Raspberry Pi in Toronto—Seneca College Fedora Remix 14 Event
I just got back from Seneca College’s Centre for Development of Open Technologies, where Chris Tyler gave a demonstration of a prototype Raspberry Pi board running a variety of software images each booting from a simple 2GB SD card.
This, for me, is as seminal an event as the introduction of the Apple I. I think the originators of this project should be more than simply commended. They are lighting the path for, what we all hope, will be a new generation of tinkers and dreamers all inspired by the promise of technology.
Raspberry Pi is a low cost computer that is designed to make experimenting with the hardware and software that make up computer accessible to students and hobbyists. But these are simply the starting goals. One can easily envision all sorts of devices designed and constructed by the tinkerer in all of us: automation, data acquisition, robotics. What it does is give the power to dream to those who otherwise might not attempt it.
The Fedora Remix 14 project at Seneca College in Toronto, Ontario is a port of Fedora 14 on to the ARM architecture. It is a remix because in addition to Fedora, which is entirely open source, it includes the proprietary graphics drivers required to utilized the onboard GPU baked into the SoC.
Some of the details from the presentation by Chris Tyler, the Fedora Remix 14 project lead:
- The GPU is by and far the largest portion of the SoC (System on a Chip).
- The GPU has a similar graphics capability to the XBox 1. We saw some demos of a FrankenBrew OS+application running OpenGL ES.
- Although Fedora 14 is end of life, it has the desired memory footprint to allow it to run on Raspberry Pi. Fedora 17 will have a completely different architecture that will allow it to run on small footprint hardware. Plan 9 anyone?
- The development plan for Fedora is to bring the ARM architecture on par with x86 with Fedora 17 which has a scheduled release date of May 2012.
- The running memory usage of the Remix is about 21MB, which is about 10% of the available 256MB of Raspberry Pi.
- The image incorporates parts of SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux) anticipating, I imagine, the broader appeal of Raspberry Pi-like architecture for enterprise applications.
And now the pictures from the event: