Raspberry Pi - a rapturous reception


Dr Eben Upton of the Raspberry Pi Foundation shows Rory Cellan-Jones how the computer works

What's not to like about the Raspberry Pi? The bargain basement credit card-sized computer went on sale this morning with a tremendous amount of goodwill behind its mission to give the next generation the computing skills that Britain needs.

In fact, there was so much excitement that the websites of the two companies which will now be making it buckled under the pressure. RS and Premier Farnell went live at 06:00 this morning with the news of their involvement in Raspberry Pi - and by 06:01 there were already reports that their sites were inaccessible.

That reflects the anticipation that has been building for months about a device which seems designed to make men of a certain age who cut their computing teeth as teenagers on a BBC Micro or a ZX Spectrum go all misty-eyed. Some of them turned angry this morning as it became clear that they would not be getting their hands on the Raspberry Pi in a hurry.

But remember, this not-for-profit project has been run so far by just six people on money they rustled up themselves. The transition to a more professional operation, where the manufacturing and management of sales will be carried out by two major electronics suppliers, should eventually pay off - but in the short-term there are bound to be hiccups.

The real task, however, is not about getting the Raspberry Pi out to that impatient crowd of enthusiasts. What matters is the kind of reception the device gets when it arrives in schools.

A few days ago I spent a morning in Chesterton Community College in Cambridge, watching Raspberry Pi's co-founder Eben Upton show off the device to a Year 8 ICT class. Their reactions were all he could have desired. "That's a computer?!" exclaimed one boy on seeing the device, before piling in with his classmates to reprogramme the classic game Snake using the Python language.

But this class in a school where ICT lessons look more creative than in many was perhaps an exception. What we will find out over the next six months is whether there really is a whole new generation eager to look under the bonnet of a computer and get their hands dirty.

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm not a Linux geek or "fanboy", I just employ Linux developers and SysAdmins. I personally don't use Linux myself on ANY desktop or mobile computing device. I have an iPad2, a Blackberry phone, and Macs around the home and in my main and home office. But, even then, I have just counted 15 embedded Linux devices in our home nontheless: ADSL modems, wifi Access Points, TVs etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    People still don't get this product

    Milliions of products use embedded Linux , this is the future not windows

    This device has loads of applications on a common platform , teachers will be able to tap into a vast library of projects in the near future

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    @231 springheeledjaks
    Apple's osx and iOS are based on freeBSD, not on the original BSD Unix. Namely freeBSD 3 and later, which use large chunks of the Linux 2.x kernels and are built to so linux-compatible that most Linux software runs natively on freeBSD, while Unix soft uses the compatibility layer. Epoch used the openVMS architecture, which is, indeed, a Unix derivate - as is Linux.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    @234 "What can a Pi do that a PC can't?"

    swap OS in under a second (unplug and replug the SD card with another pre-prepared one)?
    Native GPIO lines?
    1080p+A/V builtin?
    Cost £22 inc all software
    Fit in pocket?
    Run from a few hundred mA / AA cells?
    Have passive cooling whilst doing all of the above.
    Stimulate interest?
    Annoy the Microsoft salesmen? :)

    I could go on, but it hurts, it really does.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Don't worry, I'm sure some Microsoft genius can get MS Windows to run on it soon, then big spenders will be happy :)
    My neighbour's 8 year-old has amazed his parents - he ordered one himself, he borrowed Dad's iPad whilst waiting on the school run. He then got his classmates to register as well so he can "remote into mummy's PC" secretly, from his bedroom as well as the kitchen. 8 ! Irony Pi(e)


Comments 5 of 245


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