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piglet
Posts: 900
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:16 pm

Re: Where do you start?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:54 pm

Ok - so I'm an IT pro. Post-Graduate educated and an absolute whizz at writing application code to manipulate data. Most of my day is on a 'nix variant machine writing PERL, using vi, grep and all the other basic 'nix commands....

....but....

....I have absolutely no idea where to start to get enough information to do stuff on a linux machine like the raspi. No idea about how the guts of the thing will work and how to make anything for it. No idea how to attach hardware to it, access the GPIO...whatever that is....

I want to be able to wear sandals and maybe even install a propellor on my head some day.

Where do you start with understanding the hardware & linux to get knowledge like that? What's the pathway to complete understanding and the ability to "do stuff"?

I've looked around but have never found any place to start. I've only ever found "this is how you log in. This is the 'cd' command" starter tutorials or people discussing floopluxing the GHJD with GY834jf lib thingamyjig, giving me not one hint as to what the *cough* they were talking about...

Go on. I know many of you on this forum have sandals. How can I learn enough to earn some?

mengel
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:51 pm

Re: Where do you start?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:52 pm

Get and read O' Reilly's "Linux in a Nutshell", read the Rpi wiki, set up your personal machine to dual boot Fedora and use it. (I say Fedora 'cause it will work on the 'pi)--mike

thesynapseuk
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:21 am

Re: Where do you start?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:01 pm

You might be able to learn alot from some of the distros that go along the kind of 'build your own' lines. I.e. they give you linux components and you build your own linux distro out of them. Given your background in Unix, you'd have a good base for that kind of thing I would have thought. Not too sure on names, but google a bit and I'm sure you'll come up with a few to try out.

willlim
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:16 pm

Re: Where do you start?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:13 pm

One good guide for build your on distro is the LFS (Linux From Scratch)
http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/lfs/

obarthelemy
Posts: 1399
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:53 pm

Re: Where do you start?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:40 pm

You *don't* start by building your own distro.
I'd start by just installing it, then install whatever I'm familiar with, ten diverging from that. I think a general manual of everything is a bit pointless. Find something you want to do, try to formulate it in nerds terms, and look for doc. Protip: doc is distribution- and version- dependent.

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abishur
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Location: USA
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Re: Where do you start?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:47 pm

Just for a point of reference, GPIO is General Purpose I/O. In the r-pi it comes in the form of 16 little pins (assuming of course it makes it to the final board, but I'm guessing our odds are fairly good it will). They accept/send out 3v3 DC. A lot of us are planning to use them to handle relays, motors temperature gauges, stuff like that. I'm in the same boat you're in. I know a lot about PCs (more Windows than Linux to be fair) but I'm not very knowledgeable in setting up means of interfacing with the r-pi. I'm checking out the Make: Electronics (Learn by Discovery) book. It looks more at the circuitry side of things which is a place I feel like the r-pi will really shine
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)

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johnbeetem
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Location: The Mountains
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Re: Where do you start?

Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:03 pm

Quote from piglet on November 10, 2011, 16:54
....I have absolutely no idea where to start to get enough information to do stuff on a linux machine like the raspi. No idea about how the guts of the thing will work and how to make anything for it. No idea how to attach hardware to it, access the GPIO...whatever that is....

GPIO is the General-Purpose I/O pins that Systems-On-Chip (SOCs) generally have in abundance. These are usually single-bit digital inputs, outputs, or both, with optional pull-up and pull-down resistors, and optional open drain meaning that they can pull down but require an external pull-up. Usually GPIOs are multiplexed with other functions, such as serial I/O and analog I/O.

As is often the case, your best bet to get started is Wikipedia. I start with Wikipedia and only use a search engine if Wikipedia isn't helpful. For GPIO, the page is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPIO. Wikipedia can always use donations!

RasPi is still in gestation and as such doesn't have detailed documentation, so we don't know what GPIOs are available on RasPi expansion headers. The last time I looked you couldn't even get the technical reference manual for the BroadCom chip. I hope that it will be made available by the time RasPi A & B ship, as otherwise it will be pretty much impossible to do any interfacing to the board and write software to talk to those interfaces.

I hope RasPi eventually has information available as good as (or preferably better than) the BeagleBoard, a US$149 board similar to RasPi. I'm not trying to push BB over RasPi: they have very different price points and project goals. I'm just using it as an example of a successful community-supported project.

BeagleBoard has excellent System Reference Manuals for the hardware, an excellent wiki (the RasPi wiki is based on the BB wiki), and a quite useful community FAQ. The latter two developed over time, and are great for understanding hardware problems. Many of these (serial I/O, USB) may also apply to RasPi. Here are the links:

http://beagleboard.org/
http://elinux.org/BeagleBoard
http://elinux.org/BeagleBoardFAQ

My chief complaint about BeagleBoard is software, which like lots of GNU/Linux projects is fragmented and not well documented. Trying to find the most recent stable release of a given operating system can be quite challenging. There are lots of how-tos which worked at one time in one environment, but then the OS version or environment changes and people write new how-tos instead of maintaining existing ones. Or they get questions answered on chat or the Google Group and nobody updates the wiki. I'm hoping that RasPi will do a lot better on this issue by putting a lots of support behind one or two distros. Otherwise the students and teachers RasPi is directed at could be quite frustrated.

JMO/YMMV

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