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Linux Fans Gorge on Raspberry Pi ($35 PC is a smash hit!)
Tech News World ^ | 2-29-12 | Richard Adhikari

Posted on 02/29/2012 3:42:35 PM PST by bigbob

Raspberry Pi is the name given to an ultra-low-cost computer that went on sale recently for just $35. The bare-bones PC, which is built to run a few different flavors of Linux, is capable of hooking up to a mouse, keyboard, HDTV and Ethernet. Initial interest has been strong -- the first batch quickly sold out.

Frantic buyers cleaned out the shelves of two UK retailers offering a small US$35 Linux computer from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

(Excerpt) Read more at technewsworld.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: linux; raspberrypi; rpi; tech; technology
I was one sitting at the PC at midnight hoping to score one of the first batch of this incredible $35 Linux PC but the interwebs were quickly reduced to smoking rubble by the onslaught of would-be buyers. Websites of both Premier Farnell and RS Components - major UK-European industrial distributors - quickly were overloaded, and the initial production lot sold out. Entrepreneurism and free markets at work!

But with the phenomenal response and major companies now onboard, the foundation that developed the R-Pi as an educational tool will soon be able to support waiting users.

For more information, http://www.raspberrypi.org/#licensed - although you'll have to wait a day or two until the full website replaces this temporary static site that was put up just to deal with the high traffic around the launch date. Updates can be found at their twitter site: http://twitter.com/#!/raspberry_pi

I got a chuckle out of this exchange last night after someone tweeted: "BBC Tech News ranked the R-Pi as the #1 story and Apple's announcement of iPad3 as #3 on it's news site". This prompted someone from the R-Pi group to reply:

"Apple has a market cap of $500bn. We have Liz's collection of fridge magnets and a few coins down the back of the sofa."

1 posted on 02/29/2012 3:42:42 PM PST by bigbob
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To: bigbob

Sounds like a good thing, a pocket server. Why people want pocket clients (e.g. phones) is beyond me. Plug it into a decent display or use it remotely, it makes the most sense to have small low-power computers be servers.


2 posted on 02/29/2012 3:54:22 PM PST by palmer (Before reading this post, please send me $2.50)
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: bigbob

I’m building my own new 6-core Linux server tomorrow. :) (A bit more than $35, but a lot less that computers once cost)


4 posted on 02/29/2012 4:08:03 PM PST by The Duke
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To: The Duke

I am viewing this webpage using Firefox & Linux Mint 11.

Haven’t booted into Windows in months. No need to do so. Love it!!!


5 posted on 02/29/2012 4:14:43 PM PST by Tomato lover (Jesus is the way, the truth and the light)
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To: palmer

You’re joking, I hope :)


6 posted on 02/29/2012 4:15:14 PM PST by Aqua225 (Realist)
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To: bigbob
The picture from the article for a quick look.


7 posted on 02/29/2012 4:18:55 PM PST by Menehune56 ("Let them hate so long as they fear" Oderint Dum Metuant), Lucius Accius, (170 BC - 86 BC))
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To: Menehune56

So, a question from a technological neophyte: what would this little computer be capable of? Basic tasks like web surfing, or could you do some processor intensive stuff on it, say Adobe Creative Suite?


8 posted on 02/29/2012 4:31:40 PM PST by reegs
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To: bigbob

Thanks for the reminder!

I placed an order for one from next month’s production run at

http://www.newark.com/jsp/search/productdetail.jsp?id=83T1943&Ntt=83T1943

(Newark is apparently the US affiliate of UK’s Farnell)


9 posted on 02/29/2012 4:42:45 PM PST by Wonka
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To: reegs
From the article
The credit-card-sized device ... plugs into a TV and a keyboard. It can be used to work on spreadsheets, play games, and do word processing, and can also play high-definition video.

Sounds fairly basic but I think the tiny form factor is the selling point.

10 posted on 02/29/2012 4:43:57 PM PST by Menehune56 ("Let them hate so long as they fear" Oderint Dum Metuant), Lucius Accius, (170 BC - 86 BC))
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To: reegs

That would be: Basic Tasks

Adobe Creative Suite is not available on the Linux platform AFAIK.

At least for a while, this will be a computer for people who like computers rather than those with clear tasks they hope to accomplish. (Unless the task is to fiddle with a computer whilst learning about it.)


