More Raspberry Pi

September 8, 2012

At the beginning of this week, I posted a note about the free, online course in OS design offered by the University of Cambridge, for the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s bare-bones, low cost (ca. $35) single-board Linux computer.  Interest in this project seems to be growing.

Technology Review has a short hands-on review of the Raspberry Pi, by Simson Garfinkel, who is an Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey CA, and a well-known writer on security and digital forensics.   Prof. Garfinkel’s review is focused on the device as an educational tool: “Can a $35 computer persuade kids to put down their smartphones and try their hands at programming?”  Despite its small size and low cost, the Raspberry Pi is a fairly capable machine, at least by historical standards.

… you’ve got a 700 megahertz Unix workstation with hardware accelerated 3-D graphics—something that would have been state-of-the-art in 2001 and set you back several thousand dollars.

As Prof. Garfinkel points out, you will need a few things, besides  the board itself, to put together a complete system: a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.  He did encounter a few problems in using the machine.

The main problem that my kids had was that the current version of the Raspberry Pi’s operating system didn’t work flawlessly right away, and needed some tweaking to support some keyboard layouts, wireless cards, and sound hardware.

These are hardly unusual problems for a brand-new hardware device running newly-ported software; still, getting started may be a bit daunting for complete beginners.

In other news, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that a new revision 2.0 of the computer is being introduced.  There are some small changes in interface and I/O specifications; probably the most noticeable change is the addition of two mounting holes in the circuit board.  The Foundation has also been able to arrange for board production in the United Kingdom, because of the strong initial interest in the device.


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