Raspberry Poo to you 2!

Sometimes I envy the Apple faithful. I have a long and woeful list of reasons why you couldn’t drag me into a Apple Store at gunpoint, let alone lay out hard-earned for any of their products. But I’ll give them this, they have mastered the art of the customer experience. And if we don’t start mastering it, or at least try to emulate it to a lesser extent, it’s going to be why free tech will die on the vine.

This week’s Raspberry Pi 2 release is a classic example. For freedom nerds, this should have been our iPhone 6 release day. It should have been a moment to celebrate and reaffirm our predilections to technological ideology. The reality for me (and I hear, a great many fellow Raspberry Pi aficionados) has left us feeling confused, excluded and most importantly, questioning whether our loyalty to the Raspberry Pi bandwagon might be misplaced.

So what went wrong?

  1. We got jumped. Just last week, I was giving a talk to colleagues after work about how they could help their kids master tech, recommending that they buy RPI 1 B+. I looked a right tit when a machine 6 times as powerful for the same price was launched the next Monday that I had no clue was coming. When Apple release a new machine, their loyal customers get fair warning, and a chance to make the effort to be first in the queue for the new kit, and even know what they’re going to get for making that effort.

  2. We got double jumped. Having given it 24 hours thought, I can sort of see why Windows compatibility is a plus from a commercial angle. And far be it from me to restrict choice. BUT! Last week I was extolling the virtues of free software efficiency, and the problems with proprietary platforms. And promoting the Pi as the object example of this. It would have been nice not to have been dramatically contradicted without warning. It may be hyperbole to say that many of us see it as a bit like inviting the wolf into the Chicken run. But I think that feeling is at least the result of some evidenced experience. If the wolf is coming in, some time to get used to the idea would help.

  3. Getting one is isn’t an experience, it’s a pain in the backside. Within an hour of the announcement, my debit card was getting plugged into RS. RS’s site said it had stock, and i can fill online order forms for new tech pretty damn quick :slight_smile: . If you order anything from RS, you usually get it next day, and they’ve built a massive business on that. Without warning, at 1pm today, I got an email “order confirmation”, which was weird, because I got one of those yesterday. So I had a look, and it wasn’t a confirmation, but a delivery update. Apparently the “in Stock” item was now on back order for shipping in nearly 3 weeks time. I tried putting an order in with Element 14, but their site was bobbins. I got another “Order Confirmation”, which turned out to be an update that they intended to ship my stuff on the 9th now. But that had since been put back to the 20th. All of which is most aggravating, because this isn’t the 1st time this has happened with Raspberry, but an unforgivable 4th time (Initial release, release of rev2 boards with 512 ram, the B+ release and now the Pi 2 have all been the same.) I’m sat here typing this because i’m £28 lighter without anything to show for it and no confidence in when that will change. If it were a completely new product concept in an untested market, I could understand. But there’s a following there now. High demand for a popular product was completely predictable to the point of being inevitable. And yet we have to settle for the fobbing off and second rate service every time.

It seems that you don’t get what you pay for, only what you pay through the nose for.

And no I haven’t cancelled my order. Because crappy customer experience aside, the new Pi looks awesome.


I admit I had a similar sense of discombobulation. I needed a Pi for a project I’m working on, and had been thinking of buying one; I went to buy one Monday morning and was startled to discover the Pi 2 release. It was done without much fanfare, and to my shame I was initially upset that they’d worked hard to make Windows work.

But. There is such a strong correlation between people claiming in loud voices that they’re doing good work and those people not actually doing good work but instead being self-aggrandising arseholes that I think people who are genuinely doing a good thing are frightened of making a big noise about it.

Also, we sorta fooled ourselves into thinking that the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s goal was to promote free software. It isn’t. It’s to promote computing, tinkering, low-cost access to technology, enquiring minds among children. As the BBC Micro was. A jolly good way to do that is by introducing users to open source, but it’s not the only way. And Windows 10 may not be free software but you can still use it as a base for tinkering with things, even if you can’t tinker with Windows itself. So it gets more people into computing which is, I think on balance, a good thing.

It is, big picture, disappointing; why let Microsoft into our playground? They don’t let us into theirs; Windows ARM devices are locked down like you wouldn’t believe. But the Pi people are not in this to strike a blow for freedom qua freedom. They’re in it to get people tinkering. The extent to which that aligns with the goals of open source is a lucky (but well correlated) accident, not something we can necessarily rely on. And, bear in mind, almost all of the documentation and the mindset about the Pi is around open source. Anyone entering the Pi world with the intention of using Windows will be way more exposed to Linux than they would have been otherwise, and we hope they’ll see the light by doing so because we’re better. If we’re not better then, well, we didn’t deserve them anyway.

