Anth's Computer Cave

Raspberry Pi 2 brings potential GUI programming options

In case you haven't heard, there is a new Raspi in town, the Raspberry Pi 2 model B.

It claims to be six times faster than the previous B+ model and sells for the same US$35.

I have a few of the first B and B+ models in the cave, and I use them every day. They provide endless opportunities for projects, from robotics, to home-automation, and they can run all kinds of servers and other always-on applications. The Raspberry Pi has made the world a much better place for us geeks.

The one limitation with the Raspberry Pi up till now has been its inability to run a full desktop environment without lag. The GUI is all but unusable for most purposes.

For this reason most of the programs and applications I create for the Pi are operated via a terminal over SSH. This is bearable to a geek like me, but less insane users would baulk at using commands. My other programs are controlled via an Apache2 web-server running on the Pi, and accessed from a web-browser on another PC or portable device.

While browser-based and app-based GUI control of remote systems looms large in the future, there is still a need for a real GUI running on the local machine.

Take my home-automation platform, AAIMI. It needs a web or app-base GUI so users can monitor their home remotely, but I don't want that to be the GUI. The web GUI requires just a basic set of features. I want the real GUI to live on the Raspberry Pi.

With the new Raspberry Pi 2 the AAIMI GUI can live on the Pi, and it should run without lag. The Pi can sit under the TV so I won't require an extra monitor. If I wish to use the GUI remotely I can use a remote desktop application like VNC.

This will make AAIMI Home Automation really feel like a part of the home and allow full control from a wireless keyboard and mouse on the coffee table.

It will also bring all its security feeds and alerts directly to your television.

Best of all, AAIMI can also control your media.

The new Pi also should actually work as a media centre now. Previous versions could play hi-definition video without lag, but they were painfully slow to load and navigate. This should be a thing of the past now the Raspberry Pi 2 is here.

I will build the AAIMI media-control interface right into the home-automation interface.

One screen to rule them all!

Cheers

Anth

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