Author Archives: Eben Upton

New product! Raspberry Pi Zero W joins the family

via Raspberry Pi

Today is Raspberry Pi’s fifth birthday: it’s five years since we launched the original Raspberry Pi, selling a hundred thousand units in the first day, and setting us on the road to a lifetime total (so far) of over twelve million units. To celebrate, we’re announcing a new product: meet Raspberry Pi Zero W, a new variant of Raspberry Pi Zero with wireless LAN and Bluetooth, priced at only $10.

Multum in parvo

So what’s the story?

In November 2015, we launched Raspberry Pi Zero, the diminutive $5 entry-level Raspberry Pi. This represented a fivefold reduction in cost over the original Model A: it was cheap enough that we could even stick it on the front cover of The MagPi, risking civil insurrection in newsagents throughout the land.

MagPi issue 40: causing trouble for WHSmith (credit: Adam Nicholls)

Over the ensuing fifteen months, Zero grew a camera connector and found its way into everything from miniature arcade cabinets to electric skateboards. Many of these use cases need wireless connectivity. The homebrew “People in Space” indicator in the lobby at Pi Towers is a typical example, with an official wireless dongle hanging off the single USB port: users often end up adding a USB hub to allow them to connect a keyboard, a mouse and a network adapter, and this hub can easily cost more than the Zero itself.

People in SPAAAAAACE

Zero W fixes this problem by integrating more functionality into the core product. It uses the same Cypress CYW43438 wireless chip as Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to provide 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

Pi Zero Announcement Video

Music: Orqestruh by SAFAKASH – https://soundcloud.com/safakash

To recap, here’s the full feature list for Zero W:

  • 1GHz, single-core CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • Mini-HDMI port
  • Micro-USB On-The-Go port
  • Micro-USB power
  • HAT-compatible 40-pin header
  • Composite video and reset headers
  • CSI camera connector
  • 802.11n wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 4.0

We imagine you’ll find all sorts of uses for Zero W. It makes a better general-purpose computer because you’re less likely to need a hub: if you’re using Bluetooth peripherals you might well end up with nothing at all plugged into the USB port. And of course it’s a great platform for experimenting with IoT applications.

Official case

To accompany Raspberry Pi Zero W, we’ve been working with our friends at Kinneir Dufort and T-Zero to create an official injection-moulded case. This shares the same design language as the official case for the Raspberry Pi 3, and features three interchangeable lids:

  • A blank one
  • One with an aperture to let you access the GPIOs
  • One with an aperture and mounting point for a camera

Three cases for the price of one

The case set also includes a short camera adapter flexi, and a set of rubber feet to make sure your cased Zero or Zero W doesn’t slide off the desk.

New distributors

You may have noticed that we’ve added several new Zero distributors recently: ModMyPi in the UK, pi3g in Germany, Samm Teknoloji in Turkey, Kubii in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, and Kiwi Electronics in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Raspberry Pi Zero W is available from all Zero distributors today, with the exception of Micro Center, who should have stock in stores by the end of this week. Check the icons below to find the stockist that’s best for you!

UK, Ireland

Pimoroni The Pi Hut

United States

Adafruit Canakit Microcenter

Canada

Canakit

Germany, Austria, Switzerland

France, Spain, Italy, Portugal

Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg

Turkey

Global

Pimoroni The Pi Hut Adafruit
Canakit

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PIXEL for PC and Mac

via Raspberry Pi

Our vision in establishing the Raspberry Pi Foundation was that everyone should be able to afford their own programmable general-purpose computer. The intention has always been that the Raspberry Pi should be a full-featured desktop computer at a $35 price point. In support of this, and in parallel with our hardware development efforts, we’ve made substantial investments in our software stack. These culminated in the launch of PIXEL in September 2016.

PIXEL represents our best guess as to what the majority of users are looking for in a desktop environment: a clean, modern user interface; a curated suite of productivity software and programming tools, both free and proprietary; and the Chromium web browser with useful plugins, including Adobe Flash, preinstalled. And all of this is built on top of Debian, providing instant access to thousands of free applications.

Put simply, it’s the GNU/Linux we would want to use.

The PIXEL desktop on Raspberry Pi

Back in the summer, we asked ourselves one simple question: if we like PIXEL so much, why ask people to buy Raspberry Pi hardware in order to run it? There is a massive installed base of PC and Mac hardware out there, which can run x86 Debian just fine. Could we do something for the owners of those machines?

So, after three months of hard work from Simon and Serge, we have a Christmas treat for you: an experimental version of Debian+PIXEL for x86 platforms. Simply download the image, burn it onto a DVD or flash it onto a USB stick, and boot straight into the familiar PIXEL desktop environment on your PC or Mac. Or go out and buy this month’s issue of The MagPi magazine, in stores tomorrow, which has this rather stylish bootable DVD on the cover.

