Bearing More Fruit?


Featured Image from’s_Game_of_Life#Self-replication

Until the last few months of 2016, I really had no spare time to myself.  The consequence was that I had to take a break from contributing to my favorite Raspberry Pi OS (DietPi), halt any software or hardware based projects of my own, and in general, just stare at the coffin of ideas my personal office on the way in and out of bed.

This was all very drab and sad, but in November of 2016 things turned around.

In my hiatus, I found a much more potent spark that even allowed time for proper research, so in December I was tired of shuffling code around on various Raspberry Pis.  I took a step back to spend a moment at the mother ship of Pi-ready operating systems.  Strictly scientific.  Strictly to see what, if anything, had really changed over the last year or so as in truth, I only had expectations of finding two primary, bloated Debian-based distributions among a handful of woefully neglected distributions.

I was not prepared for what I found.


Raspbian finally had my attentions.  What was this whole PIXEL thing?

As many of you may already know – or will know now – is that Raspbian Jessie with PIXEL is a rather large, but awesome update.  In fact, it seems to have been quite a labor of love and as for PIXEL?

Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight”

– Simon Long,

Of course this release has been around since September, has had some updates, and can be downloaded from

However, the “spin” here is that the Raspberry Pi foundation has released a Debian x86 port in ISO/Live CD format.  YES.  I said it and it felt good!  I stumbled across this article and instead of spending time through the Raspbian download, Win Write, and test-on-the-Pi process, I downloaded a 1.3 GB ISO image: saving time and virtualizing this live CD before committing to using it on any one of my Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 boards.

The tie into Conway’s Game of Life is that, well, with this type of effort the SBC arena could soon become a Zero-Player Game.  From the testing I have done, I have been very pleased with using my slightly tweaked virtual machine as a test ground before rolling out projects to my SD-based, “production” Raspberry Pis.

The live CD offers a “persistence” mode, but forget that: I want permanent storage so every time I reboot my Debian x86 virtual machine, I am ready to go.  I will be saving this for another topic, but for quick instructions on booting the Live CD in VirtualBox, check out Network World’s instructions:

As for myself, I find this to be a great beginning to 2017 as we’ve gone from ARM to Intel with a base-OS that makes the hardware seem… agnostic.  This, all by itself, is something that I had only dreamed of as a kid.  Building code on one platform to run on another, supporting various bit-wise architectures, and the likes.

Well – a long winded rant with an obscure reference to something epic, but it seems the fruit is regenerating itself in unexpected conditions despite the “rules of the game”.

-JK Benedict | @xenfomation



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