Showing posts with label Raspberry Pi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raspberry Pi. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Raspberry Pi 4 is here!

In a surprising move, the Raspberry Pi foundation announced the much-anticipated Raspberry Pi 4. See why it matters.
Wow! The Raspberry Pi Foundation just announced the Raspberry Pi with awesome additions. With the new hardware, the desktop experience should be even smoother. Plus, it includes support for optionally more memory, 4k displays, USB-C, gigabit ethernet, Raspbian updates and more, much more.

UPDATE: The Raspberry Pi foundation just announced a Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB of RAM! Read more here.

What's New

In summary, this is what stands out in this release:
  • Updated ARM Cpu. Now 1.5GHz Arm
  • Updated Ram size (1GB, 2GB, 4GB and 8GB)
  • Two new USB 3 ports
  • 4-bit BCM2711 quad-core A72 CPU @ 1.5GHz
  • VideoCore VI GPU
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Support for 4k displays
  • Dual-band WiFi supporting both 2.4GHz and 5GHz
  • Double-HDMI - so now you can connect two monitors
  • Powered by a USB Type C
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Audio – 4-pole stereo audio and composite video port

Why the Raspberry Pi is matters

Before going forward, let's review why the Pi is important.
  • it runs Linux
  • it's super cheap
  • it's an excellent computer for kids
  • it's excellent for teaching computing kids
  • it's an excellent alternative to the Chrome OS
  • it can be a VPN server
  • it can be a gaming machine
  • it can be used for robotics
  • it can interface with Arduino trough its GPIO header
  • it's an excellent opportunity to learn Linux
  • And so much more!

Physical Computing

The PI allows us to interface with the external world (called physical computing) with its GPIO header. It's basically a standard 40 pin I/O that you can use to read/send electric signals to LEDs, motors, sensors, etc. With it we can build all sorts of things including robots.

It's perfect for kids

Either being their first PC (as in personal computer, not as in Windows) or an upgrade, I think that Pi's are perfect for kids.

Why? We could for example teach them:
  • basics of computing with MIT's Scratch language
  • linux - so they grow up used to the best OS in the world
  • python programming
  • game development using python and pydev
  • arts and image manipulation with GIMP

It's can be a gaming console

Yes, you could install Retropie on it and load your ROMs into it. Just plug some controllers and you're ready to go.

It can be a hub to learn computing

This is one my favourites. One could use the Pi to learn Python, programming, game development, physical computing and so much more. The Pi is also an excellent introduction to free/open source software and to Linux in general.

It can be a Media Center 

Speaking of sharing, you could use the Pi as your media center using Kodi for example.. So all your videos could be shared between devices connected on the same network.

It's could be for a personal VPN

The Pi has a very low power consumption which makes it a great always-on VPN server. Trough it you'll get secure access to your home network when you're on the go and can use it for secure web browsing when you're on public networks.

It could be a personal File server

You could turn your Pi into a file server to back up and share content from anywhere on your local network. That way, you could share with everyone connected to your home network access all your files potentially hosted on that old external drive.

It could be a Web Server

Yes! If you don't believe, check this article out on how the Raspberri Pi foundation built its website running on a cluster of Pi's handling record load. Very interesting read.

It runs Linux

This Raspberry Pi 4's operating system, Raspbian was updated from a major Debian release, Buster. Buster brings a few user interface tweaks and a whole host of software upgrades, including Python 3.7.

It could replace your old computer

Yes! We've been waiting for nice ARM computers for some time now. Turns out that the Pi 4 has enough specs to be considered as an entry-level computer. The Pi 4 also supports dual monitors and comes with USB 3.0 interface collaborating with faster external storage access.

