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Raspberry Pi's $35 Linux PC Hits the Streets at Last

After months of widespread anticipation and a buying frenzy that took its makers by surprise earlier this year, the tiny Raspberry Pi PC began arriving on buyers’ doorsteps this weekend.

There has been a huge wave of anticipation and extraordinary levels of demand for Raspberry Pi since it was launched, so we are delighted to be delivering the first boards to initial customers,” said Glenn Jarrett, a spokesman for UK-based RS Components, which is a distributor of the device. “We are working very closely with the manufacturer to bring subsequent batches of boards into stock so that we can fulfill every customer order for Raspberry Pi as quickly as possible.”

The first run of 10,000 devices were snatched up within minutes when they went on sale in late February. Those who missed the first round can get in line for the next at RS Components, Allied Electronics, or Premier Farnell.

Packed with Power

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into a TV and a keyboard.

The ARM-based device comes in two models, both with 256MB of RAM: the $25 Model A, which includes one USB port and no Ethernet; and the $35 Model B, which offers an Ethernet port and two USB ports.

It’s the Model B that just started shipping, and it’s already selling for much higher prices on eBay, according to at least one report.

Fedora Linux is the free and open source operating system that’s used by default in the Raspberry Pi, but Debian and Arch Linux are supported as well. Canonical, last I heard, had not yet committed to providing Ubuntu support for the device.

Originally designed to encourage kids around the globe to learn programming, the diminutive device can actually be used for a variety of other purposes as well, including spreadsheets, word processing, games, and playing high-definition video.

The video below from the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Liam Fraser demonstrates some of those capabilities in action.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0QojdnF9EQ&w=480&h=274]

A Linux-Powered Revolution

It’s no doubt because of the Raspberry Pi’s impressive array of features in such a tiny and inexpensive device that demand was so overwhelming for its maker, whose site was actually brought to its knees by the rush. There’s been virtually no limit to buyers’ planned uses for the PC, as can be seen in a recent Reddit discussion, but they clearly extend well beyond the realm of education.

What especially excites me about the Raspberry Pi—and the like-minded Cotton Candy—is the way it will bring capable computing power into the hands of those who might not otherwise be able to afford it, including countless businesses and consumers in emerging markets. I believe it’s a real revolution in computing.

by Katherine Noyes, PCWorld

Raspberry Pi computers ready for delivery

The first batch of Raspberry Pi computers is finally ready for delivery. The credit card-sized Linux computer costs only $35 and is designed to encourage children’s interest in programming. UK distributors have confirmed receiving shipments and will soon send out invitations for purchasing to customers who pre-registered. A school in Leeds received the first delivery today.

The Raspberry Pi was announced back in February as an incredibly affordable ARM-based Linux machine designed to teach children about programming. The tiny $35 Raspberry Pi can connect to a TV or keyboard to be used for word processing, gaming, and playing HD video. Production of the computer had been delayed twice due to a production mistake as well as a testing mix-up.

Customers among the first to have placed an order should expect to receive their shipments by April 20. However, this initial supply of the Raspberry Pi is still limited, with full production volume set for later this year. Hence, current orders are limited to one per customer and only a portion of the customers who pre-registered interest will receive an invitation to order.

Game consoles like XBox and PlayStation killing future innovation – Raspberry Pi CEO

Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton hopes the device will revitalise the computer industry. Picture: Raspberry Pi

REMEMBER the 1980s, where you could write your own computer software and program it to do all sorts of nifty tricks to impress your friends?

This joy of discovery is what the tiny, programmable Raspberry Pi computer is trying to save, says founder, CEO and Cambridge graduate Ebon Upton.

Though some gaming companies like XBox were beginning to come out of the closed platform cave, (Microsoft released the source code for the Kinect free last year), Mr Upton told News.com.au gaming consoles were killing technological progress because they were not programmable by default.

“I think it’s unfortunate these programmable machines were killed by PCs,” he said.

“Though some PCs are technically programmable, they don’t try and tempt you into programming. I think these closed platforms are a threat.”

The Raspberry Pi on the other hand is the size of a credit card and provides all the basics any programmer would need for just US$25 ($23).

It consists of a naked motherboard containing USB, SD card, audio and video ports along with an ARM processer and a Linux operating system. The screen, mouse and software – that’s left up to you.

“There’s a lot of nostalgia for what computers were like in the 1980s,” Mr Upton said.

“When you turned them on they went ‘beep’. They were the kinds of computers you could type a program at. But they weren’t cheap and robust enough to give to your kids.

“Lots of people did not have computers of their own. Some households would have a family computer that would sit in the main family room and you weren’t supposed to muck around with it too much because if you broke it, it was a disaster.”

