ComeFindMe
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:35 pm

Firstly, round of applause to the Pi team - wonderful idea and am sure this will be a fantastic success - i\'ve been telling anyone and everyone about this (NOTE: always emphasise the spelling of \'Pi\' - my dear old ma had quite a shock after a few minutes searching on Google 8O )

I\'ve had a look through at other threads and still haven\'t quite found this answered - possibly due to my inability to understand OS and Linux talk - so apologies if i\'m repeating.

Essentially, I want to try and do as much of the stuff the Pi will require, myself. That includes getting an OS and slapping it on (and not buying a pre-loaded SD card). Problem is, I cant get my head around whats required - even \'dummies guides\' on the net seem a bit too far out - when it talks about partitions etc. I\'ve found the wiki helpful but only to an extent - and frankly, I think it would be 50% instruction following, 50% guesswork (never a good idea).

I\'ve set up a linux drive on a usb stick at home, just to get accustomed to it - I downloaded a program that found the ISO etc and downloaded it, did the whole FAT format (which I tried previously and messed up), so I got a bit of help there, but when it comes to the SD card, partitioning etc - think my head will implode.

So, does anyone have a uber dummies guide - literally a step by step for a dingbat like myself - so I can get going on coming up with the SD card now? I\'m fairly computer savvy (Windows) otherwise - I just don\'t want to a) hate computers after trying and failing to set it up myself mltiple times or b) rely on a bought, preloaded SD card...if its humanly possible, I want to do as much as I can!

Grateful for any and all thoughts!

CFM

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johnbeetem
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:54 pm

Here\'s the RasPi beginners wiki, which is a community work in progress:
http://elinux.org/RaspberryPiBoardBeginners
I expect it will be clarified as the beta boards start getting out there.

The general RasPi wiki is here:
http://elinux.org/RaspberryPiBoard

ComeFindMe
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:03 pm

Thanks John - I did take a look at this page - though when it jumps straight to serial parameters, it threw me somewhat.

For example, do I input / select port name options once its initially powered up / connected via hdmi?

Appreciate its a work in progress and there are no physical beta boards to play with yet - I wonder if there is a general linux install guide out there that might be broadly suitable for what the Pi will need?

mard0
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:40 pm

Have you tried the raspberrypi youtube channel ?http://www.youtube.com/user/RaspberryPi ... ture=g-all. It has quite a nice tutorial on setting up a virtualbox image of what is probably gonna be the pre-loaded linux that is gonna be shipped with the pi. Otherwise i suggest to use unetbootin. This wil download the image and automatically install it on the usb making a live cd.

Mard0

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Burngate
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:45 pm

I read the Wiki, got lost. Seems it assumes I\'m going to be doing something that I\'m not going to do - talk to it through a (non-existant) serial port.
I\'d like the wiki to start with a Raspi such as a kid is going to get - complete with ready-loaded SD card.
But what I am going to do, rather than using my imagination to program my not-yet-delivered Pi, is wait.
When it arrives, then I\'ll start worrying about how-tos and so on. With the thing in my hand I can try things and find out what works and what doesn\'t.

ComeFindMe
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:55 pm

Thanks mard0 - in work right now, but will give that a look later - sounds promising!

Agree there Burngate - though I live by the principle of the six P\'s - I don\'t want to wait until I get it and then start looking into it all. Plus all this linux exploration is giving me something to do while all the Christmas films get re-run (bah humbug)

pluggster
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:06 pm

i agree cfm ... the documentation assumes a certain level of kno-how .. imo ... at the moment.

I\'ve done some basic hacking in php/java(script)/c/c++/c#/assembler in my time and to be honest, the thing that I always felt left down by was documentation that was either: a) incomplete, or b) incorrect.

I hope that this won\'t be like that, but I guess that will be down to us, the community, to invest our own time and efforts into making sure the documentation is for pre-dummies. i.e. ME!!!!!