Pricing and availability

This is the best part. The pricing for just the Raspberry Pi 4 board starts from $35 and depending on the choice of RAM (1-4 GB) as detailed below:
  • Raspberry Pi 4 with 1 GB RAM: $35 USD
  • Raspberry Pi 4 with 2 GB RAM: $45 35 USD
  • Raspberry Pi 4 with 4 GB RAM: $55 USD
  • Raspberry Pi 4 with 4 GB RAM: $75 USD (New!) - Read the official announcement


By the specs, it's clear that the Pi 4 is way better than the previous generations. But how much? This beautiful post from Gareth Halfacree provides a lot of details on it. Allow me to show what stood out to me:

The official announcement

The announcement video from the Pi Foundation summarizing some of the changes can be seen below

Final Thoughts

The Pi has always amazed me. Being a fan of physical computing and having both a Pi and an Arduino, I'm so excited to see the recent improvements with the Pi that I'm planning to by one for my kids and one for me to test out different use cases. Plus, we the excellent performance, the Pi now not only serves as a small server but as a very capable GNU/Linux desktop system.

And you, have you considered the Pi yet?


See Also

For more posts about Linux on this blog, please click here.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Linux apps coming to Chromebooks

Excellent news for Chromebook users and Linux enthusiasts! Google announced that Linux apps are coming to Chrome OS.
Google recently announced that Linux apps are coming to Chromebooks! This is fantastic! But before we discuss how important that is for FOSS, Linux and which benefits it'll bring for Chromebooks owners, let's review Chromebooks and its OS, Chrome OS.

Chrome OS

Chrome OS was originally created as a Ubuntu spin off. It then migrated to Gentoo Linux and evolved to use custom Linux kernel. The UI has always been Chrome - the browser - being basically your only desktop app. The other apps initially available used were traditionally web apps (Gmail, YouTube, etc) wrapped inside a chrome window.
A Chromebook currently being sold on Google Store

Android Apps

Due to the limitations and availability of apps, Google worked to bring Android apps to the Chrome OS. While that's huge, you can run most of Android apps but not all. Reports show that the majority of other applications work flawlessly. That's million of apps. As a result, we've seeing a growing popularity of Chromebooks. But those apps lack advanced features for some users so Google decided to move further and integrate Linux apps to Chrome OS.

Linux apps on Chrome OS

In order to run Linux apps on Chrome OS, developers are working on what's called Project Crostini - an extension that will allow Linux VMs to run inside a container on Chrome OS. First spotted on Reddit, it seems it's already available on Chromium developer builds with a preview being quickly available for the Pixel book.

The main objective is to run these VMs run within containers on top of Linux's built-in Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM). This has an extra benefit in terms of security as those Linux apps would have be sandboxed within the container (and/or the VM below it) so that restrictions would exist from the guest to the host.

VentureBeat has some interesting notes regarding this project. According to them, Chrome OS director of product management Kan Liu has provided some insights, including:
“We put the Linux app environment within a security sandbox, running inside a virtual machine. We made sure the user experience is seamless to the user. Whether you use a web app, whether you are using an Android app, or whether you are using a Linux app, the window treatment and the way you launch the app from the launcher is the same.”

How it will happen

Still according to VentureBeat, you won’t see the windows from the Linux side; it’s just running within a Chrome OS window. So expect Chrome to wrap those tools as regular windows similarly to how you're used on Windows and MacOS. On the backend, expect some Wine integration.

Quick Start

Another good news is that, according to Google, it's estimated that the backend VM will starts up in a second meaning that running Linux apps will happen very smoothly.


 Apart from running apps containerized within a VM, VentureBeat reports:
“The files are actually inside the VM as well. From a security standpoint, that’s what makes it safer. But you’ll be able to access files from both sides. If you were ever to get malware in the Linux side, for example, it can’t contaminate the rest of Chrome OS.”


Some extra requirements include some extra storage space (300MB for Linux and more for the apps) and Linux kernel version 4.4 or higher.


Considering that we already can run most of Android apps and soon, we'll be able to also run native Linux apps on Chrome OS, Chromebooks are definitely becoming a real operating system. The reason why I never invested time on Chromebooks is the lack of productivity tools including the terminal, compilers, source control, a robust text editor, IDEs, package management tools (apt or dnf) and other programming languages. But it will change.

I'm pretty excited about this. Hope this feature becomes stable soon enough to be able to test my favourite tools on a Chromebook.

See Also

About the Author

Bruno Hildenbrand