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Fans of the Raspberry Pi were astonished to learn that a powerful new model is being released, an announcement that came just a couple of months after the Raspberry Pi Model A+ and Model B+ flew off virtual shelves.
With a quad core CPU and boasts of being able to run Windows 10, the Raspberry Pi 2 is the first genuine upgrade of the original board from 2012.
But is the Raspberry Pi 2 really all that? Has the surprise of Windows 10 somehow got in the way of the facts? Well, yes it has. In fact, despite the hype, there are a few things that you still can’t do with a Raspberry Pi 2. At least five, in fact.
It (Still) Won’t Run Most Software
As with other versions of the Raspberry Pi, the new version isn’t capable of running a large proportion of applications and tools available for Linux computers.
The reason? Well, it’s easy to forget, but the Raspberry Pi has an ARM processor, and this new version is no different. Other than a higher spec (900 Mhz and four cores) the CPU architecture means that applications written for a computer with an Intel x86 or x64 CPU simply won’t run without considerable reworking, a task many developers simply don’t have the time to do.
So while you’ll be able to run a certain amount of useful software on your Raspberry Pi, this is all compiled to run on a device with an ARM processor. The rest of the Linux application library is nevertheless closed to you.
You Can’t Photograph the Raspberry Pi 2 with a Flash!
Following the announcement of the Raspberry Pi 2, excitement turned into amusement when it transpired that the device is prone to one of the most unusual hardware bugs ever recorded.
Basically, it resets in the presence of a bright light.
Rather than being an amazingly compact and sophisticated example of an AI, the shutdown is due to the sensitivity of the U16 power supply chip. The bug was discovered by Peter Onion, as explained on the Raspberry Pi website.
Xenon flashes found on many smartphone cameras interfere with the chip because of the photoelectric effect, which results in electrons being emitted and interference with the activity of the transistors within the chip.
In most cases you probably won’t be photographing your Raspberry Pi 2, but as the previous versions of the little computer are one of the most widely snapped pieces of hardware around, there is a good chance that it will happen at some point. It’s worth pointing out that the device shutting down without warning can corrupt the SD card so we wouldn’t advise you do this to your Raspberry Pi 2 without having a contingency for your current project (like a cloned SD card).
No More Retro Gaming Centre… (For Now)
One of the great uses for the Raspberry Pi’s original version is as the main component of a retro gaming system. While emulators will continue to run on the new model the most popular solution for retro gaming fans to get all of their game ROMs and images in one place isn’t currently an option.
Sadly, a new build is required for RetroPie to be compatible with the quad core processor found in the Raspberry Pi 2, so for now at least, you won’t be able to take advantage of the extra RAM to improve emulation of N64 and PSX games…
Hold On, That’s Not Windows 10… Is it?
Windows 10’s “compatibility” with the Raspberry Pi 2 has made a few headlines, but how accurate is it, really? Well, the headlines never tell the whole story, do they?
Microsoft are keen to support the maker community, which is why they’re providing this new version for the Raspberry Pi (and other hobby development boards), but it won’t be anything like the Windows 10 you see on a desktop PC. Instead, it will likely be a version of the ARM build of Windows 10, a successor to the tablet-based Windows 8 RT.
It’s also unlikely that there will be a GUI at all with this version, and will instead be purely a command-line OS. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but not quite the story sold in the headlines. Even with a GUI, the best anyone can expect is the ability to run apps intended for Windows RT or Windows Phone devices – not exactly a great selection of software.
Instead, Microsoft are hoping people will use languages widely used in its own applications to develop projects that might highlight new areas of development by the tech giant.
To find out more, it’s worth registering for the Windows for IoT Development program.
So, You Can’t Run Microsoft Office On It
With a more powerful Raspberry Pi 2 capable of running Windows 10, there is an obvious possible use for the new computer. With Windows 10 support, surely the low price can save IT budgets around the world, enabling organizations to spend money on easy to set up compact computers that cost a fraction of their desktop competitors?
As we’ve seen, there is no way standard Windows applications can run on the Raspberry Pi 2.
This shouldn’t put anyone off, though. Office suites that run on ARM are available, and the current Raspberry Pi computers are already capable of performing the basic office tasks of email and word processing.
The key to this is in choosing the right office suite, and scaling hardware to the needs of the user.
Raspberry Pi 2: Evolution, Not Revolution
Obviously, these are the main problems with the Raspberry Pi 2, a computer that is the evolution of the fascinating and flexible device envisioned by Eben Upton. There is no doubt that the successor to the Raspberry Pi will prove to be hugely flexible, but it will continue to have its shortcomings, especially when it comes to tasks that are neither educational nor DIY projects.
What do you think? Have we covered everything you can’t do with the Raspberry Pi 2? Are we being unfair? Tell us in the comments.