However, all things being equal, you could start off by getting something like a Nerdkit (http://www.nerdkits.com/ ... no affilifation!) and start from scratch now, then progress to RPi when it comes out.

My Nerdkit is in transit, and I can\'t wait to try to:
  • setup an iPhone Controlled RC Car
  • Make Music with a Microcontroller
  • make a Magnetic levitator ... gotta be the best!
plug

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mkopack
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:44 pm

I have to say, after spending all weekend trying to get Debian installed onto the flash on my old SheevaPlug, I feel your pain... In general, the Linux community makes strong software, but HORRIBLE documentation - all too often it is missing steps, unclear, expects you to have knowledge you might (ok probably) not have, or they just give you the steps without explaining what they do, so you\'re still no further along in understanding what you\'re doing...

I REALLY hope the RPi project is different and helps provide the sort of documentation that allows beginners to go from \"just follow this script\" to \"understanding the script, what it\'s doing, why you need to do it, and here\'s how you an learn more about this topic\" which is HORRIBLY lacking in the Linux community in general...

obarthelemy
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:50 pm

First, welcome to the forum, and congrats on your courage to launch into things and inquire.

I\'m just a little bit ahead of you as far a Linux knowledge is concerned. My advice:

- do it the other way around. Start from something that works, tweak, tweak again, tweak ever more, then when you\'re a master tweaker, start building from scratch. Trying to build from 0 with no understanding of how things should work (nor of how they do work in practice, which is quite different ^^) is heading straight for a brick wall. In your stead, I would install Fedora on my PC, make it do what I want, then make it do what I want, better, then make it do things because I can, then break it, then build it from scratch.

- beware of the documentation. Everything Linux is badly documented, *and* docs are distro- and version-dependent. Always try to match distros and version to what you\'re actually using, and if you don\'t find the right info, widen you search vertically (older versions) and horizontally (related distros: Ubuntu is quite close to debian for some topics, though completely unrelated for others).

- I\'ve had a lot of good advice from this forum, and even better from the Ubuntu-beginners IRC channel. I was using Ubuntu of course. I don\'t know if other distros have a similar, immediate and well-attended chat channel. Do try to frame the issue and word it right before asking for help, so only ask for help after a fair bit of research on your own.

- Archlinux Wikis are very good for the topics they cover, and if they apply to your distro. often, even if they don\'t apply they\'re a good read.

kme
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:02 pm

Please notice that most concepts in Linux are the same as in Windows (or rather, opposite). A partition means the same in Windows and in Linux, the same goes for primary/extended partitions. You partition disks in very similar ways in Linux and Windows. Boot flag, MBR (master boot record), boot loader and file system are the same names and concepts in both. Kernel, window manager and desktop environment are the same concepts in both (except for most of these you don\'t have a choice in Windows, but you do in Linux).

If you expect the R-Pi project to learn you this basic computer skills I\'m afraid you are going to be disappointed. It\'s far too big a task for such a small project as R-Pi. If mighty Microsoft didn\'t manage to teach you, how could this little project ever hope to do so?

ComeFindMe
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:21 pm

Thanks for the comments guys, all invaluable!

@pluggster, glad its not just me - though in fairness, you sound much further ahead! :)
@obarthelemy, thats often the approach I take - and though I wanted to avoid it this time, I think that I may need to do things that way in this instance. Tis a shame, but then I suppose theres nothing quite like taking something and making it twice as effecient for yourself!
@kme - appreciate that - please don\'t get me wrong - I certainly dont \'expect\' anything from the Pi - indeed, thats exactly why i\'ve only posted after evenings innumerable reading through FAQs, how-to\'s etc on different sites - i\'m already in the dog house with the missus and I havent even bought it yet :P

kme
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:41 pm

[quote]Quote from ComeFindMe on December 12, 2011, 18:21
@kme - appreciate that - please don\'t get me wrong - I certainly dont \'expect\' anything from the Pi - indeed, thats exactly why i\'ve only posted after evenings innumerable reading through FAQs, how-to\'s etc on different sites - i\'m already in the dog house with the missus and I havent even bought it yet :P[/quote]That said the R-Pi is a good way to get to learn all these concepts as you can afford to \"break\" the damn thing, get angry, leave it alone for some days and then return like \"right, how was this...\". Most of us learned it this way. Like learning to ride a bicycle - difficult and painful in the beginning. Later you can\'t even see the problem :D