11 posted on 02/29/2012 4:46:43 PM PST by Wonka
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To: bigbob; bcsco; Charles Henrickson
Raspberry Pi is the name given to an ultra-low-cost computer that went on sale recently for just $35.

Any coupons for them out there yet?

12 posted on 02/29/2012 4:47:27 PM PST by PJ-Comix ("Now I am become Death, destroyer of oysters" ---from the Buffetvad Gita)
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To: bigbob

Looks like a lot of fun for 35 bucks.

It has an ARM11...a very nice processor.


13 posted on 02/29/2012 4:48:19 PM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: Menehune56
The credit-card-sized device ... plugs into a TV and a keyboard.

Quite a size difference from this computer that took up almost the entire interior of the Forbidden Planet.


14 posted on 02/29/2012 4:53:44 PM PST by PJ-Comix ("Now I am become Death, destroyer of oysters" ---from the Buffetvad Gita)
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To: Aqua225

Dead serious. Anything more than a command line, emacs, a compiler a few utilities accessed by ssh is overkill. If you happen to carry around a client like a phone you could always use it as a terminal.


15 posted on 02/29/2012 4:57:08 PM PST by palmer (Before reading this post, please send me $2.50)
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To: Wonka

That’d make a mighty fine IRC box.


16 posted on 02/29/2012 5:07:08 PM PST by Fire_on_High (WTB new tagline, PST!)
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To: Tomato lover

I see where the Opera browser is available for Linux ... that should pretty much do it for me. :)


17 posted on 02/29/2012 5:11:16 PM PST by The Duke
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To: Wonka

save


18 posted on 02/29/2012 5:14:03 PM PST by varina davis (A real American patriot -- Gov. Rick Perry)
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To: varina davis

Bookmark


19 posted on 02/29/2012 5:20:35 PM PST by Publius6961 (“It’s easy to make phony promises you can’t keep.” - Obama, Feb23, 2012)
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To: palmer

Anything MORE than emacs?


20 posted on 02/29/2012 5:25:30 PM PST by Darth Reardon (No offense to drunken sailors)
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To: reegs

It is perfect for a home theater system. There are lots of things you can watch directly from the Internet. ;>}


21 posted on 02/29/2012 5:26:37 PM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the fascists.)
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To: palmer

The Rasberry pi would be great to give under-privileged kids the opportunity to develop an interest in and skill at computer programming. Too many charities are focused on delivering them old MS tech like used computers that run XP. They end up surfing and learning nothing about computer programming. This is a growing problem and Raspberry pi is part of the solution. More power to them!


22 posted on 02/29/2012 5:28:26 PM PST by Kennard
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To: Darth Reardon

Lol. Ok, I admit like certain bloatware.


23 posted on 02/29/2012 6:25:48 PM PST by palmer (Before reading this post, please send me $2.50)
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To: reegs
So, a question from a technological neophyte: what would this little computer be capable of?

Actually, not of too much. There are several reasons for that.

First, the CPU on the board is ARM, not Intel. This means that there is no general purpose commercial software that will run on it. You'd need to compile it from sources, and that is not trivial (besides, you need those sources.)

Second, the OS is not Windows or Mac OS. It's Linux. Linux cannot run Windows software (except through a very buggy non-emulation layer called WINE. Haven't tried it in ages. Besides, ARM would require a true emulator anyway.) Linux has its own set of software, and that set is large. There is probably a hundred text editors of all kinds. But MS Word is not among them. Perhaps {Open,Libre}Office will do, if you are ready for a challenge. But OpenOffice does not run well on micropower computers. It's pretty large even for modern desktops.

Third, I don't see much of a storage on the board. I haven't looked closely at what they have there, but many similar boards (there are quite a few, like SheevaPlug) only have enough to boot the OS. Past that point you can plug an external USB HDD, for example, or an SD card.

I personally can think of very few uses of such a computer, unless you are into hardware hacking. Electronics enthusiasts can use this board for many purposes - they can build a custom webcam, or a custom alarm system, or a music player, or a robot, or many other things. But all these things involve building.

