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back to article 75,000 Raspberry Pi baked before August

RS Components, one of two distributors for the Raspberry Pi, says the 75,000 of the tiny computers are burbling through the manufacturing supply chain and will be ready for release “in July to August”. Speaking at a press event in Sydney today, ANZ Country Manager Jeremy Edward said many buyers of the computer come from within …

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not really the same thing

While the price is similar to Arduinos intended for general prototyping (e.g. the Uno), they're not really the same thing at all.

On the one side, Arduinos go down to much lower prices, with a bare chip with Arduino boot loader available for about 5 EUR. And Arduinos are suitable for hard real-time programming as they don't run an operating system at all — you're programming the bare metal.

On the other side, the Pi has at least 100 times more CPU power and 100 thousand times as much RAM. And while the Pi has a few pins of digital I/O, it has no analogue I/O at all.

The Pi is much more comparable to something like an old 700 MHz - 1 GHz Pentium III box that you can pick up used for about the same price (I have half a dozen of them in use as routers and so forth so I know). The Pi is much physically smaller and uses less power. But it's lacking any ability to add multiple ethernet cards or the like.

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Re: not really the same thing

If you wanted multiple ethernet cards wouldn't you just add them on USB?

Of course you'd need a hub. You'd be able to add more using the GPIO pins too, as they are often used for connecting sata or ethernet controllers on other boards.

I am slightly disappointed at the weird bootloader stuff they do, when the nice, open, u-boot is out there, but I suppose you can't have everything.

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Re: not really the same thing

They've got to get the GPU firmware into it somehow, I thought that was a pretty elegant solution that allows later updates to GPU firmware quite nicely.

- and keeps the price down as no need for any extra onboard Flash or seperate BIOS/bootloader silicon.

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Re: not really the same thing

I guess it saves on silicon, and therefore on price. People who want the more advanced stuff like network boot will just have to put a u-boot image on the sd card instead of a kernel I guess.

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Another big difference

Anyone can easily make an Arduino-like system with a soldering iron and basic hand tools. All you need are an AVR chip, veroboard and a few other easy to source components. This means many hobbiests make their own Arduinos, or variants, and many companies sell clones.

The RPi, OTOH, can only be assembled in a factory with professional tools/equipment and is way beyond amateur assemblers.

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WTF?

Re: not really the same thing

"On the other side, the Pi has at least 100 times more CPU power and 100 thousand times as much RAM. And while the Pi has a few pins of digital I/O, it has no analogue I/O at all."

oh for heck's sake... that's merely a minor issue... someone will quickly come up with the additional hardware and software to utilise a couple of digital I/O pins to implement an analogue input or output...

I can think of several ways right off the top of my head right now...

And someone has already done that self same thing:

http://expeyes.in/

USB version and there's also a version which utilises the digital I/O pins as well...

http://www.raspberrypi.org/

scroll down a bit and there's an image covering this...

"It connects via USB, and Ajith has also designed a version which interfaces through a serial interface using the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins."

http://expeyes.in/articles/54/expeyes-meets-raspberry-pi

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Re: not really the same thing

As far as the bootloader, I hear the reason for its design is that it's pretty much impossible to brick, now; everything runs off flash, so if you screw something up, you can just pull out the card, format and reinstall, and away you go again. Anything more complicated adds the possibility of error, and it would really, really suck to brick your RPi after waiting four months to receive it.

And as far comparing it to the Arduino... it's really not a good comparison. The RPi can play full 1080p video, decode DVDs, run a webserver, and interface with any USB device it has drivers for. To do that, an Arduino would either need a very skilled programmer, or some fairly costly shields (plates? Whatever the daughter boards are called). Or, a shorter explanation:

You can plug an Arduino into a Raspberry Pi in about two seconds (using a USB cord), but it would take quite a while (and lots of programming) to plug a Raspberry Pi into an Arduino.

They both have their use, but what I'm most excited about is both of them *together*.

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Coat

One more

At the event, your correspondent nestled a Pi into his iPhone 3G case. We've dubbed the result the PiPhone

Now stick that in a guitar and you'll have an Epiphone.

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Alert

An EpiPhone?

Is that the one with the real strong vibrating alert?

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careful there

You should have used a Samsung case, less chance of being sued for copyright.

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Re: careful there

Only because the samsung lawyers probably couldnt tell a samsung case from an iPhone case

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Holmes

Farnelll

Farnell seems to have gone very quiet in the last few weeks. My Pi was due to be baked any time now, but I have no idea. Im hoping they're on similar delivery schedules to RS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Farnelll went quiet, Re: Arduino

Really?