Oxwivi
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:00 pm

Tips on how to learn Linux aside, as far as I remember, in general the SD card should have one FAT32 with a firmware image that boots up the OS in other ext4, or whatever format it is using, partition.

That\'s the general idea of ARM boards using GPU to boot, as far as I know. The partitioning can be done easily enough using the gparted Linux partitioning tool. What you need to create your Pi-bootable SD card is that firmware I mentioned.

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johnbeetem
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:17 pm

[quote]Quote from obarthelemy on December 12, 2011, 17:50
- beware of the documentation. Everything Linux is badly documented, *and* docs are distro- and version-dependent.[/quote]

IMO, the statement the \"everything\" Linux is badly documented is a bit harsh. While some things are indeed poorly documented, there are other things that are quite well documented. It depends primarily on whether the Thing has sparked the interest of someone who likes to write clearly. While a lot of people get into software and engineering thinking they\'ll never have to write prose, there are people who like to write and produce quality documents.

I recently acquired an Ubuntu box and I was surprised at how easy it was to find answers at Ubuntu\'s help site. Also, the GNU GCC and Make documentation is quite good IMO. They\'re complex, but that\'s because the tools have so many options. Other stuff is very hard to understand and too often omits the \"bird\'s eye view\" needed to get started.

For RasPi to be successful, it has to be possible for newbies to get started as users rather than hackers. At some point RasPi will be selling pre-programed SD cards, which will help tremendously. At the current time, RasPi is counting on the hacker community to make RasPi user-friendly by getting the distros stable, writing good documentation, and providing easy-to-use scripts for generating SD card images. That\'s the penalty for being a RasPi alpha, beta, or early production customer. In six months when there are cases and pre-programmed SD cards it will look quite different.

Oxwivi
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:21 pm

Oh and this thread I started during my first forays into the R-Pi forum may help.

Partholan
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:32 pm

Once the RasPi is out I\'ll prepare a Gentoo installation for ARM using CrossDev, put it on a SD card and see if it boots up.

If everything works, I\'ll document the preparation of the basic system which includes a lot of compiling on another computer since you probably don\'t want to wait ages for packages to compile on the RasPi itself.

Generally, I see these steps:
1. Boot an existing Gentoo on a normal PC (or boot from a Gentoo LiveCD if you don\'t want to install Gentoo)
2. Prepare a building environment (see Gentoo Embedded Handbook)
3. Install a stage3 tarball and probably recompile everything (emerge -e world) to optimize it for RasPi\'s CPU
4. Configure and compile a kernel
5. Partition and format an SD card and put all the stuff on it, along with the firmware needed to boot the system
6. Put the SD card into the RasPi, power up and pray

Once the basic system works it\'s easy to compile additional packages (I\'ll start with Apache, MySQL, PHP and Samba to make it a LAMP + NAS) using the CrossDev building environment and add them to the SD card.

Someone called ShiftPlusOne already documented building the kernel for a qemu emulation. I guess that\'s not far from the real thing and a good place to start.

pluggster
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:46 pm

[quote]Quote from ComeFindMe on December 12, 2011, 18:21
i\'m already in the dog house with the missus and I havent even bought it yet :P[/quote]

So am i, mate

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mkopack
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:13 pm

@kme: Oh, I obviously don\'t expect you to teach those concepts (I already know all of those, given I\'m a Master\'s in CS student currently, been programming since \'82 and have 16 yrs experience as a professional programmer...)

