The British-designed credit card-sized RaspberryPi computer, eagerly awaited due to its £22 price tag, can be yours this week for a mere £1,900 or more. The tiny GNU/Linux ARM-powered machine, which is priced less than a textbook, is due to go on general sale by the first half of February, several weeks later than expected …
These are great little things...
Once it gets past the nerdgasm-be-the-first-collectible-museum-piece phase and into mass production I will be buying at least 1, I think they are brilliant little things.
I hope a community builds around them, I have this little vision of a few of them mounted in a case with built in switch fabric, like a little cluster - would be a very cheap (and eco/green) way of making a cluster lab for learning hadoop config and other such tools.
" I have this little vision of a few of them mounted in a case with built in switch fabric, like a little cluster"
I'm thinking more of just a loose box full, running purely distributed workloads.
Whatever, I want some.
Actually they are so small they could hang from a Cat5 cable from a rack switch... hmm ideas...
...that it was supposed to be £16? That's what I remember reading on the bbc. Anyway good luck to 'em. Sounds like a good idea - more publicity the better.
Correct, $25 is approximately £16. Dollar prices as that's what the components are sourced in, soc the foundation doesn't get shafted by the exchange rate.
These look to be great
There is a tremendous buzz around these. These will be the next Arduino.
The killer features are the size (tiny), price(mega-cheap) and power frugalility(1W), and that linux is available for them.
I cannot wait to get my hands on some. Want to use for little media players mounted behind a TV, running either Mythtv or XMBC. be good as web servers etc as well.
Oh and they can be clustered - called a bramble apparantly.
Looking forward to it
Truth be told there really is nothing amazing about a £25 computer. It's using the same parts that you could find in any generic media player - a SoC with some hardware support for h264 and HDMI, and the accompanying flash and other bits. You can even buy media players for south of $100 and of course you get a PSU, remote, stb form factor.
Where I think Raspberry Pi may differ is its likely to gather a large enthusiast base which means we're likely to see all kinds of cool things come out of it. The obvious is aformentioned media player but I suspect there will be plenty more and all well supported. What people should NOT expect is to use a generic Linux dist on it for day to day use. These sorts of SoCs are best suited to embedded applications and generally suck as general purpose CPUs. I'll still be plonking money down when they go on sale though.
I'm been running Debian with LXDE on my Raspberry Pi Alpha board no problems -works just like any other Linux PC - bit slower at 700Mhz, but very usable.
As to amazing, if its so 'unamazing', why hasn't there been one before?
> What people should NOT expect is to use a generic Linux dist on it for day to day use.
Yeah, you might want to read the web site before making statements like that.
The unit *already* supports Debian, Fedora and ArchLinux. Ubuntu was originally planned, but seems to have been dropped for the time-being.
"The unit *already* supports Debian, Fedora and ArchLinux. Ubuntu was originally planned, but seems to have been dropped for the time-being."
Read what I said - "What people should NOT expect is to use a generic Linux dist on it for day to day use."
I'm fully aware it can run Linux but the pertinent point is day to day use. Performance is going to suck if you try and use it as a desktop. It will be hamstrung by the CPU (700Mhz), low memory (128/256Mb) and the flash or USB IO. It'll stink as a day to day device. The device's true strength will lie in running an embedded version Linux (e.g. Busybox, Uclibc) or a severely pared down dist with a few bespoke apps on top such as MythTV or XBMC
> Read what I said
I did. It doesn't get any less wrong for a repetition.
> the pertinent point is day to day use.
Read James' posts on the thread. He's doing exactly what you say can't be done.
I tend to trust the experiences of someone with first-hand experience over a web commentator who hasn't got his hands on a unit yet...
> It'll stink as a day to day device.
Probably not. I have a number of machines that run at about that level (the laptop I'm typing this on is currently reporting 600MHz from the CU scaler).
> The device's true strength will lie in running an embedded version Linux
And that's what *I* want one for. But that doesn't mean that it can't do what other people are already doing with it...
