Raspberry Pi OS (Legacy) and Pi Presents

The VLC for Pi developers have indicated that an update to VLC to provide the embedded facilities of OMXPlayer will take some time. It appears that it will involve both VLC and upstream code.

Fortunately Pi Towers have now produced and official legacy version of Raspberry Pi OS based on Buster. This will be updated while Debian continues to update its version of Linux, on which Raspberry Pi OS is based, at least for a couple of years.

I have updated the Readme’s for Beep and Gapless to use this version rather than the unofficial archive version that I suggested in November.

For Beep users there is one downside. The legacy OS replaces the hardware accelerated version of the Chromium Browser with the software accelerated version. This will be updated whereas the hardware accelerated version will not. I have provided instructions to install the hardware accelerated version if you find you need it.

More information about the legacy OS here:

https://www.raspberrypi.com/news/new-old-functionality-with-raspberry-pi-os-legacy/

You Should Think of Moving to Pi Presents Beep

The future Raspberry Pi OS, Bullseye and beyond, will not support Omxplayer and the old camera software. The browser used in Gapless, UZBL, is obsolescent. All of these are essential for Gapless.

The next version of Pi Presents (pipresents-kms) will use VLC, Chromium, and the new V4L2 based camera software only so Gapless users will need to change. Fortunately Pi Presents Beep uses Omxplayer or VLC for video, and Chromuim or UZBL for browser so it is the ideal stepping stone to the future.

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Bullseye breaks Pi Presents

The latest version of the RPi OS which was issued on 8th November has seriously broken Pi Presents. As an amateur developer I get no notice of these changes.

Fortunately the previous version of the OS, based on Debian Buster, is available and should be used for Pi Presents Beep and Gapless. It appears Buster will receive security updates and bug fixes for a few years. The OS is available here:

https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/raspios_armhf/images/raspios_armhf-2021-05-28/

For the technicaly minded Bullseye has removed mmal/omx and video players that rely on it – omxplayer and the VLC facilities I use to embed videos. It has also replaced FKMS with KMS which alters control of the displays.

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Beep has updated Video and Web Tracks in Version 1.4.5

By default Web Tracks and Video Tracks are now implemented by Chromium Browser and VLC respectively. The old implementations of UZBL and omxplayer are still available but may be removed in the future.

Chromium browser is the modern browser which is the standard for RPi OS. It handles heavy Javascript and video much better than UZBL which has not been updated since 2016.

VLC is now the standard Videoplayer for RPi OS. Omxplayer has been deprecated and is not being developed further because the underlying omx API is also deprecated.

You will need to update profiles and install new dependencies to use the new version so read the Readme, Release notes, Changelog, and Manual.

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Android Application for Controlling Pi Presents using OSC

David Verheyen from Belgium has kindly developed an Android App for controlling Pi Presents from an Android phone or tablet. The source code of the App is here. It can be compiled with App Inventor which is a free program from MIT.

The App is a general purpose program to control Pi Presents. It is  very similar to the pp_oscremote.py program. The source code is supplied so you can tailor the App to your requirements, David can also provide the executable.

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The December update of Raspberry Pi OS has broken Audio Device Selection

The December 2020 version of the Raspberry Pi OS has yet again modified the way that application software selects the audio device. The OS now uses PulseAudio which is becoming the standard way to control audio on Linux operating systems. It has a number of advantages for Pi Presents:

  1. Audio outputs from more than one show can be mixed together
  2. Multiple USB audio devices can be used
  3. Bluetooth audio devices are easily supported.

I have updated both Pi Presents Beep and Pi Presents Gapless so that device selection from profiles works with both old and new versions of the OS.

There is a new configuration file /pipresents/pp_config/pp_audio.cfg. You can use this to change the audio system from pulseaudio if you are using an earlier operating system and, for Beep when using pulseaudio, configure USB and bluetooth audio devices. Instructions in ReleaseNotes.txt and pp_audio.cfg

There are a few bugs in the new operating system particularly if two monitors are used on a Pi4. Also I would recommend a new install rather than an upgrade as this seems to work better.

Stay safe.

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GermanTranslation of the manual for Pi Presents Beep

Peter Vasen has very kindly produced a German translation of the Pi Presents Beep manual to add to his Pi Presents Gapless manual. You can download it at

http://www.web-echo.de/4.html

If you wish to contact Peter you can do it via his website http://www.web-echo.de/

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May 2020 Raspbian Update breaks Audio Device selection for Audio Tracks and Beeps

The May 2020 version of the Raspberry Pi OS has modified the way that application software selects the audio device. This means that the only way to control the selection with the new RPi OS is by the Task Bar selector.