While I agree with you that the OP should be able to transfer knowledge of a lot of this stuff over from Windows/PC, there ARE some things that are a little different (either because of different names, or because in the Windows world, you don\'t have a choice and it\'s largely hidden from you.)

My beef is that if we\'re going to make RPi as a teaching/educational tool, the documentation needs to be written in a way that both gives step by step CLEAR & consistent instructions but also explain *WHY* you do it... What does doing this step achieve? What do these options do? Why do we need to use those options vs some other options? That might mean that sometimes you need to add an extra 2 sentences explaining what the kernel is, and/or providing to a link for a page that talks all about the kernel.

NOTHING irks me more than when I\'m reading instructions for how to do something in Linux and it just skips steps or says \"Ok, so now, go out and recompile the kernel to include the XXX module.\" Um... Ok, HOW DO I DO THAT???? I\'m a pro, fine, I\'ll go look for it... A kid isn\'t going to have the patience for that... They should either be given the link to the info right there, or have the instructions included.

As a published author (2 java books) I\'d be happy to help go through any documentation and help clean things up to make it more understandable and readable, but that has to be done working around both work and grad school... (God , I can\'t wait to be done in another year or so...)

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mkopack
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:18 pm

[quote]
For RasPi to be successful, it has to be possible for newbies to get started as users rather than hackers. At some point RasPi will be selling pre-programed SD cards, which will help tremendously. At the current time, RasPi is counting on the hacker community to make RasPi user-friendly by getting the distros stable, writing good documentation, and providing easy-to-use scripts for generating SD card images. That\'s the penalty for being a RasPi alpha, beta, or early production customer. In six months when there are cases and pre-programmed SD cards it will look quite different.
[/quote]

Exactly!

As somebody who bought in early on the SheevaPlug systems, I have to say - I got the thing and was basically LOST. It sat on the shelf for nearly 2 years as I waited for the community to get enough clear documentation out there that I felt semi-comfortable (and had the time) to sit down and try to do anything with it. I\'m HOPEFUL the RPi community can do it better (there\'s still a LOT left to be desired in the plug computer space...)

But as you said - to make this a good educational device, good documentation is going to be essential...

na1pir
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:03 pm

Most user friendly way to get Linux on ARM computer is via pre-built Image and just dd it to sd card, this is safety line, that will come handy when you mess up your configuration. There is no need to partition because dd restores whole device to original state.
Compiling it from source would require more time and is a bit advanced. Linaro company created a bunch of tools (linaro-image-tools) to ease this process for their distributions. Freescale has a tlib as well... Similar target Linux image builder tools would be welcome for R-PI =)

kme
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:24 pm

[quote]Quote from mkopack on December 12, 2011, 20:13
My beef is that if we\'re going to make RPi as a teaching/educational tool, the documentation needs to be written in a way that both gives step by step CLEAR & consistent instructions but also explain *WHY* you do it... What does doing this step achieve? What do these options do? Why do we need to use those options vs some other options? That might mean that sometimes you need to add an extra 2 sentences explaining what the kernel is, and/or providing to a link for a page that talks all about the kernel.[/quote]But then I\'m not sure you understand what R-Pi Foundation is. It\'s a hardware design bureau with a political agenda. R-Pi won\'t produce anything except for hardware design. The hardware production is outsourced. The shop is (will be) outsourced. R-Pi will have little to do with the distros running their boards. They might run a few servers, but they are not a software organization. Making distros - let alone document them - is entirely out of scale for R-Pi.

The distros and the docs for the boards will have to come from \"the community\" so there isn\'t any particular reason to think documentation for Fedora for R-Pi, Arch for R-Pi etc. will be any better that these projects document their x86 counter parts. On the contrary as there will be way fewer R-Pi users than x86 users.

I think a lot of people around here is in for an unpleasant surprise when reality hits them. R-Pi isn\'t a silver bullet and any substitute for hard work. Compared to x86 it will even be harder to learn Linux on R-Pi simply due to the very small community.