I've seen posts from Farnell reps, and there seem to be many responses to them, on the raspberry pi bog (and probably even more in the forums) at www.raspberrypi.org

E.g. start at http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/1214 (May 14, ie Monday just gone). 142 responses as I write.

There is also a post on the "Pi vs Arduino" topic on the bog. In summary: different products for different purposes, only appearing to compete if you don't really understand. Maybe it should be Pi + Arduino in some cases.

Lots of downvotes for the article itself. Not sure why?

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Happy

Re: Farnelll went quiet, Arduino

"...on the raspberry pi bog..."

The mind bog-gles!

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Prince

Please tell me I'm not the only one whose brain can't help hear the words "She wore a raspberry beret" every time a Raspberry Pi story pops up on one of these tech news sites?

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Re: Prince

Not until now, no - but now you've put the connection in my head!

"She wore a raspberry pi-i, and if it was warm, she wouldn't wear much more..."

I demand a PlayMobil mock up of what that might look like as an advertising campaign! ;)

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Trollface

Re: Prince

Sorry, it is only you... :-)

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Re: Prince

Thank you for your confirmation of my oddness :)

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“Pi sales have overtaken Arduino in an instant”

Sales maybe, but deliveries? Not so much...

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On the other hand

there's those of us who have been waiting for the Arduino Leonardo (the real one, not a clone) since something like September so it pretty much balances out. Of course sales numbers are meaningless here. For example, no one really knows what percentage of Atmegas end up as de facto Arduinos. These aren't commercial projects folks. They aren't competing projects. I wish people (who should know better) would stop talking as if they were.

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Devil

Re: “Pi sales have overtaken Arduino in an instant”

And don't all things that overtake do so "in an instant". I mean, there's one moment where they haven't overtaken, and the "next" moment they have.

Does anyone else thing that devil head looks more like a car (with a mouth) approaching?

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Re: “Pi sales have overtaken Arduino in an instant”

"Does anyone else thing that devil head looks more like a car (with a mouth) approaching?"

Maybe it's Christine, then it works whichever way you look at it!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: “Pi sales have overtaken Arduino in an instant”

Are you saying it's actually a devil and not a red car approaching??

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Flame

Re: “Pi sales have overtaken Arduino in an instant”

"And don't all things that overtake do so "in an instant"."

Well, except any two lorries on a 2-lane carriageway...

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: “Pi sales have overtaken Arduino in an instant”

Good one - see icon!

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Put it this way - they can only get faster.

My order was put into the RS website as soon as was technically possible (their website basically folded before the release time even arrived). I have *just* got a note from the Post Office that my order (number 4401 from RS's "half") of the release minute (I would say release day, but really if you didn't order in the first few minutes, you were stuffed) has finally arrived.

The release date was February 29th, by the way. March, April, May. So they just about delivered those orders from the first few minutes of release in 2 and a bit months after "release" (which is really a pre-order that I got suckered into because they kept telling us it was a "release").

The forums are pretty quiet on actual content - everything is either a two-line port from Debian archives, or some Hello World knocked up in Python. Sure, you can run Quake on it, but I didn't expect anything less given the specs. The troubleshooting forums describe myriad power problems which, yes, technically people should read the specs on but that's only going to get worse on public release. There's a couple of broken units (bad solder joints on things like the Ethernet port that had to ALL be redone because of a manufacturing cockup, broken SD card readers, HDMI compatibility problems, etc.) but there's no way to gauge how many are actually in the wild and being used at the moment (already people are just selling them on unopened). And the amount of people who say "I want it to do X" - media centre PC, emulators, etc. - and the answer is basically "It won't" show that it's being regarded as some general purpose device instead of a small embedded unit that's not suitable for most things a smartphone can manage.

So they still have a LLOOONNNGGG way to go to get to their goal of having these things just thrown into random schools. Sure there are Scout groups and schools posting about using them, but those are the geek-teachers anyway who do infinitely more interesting things than I ever did at school. But I think it's going to be way past this September, and maybe even the next, before they actually get them near to schools in general except as a fad item. Give it a couple of years and maybe some real educational company will pick them up and package them into something more useful but at the moment they are nothing more interesting or special than, say, a GP2X (and the GP2X was designed and used educationally in Korea, and has a successor already, and could do everything I've so far seen thrown at the Pi).

