Monday grab bag

We’ve had some people send us some great stuff this week – if you’re working on something cool that you think we might feature in a grab bag post, please mail me at [email protected].

First up, some video. Linus Torvalds has been talking about Raspberry Pi (we will forgive him his insistence on calling it Raspberry P.I. because he is a massive hero of ours, and the fact that he ever mentions us at all is beyond fantastic.) The question about Raspberry Pi starts at 52m 19s. (The Nvidia bit earlier on is, broadly speaking, NSFW.)

Steve Jones from iMica has put AROS, an open-source implementation of Amiga OS on the Raspberry Pi.

Greg Macaree has been using the Raspberry Pi as a crucial piece of wedding reception audio equipment, the whole setup nearly jeopardised by a milking machine (seriously). He says:

For those not familiar, Sonos is a multi-room streaming hifi system.  The Connect:Amp incorporates a media player with a 55w stereo amplifier and a 2 port network switch. It connects to your router, network storage device (if you have one) and speakers so you can listen to your music collection or Internet radio feed wherever you have a zone player setup. They also have the ‘Sonos Control’ an ip based wireless remote control which connects directly to the system.

I’ve had a few Sonos zones setup in my house for a couple of years now, generally playing a rock related Internet feed whenever I’m at home!  So it was situation normal a few months ago when Becky, my fiancée had one of her mates over to chat about her forthcoming wedding.  The music was probably on the loud side, so Becky picked up the Sonos remote to turn the volume down… And so the conversation began, that ended in me volunteering to provide the music for the wedding reception!

As the event got closer the technical aspects became more apparent, the venue – a marquee on their family farm would certainly not have an Internet connection or even a reliable power supply that I’d want to plug a pc into.

Sat at my desk I looked down and had the light-bulb moment, the Sonos system requires two things from a network – an ip address and a music source.. Sat in front of me was my recently delivered Raspberry Pi which could deliver those.. or could it?

I needed to have dhcp and file server services but having only dabbled in Linux (I’ve been a Windows user since 3.11 ) it was going to be a small  challenge, although I knew  it should be possible.

I started by downloading the Debian image from  This gave me the bare bones of the server.  Next job was to share a folder that I could fill with mp3’s.   The Sonos devices need a windows style share, so after some research online I found that the tool for this task is an app or daemon called samba.  Using apt-get I soon had samba installed and configured and I attempted to connect from my windows laptop.  Before i could even attempt this i needed to know the current ip address of the Pi.  Ifconfig soon displayed the answer and success! I could see the share.  However I couldn’t write anything to it.  Google soon came up trumps and chmod 777 was run on the folder – I could now copy the mp3’s onto the sd card of the Pi.

I then attempted to connect to the share from Sonos and it happily connected straight away, but with the Pi as a dhcp client I had to remain connected to my home network.  Again Google came to the rescue, a static ip address was setup and dhcp3 was downloaded, installed and configured.  I disconnected the Pi from my home lan and plugged it directly into my Sonos Amp.  I rebooted both and nothing..  My remote wouldn’t talk to the amp although I thought it should be ok and the activity port on the amp was showing activity –  I couldn’t connect.

I was just about to pull the setup apart to check everything when the remote then popped into life, showed a message box – “new ip address, reboot now?” so I quickly clicked ok and up it came with its new ip – it then connected to the amp and in turn the amp connected to the Pi!  Blimey, it works!  I selected a track and hit play.. Lo and behold, music came blaring from the speakers and the problem was resolved. I had the solution I needed!

Come the day, I setup the Pi, Sonos & speakers in the marquee.. But there was no power, the kitchen had ‘borrowed’ it – I couldn’t test anything so had to disappear to the wedding hoping that all was well.

Several hours later, after the sit down meal, the power arrived and I plugged the Sonos and Pi into the extension – disaster..  The Sonos wouldn’t boot.  To cut a long story short, the milking parlour on the farm was now in full production and that didn’t leave enough juice for us.. Once milking time was over I tried again and success.. It was a few minutes later than planned but the reception was soon rocking and it kept on rocking into the early hours!

Congratulations to Lyndsey & Alan – a fantastic day, assisted by a small slice of Pi!

The Boreatton Scouts’ internet fame continues; there’s a lovely slideshow dedicated to them and the Raspberry Pi on ZD Net.

The scouts are using a pico projector with their Raspberry Pi - Biz's famous case can be seen on the table!

If you’re looking for a new distro to play with, you might want to try Bodhi Linux – this build has an Enlightenment desktop running on a Debian Wheezy ARMEL base. It’s still in Alpha, but Jeff Hoogland invites you to come along and help test the release.

And finally, Warrington Collegiate have been working on getting Windows 7 (!) running on the Raspberry Pi using the VMware View Open Client. We think they’re the first people to have done this – they’re calling it Magnum Pi, because we all love moustaches and Hawaiian shirts. Nick Smeltzer, their Director of IT Services, emailed me to say that Microsoft already know about it…

Microsoft have seen it too and politely reminded us about licencing – ie connecting to a Windows 7 virtual machine from a Linux device. It’s a no no. But fine with Hyper V funnily enough. They were still impressed though….


