messing with pygame, but by HDMI TV is a little fuzzy to read text. However, I can code on my laptop over a networked drive to the RPi SD card easily enough, transferring images etc. Not a problem, and I can test the stuff on the laptop or the RPi. So I guess some kids will get to use PC's more in conjunction with the RPi, but there might just be the possibility of seeing a RPi in an IT lesson at school. (I can hope - ICT teacher that I am).

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RichardUK
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:34 am

rkr wrote:I just got this random thought about using the Pi to learn programming. I mean why would I buy a Raspberry Pi if all I need to do is run and IDE or something and compile some code while learning. All that can be accomplished on my old desktop, can't it?

Of course the Pi is great as a headless server/media player and other hardware related projects but nothing special about it in software?
The PC can be a daunting beast. But yes at work we had a discussion on this same subject. And I did think at the time, if the foundation put together a software suit that worked on a PC then why the RPi. Now I have a RPi, I totally get it. It is the spectrum of the 21st century.

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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:40 am

Surprising that so few have mentioned what I think it the biggest reason for Raspi's.

Not everyone has a PC at home.
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mxcum167
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Re: Why not program on x86 desktop?

Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:28 pm

jamesh wrote:Surprising that so few have mentioned what I think it the biggest reason for Raspi's.

Not everyone has a PC at home.
Or for that matter are able to afford one, with the current economic climate.
Martin www.chez-cummings.com

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