Mr Upton said the concept was originally developed as a way to give school children a chance to learn how to program before they reached university. Little did he know that adult tech geeks would want one too.

He said the Raspberry Pi “may not set the world on fire” but the low-budget device would help grow the computer programming industry which he said needed more young, enthusiastic developers.

“From the point of view of the UK there’s a sense that the pipeline is empty, no one is filling the pipeline anymore,” he said.

“I would like to see 1000 more programmers per year, 1000 more people going to uni to study computing. More developers would mean more volume. More stuff getting done. More companies. Just more.”

He said the result would be similar in countries like Australia and the US.

When Raspberry Pi first went on sale a few months ago, the company hoped it might receive 100 orders, total. To date there have been tens of thousands of orders and not enough stock to keep up with demand.

That’s a pretty huge achievement for a company that does not have a single full-time employee.

Mr Upton and his team of six trustees, 15 to 20 Cambridge volunteers and local UK businesses have been working around the clock with distributors and resellers Premier Farnell and RS Components to fill backorders to ensure consumers get their Raspberry Pi while it’s still hot.

“People keep getting in touch and say they’re going to do these crazy things with it,” Mr Upton said.

“A lot of people want to send them into space by putting them in balloons and sounding rockets. A lot of people are talking about using it for home automation, like using it to control their central heating, or opening the garage door. It’s got quite good capabilities so you can connect it to a hard drive much more easily than you can a PC so people wanted to do that.

“I think that’s why people are enthusiastic about the Raspberry Pi. It makes people do what they want to do.”

Raspberry Pi gets Arch Linux

After 6 months of development, Arch Linux ARM for Raspberry Pi is finally ready. Coming mere days after the sell-out launch of the tiny computer, Arch Linux ARM is the second operating system to be officially approved by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Eben Upton, foundation trustee, wrote about the release on the Raspberry Pi website:

“Arch Linux ARM is based on Arch Linux, which aims for simplicity and full control to the end user. It provides a lightweight base structure that allows you to shape the system to your needs. For this reason, the Arch Linux ARM image for the Raspberry Pi does not come with a graphical user interface.”

Arch Linux ARM will be offered on a rolling-release cycle, with packages updated as they come rather than big releases every few months. A Desktop Environment can be added after installation.

Arch Linux ARM for Raspberry Pi is available from the Raspberry Pi download page

$35 computer sales crash company website

What’s boxy, green, and can fit in the palm of your hand? The Raspberry Pi, a computer the size of a credit card that looks more like a standard circuit board than a PC.

After years of development and several manufacturing delays, these $35 mini-computers were open for sale to consumers last week — but they sold out within minutes, crashing the Raspberry Pi website.

The creators of Raspberry Pi designed these computers with a purpose: to have just enough memory to run basic software to teach students without computer access how to program. The idea came to Eben Upton, one of the founders of the UK charity the Raspberry Pi Foundation, when he was a computer scientist lecturer at Cambridge University in 2006:

Eben had noticed a distinct drop in the skills levels of the A Level students applying to read Computer Science in each academic year when he came to interview them. From a situation in the 1990s where most of the kids applying were coming to interview as hobbyist programmers, the landscape in the 2000s was very different; a typical applicant now had experience only with web design, and sometimes not even with that. Fewer people were applying to the course every year. Something had changed the way kids were interacting with computers.

Upon gathering a team of trustees including video game developers, hardware designers, business angels and (surprise!) computer scientists, Eben began developing a prototype.

The basic model for $25 is a circuit board that runs Linux with 256MB of RAM, and has various jacks including USB and HDMI, and SD card slots for data storage. And the $35 model additionally includes an Ethernet hookup.

Despite its educational goals, computer developers are envisioning many uses for the cheap, tiny computers. According to IT World:

[T]echnology enthusiasts also see opportunities to use Raspberry Pi. Developers began writing media center, educational and multimedia streaming applications for the PC after it was announced in May.

There are some limitations to that, though. Raspberry Pi can’t run WINE, an emulator that allows Linux users to run Windows programs. Keeping limitations in mind, some hobbyists are looking to use the Pi as a more powerful version of boards such as Arduino for applications like robotics.

However, the whole point is to ensure that anyone, despite money or background, has a basic tool for practicing how to program computers. “We want to break the paradigm where without spending hundreds of pounds on a PC, families can’t use the internet,” says the Raspberry Pi website. “We want owning a truly personal computer to be normal for children.”

The educational version, available in the fall, “will come with a kid-targeted software stack, a heap of written support materials, and a standard case.”

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