I'll be unpacking mine tonight to give it a run-through but, if I'm honest, the only thing I can see them used for is my own projects whereas I originally ordered on the hopes my school might be able to find some use for them (I was expecting there to be educational software, cases, etc. available on general sale by now but it's still just a bare ARM board at the moment).

Being on BBC News, all the tech sites, etc. and becoming a new buzzword is actually just annoying because hardly anybody's done with them what they were originally intended for, and hardly anybody's even been able to get one yet. It's not a release day, if people can't buy and get it sent out for delivery that same week. It's going to be a while before they're able to do that and even then, three-four months late, there's not much in terms of their original plan that you can use them for. Sure, you can boot Linux and play around in Scratch, but you can do that on any PC anyway like schools have in droves in their ICT suites.

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agreed

I'm tired of waiting for this to be honest - they've been blindsided by the demand (which everbody else seemed to know was coming), and now it's pretty much condensation-ware (slightly more substantial vapourware).

My 9 year old is asking what's going on - I tell him - 'nothing yet' - complete farce. At this rate I may as well get him a second hand desktop and have done with it - sad but true.

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Optimist!

Hey - this is an IT product. And it follows in the grand tradition of new groundbreaking IT products. This one, so far, is running months rather than years late. And you complain?

Look the guys who developed it are a tad optimistic. If you weren't they wouldn't do it. Developers are just that, developers. When it works they think their job done. Sadly geting it into manufacturing is also a specialist activity requiring different skills and finally distribution is yet another field.

Getting all three back to back defeats even the most well financed and resource rich multinationals. You can either take the Apple approach of enforcing (and for this you need expensive lawyers) silence till its in the supply chain - or suffer publicly from slippages and overblown expectations.

If you teach IT - this is as important to teach as hardware and software. Otherwise we do get IT shops unconnected with reality outside their bubble.

Finally this product depends on user development. As the number is still small and 'time in hand' is even smaller then you need to question your expectations. As also that the product would ever be ready for mass educational deployment in September (which actually means having everything in hand by June/July). This really was never on.

To think so says something about you. I don't think I would want you running my IT shop. Sorry ..

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I was a bit slow

I was asleep and ordered my Pi about two hours after orders went live on February 29.

On April 27 I got an email from Farnell (nz.element14.com, actually), saying "Having successfully passed its CE compliance testing, we can now confirm that your Raspberry Pi will be dispatched week commencing 28-May-12."

I haven't heard anything more since, so hopefully that's still true.

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Re: Optimist!

"As also that the product would ever be ready for mass educational deployment in September (which actually means having everything in hand by June/July). This really was never on.

To think so says something about you. I don't think I would want you running my IT shop. Sorry .."

Er.. This is my point. I never expected them to but they kept saying that they would and that was their target. And if they expected to and that was unrealistic (as I've posted on their forums in the past), then they should have revised their estimates or done *SOMETHING* about it.

They will barely manage to supply first-day pre-orders in time for the Summer, let alone anyone else. The number of schools (outside of those "specially selected") who will see a Pi this year is going to be near zero. And evaluating even what I consider the "prototype" device that I've been sent shows you have another good year of development before anyone will see them as an actual product.

That's not to mention encasement, packaging, shipping, board revisions, SOME SOFTWARE (other than a plain debian image), and - working in schools - most important of all: Some fecking staff training, or at least people trying to tie the device into the curriculum somehow rather than dump-and-run on the teachers. They're just dumping a Linux distro, GCompris, Python, Scratch and TuxPaint (which seems to be as far as they'll get at the moment) on people and saying "get on with it" which won't wash in schools except as a fad project, and all of the above they can do on their machines NOW - faster, cheaper (because they already have those machines) and more reliably.

A user-developed product is not necessarily a failure - but if there are next-to-no users and even less developers among them, then there's not going to be a product. There's no focus on that. There's no focus on schools. There's no focus on SELLING the product to schools. There's no focus on tying it into schools. It's a complete bandwagon device to hang on the coattails of the Government's "we need more proper IT" stance with nothing to actually help kids.

I don't care about the IT side as much (though I'll certainly find uses for it in my own projects) as targetting education with a dump-and-run scheme. When you spout off on BBC News, BBC Breakfast, Slashdot, The Register, and just about every tech-site, news outlet and newspaper about your marvellous release and what your plans are, you should make damn sure those plans are realistic, IT project or not, and certainly educational IT. And they didn't. Because airtime seems more important to them than actually fulfilling the educational side of this venture, and more than anything else.

