I got my Raspberry Pi working. Turns out neither of the images from Adafruit boot up "instantly" but with an adaptor from RadioShack I was able to see Raspbian installing. Funny, isn't it, how computers all moved to HDMI outputs but monitors continue to be made with mostly DVI inputs. Is anyone paying attention out there?
Once I had the Pi working, I got it online via an ethernet cable and Wireless Sharing off my Powerbook; it sees my AT&T wifi, then passes it on via the ethernet cable to the Raspberry Pi. Fortunately I've got a pre "retina" Mac so it still has an Ethernet cable. What's next, Apple? Dump the USB connector and force everyone to use officially unsupported external hardware for that, too?
Anyhow. With a working connection (thank you, random blogger who explained how to dummy up a DNS addy for the Raspi to see when it tries to connect), I could go into Terminal/command line mode and patch the kernel from Adafruit's site until the 2.8" TFT touch-screen worked.
Unfortunately, the touchscreen is all but unreadable and unusable in the GUI. Just not enough screen real-estate, and too many windows don't resize (and can't be dragged so all the contents are visible). So I imaged that working OS and reconnected the HDMI.
Next thing to try was OSMC. Which looks very cool, but was just a little opaque. I watched an anime episode off a flash drive, which looked pretty decent -- the quad-core in the Pi 2 is working hard, even at a mere 700 mHz. But there doesn't seem to be a simple way to get to the command line any more, and the software threatens to auto-update anyhow, so it seems a chore to patch that kernel to use the mini display. That, and I'm not sure it can be resized to be useable, either.
I really need something simpler, anyhow. My first goal is just to be able to do a simple slide show (I want to show some pictures of recent projects to my dad, and he has no online presence, and laptop or even wall outlets are inconvenient for our usual meeting-up place.) My next goal is to make a music player that improves on my cheap-and-basic mp3 player by actually displaying track names and allowing you to chose which album to play from. Okay -- I suppose I could just go back to minidisc, but getting the albums in there isn't simple.
SSH seems to be the ticket for working up said slide and music players; set up the Raspi for the tiny display (with the same footprint as the Pi itself) and use my laptop for the full keyboard and bigger display to play with the command line and wrangle code.
So, whatever, I'm installing a fresh Raspian now and after I get SSH running so I can navigate in from my laptop, I'll patch THAT version with Adafruit's touchscreen files...
Success so far. Put in a fresh install of Raspian from NOOBS and tested omxplayer from the command line. Got SSH running -- was dead-simple to do -- and invoked omxplayer on the Raspberry Pi from the SSH terminal window on my MacBook. Oddly enough, hotkey command of omxplayer then defaults to the SSH terminal that invoked it; I can pause or skip the video from the MacBook.
What I'd like to know now is if I can send images to the tft touch-screen without having to have that the default monitor. SSH is nice but would be nice to be able to use the GUI when not running the Pi in "headless" configuration. Looks like it might be as simple as keeping the "console" in default and invoking the framebuffer image viewer to buffer #1 instead of buffer #2. But I need to back up my current install or better yet get a new SD card to try this on...