@James Hughes 1
"As to amazing, if its so 'unamazing', why hasn't there been one before?"
There are lots of devices packing a Sigma, Broadcom or similar SOC. They just happen to be packaged and sold as media players or some other kind of set top box but fundamentally they're much of a muchness - some SoC, some memory, a USB port, an ethernet port and HDMI out. Many of them run Linux too, usually with a slim user land to host some bespoke app. I've developed such an app myself.
Strip out the middlemen fees, margins, redundant licences (e.g. Dolby) and the other stuff in the box and they could be sold for around the same price as the Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi should still be happy about meeting this price but it really isn't the most notable thing about it. What is more special is its caught the imagination of developers and geeks, will probably come with APIs to tap the hardware assisted h264, and is likely to attract a large enthusiast base. That is what is more important about it than its price.
You saying it hasn't been done before. Lots of media players out there, doing exactly what you say (Roku 2 uses same SoC), but no Raspberry Pi's or similar.
The point is someone HAS done it, and for a very low price.
<> an Arduino
They are much more powerful than an Arduino in my opinion (I have the MEGA fwiw).
The PI can be hooked up to a display and they have a much more powerful processor that can handle (for example) camera images which the Arduino cannot. No more having to use a 4 line LCD to display information.
Just wait for the next run of 10,000 if you want to buy them at the lower price.
Low power, powerful CPU, cheap. What's not to like.
I am hoping that one of these can be used for an in-car camera recording system, which my Arduino cannot manage. I will also be giving a couple to my sons so they can experience the joy of programming that I had when I got my first zx81 !
Anything south of £50 is good. The playstation generation wont get it of course, they have grown up with a stunted view of computer science that only churns out Word/Excel junkies for clerical jobs.
With great power...
comes great power consumption.
While the Arduino runs on a typical 26mA (connected to the power supply) the Rasperry Pi sucks from 300mA (model A) to 700mA (model B). That enough to power a lot of Arduinos...
I know which one I'd rather have around a battery. You can easily power an Arduino from a smallish, cheap solar panel, which is good news for most of the developing world.
So not a fair comparison.
The SoC on the Pi can drop down to <10mA depending on what you are doing with it. The GPU has very aggressive power management which turns off anything not being used (automatic - not reliant on the host OS). But in general use it is going to use more power than an Arduino, But then it would do decoding 10780p30 H264.
That's the fault of de edukayshun system, not the PS gen, IMHO... CS was horridly stunted at secondary level when it moved towards "ICT" as opposed to "Information Systems" or even "Information Tehchnology" or even further back good old "Computing" at GCSE. I'll be buying one if I can get my hands on it for little bro (he's a teenager, I'm in my 30s and proud to have started off on 8-bits with a command prompt in front of me, a BASIC interpreter if I was lucky) so that he might be able to work out the "big stuff" that I work on on a daily basis rather than being an Excel (or in his case interestingly enough, a Dreamweaver) drone.
The whole idea of this project is to keep the cost low and provide a product best suited for the educational market. From what I've read (and I've been following the project online for some time) the thinking is that it will provide a low cost unit that students can use throughout their computer science studies. Essentially allowing students to once again program computers in high schools rather than using Word, Excel etc etc.
Most computer networks do not allow students access to such programming tools because of the risk to their network and so on.
This is only my understanding of the project.
Obviously, the end product itself can have many more uses, I plan to buy one to use as a HTPC.
I know the people over at R-Pi have but great thought into the components they are using because they really want to hit the publicised end price tag. Even down to selection of components not only based on price, but price including the robot fitting it to the board etc.
From everything I've read on their site I have complete faith in them.
If you have posted a negative comment here without taking the time to read the blog on the site to understand the process they have already gone through then I highly recommend you do.
If nothing else, it's a very interesting read.
Waste of Time
If you want to teach UK school students proper IT skills, reform the IT syllabus - get rid of ICT (which is basically, learning all about Office), which should be delivered cross-curriculary, rather than as a discrete subject, and teach technical computing.