All fair and agreeable. I fear Embrace, Extend and Extinguish, but not to the point I’m going to get upset about it… yet. It could in the fullness of time work as a reverse shoe in. And as I think I stated, freedom of choice does inevitably mean people will make choices you don’t agree with, at which point we (writ: I) must suck it up and shut our cake holes.

But that only addresses moan number 2. Any thoughts on my irritable whining numbered 1 & 3?

Well, as for #1, it doesn’t surprise me that, since they do have seem to have a ‘get it together’ problem, that they didn’t announce anything about the new product. But, they are an education focused entity instead of a profit focused one, right?

Well. Point number 1, that the announcement wasn’t a big deal, I attempted to address with the thing about how good people are frightened to look like arseholes. And point 3, about how getting one is hard… yeah. Nobody is capable of shipping at the levels that a huge quantity of interest dictates. I bought my pi 2 from thepihut. Might take a couple more days than normal to be delivered, but I’m OK with that. I would note that this gives the lie to your point one: without any grand marketing blitz for months in advance, they’re still at the point where their sellers are overwhelmed with orders.

I don’t think we (open source / linux fans) should be worried about Windows on the Raspberry Pi at all:

  • Currently open source / linux has essentially 100% marketshare on the Raspberry Pi. Unlike desktop and laptops, our OS is the established and dominant choice. If you want to find out how to setup or use a Pi, the guides will all recommend Linux. All the bundles you can buy that come with an OS - come with some flavour of Linux.
  • The hardware is still very open, so unlike the desktop / laptop pc market that Windows ordinarily dominates, proprietary hardware support isn’t going to let (what I believe) is the inferior Windows OS seems like the most pragmatic choice.
  • Even with the Raspberry Pi 2, Linux has a head start on Windows, as Windows 10 builds aren’t yet available for the Raspberry Pi 2. So even if you run out and get a Pi today because of Windows support, you will be running Linux the day you get it because Microsoft doesn’t have a build yet. Its not exactly a great first impression for Microsoft. They are missing day 1 support, its hardly showing they really care about your Pi experience.

Linux users often (rightly) complain how the desktop / laptop space essentially isn’t a fair fight because of Microsoft’s market dominance inertia. The fight for marketshare / mindshare on the Raspberry Pi is very much a fair fight: bring it on! Our goal should be to keep Windows marketshare on the Pi lower than Windows Phone marketshare on mobile. It will be tough, but we can do it!

Microsoft Windows support isn’t ‘a cancer’ on the Raspberry Pi, its a very mild headache. Relax for an hour and you’ll forget it was ever bothering you.


Btw, I had a lot of sympathy with your point about the upgrade being unexpected. I was considering buying a B+ a few days before the announcement, so I was lucky I suppose. But now I have thought about it, the (very good) analogy you made to Apple upgrades being well signposted beforehand, possibly doesn’t apply as much as you might first think:

  • Really most people don’t need the Apple upgrade from a functional / pragmatic point of view, they just want to have the new shiny. Apple always makes the new one seem more shiny, to persuade you to upgrade, because everyone will know you have old one if you don’t! With the Raspberry Pi on the other hand, you could lie to most people that you had the new one and they wouldn’t know (though why bother, we aren’t Apple fanboys fashionistas). Also, anyone you recommended to get a Model B+ because it will help them do x, y and z still applies as much now as it did before the Pi 2 was announced.
  • If anyone does decide to upgrade to the Pi 2 in the future, they now know that everything will remain working. Same software, case and other accessories. Unlike Apple, where they will probably change all the bloody connectors or something so you will need to buy all new accessories.
  • If you really want the latest Pi 2, after just buying a B+, then we are talking about something that costs £24, not £500. If you ebay your B+, you’ll probably end up losing £5 at most if you’re quick and tbh (especially when I was a student) I ‘lost’ more money than that every time I went near the pub / union. Now if you had just bought a £400-£500 iPhone, you will probably be able to recoup most of your money if the new one is surprise released, but you have every right to be more worried and annoyed that Apple are doing this to you.

How is having a choice a fight? Isn’t the whole Linux eco about choice? Does Microsoft having a majority in the desktop arena make your experience with Linux less fulfilling? And really, so what if it happens that more Rasberry Pi’s will end up having Windows? Will that somehow diminish the systems running Linux?

