Joining the Rasberry Pi revolution

Joining the Rasberry Pi revolution

I picked up a few Rasberry Pis from Amazon.com and I’m glad I waited a while so I could get the Pi 3, which seems to be a step up from its predecessor in terms of performance.

Amazon.com now delivers to Thailand and includes taxes in the shipping so there’s no more to pay. This is a huge step forward as previously dubious import charges were levied by the courier. Thankfully a thing of the past I can now browse Amazon with confidence. As a bonus, it only took 3-4 days to arrive at my doorstep. Yeah!

My total was just under THB 6,000 for the following:

Setting up the Pi

Unboxing reveals the board, power supply, heatsinks, Micro SD card + USB adapter, case, HDMI cable and quick start guide.

Getting the board set in the case was problematic as I was doing it incorrectly! Watch the YT video below

Everything else was a breeze and an hour later I had Rasbian up and running. Nice to be using my DAS keyboard again, it has such a tactile feel.

Decided against applying the heatsinks at this stage after checking out some info on the web.

NB: The SD card slot is on the underside of the board and the SD card is keyed so will only fit one way – hard to go wrong there 🙂

Raspbian vs OSMC

Many folks prefer to run Kodi on top of OSMC and I understand why, but I wanted to get it running under Raspbian if for no other reason than the experience of doing so.

Also, as per this article I prefer to run Kodi under Raspbian mainly so I can use other stuff when not using Kodi.

I want to retain that option and have that flexibility. YMMV. I may look into OSMC in the future but for now, Raspbian will do just fine.

Changing locales – The Pi is from Pommieland

I noticed when editing a file I’m getting a pound sign instead of a hashtag so need to change locales. For this throw up a terminal window and type sudo raspi-config then work through the menu structure.

NB: It takes a long time to generate all the new locale files.

Update: This alone didn’t solve the above issue. I also had to edit the file /etc/default/keyboard and change the GB to US.

Reboot then sorted.

Reboot using sudo reboot . The Pi does NOT have a power switch and you should effect a graceful shutdown of the OS rather than yank the power cable!

A major roadblock – Installing KODI

This was a nightmare!

I installed from the repository using sudo apt-get install kodi but when I launched the app I had problems with both the keyboard and mouse. The keyboard worked but had about a 5 second lag time while the mouse was unusable.

I searched the web for a solution and managed to change the skin, with many folks saying Kodi wasn’t designed for mouse input, an answer I couldn’t quite accept. I also tried using a game controller but no joy(stick) there! Don’t want to spend extra $$$ on a remote at this stage – will save that for later.

I worked through this article and created the rules and permissions files but still no joy.

Also noticed my taskbar would disappear in Raspbian when I had exited Kodi and I would have to reboot. Most likely unrelated but disturbing nevertheless.

Observations: Kodi would run in windowed mode and the mouse pointer worked properly at the top of the window but not once it was within the app area. I suspected it may be an X server issue and installed xapps so I could test xclock and xcalc. Both ran fine and mouse worked as expected within these windows so the problem was back to Kodi.

I also found this article useful. Thanks Mahmoud!

As the hours went by I became increasingly frustrated.

Always check your version info

Finally a breakthrough, after coming across this post. I checked my version of Raspbian using cat/etc/os-release to discover I was using Stretch i.e ver 9

In the time of the first Raspbian Stretch image released by the RPi Foundation, there was only available the generic Debian Kodi version (17.1) which is compiled against OpenGL, so not optimal to run on the RPi (at least by this time), it runs very slow. But now, a new version is available (17.4) on the repos, compiled against OpenGLES, optimized for the RPi.

I began to believe my issue was related to the version of Kodi I was running on Stretch.


NB: I was still unable to force Raspbian to grab a version of Kodi > 17.1 so maybe the problems were on the OS side. In hindsight, I suspect the sudo apt-get update-dist went a long way to fixing my problems

sudo apt-get update hell and changing my mirror

I began to work through the steps to force Raspbian to grab Kodi 17.4 instead of 17.1

I ended up in a type of purgatory whereby sudo apt-get update would no longer work. I was getting the error message clearsigned file isn't valid got 'nosplit'. I somehow managed to get through a sudo apt-get update-dist which took forever but still couldn’t update. It was time to change my mirror.

I managed to stuff this up to!

Was having problems with the default mirrordirector.raspbian.org, it was very slow. Being in Asia, it’s not the optimal choice, methinks.

Tried changing to a few on the supplied list but no luck so changed back, however, I managed to misspell the url hence it didn’t work. Always copy and comment out the original source line instead of modifying it, kids

Internode to the rescue.

My old alma mater, those lads from Adelaide (swallowed up by TPG in 2015).

When I changed my mirror in /etc/apt/sources/list to Internode things improved remarkably.

I was then able to sudo apt-get update --fix-missing and then rebooted once more. After that, updating worked as expected.

Finally, a working version of Kodi (pretty much!)

After re-installing Kodi (post update blues) I fired it up and everything worked as expected. Mouse and keyboard good to go.

I have a few minor issues, mainly it no loger runs windowed only fullscreen. I can live with it if I have to, but will try to find a fix.

Also in fullscreen mode, some menu options extend beyond the screen area.

Functionality wise it all seems ok.

It had been a long 12 hours since I ripped the box open and it was time for a beer and some chow.

Day 2 – Kodi configuration

This is very important!
Kodi on Raspbian requires a minimum of 160 MB of RAM dedicated to the GPU to function properly! This can be done by running “raspi-config” -> “Advanced Options” -> “Memory Split” -> 160.
If you have a RPi 2/3, the recommended is 256 MB of RAM for the GPU.

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