A lot has happened since my first rπ post. I've used that little thing to death (quite literally), as a ssh box, firewall, general server, web server, web browser, movie box and a whole lot more. Then, I've had the SD card die on me. For me, it was a perfect little linux computer that could stay on all the time, consuming little-to-no power, making absolutely no noise, occupying minimal space. In a few words: really, really awesome. And all that for 35 dollars!
As promised, I'll post here the steps to get from a rπ on a closed box to a little box of awesomeness. I know there a ton of posts like these, but hey, storage is free (for now) on blogger. If you haven't read the first post, this is a good time to do it. I will first make a few post-mortem (again, literally) observations about my first assumptions.
Let's start with the most important thing. When I first went shopping for the various attachments, I got the most inexpensive card I found. The only requisite was that it had at least a 4gb storage. After it died, I decided to spend a few extra bucks and get a decent one. Man, I was surprised. There isn't any way of comparison between the π before and now. Instead of moaning the old days, I'll just say this: get a decent, class 10 SD card and you'll have nothing to worry about. And since these things get cheaper and cheaper, get a 16gb one.
Again, when I started using the π, I just used my cell phone charger, which, by extreme luck, was compatible and provided almost exactly the amount of power needed. Then I started using a wireless adapter sometimes. Then I started using hdmi output sometimes. Then I tried to use both at the same time. And it died. Not that it does any harm to the board, but any moderate load will simply power-off the device. So, if you want to use more than the π itself, get an appropriate power supply. Those on the farnell website worked just fine for me. And just for completeness sake, mine is 1000mA.
I did my first tests on my living room TV. But after a while (as addiction got worse), I felt the need to use it on my bedroom, where I have only an old computer monitor with VGA input. So I got a VGA-to-HDMI adapter and things worked fine (well, almost, more on that later).
The first distribution I installed was raspbian, mainly because I was used to debian and, by the time I started playing, there weren't many alternatives. Now we have pidora and even riscos. But anyway, raspbian is a really good distribution and I never had a problem with it. But I am restless. Since I was going to reinstall the OS from /dev/zero, I decided to jump from the cliff and install arch. For no special reason, just to try something else. So, the instructions from now on will be arch centered, although many will be usable on other distributions.
Man, I write a lot. Let's stop right here and I'll get to the first installation steps later.