I think very few schools will buy the Pi. And half will buy the Pi saying is such a good idea, and in six months time, they'll be forgotten in a shelf, in a store room.
Been there. Done that.
Really? You produced a very cheap PC for helping people learn to program and tried to get it in to schools? What was it called?
I do hope you don't work in a school. That sort of defeatist attitude has no place.
If the schools can find an IT course to teach their pupils that includes programming (in decent languages, rather than MS VB), then the RasPi will be a good investment. The question is, are there many IT teachers out there who are familiar with Linux and know how to code?
I suspect some might get them for their more able pupils, but the boards would probably be better placed in FE, which isn't constrained by 50 minute lesson periods, mandatory subjects or IFP (Increased Flexibility Program - pupils on the scheme spend 1/2 day a week doing something like motor vehicle maintenance or hairdressing at a local college, and are expected to catch up on the lessons they've missed in their own time. Yeah, right, sure, as if...)
You're right, it doesn't.
But unfortunately I have to agree with him as thats the reality of the Education system, its defeating, bureaucratic and utterly stupid except at the University and College levels at certain facilities.
Noone can hire or retain people to teach, high technology and fine arts are probably the worst two areas. Because there are more satisfying and less bothersome jobs in the respective fields that don't require people to have to put up with the nonsense that the "edjumacation" system puts teachers through.
I think he means the teaching kids bit and he's quite right.
I too have been there, done that and would need some considerable persuading to even consider trying it again.
Most of what I understand the Foundation's target audience to be are simply not interested in anything other than click this, click that 'computing'.
One of the main causes of this is an entire generation of teachers who were more interested in party politics than teaching and in many cases actually hostile to any form of technology.
While the former has for the most part either moved on, 'retired' or been ousted. The latter is still very much with us in even greater numbers than before.
To make matters worse, the few kids who are actually interested in anything beyond 'click this' will often get harassed unmercifully while these teachers look the other way and piously tell themselves it's for their own good because of their unhealthy obsession with environmentally damaging technology.
No. I am not exaggerating. One of my case files actually contains a statement from a teacher which says precisely that in much more florid language.
The very best of British Luck because you have a long hard road ahead of you.
Outside of education, these will be mostly snapped up by people who already own >$1000-worth of hardware. In multiples for casual/experimental home hobby projects, or just because "so cheap, i'll take two!". A bit sad really.
Computers aren't the problem. Schools have computers going out of their ears. We don't have room for any more computer rooms, so we by laptops, and safes, and wireless access points.
The problem isn't the computers. Its finding staff who are capable of teaching programming.
And it's also teaching about teaching technical IT at KS3. How to use IT, is core at KS3. How to make, build, design, whatever IT isn't, and is rarely taught.
I hope it succeeds
If you want to teach programming, you do really an environment which is set aside for that purpose, without needing to worry about the security of the general school network.
But there are already other solutions. There are websites where you can learn programming online, without ever creating an actual exe. Or run virtual box. Or set up a private network of obsolete or second hand computers.
In particular, I don't see the RP as having much of an advantage over second hand PCs, because you still need monitors, power supplies, USB hubs etc. An RP at home, you can plug it into the TV and scavenge the other bits, but for 20 RPs in a school you would need to buy stuff.
Stiil its a cool project and I hope some schools will use it. I learnt to program on an MK 14 in the late 70s, and programming has been my career and hobby ever since - if some kids today get into software via the RP it will be a great thing.
Imagine having a classroom of 20 2nd hand PCs which run a mixture of XP,Vista,Win7, where the 6 at the back don't have enough ram to run the compiler and the 3 at the front have weird issues with the video card if you run program X and 2 don;t boot unless ......
It's hard enough supporting that in a research lab with a bunch of grad students - no way does it work in a school.
Then with hopefully millions of these devices out there people will develop, and publish free online, teaching materials courses, tutorials etc.