Our first ever covermount

You’ll find all the applications you’re used to, with the exception of Minecraft and Wolfram Mathematica (we don’t have a licence to put those on any machine that’s not a Raspberry Pi). Because we’re using the venerable i386 architecture variant it should run even on vintage machines like my ThinkPad X40, provided they have at least 512MB of RAM.

The finest laptop ever made, made finer

Why do we think this is worth doing? Two reasons:

  • A school can now run PIXEL on its existing installed base of PCs, just as a student can run PIXEL on her Raspberry Pi at home. She can move back and forth between her computing class or after-school club and home, using exactly the same productivity software and programming tools, in exactly the same desktop environment. There is no learning curve, and no need to tweak her schoolwork to run on two subtly different operating systems.
  • And bringing PIXEL to the PC and Mac keeps us honest. We don’t just want to create the best desktop environment for the Raspberry Pi: we want to create the best desktop environment, period. We know we’re not there yet, but by running PIXEL alongside Windows, Mac OS, and the established desktop GNU/Linux distros, we can more easily see where our weak points are, and work to fix them.

Remember that this is a prototype rather then a final release version. Due to the wide variety of PC and Mac hardware out there, there are likely to be minor issues on some hardware configurations. If we decide that this is something we want to commit to in the long run, we will do our best to address these as they come up. You can help us here – please let us know how you get on in the comments below!

Instructions

Download the image, and either burn it to a DVD or write it to a USB stick. For the latter, we recommend Etcher.

Etcher from resin.io

Insert the DVD or USB stick into your PC or Mac, and turn it on. On a PC, you will generally need to enable booting from optical drive or USB stick in the BIOS, and you will have to ensure that the optical drive or USB stick is ahead of all other drives in the boot order. On a Mac, you’ll need to hold down C during boot*.

If you’ve done that correctly, you will be greeted by a boot screen.

Boot screen

Here you can hit escape to access the boot menu, or do nothing to boot through to the desktop.

Spot the difference: the PIXEL desktop on a PC

* We are aware of an issue on some modern Macs (including, annoyingly, mine – but not Liz’s), where the machine fails to identify the image as bootable. We’ll release an updated image once we’ve got to the bottom of the issue.

Persistence

If you are running from DVD, any files you create, or modifications you make to the system, will of course be lost when you power off the machine. If you are running from a USB stick, the system will by default use any spare space on the device to create a persistence partition, which allows files to persist between sessions. The boot menu provides options to run with or without persistence, or to erase any persistence partition that has been created, allowing you to roll back to a clean install at any time.

Boot menu

Disclaimer

One of the great benefits of the Raspberry Pi is that it is a low-consequence environment for messing about: if you trash your SD card you can just flash another one. This is not always true of your PC or Mac. Consider backing up your system before trying this image.

Raspberry Pi can accept no liability for any loss of data or damage to computer systems from using the image.

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SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Raspberry Pi

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Raspberry Pi 3, with its quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, is our first 64-bit product, supporting ARM’s A64 instruction set and the ARMv8-A architecture. However, we’ve not yet taken the opportunity to ship a 64-bit operating system: our Raspbian images are designed to run on every Raspberry Pi, including the 32-bit ARMv6 Raspberry Pi 1 and Raspberry Pi Zero, and the 32-bit ARMv7 Raspberry Pi 2. We use an ARMv6 userland with selected ARMv7 fast paths enabled at run time.

There’s been some great work done in the community. Thanks to some heroic work from forum user Electron752, we have a working 64-bit kernel, and both Ubuntu and Fedora userlands have been run successfully on top of this.

SUSE and ARM distributed these natty cased Raspberry Pi units at last week's SUSEcon

SUSE and ARM distributed these natty cased Raspberry Pi units at last week’s SUSEcon

Which brings us to last week’s announcement: that SUSE have released a version of their Linux Enterprise Server product that supports Raspberry Pi 3.

Why is this important? Because for the first time we have an official 64-bit operating system release from a major vendor, with support for our onboard wireless networking and Bluetooth. SUSE have kindly upstreamed the patches that they needed to make this work, so hopefully official support from other vendors won’t be far behind.

You can download an image here. Give it a spin and let us know what you think.

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The Compute Module – now in an NEC display near you

via Raspberry Pi

Back in April 2014, we launched the Compute Module to provide hardware developers with a way to incorporate Raspberry Pi technology into their own products. Since then we’ve seen it used to build home media players, industrial control systems, and everything in between.

Earlier this week, NEC announced that they would be adding Compute Module support to their next-generation large-format displays, starting with 40″, 48″ and 55″ models in January 2017 and eventually scaling all the way up to a monstrous 98″ (!!) by the end of the year. These are commercial-grade displays designed for use in brightly-lit public spaces such as schools, offices, shops and railway stations.

