Got a delivery of some Raspberry Pis today from Farnell! They’re so small and elegant. It was only less than one year ago I heard about the non-profit foundation’s project to reinvoke computer hobbyism among youth through educational facilities. And now their hardware is here in bulk! Wonderful.
I’ve actually had a Raspberry Pi since the first batches delivered during spring 2012, but haven’t made anything fancy with it yet. As a matter of fact, I had trouble with the hardware due to the 25MHz crystal oscillation problem causing the USB and networking chip to fail – which was solved by putting the pi in the fridge (…hah, hah…).
In either case, the project surrounding the Raspberry Pi is really wonderful. There is in my opinion definitely a downward slope in “hackability” of computers, especially frontiered by the likes of Apple and Microsoft, that makes people falsely believe that computers are only designed to do what they are meant to out of the box. I.e. installing specific, supplier-approved software sometimes even remotely controlled and supervised by a company that wishes to lock you into their own, specific platform.
The Raspberry Pi – despite its Broadcom circuitry – allows for (and encourages!) hacking, arbitrary development, adaptation and thinking outside the box. Heck, the Pi doesn’t even come with a box!
Given the recent events in the Raspberry Pi community, i.e. with a global Pi-hackathon with kids aged 12-16 who programmed a game in 48 hours, there are huge possibilities to make this a valuable educational tool. And all of this with FLOSS (free & libre open source software), it’s definitely something that can invigorate some digital creativity in the generations currently growing up.
All I’m asking for now is for the Pi (and eventually a compatible CPU perhaps?) to be free hardware. I believe I am not the only one interested in supporting such feats with both time and money.
To use a Raspberry Pi in all its glory, one simply downloads a compatible distribution and puts it on an SD card and attach it to the onboard card reader. Then you plug in the power (ordinary micro-USB for mobile devices), which causes it too boot – and connect any desired peripheral units such as keyboard, display or even units connected to the general purpose I/O (GPIO) pins – like stepper motor drivers, cameras or whatever-you-design!