More to the point
Think of the hassle of re-imaging those 20 2nd hand PC's when a kid fucks up (deliberately or otherwise). Now compare that to simply re-imaging 20 SD Cards.
The only downside I can see, is on the R-Pi you'd be giving them the exact same hardware every time, so they perhaps wouldn't think about the constraints of different hardware so much.
Compare like with like
So you have a set of RPs, running a basic Linux on a slightly slow processor with a relatively small "disk". You need keyboards and monitors, probably private network. And that is a perfectly good system to learn programming.
It isn't fair to compare that with a set of old PCs running different versions of Windows. Put Linux on the PCs, in a 1GB partition, and it wouldn't be *that* different from RP. Decent performance and not too hard to re-image (ok doing anything to 20 computers is a pain). People do this, but as far as I know not many of them.
So RP is a better way of doing something people can do already, but don't. Is that going to be enough? I actually hope so, but I am not sure.
> ok doing anything to 20 computers is a pain
Nope. Run up a cobbler server and it's dead easy.
> So RP is a better way of doing something people can do already, but don't.
Nope. One of it's great strengths is that you can keep your work so far on a microSD. You can duplicate it if you want to try something out.
That's definitely useful for an educational environment.
Arduino or Pic
If you want to teach kids programming on an embedded solution, then just buy an Arduino or a PIC based board?
OK, but Arduino is more expensive, and doesn't do the high level stuff that the Raspberry Pi is capable off (it's a standard Linux distro, not embedded). Although with a Gertboard attached, the Pi can do some interesting HW interfacing stuff.
Both have their place.
I hear the early adopters were...
...all Apple users looking for a bargain.
I'll certainly be buying a couple of these. One for me to play with and one to teach the kids on.
And to all those saying the schools won't be using them, learning isn't something that's just done at school you know!
» Not-for-profit charity
Aren't all charities, by definition, non-profitmaking bodies? Can you give some me some examples of any for-profit charities? Isn't this term, then, a case of needless duplication?
I suppose it could be a case of forceful duplication to emphasise the fact that this charity really doesn't keep the profits it may make — a bit like the negative duplication found in such sentences as, 'I never did nothing wrong'.
I run a for-profit charity. All profits go to a good cause ... ME!
At all the naysayers, some schools ARE already interested
I've already spoken to the IT teacher at my childs school and as his budget is maxed out, I proposed a one-for-two scheme. Parents pay for two and their child keeps one, the other stays with the school, so they should get enough to populate a class room and have a few spare in case of damage or for parents who really cannot afford the cost. (the ones that go home are like parents who ensure their kid has a PC/Mac at home, its not universally done for those either) "Homework" can come home on the SD card or whatever.
He was already keen on the unit for exactly the reasons the charity exists for, to be able to teach the basic skills that I certainly dont have rather than "Office" (I intend to learn with/from my child at home) so I'm going to fund the teacher a test unit and if he likes it, will set the scheme up with the PTA who can deal with the nitty-gritty.
It does mean that perhaps in a decade or two UK based readers of this website might have a sufficiently skilled user base to be able to educate n ew entrats to the industry in the more advanced skills required in commercial IT, rather than moaning that all the jobs have gone to wherever is cheap at the moment. Have a little vision. Its a bit like the modern equivalent of playing meccano with your offspring. It might not make them chartered engineers but it's unlikely to hurt.
But if you just want to learn programming on a simple, slightly slow Linux system where you don't have to worry about damaging anything ... why not run VirtualBox on an existing PC. Doesn't cost anything.
Not intended to be negative, but for schools which can't rely on parents coughing up £50 for two RPs, it is a free solution.
Because schools will NOT let anyone install that sort of thing on their PC's. They are very locked down.
Because most parents at home have NO IDEA what a virtual machine is and won't let little Jonny loose to bust their PC.