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Re: Optimist! @Lee Dowling

You have made lots of statements in your post that are untrue. You have made assumption that the device has been thrown out there, that no-one is working on educational software and documents, on syllabus etc. All that stuff IS indeed going on. Unless you actually work with the Foundation, you are unlikely to know that stuff, so please don't spread misinformation on areas you know nothing about. Just because YOU haven't seen it, doesn't mean it's not happening. So stop guessing and making yourself look foolish.

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"And the amount of people who say "I want it to do X" - media centre PC, emulators, etc. - and the answer is basically "It won't" show that it's being regarded as some general purpose device instead of a small embedded unit that's not suitable for most things a smartphone can manage."

It can do most of the things a smartphone can manage. It has the guts of a smartphone, after all, minus things like the radio, keyboard and screen, all of which can be attached via external ports as required. It's eminently suitable as a network media player, having ethernet, 1080p playback capability, HDMI output, and running linux which has plenty of media centre options available.

If you're seeing lot's of "it can'ts", it's only because the software to easily achieve these tasks has not been ported yet - and this will change once enough people start getting their hands on the thing.

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Re: I was a bit slow

I got the same e-mail!

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FAIL

Need to check again

“Pi sales have overtaken Arduino in an instant,” he said, attributing the surge of interest to the Pi's small price and the wealth of developer tools it offers. ®

Nope it's because people can buy a £30 media streamer.

I will use mine for dev, but many won't.

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Re: Need to check again

You say that like it's a bad thing, but if I had loads of people willing to subsidize the price of my toys I'd be a happy bunny.

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Cheap media streamer?

Well, yes, in the sense that the Raspberry Pi is a board which costs under £30, and can be turned into a functional XBMC unit.

However, speaking as a new Pi owner (as of last week), I'd say it's not as straightforward as that. For starters, you really need to invest in a powered USB hub, a micro-USB power supply that delivers exactly the correct voltage/current (the Pi is a very fussy little chap on that front, let me assure you) and if you're thinking of using it with the telly from your sofa, ideally a wireless USB keyboard/pointer. Once you have that lot, you then have to flash an SD card with a suitable OS (such as the Pi-orientated XBMC Linux distro), and then cross your fingers that everything works.

Don't get me wrong - I love the RasPi, but if someone just wants a low-cost, plug'n'play HDMI media player: once they've invested in all the necessary add-ons and the time needed to configure the Pi, I think they'd be better off with something like a WD Live or Apple TV.

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Re: Need to check again

"You say that like it's a bad thing, but if I had loads of people willing to subsidize the price of my toys I'd be a happy bunny."

My comment was on the basis that the statement made was incorrect.

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Re: Cheap media streamer?

"Don't get me wrong - I love the RasPi, but if someone just wants a low-cost, plug'n'play HDMI media player: once they've invested in all the necessary add-ons and the time needed to configure the Pi, I think they'd be better off with something like a WD Live or Apple TV."

The people buying Raspberry Pis for this purpose don't want plug-and-play, we want openness and customisability. You won't get that from WD, and especially not from Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cheap media streamer?

Fair point. For myself, I was saying that (as I see it) there are at least some people investing in a Raspberry Pi, because some quarters of the tech media (not the RP folk) have given the impression that the Pi is a £25 media player.

My point was: yes, that can be done, but it'll cost rather more than the "ticket price" in extra peripherals and the effort to get it working. I pulled the WD Live and ATV out of the air as two random examples of not-that-expensive HD media players, which would be rather less trouble to set up for the "plug'n'play" brigade.

And as for the ATV not being "open and customisable": agreed, certainly not out of the box, though don't a lot of "techie" ATV buyers jailbreak the thing and stick XBMC on it anyway?

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Pint

Anyone planning to put one into orbit?? would make a great platform for a micro satellite...

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Coat

Pi in the sky?

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WTF?

your correspondent nestled a Pi into his iPhone 3G case ...

ooh, shoplifting in action!

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Here we go again... :-)

It made me laugh when the Pi's were being bought on ebay for 100+ quid. Nutters! You could've bought a much better platform (beagleboard, pandaboard, cubox, snowball, etc) for not much more with more memory, faster processor (even with hardware floating point!) and more on-board peripherals.

As for the arduino vs pi argument, I definitely agree with the sentiment that they're different tools for different jobs.

Depending on the project, you could use the Pi as the main processor with the arduino (or the leaflabs maple, or even a bare-bones ATmega with arduino bootloader) as an "intelligent" I/O daughter board powered and communicated via the Pi's USB host.