I was looking at the Raspberry Pi to use as a media device for my tv, specifically to watch Netflix. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a practical way to do that without linking to computer or such. Now, I see that Windows 10 will be available for it. Will I be able to use it with Windows to directly link to Netflix? Time will tell, but I would use Windows for that. Now this might be considered heresy, blasphemy, by many. (Do I hear the erecting of a stake and fire wood being gathered? :smile:) But, I don’t see how my choice, if I would choose that way, would somehow lessen the choices and experiences of others to use Linux on this device.

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Well put.

I think it’s underdog syndrome. If you go by history, any time a Linux desktop is put up in a fight against an alternative, it loses. Linux loses to the Mac and Windows on desktops; it loses to Android and iOS on phones. From that, it is reasonable to take the conclusion that it’ll always lose. But on the Pi there wasn’t an alternative, and so it’d win. Now, though, there’s competition from Windows 10, and I suspect that there’s a subconscious fear that Windows 10 will win (because Linux always loses) and then maybe “Pi 3” will only work with Windows because that’s a lot more popular.

That would upset me too. It would go against the very purpose of the Raspberry Pi: education.

Sorry, ‘fight’ was my lazy, hyperbolic late at night when I posted way of saying: Linux now has competition on the Raspberry Pi. I think choosing between different distros is very different type of choice from choosing Windows. Also, my post basically agrees that having Windows as a choice is perfectly fine and good: its just irrelevant for (in my opinion) most people attracted to a Raspberry Pi, for the reasons I described.

On your other point, yes, Microsoft having majority marketshare in the desktop arena does make my experience with linux less fulfilling, because it means the majority of hardware manufacturers focus is on support of Windows to the detriment to Linux. Which means I have far less viable hardware options.

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Servers? Android obviously uses Linux (though, I know what you mean). Embedded devices (Telly / DVR boxes and the like).

Also, there seems to be an unspoken assumption by most of you in this thread that because Windows is a big hit on traditional desktops and laptops - that gives it a big leg up in being a viable and popular alternative to linux on the Raspberry Pi. I don’t see how. I think the mainly hacky, nerdy, education focus of the Raspberry Pi is more likely to be attractive to a Linux desktop / server user than a Windows one - or someone who will grow up to be a Linux user.

On a side note, I heard today on Windows Weekly, that the SKU of Windows for Raspberry Pi isn’t known, but it is thought to be Athens-based. That means that it might only support ‘modern’ universal Windows apps from what I can discern. That is great way for Microsoft to encourage devs to write modern apps (which they have had a struggle with thus far), but very disappointing for any typical Windows user thinking the Raspberry Pi for Windows is going to be similar experience to the Windows 10 laptop they love:

“Does this mean the latest version of the Rasberry Pi board, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B – which has at its heart a quad-core ARM v7 processor, will run the next version of the .Net Micro Framework, Athens or some custom version of Windows 10, like the HoloLens augmented-reality goggles and the Surface Hub conferencing system will? It’s not entirely clear, but I’m thinking custom is the likely answer. Update: One of my sources who knows quite a bit about Windows 10 says Athens is the more likely answer.”

That’s why I explicitly said “Linux desktop” :slight_smile:

Not wholly sure on the hacky nerdy point. Linux is better if you want to hack on Linux itself, yes. And there are a reasonable collection of internet-of-things-style devices which have open drivers. But the vast majority of things that a consumer might choose to plug into a USB port are better supported under Windows, in my experience. There’s a whole world of potential hacking open there, which is probably why the Pi people wanted the Pi to be part of it.

I did wonder about your phrasing, because in the next sentence you went on to talk about mobiles, which has nothing to do with the linux desktop either :smile: , so I took it you meant - any time a community driven Linux distros have competition from Microsoft / Google or Apple it loses and the worry is that will happen again with the Raspberry Pi.

I just don’t think Microsoft has that much to offer to Raspberry Pi users and it appears it has little focus on it (unlike the laptop / desktop market). It just has found a development SKU of Windows 10 that was really developed just for generic embedded arm devices that works on a Pi too (that it will release ‘sometime in the future’) and has decided to get a PR win by announcing it can run on a Raspberry Pi.

Microsoft seems to me to have a lot of man hours of work to catch up with the amount of effort that has been put in by the Linux community in the forms of great documentation, custom distros, end user software, etc specifically for the Raspberry Pi. In my opinion, if Microsoft (and its community of users) don’t do far more, the majority of Raspberry Pi users will continue to favour Linux. Also, Linux has the inertia advantage. I have a Pi doing something, it works good but could be faster, I buy the new Pi 2 - why do I now want to go to all the bother of changing the OS and most of the software stack?

