back to article That Brit-built £22 computer: Yours for just £1,900 or more

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 …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Publicity Whores

    I guess that accurately describes these people.

    Also, I doubt they will deliver on the 35 pound price promise. Just adding up 100000s component prices and ignoring that they will buy only 1000 at a time, need capital, need to pay for logistics, etc, that is the typical mistake engineers make when they venture into business.

    1. Eddie Edwards
      Facepalm

      Oh the irony

      Another typical mistake engineers make is to assume that people involved in a venture who are about to release product must be idiots that don't know what they're doing, on the basis of a few trivial insights they have into manufacture which no one else could possibly grasp, and without even seeing the *quotes* which these guys have no doubt been mulling over for months.

      The £35 price tag does seem unlikely, yes, but since it's the whole point of the project, I would assume the management is just a little bit further along in their thinking than a schoolchild who doesn't know the difference between ordering in 1000s and 100,000s.

    2. James Hughes 1

      You are going to look a right twat for that comment at the end of January. $25 and $35 are the price points -t he people running the foundation are NOT beginners at this stuff, and know exactly what they are doing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You are going to look a right twat for that comment at the end of January."

        Why the end of January? He already looks like an epic twat.

    3. regorama

      $35 not £35. The first production run will be 10000 not 1000. If you want to criticise, do try and get the details right.

      Did you notice where it was stated that Eben Upton works for Broadcom who make the chip the Raspberry Pi is based on? Might be a clue there as to how the project manages to get favourable pricing on the components.

      The pricing does seem almost too good to be true but if you read up on the project the people behind it really do seem to know what they're doing. They're also financing it themselves. Putting their money where their mouths are, as it were.

    4. Alan Bourke

      You

      will be proven so wrong.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ignore the fanbois

      Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that these will never sell to us norms for 35 USD. There might be limited sales to schools and such like at that price but not to us home consumers.

      Ignore the fanbois, you are right and they're just refusing to open their eyes and realise that this cheap computing project will end up the same as every other. It either wont launch or it will launch at a much higher price. Then they'll come up with all kinds of excuses about why the price has increased.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Bollocks

        I can guarantee they will be sold, either end of Jan or start of Feb 2012 at the prices advertised - that is $25 for the model A and $35 for the model B, plus local taxes and shipping.

        You appear to be the one without an ounce of sense. Why do you think this against EVERY SINGLE piece of evidence to the contrary?

        You are going to look like a right twat as well, no wonder you posted AC.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Simple really,

          Some people have an over-reaching desire to be 'the voice of correctness' in the face of overwhelming opinion otherwise. They think because a very small number of people like Galaleo pulled it off through genuine smartness (and a lot of luck), that spouting their half-cocked theories on how the universe really works puts them on the same level of greatness.

          The basis of all the big global-conspiracy theories like climate-change-denial and the other even fruitier stuff like the Mayan Calendar predicts end-of-the-world brigade. Not to mention the "I'm superior to you because I believe special information you don't, nyah nyah nyah" segment of the religeous set.

          They basically can't handle how tiny and pointless their own existence is and lack the personal capability to do something significant with themselves, so make up fairy-tales about how special they really are.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          so now its..

          "plus local taxes". Here we go. Then it will be plus labor, plus soldering, plus plus plus. How expensive are these things really going to be? $100 to the door?

          1. Vic

            > "plus local taxes"

            Yes. VAT, for example.

            > Then it will be plus labor, plus soldering, plus plus plus

            Nonsense.

            It will be the rate stated, plus however much it costs to get to you, plus any taxes the authorities decide to add.

            > How expensive are these things really going to be? $100 to the door?

            $35 is currently £22.58. Add VAT to that and it's £27.10. So I'd expect the cost to me to be no more than £35 at the outside.

            Why are you trying to spread FUD about it?

