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A Slice of Pi

The Story

I've wanted a Raspberry Pi for quite a long time. Long enough, in fact, that one of my dry erase boards is permanently stained with "Pi" in the corner where my wishlist sat undisturbed for something like two years. The appeal of a tiny single-board machine that I could fire-and-forget is pretty high for me, but was never quite high enough to make the commitment.

That is, until recently, when (with his usual token tut-tutting about lack of imagination1) my dad shot me a birthday giftcard to a certain major online retailer. I don't know what was different this time, but almost without hesitation, I found a "starter pack" (the board, a power supply, and a cheap case) and it was done. Same day shipping is great, too.

Fiat OS

Once the little machine (henceforth dubbed kanaria as it is the smallest computer I own) came to my door, I got started immediately. There was no un- boxing ceremony. The board came out, the heatsinks went on, and the case was snapped around the board. Next up, the operating system.

I run Gentoo as my daily driver, and have since another well-loved distro decided to go down a path I wouldn't follow (not counting a brief affair with FreeBSD that ended when it refused to acknowledge my wireless card). So it seemed only natural to run Gentoo on kanaria as well. The catch, as it were, was that installing Gentoo on the Pi required (according to the docs) installing crossdev via a Portage overlay, and compiling the kernel that way. Ok, not a big deal.

It took a while, both to install crossdev and to compile the kernel. But, once it was done, it got blasted to the SD card along with a base image, and I was ready to roll. I thought.

Boot to the card. Everything looks good. Log in. Nice. Install a basic package... nope. Somewhere along the line, something had gotten messed up in my compilation flags (likely the arch) and I was left unable to compile programs on the Pi.

Now, I probably could have stuck it out and cleaned up my mess. Maybe I should have. But I didn't. It was only a few more minutes until I had installed NOOBS, then Raspbian. I was absurdly impatient, and just wanted to have a minimally functional system to play with. Perhaps some day, when I'm feeling more ambitious, I'll go back and try again with Gentoo. Maybe I'll even give BSD a shot. Who knows.



Well, that pretty much sums up the first day of Pi life. Of course, it didn't end there... but I need material for another article, right? So I'm going to end here with a shot of the Pi (in it's new case). Next time, I'll go in to a bit of how I've been using my favorite devops system to manage the Pi, and some of the tricks I've been having it do.

  1. I've mentioned more than once that pragmatism trumps imagination in the realm of gift-giving (as far as I'm concerned), so I'm sure he gets it. I think it must just be part of the ritual.