Perhaps if you connect a monitor and a keyboard you can use the board to browse the Web. You can make a cheap kitchen appliance where the wife can watch news while working on something important. But I don't expect this little CPU of being a speed demon. Rendering of an average ad-infested Web site will take forever. Hanging an iPad on the wall might be easier (of course tinkerers would reject this out of principle - if they haven't built it themselves then it's not worthy of using.)

I had my share of experience with underpowered CPUs because I work with embedded systems. However in embedded world you choose your hardware for the task - and not more than that. Any extra memory or performance will be only wasted money, so you pick the smallest IC that you can get away with. General purpose computers can't be selected this way. You need to have some minimum level of performance before you can hope to run Firefox on it (and don't forget a couple of GB of RAM in that case.)

In other words, if Metcal or Weller are not household names to you then you should spend the $35 on something else. This board is only good for experimenters; it's a component for larger, custom systems.

24 posted on 02/29/2012 6:33:22 PM PST by Greysard
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To: Greysard

Thanks for the explanation. When I first read the article, I was thinking that it could be integrated into other appliances to give it network/Internet connectivity with a small bit processing capability.


25 posted on 02/29/2012 7:05:13 PM PST by reegs
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To: reegs
When I first read the article, I was thinking that it could be integrated into other appliances to give it network/Internet connectivity with a small bit processing capability.

That is something you can do, but it won't be easy. It all depends on the appliance. Oftentimes you will be better off with other products. For example, Lantronix sells Ethernet to RS232 (LVTTL33) adapters built into an RJ45 jack.

You can see the list of R-PI hardware here. To summarize, it has:

For example, let's say your appliance is controlled over RS232. Can you connect it to this board? Yes, it is possible. But there are catches.

Here is one such catch. Will your device be designed to work in a headless mode (without the monitor and the keyboard?) I'd say yes, if your appliance is some pool pump, for example. But then you need to provide configuration software to do it remotely, and you need to have some buttons to reset to DHCP or to some known static IP address. You can tie that button to a GPIO pin. But then you need to write some Linux software that deals with the button and reconfigures the board. Then you need to grab your trusty copy of MS Visual Studio for C# and start hacking on the configuration software. You still need to pay $35 for the board.

Or alternatively you buy a Lantronix device for $50. It comes with all the software that you need. You just connect +3.3V power, TXD, RXD and you are good to go.

Much depends on your appliance. If you want to connect your weather station to the Internet you will need to reverse-engineer a likely proprietary protocol, then write your own software for the R-Pi board. I actually have such a need. But I will not take the R-Pi route, it's too much work and I have other things to do in my life. I will get an x86 board, run Windows on it, and use the software that came with my weather station. It will cost me 10x more than the R-Pi board, but it will save me a month of work.

The hardware is available, and if you are willing to do some hacking then you are certainly welcome to it. The board is capable of limited processing, and it is well priced to build, for example, an Ethernet-controlled cat door or fancy Christmas lights. But you must be pretty fluent in electronics, both hardware and software, to make use of the board. Good knowledge of Linux is mandatory.

26 posted on 02/29/2012 7:45:39 PM PST by Greysard
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To: reegs

It would be most useful where you need a tiny server. For example: you run a small website dispensing some low-volume private data and communications that the government does not approve of. A microserver would make it possible to move the site around like those pirate radio stations of years ago - only there was never a pirate radio station that literally fits in your pocket, can be carried around by someone on foot, and plugged in anywhere there’s an open Ethernet hole on a router that leads to the Internet. Set up one of those dynamic domain names that can be reassigned from a smartphone app, and you’re Bond; James Bond.


27 posted on 02/29/2012 8:08:00 PM PST by BlazingArizona
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To: The Duke

I have Opera in my Linux Mint 11.

Here is a link to the Linux Mint Forums.

I have had several versions of Linux but Mint is the best yet.
It has even sold my Husband on it and he doesn’t like change.

Hope you give it a try.

http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewforum.php?f=90

My work here is done,
TL


28 posted on 02/29/2012 8:58:25 PM PST by Tomato lover (Jesus is the way, the truth and the light)
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To: Tomato lover
Beyond the flavor of Linux (I ended up installing Kubuntu, because I'm a "KDE-person") what is most significant is the use of the Opera browser.

Have you tried the email and IRC chat features built into Opera? The latest email features make it absolutely *fantastic* IMHO.

29 posted on 03/04/2012 4:43:41 AM PST by The Duke
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