            Vic.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Fakes or clones

    So who would want such a thing? Apart from the sad old wannabees with more money than imagination, this seems to be a prime hunting ground for the clone makers. Buy a beta board, reverse engineer it and start flogging your own version. You never know, with real R-Pi not producing until February at the earliest, they could even be beaten to market by their copies </irony> (Or worse: find that the copies have been improved over the original.) Since these versions don't have the development and design costs their overheads are lower and the cost per unit (since R-Pi have also done all the promotion for them) should be considerably lower.

    But it gets worse. If these few boards really do fetch the amounts reports (and don't just get the bids cancelled/withdrawn) then that would seem to indicate a burgeoning market for the less scrupulous to produce their own "beta" (where beta takes it's traditional meaning of: hardware/software that doesn't work properly) boards and make a few $k for themselves, until the window of opportunity closes.

    Either way, it sounds like an astoundingly bad idea, to release prototypes onto the market.

    1. DapaBlue
      Stop

      The Raspberry Pi foundation have already said they have no issue with their design being copied and produced by someone else. Their aim is to make cheap computers available to everyone. If someone clones their design, so much the better.

    2. Vic

      > So who would want such a thing?

      Me. I think this is an excellent idea, and I'd have gone to £100 or so for one of these 10. It's good to give back to charitable organisations from time to time.

      But the ones on eBay are well out of my price range...

      > Buy a beta board, reverse engineer it and start flogging your own version

      These are exactly the people who would *not* be bidding for an early version.

      If you head over to the RaspberyrPi website, there are lots of photos of the boards, including hi-res shots of the unpopulated board. Someone trying to clone the RaspberryPi would start from there - it's a board with a very low component count, after all.

      > Or worse: find that the copies have been improved over the original.

      Why would that be worse?

      The original will be performing as specified. If someone finds a way to improve that spec without increasing the board price, those improvements will doubtless find their way back into the R-Pi units.

      Vic.

    3. James Hughes 1

      Good luck trying to buy the SoC

      For a clone release before the original!

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      so what

      The fakes will still be buying the Broadcom chip.

      If you have the tech to do a gate level clone of the Broadcom chip and can fab it in quantity for less than you can buy in bulk from Broadcom then you would already be in this market

    5. LaeMing Silver badge
      FAIL

      Clueless

      Yet another self-claimed expert who saw something on evening telly or at the movies so believes bringing a board like this to market is something that could be done in under 4 weeks!

      Asside from the fact that the RPi people would be about as upset by someone undercutting them as the Salvation Army would be upset by someone working out how to help the poor better than they can.

      1. Vic

        > as upset by someone undercutting them as the Salvation Army would be

        > upset by someone working out how to help the poor better than they can.

        *Nice*. I'm pinching that one.

        Vic.

        1. LaeMing Silver badge
          Happy

          Welcome!

  3. Silverburn
    Thumb Up

    I like

    For 22 quid (lets say 50 quid by the time they get into the real world), it looks like a good excuse to brush off the dust from some very old skills and while away the next few months until 'summer' (ha, ha) start again. I could pretend it's to try and cultivate my younglings interest in tech, but truthfully, I know I bought it for me.

    Can't see the point in forking for the auction units though. That's just mental, and the prices being asked are just pure comedy.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fools and their money

    Comes to mind

    1. moonface

      Fools generally don't have £1,900 to splash out on gadgets.

      Ever heard of the concept of Philanthropy and donations?

      These boards will probably end up in a museum someday.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Is being a mug considered philanthropy these days?

        Think you missed the part where Broadcom is behind this project.

        Look more closely.

        1. James Hughes 1

          @AC 2

          Really not sure what you are getting at. Please explain.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @James

            Read this:

            http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2974500

            And reach your own conclusions.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              He probably means that two of the six engineers at the Raspberry Pi foundation - Robert Mullins and Eben Upton - are employed by Broadcom.

              Also the foundation itself is supported in part by Broadcom.

              There was some talk going around about this.

              1. James Hughes 1

                But if you will believe a load of made up speculation....