Believe it or not these are the small ones

Believe it or not, these are the small ones.

NEC have already lined up a range of software partners in retail, airport information systems, education and corporate to provide presentation and signage software which runs on the Compute Module platform. You’ll be seeing these roll out in a lot of locations that you visit frequently.

Each display has an internal bay which accepts an adapter board loaded with either the existing Compute Module, or the upcoming Compute Module 3, which incorporates the BCM2837 application processor and 1GB of LPDDR2 memory found on the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. We’re expecting to do a wider release of Compute Module 3 to everybody around the end of the year.

The Compute Module in situ

The Compute Module in situ

We’ve been working on this project with NEC for over a year now, and are very excited that it’s finally seeing the light of day. It’s an incredible vote of confidence in the Raspberry Pi Compute Module platform from a blue-chip hardware vendor, and will hopefully be the first of many.

Now, here’s some guy to tell you more about what’s going on behind the screens you walk past every day on your commute.

‘The Power to Surprise’ live stream at Display Trends Forum 2016 – NEC Teams Up With Raspberry Pi

NEC Display Solutions today announced that it will be sharing an open platform modular approach with Raspberry Pi, enabling a seamless integration of Raspberry Pi’s devices with NEC’s displays. NEC’s leading position in offering the widest product range of display solutions matches perfectly with the Raspberry Pi, the organisation responsible for developing the award-winning range of low-cost, high-performance computers.

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Ten millionth Raspberry Pi, and a new kit

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When we started Raspberry Pi, we had a simple goal: to increase the number of people applying to study Computer Science at Cambridge. By putting cheap, programmable computers in the hands of the right young people, we hoped that we might revive some of the sense of excitement about computing that we had back in the 1980s with our Sinclair Spectrums, BBC Micros and Commodore 64s.

At the time, we thought our lifetime volumes might amount to ten thousand units – if we were lucky. There was was no expectation that adults would use Raspberry Pi, no expectation of commercial success, and certainly no expectation that four years later we would be manufacturing tens of thousands of units a day in the UK, and exporting Raspberry Pi all over the world.

Less than ten million Raspberry Pis

The first two thousand Raspberry Pis. Each Pi in this pallet now has 5000 siblings.

With this in mind, you can imagine how strange it feels to be able to announce that over the last four and a half years we’ve sold a grand total of ten million Raspberry Pis. Thanks to you, we’ve beaten our wildest dreams by three orders of magnitude, and we’re only just getting started. Every time you buy a Raspberry Pi, you help fund both our ongoing engineering work, and our educational outreach programs, including Code Club and Picademy.

Very early on, we decided that we would offer the bare-bones Raspberry Pi board without accessories: that way, cost-conscious customers get the lowest possible price, provided they can beg or borrow USB peripherals, a power supply and an SD card. Over the years, Raspberry Pi distributors have built on this, producing some fantastic bundles for people who would rather get everything they need from a single source.

To celebrate the ten millionth Raspberry Pi, for the first time we’ve put together our own idea of what the perfect bundle would look like, creating the official Raspberry Pi Starter Kit.

The starter kit, unboxed and ready to go

The starter kit, unboxed and ready to go

Inside the minimalist white box (like the official case, another beautiful Kinneir Dufort design), you’ll find:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • An 8GB NOOBS SD card
  • An official case
  • An official 2.5A multi-region power supply
  • An official 1m HDMI cable
  • An optical mouse and a keyboard with high-quality scissor-switch action
  • A copy of Adventures in Raspberry Pi Foundation Edition

This is an unashamedly premium product: the latest Raspberry Pi, official accessories, the best USB peripherals we could find, and a copy of the highest-rated Raspberry Pi book. The kit is available to order online in the UK from our partners element14 and RS Components, priced at £99+VAT, and will be coming to the rest of the world, and to your favourite reseller, over the next few weeks.

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Internet of Voice Challenge with Amazon and hackster.io

via Raspberry Pi

Many of you have been using the Raspberry Pi as a platform for internet of things (IoT) hacking. With wired and wireless communication on board, Raspberry Pi 3 is a great platform for connecting the network, and network-accessible services, to the real world.

Where we're going, we don't need roads

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

Voice recognition can add a whole new dimension to IoT projects. We recently showed you how to connect your Raspberry Pi to Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service to build your very own homebrew clone of the Echo voice appliance. Now, in partnership with Amazon and hackster.io, we’re giving you a chance to win Echo kit and Amazon gift vouchers by developing your own “internet of voice” projects with the Raspberry Pi.

I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission

I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission

Prizes will be awarded in two categories: best use of the Alexa Skills Kit as an integral part of the project, and best use of the Alexa Voice Service. The top prizes in each category are worth $1900, and the contest runs until the start of August. Head to hackster.io for more information, and good luck!

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