Nick made a download available this morning – get testing!




Robert-Jon avatar

Nooooeess why didn’t you post the Sugru video I sent you this morning?
Ok there’s little info but I thought it was a great cameo!

Mark avatar

LOL Linus sure is an awkward fella that’s for sure. It was interesting hearing his NVIDIA rant but the rest of the interview was more interesting. I like his comment regarding, “Even if 1 out of 100 people using the Rasberry Pi” becomes successfully and does something great, then the project is a success. Totally true. We won’t convert the entire world in to a bunch of programmers, but we will certainly encourage a select few that will surely be amazing.

liz avatar

Absolutely – it’s what we’ve been saying all along (but it does sometimes get lost in all the noise). I really hope we get to meet Linus to say thanks one day: not just for all the kind things he’s been saying about our project, and not just for Linux, but for making an environment where the gradual mainstreaming of the open concept has meant we have been able to make Raspberry Pi work.

Darren avatar

LOL Do you think Broadcom would listen if he ranted to them about their reluctance to make the BCM2835 more open ?

nelson avatar

He is not a man for half-words so he had problems with pi, guess you should try raspberry Tau for the next version. extra geek point if you don’t need this –

liz avatar

I’m not a *total* nitwit, you know.

Kev avatar

A colleague and I (we’re both awaiting our Pi boards) were discussing this yesterday. We were both of the opinion that even from the progress so far it’s been clear that there’s huge potential out there. It clearly demonstrates that the lack of grass roots programming amongst children today isn’t due to a lack of ability, but due to a lack of opportunity.
This is now being addressed.
And the results will be?
We wait with baited breath… :-D

bazza14 avatar

While the primary goal of the R Pi is to find young programmers I’m looking forward to a generation of young people leaving school knowing that computer does not = Microsoft. It is sooo difficult getting the brainwashed older generation weaned of it.

Hans Harder avatar

There was also someone from Nvidia in the audiance…

Roberto's Burgers avatar

Yes, ackward is the euphemism du jour.
Telling developers to go out and kill themselves because you dont like some things about their software is ‘ackward’ and not sociopath.
If someone else less talented or known (put favorite musician or athlete here as well) were to say such things, no one would call them ackward.
But since he IS Linus, we just shrug our shoulders just like when grand uncle Mort farts at the Xmas table… its Mort we all say because the inner group dynamics allow for it and its ackward only for those from the outside looking in,

Richard Wooding avatar

Excellent post.

Just remember if your doing a chmod 777 on resources on your filesystem your doing it wrong.

But since it was a wedding and he was under time pressure, I guess it was an OK quick hack.

Andy avatar

So what should he have done?

Gert van Loo avatar

Someone asked this before: you make a group e.g. ‘gpio’ then you put the gpio files in that group. Next you add user ‘pi’ to the group ‘gpio’ and done. s/gpio/some_other_privilege

Gergmchairy avatar

Thanks Gert, all part of my (now more relaxed) learning curve.. Looking forward to further news on the ‘GertBoard’… – Greg

mittfh avatar

No doubt since getting involved in the project, Liz has learned more than she ever thought she’d ever need to know about Linux and Open Source Software :)

liz avatar

Not half. I was stupid, not remotely moved by technology and markedly incurious about stuff in general before I started working on this project. It’s why I was such a good fit for handling you tykes. Thanks to Raspberry Pi, my left brain has come alive. It is a marvel that Eben was able to stay married to the Old Liz, full as she was of girlish notions about feelings and other ladystuff.

/heavy sarcasm

(On a serious note, it’s not really been quite as big a learning curve as you might imagine.)

Jeff Haddow avatar

Hello Liz

Have you any news about “the madwoman in the attic”?

I’m talking about the problem with the USB drivers. I cannot use my USB hub, restricting me to just the mouse and keyboard. So cannot use extra memory to store files on. When I try to use the hub the ethernet cable connection is “killed”.

All the best

liz avatar

They’re being worked on (see the forums) – those drivers, sadly, weren’t written by our guys, who are super-duper engineering heroes. And we, like you, discovered that you can *kind of tell* when something has not been written by a super-duper engineering hero. Said S-DEHs are currently working on getting the drivers sorted, but it’s not a small job.

AndrewS avatar

I nominate Liz as a super-duper publicity/community hero!

Jeff Hadow avatar

Hello Liz
Thanks for the update.

And thanks for doing great work here.

All the best

AndrewS avatar

So is the “VMware View Open Client” similar to the “Citrix XenDesktop” blogged about previously? Great to see that software from the “big players” is running on the “little RPi” :)

Ashley Basil avatar

How cool is it to have Linus Torvalds talking about you, having had an email from Richard Stallman !

nelson avatar

Sorry didn’t meant it that way :(

liz avatar

Aw, it’s OK. Apologies for responding with heavy sarcasm. (I had a couple of comments along the lines of “Linux? How surprising! You like the womanly arts!” last week to deal with, and they appear to have hit a nerve.)