                Yes, Eben Upton does work for Broadcom. Yes, the chip is made by Broadcom. Yes, because of the link the Raspberry Pi foundation gets a good deal on the chips. Yes, Broadcom have and still do support the foundation with tech advise and help.

                No, the device is NOT sold at a loss. No, Broadcom are not either the Foundation or behind it. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK charity and the relationship with Broadcom is as a customer of them.

                Without the Broadcom link this device would not exist at this price point.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  "But if you will believe a load of made up speculation...."

                  All of the points you yourself confirm. Doesn't seem that made up then.

                  Hard to tell if it's sold at a loss or not given the main chip is not available on the general market, so you're the one speculating.

                  Also Broadcom IS behind the foundation, if we're to believe Robert Mullins (RaspBerryPi co-founder) himself:

                  "The foundation is kindly supported by the Computer Laboratory and Broadcom."

                  http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rdm34/raspi/

                  But have to admit it is a slick marketing operation. Well done.

                  1. James Hughes 1

                    For goodness sake

                    What was made up was the idea that Broadcom are behind the foundation, and being behind a project implies that are in some way controlling it. THAT IS NOT THE CASE. They provide no money, they don't tell the foundation what to do. Support in this case is technical advice and help, and manufacture of some very early boards (the ones with the Broadcom logo). The latest boards were made purely by the foundation. There is Nothing else.

                    It is turning in to quite a good marketing exercise granted, but that was never the intention - just a lucky accident.

                    Oh, and I'm not speculating about the selling above or below cost since I do actually know more about the BOM than all the speculators.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, big fools,

      Like that fool who kept his Apple][ and all its manuals in good condition all those decades. What did his foolish behavior get him, eh? Quarter-million dollars? Pah. Fool!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ac 1932

        Whoaa mate, big difference there.

        First, that was at the beginning of personal computing. ARM development platforms these days are a dime a dozen. Scratch that, they're free if your company already buys stuff from them.

        Which brings us to the other difference, the Apple][ was a complete product. It came with everything needed to make it work except the TV. Even came with a rudimentary but functional case. This one not so much. This is a common fallacy of electronic engineers, they never understand how much more interest they get if only they supply a plug&play working product.

        Rasperry Pi will be tossed to the rubbish bin as soon as soon as Broadcom moves on to the next latest and greatest chip they want to promote.

  5. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Ridiculous, there are much more functional boards like the Beagleboard for much less than the ebay price.

    The sole appeal of the Raspberry PI is it's low cost, if it is expensive it is pointless. Wait for the final product!

    1. James Hughes 1

      But not for $25 and $35 which is what they will sell for when in full production - the prices on Ebay are collectors level prices, not for people actually wanting to use them.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Facepalm

    They're *collectibles*

    As in first edition books, stamps, etc.

    They may be used but I bet most of the buyers will keep them in their original packaging.

    As for reverse engineering, I'll doubt anyone could match the price unless they are prepared to order roughly 10x the quantity of chips from Broadcomm.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I also like

    I am a huge fan of the RasPi project.. even if the price of the 'B' is going to be around £50, they are still a bargain. I have LOADS of uses dreamed up for these things, from home automation to auto distribution.

    The hope is that these things will go on to be as (more?) ubiquitous as the BBC Micro. I hope they manage it. If they do achieve this then it will be great to own a bit of history associated with the project. I'm not bidding though..

  8. Jigr69
    Thumb Up

    Missing the point

    I whole heartedly agree on the main point mentioned by other posters in that these are expensive items. However, I somehow think the people bidding for them are doing so in the knowledge that they are helping a charity (tax deductable as well).

    There's a whole host of items sold on eBay for charities which have reached well in excess of the actual value of said item. Most ordinary IT folks who have an average or slightly above salary won't be bidding on these items, so no need for people to get heated by saying wait for the final product. I for one will buy one when available and at an affordable price (for me).