Not just programming
VirtualBox doesn't really work very well as an embedded controller in a robotics project, nor as platform for learning about the hardware through other practical applications (e.g. JTAG). It also assumes you already have a PC ... spare ... in the right classroom ... that works. Sure, you still need a monitor, but that's gotta be cheaper than a whole PC. It's also a lot more reliable, since it doesn't have a host OS that's riddled with viruses, or in a botnet sending Viagra spam, or helping the US government hack into Iranian nuclear power stations. F'rinstance.
The 80s: You had to be there. Learning "computing" is about something other than running Word or Visual Basic. Or at least it WAS and, with any luck, it will be again.
Re Virtual machine
We had to implement a VM to get an environment in our labs for students to program on. Beyond the hastle of getting the VM software on (via central labs management), and of maintaing a second OS image (which ceased to be maintained once the CompSci post-grad that was doing it finished his thesis), it was a nightmare to maintain in the classroom. Those things are for servers, not for that sort of on-off-on-off usage and are decidedly fragile in a classroom situation - if we can't get university-level students to learn to quit the VMed OS before quitting the VM itself, what hope does a school lab have? (Yes, it would be great if the facebook generation actually had a clue about using IT, or even for following a basic procedural instruction from their teacher, but for the most part they don't).
I am on order from my head-of-school to buy in a couple of RPi ASAP for evaluation.
I can't wait
I can't wait for the Raspberry Pi to come out in a few weeks for two reasons.
Firstly, it's an exciting project the principal aims of which are educational so it doesn't matter if someone beats them to it (highly unlikely) or makes one cheaper (good for everyone including the Foundation). I shall be buying at least two and I know quite a few other people who will be doing the same. These are going to be nifty little devices that are very capable and very cheap.
Secondly, all the nay-saying ACs (grow a pair you lot) here are going to look pretty silly.
Hey, I would love to get more "in-depth" with computing like this,...
after a hard day doing basic sysadmin work, I would absolutely love a play machine like this at home. If some enthusiast can create a good "how to get the most out of your RP" manual, and walk through how to get down and funky, I would be up for it. (lets go the whole hog and call it a "syllabus").
The technology without both the willpower to promote and support it is just for show and will not get uptake. If I can show my teenage nephews how to control a simple robot arm or make a navigation game based on direction keys on this using simple "building blocks", they would see the possibilties and join in. Why do you think Lego Mindstorms does so well?
"Why do you think Lego Mindstorms does so well?"
Add in the old favourite Logo, and something new called Scratch, and you've got the traditional programming taught it schools.
Yes, you can teach very low level programming in a specific assembly language, but do you need to? In many ways its mostly pointless - if you take a KS4 student, in their first year, assuming they do KS5 and a 4 year degree, your talking at least seven years before they walk into their first programming job.
The language is unimportant. The skills and theory of programming is what's important. And many 'IT' teachers don't have the programming know how - their degrees which qualify them to teach secondary IT may or may not have included an understanding of programming.
Ah, the grumpy British I.T. naysayers
"If it worked someone would have tried it".
Yes, have heard that from plenty of managers in the last 25 years.
An attitude that has made the British I.T. industry what it is today.
The RasPi is fantastic from so many angles, what I hope to see is a big community built around this, availability in schools and some bright spark to get this or compatible version into a *phone*
If that happened, imagine how many schoolkids would suddenly become very, very interested... and they would learn so much about programming for next to nothing, not have to pay ££ for tools/hw and they'd be able to show off to their mates. Viva la revolution!
Good name. I hereby declare this project shall be formally known as "RasPi" from now on.
Hobbyists Dream - and excellent learning tool
There are probably many hobbyists itching to use this tool which appears a more suitable option than, for example, Shivaplug and other ARM single board systems or recycing an old PC, both for software development and hardware projects. In addition, you may wish to refer to the link below to an article in the Grauniad (sic), which succintly explains the advantages, personal and national, of "learning" about ICT as opposed to the "teaching" of ICT.
Paypal will be loving those auction prices! Cue the "Your Paypal account has been limited due to recent suspicious activity" email to Eben...
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