Lo Roach avatar

Why Windows? The whole purpose of learning anything worthy about computers is ruined if you leave them run a proprietary closed bundle on it. Shame there are no mentions of Free Open Source software from the Pi foundation. If you run Windows on it, that kind of misses the whole point entirely.

liz avatar

> Shame there are no mentions of Free Open Source software from the Pi foundation.


Isaac Smith avatar

You might want to look at the site a little more…

Paul J. Weighell avatar

“The whole purpose of learning anything worthy about computers is ruined if you leave them run a proprietary closed bundle on it”

Well not really. The purpose of all computing is to get the computer to do something useful or fun or whatever.

If you make something that other people like then that can be the base of the income you need to live. To make that work others must pay you for it and so it becomes proprietary and locked or some other selfish people will just steal all your work.

The purpose of Pi is to put some programming back into Britain, from where it first came, and to make livings for those who can program.

Adding prop software to Pi makes for a saleable bundle that hopefully many new programmers can benefit from, i.e. it become a Pi industry well supported by major companies.

Danny Milosavljevic avatar

Paul J. Weighell:

>If you make something that other people like then that can be the base of the income you need to live. To make that work others must pay you for it


> and so it becomes proprietary and locked

That does not follow and is demonstrably untrue since at least about 1985 (probably earlier).

>or some other selfish people will just steal all your work.

Good copyleft licenses prevent that.

>Adding prop software to Pi makes for a saleable bundle that hopefully many new programmers can benefit from

If it’s proprietary, it doesn’t benefit new programmers much. You’ll just run into some weird problem that’s riiight within some black box you can’t (reasonably) look into and then you are screwed.

As for your implied “the ends justify the means”, I disagree. Life is about the journey and the ends never ever justify the means. Much suffering comes from thinking they do and then noticing too late what Faustian bargain one did.

We already *have* walled garden computers, why build another one?

Jonathan Hill avatar

Great to see the cross linking in the posts for Raspberry “P.I.” with the vmware/Hyper V with the “Magnum pi” build.
With all the moustaches, Hawaiian shirts and red cars we all played with our 80’s computers while Magnum P_rivate I_nvestigator was on the telly not a Raspberry Pi as of today.
Great site, love the work, have you thought about podcasting developments/news?

James M avatar

Can anybody expand on why connecting to a Windows virtual machine from Linux is illegal?

It sounds like FUD to me, but then I don’t study the Windows EULA so I can’t be too sure.

liz avatar

It’s not the Windows EULA which enables it; it’s the DMCA. See (I just picked this link at random ‘cos I love Steam; there’s loads more out there if you google) for more.

selsinork avatar

that link doesn’t make a lot of sense in the context of being unable to connect to a windows device from a linux device.

The secure boot thing is about not being able to run anything other than some code signed with microsoft’s key on an arm device that is ‘designed for windows’ and has secure boot enabled.

There are lots of arm based thin clients which are essentially running linux and specifically designed and sold for the purpose of connecting to windows instances over some form of remote desktop. They’re being sold by the likes of HP who would probably have something to say if it was banned by the license.

It also seems strange for VMware to offer clients for Ubuntu, IOS and Android if you’re somehow unable to use them. VMware View seems to be specifically targetting VDI – or connecting to a Windows Desktop from a thin client..

Why would MS be worried anyway – you’ve already paid for the windows license.

Greg_E avatar

And I bet Microsoft will kill to get win8 running on a raspi, I bet they already have one or two in the labs for testing.

Hugh McLaren avatar

Err, no. The issue is that MS have some pretty restrictive licencing when it comes to running Windows instances in a virtual environment.

As well as your ‘Windows licence’ (ie, the licence you bought to be able to install and use Windows), you need to have a ‘Windows Virtual Desktop Access Licence’ which allows you to remotely access an instance of Windows via a thin client (which is what Citrix XenDesktop, VMWare View, etc are actually doing for you).

You’re not running Windows on the Pi, you’re running it on a server somewhere, and the Pi in this case is simply running the thin client software on Linux.

VDA licences are per-device, so if you have 200 thin clients accessing Windows virtual desktops, that’s 200 VDA licences.

Oh, and MS want $100 PER ANNUM for each VDA licence. Remember this is in addition to the Windows licence you already bought.

Unless, of course, you run the thin client software on a Windows PC, which conveniently includes the VDA licence. Now why would Microsoft want to do that?

nicknml avatar

That’s pretty ridiculous, I doubt many people will actually buy VDA licenses.

links Naji avatar

I guess if you’re getting to the point of using the Pi as a client to connect to a Windows instance, You might just aswell use something like LogMeIn and get around the license issue.

Tiago avatar

Ironic that you mention the nvidia bit since RP also has a closed source GPU driver.

juanRIOT avatar

I felt the tension in Liz’s intro regarding Linus’ sentiments about RasPi the first time I read her post and thought to myself, “Its just probably me”. But I happen to read it again and this time clicked on the video. Yup! There’s tension alright!

Linus is just probably provoking Raspi in good faith and to make sure it will sustain the hype it created for it’s self…me thinks. I’m not saying Raspi is a hype, heck I believe in it and what it stands for. Though, sincerely, what I want to see is Raspi to be mainstream.

Personally, I think Raspi is to Linux, how Mac is to OSX, like how PC is to Windows.

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