For those who don’t know yet, the Raspberry Pi2  has been released. A newer faster Pi with more expansion capabilities. If your unfamiliar with the Raspberry Pi phenomenon, it is a small credit card sized computer, that costs around £30. It uses standard USB Keyboards and Mice, a HDMI port for video out and a 10/100 LAN port for network connectivity. It runs various flavors of Linux, designed specifically for the Pi. Check out more information at www.raspberrypi.org.

The Raspberry Pi 2 Mini computer has been out for a couple of weeks now. We have been testing one to see what real world improvements there are from the original Pi, and to see what could WE use it for in IT Support.

Raspberry Pi themselves say the new Pi is around 6 times faster than the original. This is helped along by the double ram, now at 1gb and Quad Core Arm 900mhz CPU, compared to the original single core 700mhz. A few other minor upgrades, for example the 4 USB2 ports instead of 2 and more GPIO pins.

We tested the original Pi a year or so ago to see what it was like for Server monitoring, using a software package called Nagios, and looking at the feasibility of using them and Thin Clients.

Nagios, worked ok, and although a little slow, it did work and up to 40-50 devices before causing slowdowns and issues. Remote desktop usage from them, worked, but redraw and refresh rates were a little slow, which meant for proper day to day use, wouldn’t really cut it.

Now comes the Pi2.  We tested Remote Desktop usage , connecting to our terminal server as we would do normally. It worked flawlessly and felt no different from our usual PC`s and laptops.  we could do everything we would do on a day to day basis, using £30 hardware.  Browsing the internet locally on the Pi2 was a little fiddly. The inbuilt browser with Raspbian, was horribly slow, but that improved when we installed Chromium and used that instead. Other than Flash everything worked quite well. Conclusion – for a £30 piece of kit, its more than capable as a thin client and for basic work or possibly diagnostics using various Linux tools, which we will investigate and report back.

We looked briefly at Nagios on the new Pi 2, compared to the original pi, the base install works far far quicker. We tested it with a few nodes, and absolutely no slowdown, the web interface still loaded quickly and was usable without issue. We are going to pursue this one a little longer to see how many nodes we can add before we experience some problems, will keep you updated!

For support and remote support, we used one for a day to see how we got on. Anything that we could use remote deksptop on, worked flawlessly. The only issue we came up against was using our remote support software (Logmein Based), the refresh and redraw was a little slow. We will  need to check again as updates come to the operating system and software to see if this improves.