    1. James Hughes 1

      Model B WILL be $35 (plus any tax e.g. VAT, plus shipping). You'll need to buy a power supply, but you probably already have one (USB), perhaps a USB keyboard and mouse if not got one already. Still comes in much less than £50.

  9. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This is actually a good thing...

    Thumbs up because this is actually something that can be cool to have...

    Does anyone remember CMU's WIMPY cluster?

    Now you can build your own...

  10. 1Rafayal

    is it me, or have some people here missed the point about the Pi?

    1. John Bailey

      It's not you.

      There seems to be a faction who scream abuse at this project, while having no idea what it is. You think this is bad, try slashdot.

      Best idea.. Sit back and laugh at the "CE experts" (really fanboys who read tech blogs) claim it will never sell.

  11. Number6

    MK 14

    I'd like a Science of Cambridge MK 14, I remember playing with one of those at school and building my own Z80 computer using some of the ideas I learned from studying it. They cost a bit more than £20 though, especially now.

    1. Chemist

      "They cost a bit more than £20"

      @£50 from memory, would have been much more complex to produce and had loads of TTL logic on the board. I've still got one somewhere - the SC/MP machine code was a sod to write!

  12. StooMonster
    Thumb Up

    Next Xmas

    Raspberry Pi computer is going to be Xmas present 2012 to my (older) kids, nieces and nephews.

    So long as production version is in full supply by Q4-12 then I'm OK with it, although will prolly order one for myself before then too.

  13. b166er

    First day back, eh? And you left your brains at home this morning or haven't had enough coffee yet?

    The P-Pi is a fantastic innovation and entirely meritorious. Who can argue with trying to give access to a computer for less than the price of a textbook?

    If a few charitable folk want to chip in by donating to such a worthy cause during these beta board auctions, then good for them. Anything that spurs innovation in the UK is most welcome.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LOL,

    At the people that think this is something new.

    There are plenty of existing mid-cost ARM based kits available.

    Sheevaplug being one, which can be picked up for around £80.

    Gumstix Overo being another.

    The only area this seems to be excelling in, is the extremely lowcost.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And that's the point.....

      ...the price is so low...or are you missing that bit entirely?

      There are plenty of fairly high power pc's around for £50, they are called 2nd hand, but again, that's not the point.

    2. Albert

      and the video out

      And the HDMI/S-Video out.

      The Sheevaplug and GumStix are headless so cannot be connected directly to a monitor.

      The advantage with the Raspberry Pi is that with just a keyboard/mouse/monitor and SD card you have a standalone computer. If you get the ethernet 1 then it can go on the internet as well.

      There are 1080p videos and graphics demos of the Raspberry Pi doing interesting things.

      Imagine for teaching each kid having their own Raspberry Pi or at a minimum their own SD card with their OS/Apps and code. They run it on any Raspberry Pi and it boots to their personal configuration. Mess it up and just reformat the SD card.

      Raspberry Pi is a great idea and once the OS and Educational resources are released on March/April the true potential will be seen.

      Finally, the price being paid for the beta boards is an indication of how much support is already out there for this project/charity.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As albert pointed out, the sheevaplug does not have video out, this does.

      I'll be buying one, attaching it to my TV, together with a USB remote control dongle and attempt to use it as a media player. I might even try and get XBMC working on it.

      Total cost: Less than a typical Saturday night out.

      1. Marty
        Gimp

        I might even try and get XBMC working on it.

        my plan entirely when I get my hands on one... to replace the computer i already use as a media player for the TV

    4. Munchausen's proxy
      Pint

      Exactly

      "The only area this seems to be excelling in, is the extremely lowcost."

      That's what they said to Henry Ford.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. Munchausen's proxy
      Pint

      Condor

      " 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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hanging...

        Actually they are so small they could hang from a Cat5 cable from a rack switch... hmm ideas...

  16. tonysmith

    I thought...

    ...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.

    1. James Hughes 1

      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.