Apple make a fuckton of profit, and can afford to cannibalise sales of existing lines by pre-announcing things. Note also that the huge interest in Apple means that their products tend to be announced at press events that are known about ahead of time, and that their products old and new are constantly speculated about, hence news can often leak early about a new or upgraded Apple product ahead of time. Also note that when Apple product upgrades are officially announced, their availability tends to be immediate or within a few days; announcements of products due for release well into the future are often only made to pre-empt discovery via regulatory filings (i.e. FCC).

Raspberry Pi, meanwhile, are a small organisation and there is probably no real sense in pre-announcing something like the Pi 2, and then cannibalise sales of existing stock held by their distribution partners.

[quote=“b1ackcr0w, post:1, topic:10034”]We got double jumped. Having given it 24 hours thought, I can sort of see why Windows compatibility is a plus from a commercial angle. And far be it from me to restrict choice. BUT! Last week I was extolling the virtues of free software efficiency, and the problems with proprietary platforms. And promoting the Pi as the object example of this.

Unlucky; this is your problem, not Raspberry Pi Foundation’s. Windows support has been clamoured for for quite some time, even if it wasn’t as feasible then as it is now, thanks to RT builds of Windows. Kids using Pis to learn computing will likely end up using Windows on a day to day basis. If the same UI is present on the Pi, why isn’t that a good thing?

This is often true of purchasing new Apple products.

Hmm, haven’t heard that before. I really did have it in my head that they had that down smooth.

To add a little balance to my original post. It arrived on Friday. And I’ve done some tinkering over the weekend, including putting Owncloud on it. It’s very tasty :smile:

First I think the Apple analogy isn’t actually that accurate… Apple tries to keep the release dates of their new devices, along with the actual details of those devices under wraps until they’re ready to make the big announcement… Then usually the big announcement comes and you have to wait who knows how long to actually get your hands on the device (look at the Apple Watch, announced in September 2014, but you can’t actually buy the thing till March 2015 in the UK… The same applies to the iPhones. Usually the announcement comes and the phone is not available for a little while afterwards. The reason people generally know that there’s a new device coming is:

  1. Apple have been quite regular about their hardware refresh. You can generally “guess” when you can expect another iPhone.

  2. Because of the consumer demand for Apple devices there’s always a steady leak of information about what Apple is working on next… We “knew” the Apple Watch was coming in some form or another for quite a while before the official announcement.

Also I want to defend Windows here a little bit (I know I’m on a Linux forum defending Windows!)… I see Windows on the Raspberry Pi as a good thing not because I’m particularly a big fan of Windows (although I do use it pretty much every day for work) but because as has already been mentioned it brings another choice to the party.

From Microsft’s point of view I think the Pi2 with it’s ARMv7 processor was a godsend because it meant with relatively little work they could get Windows 10 to run on it (since Windows RT required an ARMv7)… But I think the point that’s being missed is that this isn’t full Windows 10, this is Windows 10 for IoT devices which is substantially different from the consumer version of Windows 10. From what I gather (and I have to admit I’ve only started looking at it since the RPi2) so it’s not like Raspbian which is a full Linux desktop… It’s probably closer to running Ubuntu Snappy rather than Raspbian, I’m still trying to dig into the specifics of what you can/can’t do with it.

Totally person opinion here… But I think Windows 10 being available on the RPi is a good thing… Aside from extra choice it’s going to bring the RPi to the attention of .Net developers who may or may not have had any experience with Linux at all… Everything that’s online at the moment is all about the RPi and Linux (this point has already been made too) and Windows 10 (in any flavour) won’t be available for quite some time so until then it’s all Linux, and even after that personally I think it’ll be mostly Linux anyway… Only those who have a specific reason to run Windows 10 on the RPi will run Windows 10 on it…

As has already been mentioned though Microsoft has a pretty much non-existent presence in maker community… For example did you know there’s a Windows 8 for IoT??? And it’s free apparently!!! For the most part .Net has lived in the enterprise space, and it’s only recently that it’s started to expand with more and more focus on OpenSource and the “hobbyist” developer community. Microsoft is playing catch up with the likes of the RPi and BeagleBoard and Arduino and the like… And the only reason this was a “big” announcement is because it’s Microsoft… Same way that if it was Apple announcing this it would be equally “big” (knowing Apple’s penchant for marketing and hype probably bigger)…

In the grand scheme of things I really don’t think this has anything to do with the “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” philosophy that MS used to have… I like to think that the company has changed, but in reality I think if they try any funny business the community will just abandon them, since they can just switch to Linux… They need the community to make Windows 10 a success, since they’re becoming more and more reliant on the community for the success of .Net…

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There was a project that put a raspberry Pi, in a NES cartridge, I thnk.

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