Educators and Leaders Are Praising Low-Cost Raspberry Pi Devices
The Raspberry Pi story gets ever more interesting. As reported here this week, the first batch of the diminutive $25 computers shipped this week, after much anticipation. And, according to The Register, distributor Premier Farnell reported that an initial batch of 10,000 of the tiny ARM-based devices sold out in seconds. There were reportedly 600 orders, visits and pre-orders, and co-distributor RS Components also received a large block of orders. The sites of the distributors crashed under the demand, according to reports. Now, praise is rolling in from on high for the devices and their ultra-low prices, and there is interest from educators.
If you're a fan of Linux and you followed the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) story when it was in the news, the Raspberry Pi story is up your alley. Among other uses for it, Raspberry Pi may fill the gap that One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) couldn't quite fill, bringing computing to parts of the world where it has traditionally been unaffordable. It may fill that role because despite the fact that the OLPC team initially promised devices that would arrive for under $100, the prices ended up significantly higher.
Case in point: Computeractive is running the following quote from English education secretary Michael Gove:
"Initiatives like the Raspberry Pi scheme will give children the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of programming. This is a great example of the cutting edge of education technology happening right here in the UK."
If powerful educators latch onto the tiny Raspberry Pi devices, they could have a future in classrooms and among students, possibly even giving children who can't afford computers a chance to change that fact. Let's not forget how much traction Apple got in its early days by being favored in educational systems--and Apple products were not inexpensive.
Meanwhile, Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation, is also praising the Raspberry Pi:
"Computing for everyone, starting with children, was the idea behind OLPC. And while the Raspberry Pi does target students, which is the most admirable of goals, it also puts a lot of computing power into the hands of anyone looking to create something interesting. $25 for a computing device is just incredible...For the price of four Raspberry Pi's, you can't even get a copy of Windows 7 at Best Buy. And that is just for the upgrade version."
A standard Raspberry Pi device comes with a 700MHz ARM11, 256 MB RAM, SD card slot, Ethernet port, 2 USB ports, and an an HDMI connector. Developers and tinkerers are putting numerous Linux distros on the devices, including Fedora, Debian and Arch Linux.
This is a story worth keeping up with, and the Raspberry Pi team has promised that the next batch of devices will be available in a matter of weeks. You can follow the news about the devices on Twitter and at the main web site.