  17. gaz 7
    Thumb Up

    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.

  18. DrXym Silver badge

    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.

    1. James Hughes 1

      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?

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        @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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So basically

          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.

    2. Vic

      > 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.

      Vic.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        @Vic

        "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

        1. Vic

          > 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...

          Vic.

  19. sugerbear

    <> 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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. James Hughes 1

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Playstation Generation

      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.

  20. Jello
    Thumb Up

    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.

    Cheers

  21. Will 20

    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.

    1. James Hughes 1

      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?

      1. DasEnglander

        @James

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      I do hope you don't work in a school. That sort of defeatist attitude has no place.

      1. FrankAlphaXII
        Childcatcher

        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.

    3. mittfh

      Depends...

      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...)

  22. Tankantoo

    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.

  23. Will 20

    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.

  24. Just Thinking

    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.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      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.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        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.

        1. Just Thinking

          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.

          1. Vic

            > 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.

            Vic.

  25. divx
    WTF?

    Arduino or Pic

    If you want to teach kids programming on an embedded solution, then just buy an Arduino or a PIC based board?

    1. James Hughes 1

      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.

  26. Homer 1
    Trollface

    I hear the early adopters were...

    ...all Apple users looking for a bargain.

  27. Chris_B

    Great idea

    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!

  28. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    pedantry

    » 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'.

    1. Homer 1
      Windows

      Profit!

      I run a for-profit charity. All profits go to a good cause ... ME!

      So nyyeeer!

  29. M7S
    Thumb Up

    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.

    1. Just Thinking

      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.

      1. James Hughes 1

        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.

      2. Homer 1
        Headmaster

        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.

        1. LaeMing Silver badge
          Boffin

          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.

  30. lotus49
    Thumb Up

    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.

  31. OzBob
    Linux

    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?

    1. Will 20

      "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.

  32. John Styles

    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.

  33. beast666
    Thumb Up

    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!

    1. Homer 1
      Happy

      "RasPi"

      Good name. I hereby declare this project shall be formally known as "RasPi" from now on.

  34. bed
    Thumb Up

    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.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/aug/28/ict-changes-needed-national-curriculum?INTCMP=SRCH

  35. Richard_L
    Pirate

    Paypal will be loving those auction prices! Cue the "Your Paypal account has been limited due to recent suspicious activity" email to Eben...

  36. bkcokota
    Thumb Up

    I'm going to be buying two of these when they become available, one for my son to learn on, and one for me to replace my server (which is running on a 500mhz p3), I think this is a great project, getting these into a classroom would be brilliant, nobody ever explained any programming to me as a student, and all the IT class taught was how to make a "movie" with powerpoint.....

    1. Homer 1
      Holmes

      Learning "Microsoft"

      Yup, that's pretty much all "ICT" is these days: a vocational training course for glorified secretarial applicants to Microsoft shops.

      No wonder kids' computing skills are limited to posting "LOL" a hundred times a day on Farcebook and Twatter.

      The RasPi may become the most significant thing to happen to UK schools in the last three decades. The only problem now is where to find competent computing teachers, since the "ICT" dilberts will be totally lost without Microsoft's crap.

    2. Just Thinking

      WTF

      Seriously, I don't want to come across as being negative about RP, it is an exciting project and I might well buy one myself at some point. But it isn't the baby Jesus.

      @bkcokoat you already have a computer, probably more than one if you have a "server". If you haven't learnt to program yet, what is so magical about RP which is going to suddenly make you learn? It's just a Linux box.

      Good luck to you and your son, but what have you been waiting for?

      1. James Hughes 1

        @Just thinking Well...

        A lot of people have cars, but they don't go out and race them......

      2. bkcokota

        I think you misunderstood me

        What I was trying to say was as a student I didn't learn anything, however afterwards in university, I did learn, a few languages in fact, and yes, as far as servers go, it's a pretty sad old beast, but for a file host/ data slurper it's sufficient.

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