Idiot's Guide to Raspberry Pi

I have written this guide because the huge demand from my followers in twitter. They were very fascinated with what the raspberry pi can do. I’ve written this guide to be simple and straight to the point. Basically I want you to help you to make your living room smarter. Think of it as a little project you could do during weekend 🙂

Purpose of writing the guide
I believe in educating my readers. That’s the key. Sure there are many blogs , sites shows what it can be done . I want to share with my fellow Malaysians and also my readers from all around the world , what you can do with this tiny little device
What’s a Raspberry Pi ?
It’s basically a very small computer . It runs on Linux. How small is it you ask , just take a look at the picture. you’ll have an idea on how small it is – or you may just google around for pictures
It has HDMI port , Ethernet port and 2 USB port which makes it a cheap (don’t worry about the price , it is much more affordable) HTPC (Home Theatre PC) , which allows you to stream movies , pictures , music.
The raspberry pi has two models , model A and model B. Model B comes with Ethernet port (LAN) and also has an additional USB port and a larger memory (512MB vs 256MB , which is found on model A)
What can it do ?
Imagine , the ability to watch TV programs , imagine you could stream movies directly without the need to download. Imagine taking out your iPad/Android device and streaming youtube from tablet directly to TV.
Also you could connect your external hard disk and watch all the movies/photos you have obtained in your big TV Screen
Simply put imagine your computer connected to the TV – yep that’s what you could do !
What are the advantages compared to buying those media drives/android stick ?
First you don’t feel ripped off. Generally those media drives that you connect your external hard disk to TV and play have limited file support. At times they don’t play 1080p well and they cant be expanded. You can’t get it to stream content from Internet.
Second is that Android stick has limited software support as well , to expand you would have to wait. Raspberry pi has a huge community and there are lots of people working on it everyday – every new single thing. Plus Android TV boxes are expensive and you may feel ripped off as most of these people who sell these boxes charge you extra for what is it already free !
Lastly , you learn. This is why you should get the raspberry pi.
What’s the Cost ?
Thankfully , the cost is pretty cheap to set it up. You can purchase it from element14 online. You can purchase the pi separately . But if you are completing new to this ,
I recommend getting their bundle (starter pack) which costs under RM 200 . The bundle comes with Raspberry Pi Model B (the better one that is) , a case (the device is naked by the way) , 8GB memory card which comes with pre-installed system.
Alternatively you may opt for Model A with WiFi Dongle , which costs about RM 240 . You may add RM 55 extra for Model B if you wish to get the WiFi Dongle !
All you have to do is plug and play. It’s pretty straight forward. Of course you could purchase just the device and build your own case and use existing memory card.
But honestly , if you have no clue what to do just get the bundle. A or B is up to you , but if you ask me , I would opt to go with Model B
What else do I need ?
Well you would obviously be needing a
Flat Screen TV (i.e LED/Plasma/LCD TV) that supports HDMI-CEC , in other words if your TV has something like SAMSUNG AnyNet , SONY Vierra Link or something along that line. You do not have to worry about it. It simply allows your raspberry pi to be controlled via your TV Remote control (you do not have to spend additional $$$ buying a Wireless keyboard)
Power Adapter – You can pick it up from Pasar Malam or use your existing Android charger. In fact if you have an android phone or any phone that uses microUSB to charge you have it covered . Alternatively just pick it up from pasar malam or PC stores for under RM 15
USB Keyboard and Mouse – You’ll be needing them to configure the device. Just use your existing USB Keyboard and mouse. Alternatively you may opt for Wireless Mouse and Keyboard  !
HDMI Cable –  Yep you’ll be needing them. You may need a HDMI cable which is compatible with HDMI 1.4. I’ve heard that cheap cables work well
 5Mbps or better Internet connection – if you wish to stream online content. Unifi works great , Maxis Broadband does okay. If you have Streamyx or other wireless connection things may start to suck – you may not able to stream a lot of online content smoothly
 What’s next ?
Well you could read my guide on how to set it up here. It shows you what add-ons to get and how to configure your pi
Alternatively you may contact me via Twitter @prasys or post comments here.
I’ll be writing more and more tutorial and hopefully a video !

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