The advantage R-pi does have it the price point. You can afford to fool around with a R-Pi and get nowhere for months without anything worse but a hurt ego. And this is worth a lot by itself.

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johnbeetem
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:34 pm

I think a lot of the SD card partitioning and file copying procedures can be cloned from BeagleBoard, which has a similar arrangement with FAT32 boot files and ext-whatever GNU/Linux file system. Like RasPi, the BeagleBoard wiki is on elinux.org which uses the GNU Free Documentation License so documentation can legally be reused.

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mkopack
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:39 pm

Right, I guess I wasn\'t clear - I meant the RPi community needs to work on providing clear documentation, (not the hardware/Foundation folks...)

And agreed, but what I\'m hoping we as a group can do, especially if we\'re going to try to push this as a tool for helping get young people interested and excited about computing, is provide good clear documentation on the environment.

Think about it this way - when I bought my C64, it came with a fantastic spiral bound manual that explained all sorts of things about how the system worked, how to program for it in BASIC, what many of the poke addresses were, etc. Now, granted that was a MUCH simpler system than the RPi + Linux, but something that gives complete newbs the tools to get around and get started would be very good... Linux is WAY WAY more complex (and farther away from the hardware) than the old 8-bits most of us cut our teeth on, so it\'s going to take a lot more to get kids to really understand what\'s going on because there is so many more abstraction layers between them and the hardware these days.

In my mind I see a number of \"books\" that would be needed:

1) getting set up - covers hardware, creating/recovering a bootable SD card, etc.
2) intro to Linux - talk about the basic OS structure, kernel, steps involved in updating the kernel. Also talk about package management, makefiles, setting up user accounts, and sudo here.
3) intro to shell - give them the basic commands for getting around in a command line environment... probably Bash, but links to docs on others. Talk about environment variables, what they mean, basic VI/Emacs editing help, etc.
4) show them how to get set up with various programming languages - Python, Java, C/C++, Perl, etc. and point them to resources on how to start to program in each.
5) Get more into the hardware - how to interface with the GPIO pins, how to install drivers for printers or maybe a USB webcam... Or maybe even how to set up a USB thumb drive or portable USB hard drive for use as /home....

And so on...

That way it\'s somewhat lesson based, but also somewhat task-reference based. They can go for what they need when they need it, and can get as deep as they want but use these documents as the starting point to get them up and running and moving forward.

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johnbeetem
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:08 pm

[quote]Quote from kme on December 12, 2011, 21:24
The distros and the docs for the boards will have to come from \"the community\" so there isn\'t any particular reason to think documentation for Fedora for R-Pi, Arch for R-Pi etc. will be any better that these projects document their x86 counter parts. On the contrary as there will be way fewer R-Pi users than x86 users.

The advantage R-pi does have it the price point. You can afford to fool around with a R-Pi and get nowhere for months without anything worse but a hurt ego. And this is worth a lot by itself.[/quote]

I prefer to remain optimistic about this. Community involvement depends on enthusiasm -- it only takes a few really enthusiastic members to make good things happen. RasPi has the advantage in that it\'s a new platform. I can\'t imagine it\'s much fun to contribute to established x86 projects. A new ARM-based product opens the door for developers who really dislike x86.

The price point has a huge advantage since it enables a large user community of school children and others who have been locked out of the computing world by high prices. The prospect of a large, untapped user community should help developer enthusiasm since you have a better chance of making a big impact by getting in early.

kme
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Re: Truly Noob OS Question

Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:17 pm

@johnbeetem: Well, I hope you are right, but I\'ll believe it when I see it.

But I did forget to mention one HUGE benefit the R-Pi has: The hardware is 100% well defined. On x86 you never know which NIC or VGA to expect - let alone what suddenly sits on the pci(e) bus. This makes documentation a lot easier for the R-Pi.

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