If you haven’t been able to get your Raspberry Pi 2 for a long time, I have a question for you. What do you think?

The latest edition of a pint-sized computer is just stunning . It’s faster, bolder and comes with a beefed up processor and double the RAM. Simply put, this is a significantly more capable machine. But you probably already knew this.

The iterative nature of hardware releases means that each new arrival is inevitably faster and more powerful than what preceded it, but often without any significant difference. But the Raspberry Pi 2 is radically different. It can do a lot more than what came before it.

Launch Windows 10 for IoT Core

Windows on the original Raspberry Pi was always really unlikely.

For starters, the humble Raspberry Pi could never hope to keep up with something as CPU and RAM intensive as Windows. Also, there’s a slight problem in that Windows isn’t going to run on ARM chips (not including Windows RT, which was never available for general purchase).

But that all changed with the release of the Raspberry Pi 2. The increase in RAM and processor power meant that it, finally, capable of more.

Microsoft recognized this and ported a stripped-down version of Windows 10 to it. It was called Windows 10 for IoT Core. and was released to the general public for free.

This version of Windows is ideal for those who want to create their own products. Internet of Things but much more comfortable in Microsoft’s gilded cage than out of it.

It also makes it easy to create projects using Microsoft’s excellent Visual Studio development environment. This supports various programming languages ​​including .Net languages, Python, Node.js. and more. It also makes it easy for developers to create GUI applications with XML-based XAML.

But don’t think it’s like the Windows you’re used to using on your laptop. This is not true . It has been stripped down in order to make it work on the comparatively limited Raspberry Pi 2 hardware. For example, it doesn’t support old-school desktop apps and doesn’t have an app store; you also can’t run universal apps unless they’re specifically designed to run on the Pi. But you can start building your own apps today!

Start Ubuntu Core

One of the main advantages of the Raspberry Pi was that it was incredibly cheap and therefore accessible to everyone. The reason it was available at such a low price is because it cut a lot of corners. One such compromise was to use a weaker, cheaper processor that uses the ARMv6 instruction set.

Each operating system must be specifically built to run on a specific chipset. Only a few have been built for this chipset, including (but not limited to) NOOBS, Raspbian, and Gentoo and Arch add-on products.

Ubuntu was not one of them. ARMv6 support ended with Karmic Koala (version 9:10), almost six years ago. But since the updated Raspberry Pi 2 runs the instruction set ARMv7 he, finally, can run Ubuntu.

One of the more popular versions of the Raspberry Pi is Ubuntu Core, which offers a simplified interface without the use of a GUI and is ideal for lightweight hardware. It’s also more secure, as it was designed from the ground up to have a limited set of components, thus offering a smaller attack vector, and with an update system that sees updates being downloaded to it faster than standard Ubuntu.

Start Ubuntu MATE

But you don’t have to stick with the command line if you don’t want to. There are even graphical flavors of Ubuntu that work well on the Raspberry Pi, such as Ubuntu MATE. .

As you may have guessed, this launches the MATE windowing system. This is based on the already released GNOME 2 and is considered the best compromise between speed and looks. It’s light enough to run on a humble Pi, but it also has enough visual elements to make it enjoyable to use.

It goes without saying that people have also managed to get stock Ubuntu (with Unity Shell and Gnome 3) and KUbuntu (with bulky KDE) running on the Pi 2. You don’t need use Ubuntu MATE, but it feels like the best fit for such limited hardware.

If you don’t have a Raspberry Pi but still want to try the MATE windowing environment, you can easily install it about your existing Linux system.

Emulate more consoles

Raspberry Pi never was not a slot machine. It has always been designed for experimentation and learning. But despite this, he can run some games.

For example, the first one was even able to play Quake 3 with success thanks to built-in 3D hardware acceleration, as well as Minecraft and other home games. .

It can even run console emulators like PiStation which emulates an ancient Playstation 1 and RetroPie which emulates a wide variety of old-school consoles.

The newer, more powerful Raspberry Pi is even more capable and can comfortably run many other emulators, including those for the Sega Dreamcast. Here is Soul Calibur running (albeit with a few hesitation) on a Raspberry Pi 2:

Internet browsing (convenient)

This point is completely subjective as to what you find comfortable.

The first generation of Raspberry Pi computers were considered too slow to surf the Internet. But the Raspberry Pi 2 is a completely different animal and many technical writers have given him the opportunity to view it in a positive way.

Nick Heath of TechRepublic said, «The Pi 2 turned out to be a comfortable browsing machine that lived up to Upton’s description of serving as the second PC of the house».

Former staff writer Matt Smith, writing for Digital Trends, said, «With this setup, most web pages loaded in seconds, and scrolling happened more often than not.»

Personally, I was quite impressed with the browsing performance on the Raspberry Pi 2. While it struggled with some multimedia and JavaScript rich websites, the difference between it and the original Raspberry Pi was day and night, and I felt quite usable for casual browsing. ,

Your mileage will of course be different.

To you

It’s important to remember that while the Raspberry Pi 2 is a huge improvement over the first model, there’s still a lot it can’t do.

Do you have a Raspberry Pi 2? Have you discovered that it can do things that the first generation Raspberry Pi couldn’t? Let me know in the comments below.

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