I got my Raspberry Pi and installed IPFire on it

by Michael Tremer, June 20, 2012

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A quick note in advance: If you don’t like me talking about this ARM stuff all the time, just ignore this post. If you do, please have a look at the last paragraph.

I finally received my Raspberry Pi computer I was able to order in May. RS said that delivery will take up to 3 weeks and it has been a bit over 5 now. Well, doesn’t matter, because we have already waited for a long time anyway.

I will cut out the whole unboxing experience, because there is not so much to unbox at all. The RPi is very small and cute.

So I then installed Arne’s latest IPFire image from here (which runs on Pandaboard as well) and it just worked. I flashed it onto a SD card, put the card into the board, plugged a monitor, keyboard and power in and a few seconds later, I configured the essential stuff with the IPFire setup tool. You may watch the entire first boot on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmBxq6v9IZc

How does IPFire perform on the Raspberry Pi? At first of all you need to know, that the SoC is not the fastest one around. The design goal of the RPi foundation was to create a cheap computer for children and not a high-performance system which is coincidentally consuming very less power. The Pandaboard outperforms the RPi easily. The main issue is the poor performance of the CPU (the fast GPU does not contribute anything to an IPFire system because we don’t do graphical stuff here) and a very small amount of memory.

That limits the RPi to run IPFire without any bigger addons like an Intrusion Prevention System or a virus-scanning proxy, but the essential things run perfectly. An ideal setup: Serving an internet connection to a small network by using a 3G USB modem.

So, I currently can’t think of anything else the RPi could do for me. It would also be very hard to find tasks it can do, when every application demands more and more resources. I have talked about the Raspberry Pi dilemma some time ago, and I guess it still holds: The board is damn slow but a great toy.

We are still searching for everybody who wants to help with the ARM port. The people on the SIG-ARM mailing list are excited to hear from you.