I have updated both Pi Presents Beep and Pi Presents Gapless so that device selection work with both old and new versions of the OS. The method of selection between old and new versions may not work for the old OS particulary if you have at some time used a USB sound device. Read thhe Release notes to fix this.

Beep has also adopted a set of Audio Device names that match those printed on the Pi’s printed circuit board and the taskbar menu. Pi Presents will accept the old names but if you edit the profile you will need to select the new names.

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Pi Presents Beep, two updates

I have just pushed a second recent update to pipresents-beep which brings it to Version 1.4.4c. It fixes the PPmanager deletion bug highlighted in the previous post. In addition there are several improvements:

Updated Remi which is the library behind pp_manager and pp_web_editor. The primary advantage is that the programs now operate on single port each, which makes it much easier where LAN’s have locked down ports and for operating through a firewall (Note: PP and Remi should not be regarded as secure applications.)

Support for dynamic updating of liveshow media by remote programs. This is a lock protocol which ensures that tracks are not modified while they are being played.

Full implementation of monitor support. All combinations of monitor numbers, rotations and positions are now possible on any model of Pi including calculation of touchscreen coordinates.

Other minor improvements and bug fixes. Please read the changelog.txt

Most of the changes require a change to configuration data. Please read the manual and release_notes.txt
Stay Safe
Ken

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IMPORTANT: Serious bug in pp_manager.py

Hi All
I have just found a nasty bug in the web based manager pp_manager.py. Fortunately I doubt if many people use this part of the suite as I have not had any angry emails saying where have all my profiles or media gone.

In pp_manager.py if you use the manage menu option to delete a profile or media and do not select an item then deletion is allowed but ALL the profiles or media are deleted.

The bug is present in pipresents-gapless and pipresents-beep.

I have pushed a fix to the pipresents-gapless Github a few minutes ago. I will not update Beep for few days as I am in the middle of an update to pp_web_editor and pp_manager. It was testing the update that revealed the problem, and yes all my profiles disappeared (fortunately I am an enthusiastic backer upper 🙂

Keep Safe

Ken

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Pi 4, Python 3, 2 Displays , and Pi Presents Beep

For a while now I have frozen development of [pipresents-gapless] and have continued further development in a new repo [pipresents-beep]. Initially this was intended to have some minor upgrades, the first being short beep sounds when keys are pressed, hence Beep!

However three things have recently happened which has turned Beep into something of more importance:

End of Life for Python 2

Suppport for Python 2 will end on 31 December 2019. This means no more updates, including security weaknesses. Although no date has been announced it is likely that Python 2 will soon be dropped from Raspbian as  it follows the Debian flavour of Linux. I have converted Pi Presents to run on Python3, and only Python3, in Beep and will not be backporting it to Gapless. The primary advantage of Python3 from a user point of view  is that text uses Unicode so ‘non-Latin’ character sets should be useable.

Pi 4 and 2 Displays

Pi Presents can now use the two displays enabled by Pi4 and Buster. The two displays can be attached to the two HDMI ports or the official DSI touchcreen can be used with a HDMI display attached to HDMI0. A Show can now be displayed on one or other of the Displays by editing the new Display field in a Show.  It is also possible to direct video to the second display, while text and graphics are shown on the first.

Official DSI Touchscreen

I have bought one of these. As a single display they work out of the box, as one of two displays the scaling of the touch is wrong and requires use of an xinput command to correct it, which Pi Presents does.

Touch works well with Click Areas. The size of the screen might limit how useful the touchscreen is in real use. However as part of a two display system it has lots of potential as touches on one display can control Shows on the other larger display.

Pi 3 Users

Pi 3 and earlier models have only one display. Although you can connect a touchscreen and a HDMI display only one display can be used. With the exception that it is possible to direct video to the second display, while text and graphics are shown on the first. The latest version of Pi Presents Beep was developed on Buster and has not been tested on Stretch so to use Beep on a Pi3 you should upgrade to Buster.

How You Can Help

You should consider converting to Python 3 soon. Python 2 is going to disappear from Raspbian in the not too distant future.

Given the wide ranging modification made to Pi Presents for two displays and Python 3, and also that the Raspbian Buster display subsystem is a major new development; I do not recommend adopting Beep and throwing away your working Gapless system immeadiately. However it would assist me greatly if you could test your existing applications on Beep and report any problems on Github in the Beep repo.

The upgrade process is not difficult, install Buster from scratch on a new card do not upgrade,  install  Python 3 versions of some packages, remember to type python3 in the command line, and use the editor to upgrade the profile.

Other Enhancements

  • Play short sounds when keys are pressed or touchscreen is touched
  • Counters can be stored between runs
  • Message text, track text and Show Text can now have html markup
  • show control commands can be triggered by an input event
  • statistics recording device driver seperated out to allow alternative recording device
  • repeat command in mediashow to repeat a track

 

 

 

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