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Stop

Disingenuous

Raspberry Pi sales may have overtaken Arduino sales at RS but not as a result of low price nor because of the developer tools.

It is more likely because RS are not a competitive seller in the Arduino market, and only selling to business customers, and RS is just one of two companies holding exclusive deals to sell the Pi so buyers have little choice in the matter. Arduino purchasers have many alternative options, including building their own.

The foundation, fanbois and now RS are hyping the Pi, with the world's media along for the ride, but looking at the Raspberry PI forum, reading reports of crashes, failures to boot, over heating, potential hardware flaws, power supply problems, things not working as expected and sluggishness, it is difficult to tell if it is a credible offering or a pig in a poke.

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Anonymous Coward

That's why they call it a "development board"...

I don't think the RP folk are pretending this is a finished product - if you read the FAQ at the site, they're basically saying the current run is for the hackers, tinkerers and "Linux geeks" (I'd fall into the latter two categories, I think :-) ) to test and experiment with, hopefully so that the wrinkles get ironed out before the machines get near a school.

And yes, there are wrinkles - my Pi is rather fussy on the power supply front (it needs at least 1A of consistent power over micro-USB, or it behaves erratically), but otherwise it's a great, cheap little machine for experimenting with, which it seems to me was most of the aim in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's why they call it a "development board"...

"Or it behaves erratically"

More like the 80's micros than I thought!

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a credible offering or a pig in a poke

It's the Mark 1. We know (some through experience and some by learning from the mistakes of others) all about "Mark 1"'s.

Although I doubt if they planned it like this, but the RPi people seem to have got the hacker community to do the beta-testing for them. Discovering the real-world problems is always a necessary task and one that's usually devolved to the early adopters who, through the powers of marketing, seem to be happy to spend their money on unproven stuff in return for the bragging rights of "I was in at the beginning".

[Disclaimer: sometime between now and (hopefully) christmas (hopefully 2012) I'll get to the top of the list and be invited into the RPi store, too.]

What should be happening now is that the professional designers will be looking at all the criticisms and feedback. They'll be tearing apart the initial designs and looking for improvements. With some luck, the current run of Mark 1's will be superceded by faster, cooler (in all senses), more reliable boards using up-to-date chips with more memory, peripherals and a better layout (you really don't want I-O on all sides of the board) that may cost more but be generally better suited to mass-use.

Depending on when that happens, I may grab a Mk 1 when the time comes - or I may get the opportunity to buy a Mk2 when the current design gets obsoleted.

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Re: That's why they call it a "development board"...

I don't think the RP folk are pretending this is a finished product

No? Then why is it being sold to members of the general public and not only to developers? Why were the first boards handed out to school children? There is nothing I saw from RS (nor Farnell) when it comes to ordering that it is a developer's board or that it likely might not work as expected, may even be flawed.

Where exactly does it tell the general public that it's not finished product or lead them to even suspect that it is not?

It sounds like public beta testing to me without warning of what is being gotten into or worse still; if it doesn't perform as advertised then that's your fault excuse making.

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Re: That's why they call it a "development board"...

@Jason. FFS , it's plastered all over the Raspberry Pi site that this is a work in progress. If you cannot be arsed to read up on things before buying, caveat emptor.

That said, most stuff just works. And yes, it does perform as advertised. If you don;t read the advertisement, who's fault is that?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's why they call it a "development board"...

"Then why is it being sold to members of the general public and not only to developers? Why were the first boards handed out to school children?"

I can't speak for the Foundation, but I'd hazard a guess that it's because there are members of the public who (a) are not software developers, (b) are aware that the Pi isn't a finished product, but (c) are tech-savvy enough (with Linux, computers, etc.) still want to have a go at tinkering with it.

Case study: I'm not a programmer (beyond a certain level of scripting), and I know full well the Pi isn't a polished product (I mean, it comes without a case or any peripherals - what more alerting do you need? neon signs?), but I have ten years of Linux experience and jumped at the chance to get a small, dirt-cheap unit I could tinker around with (and maybe do something useful with, though that's a bonus).

And as for the schools: I think you may find that at this stage, the dev boards are generally going to the computing/electronics clubs, where the kids are interested and/or more capable of coping with the Pi's current "quirks". (Certainly, if the Scout troop showcased on the RPi site is anything to go by.)

I see the point you're trying to make, but it seems to me the situation is a bit less black/white (devs/public) than you may be suggesting.

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