Raspberry Pi Hardware
The Raspberry Pi computer comes in two configurations (Model A and Model B). Both computers are equipped with an RCA video port, a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB port, a microUSB power port, an SD card slot, an HDMI port and as we said, a 700Mhz Broadcom SoC.
Model A of the Raspberry Pi, which will cost you $25, has 128MB of RAM and no Ethernet connect. Model B will boost the RAM to 256MB, add a second USB 2.0 port and also add a 10/100 Ethernet port.
You will have to boot the machine from an SD card but a USB hard drive can take over after the initial boot. It is not possible to boot without an SD card. Switching it on and off is simply a matter of plugging it in and out.
What will I need to get it working?
The people behind Raspberry Pi have developed it to help keep costs down, and therefore a lot of people will already have the extras needed to get it working. For the display, you can plug it into an old analogue TV (composite), a digital TV (HDMI) or a DVI monitor (using an adapter). There is no VGA support but if you so desire, a rather expensive adapter can be used.
Keyboards and mice are connected via USB in the same way they are in typical desktop set-ups. The Raspberry Pi is powered over microUSB and most people will have a microUSB phone charger hanging around the house which can be used.
What software will the Raspberry Pi use?
Continuing the low-cost, back-to-grass-roots approach, the Raspberry Pi computer will initially use the open-source Linux software, which will have to be stored on your SD card. The Raspberry Pi foundation recommends the Fedora distribution of Linux for users initially, but other flavours of Linux will also be supported, including Debian and ArchLinux. However, because of issues with newer releases of Ubuntu, Canonical cannot commit to supporting Raspberry Pi. Pre-loaded SD cards will go on sale soon after launch.
Those hoping to run Windows on one of these machines will be disappointed though as this is ARM-based hardware and even Windows 8 on ARM won’t run ‘officially’ on the computer as Microsoft and team Pi are not partners. Android may run on the Raspberry Pi, but would require a developer out there to port a version of Google’s software to work with 256MB of RAM.
Who is the Raspberry Pi aimed at?
The Raspberry Pi was developed to help students learn computer programming and there will be a second version of the Pi released in September which will come with a case, to make it more sturdy (which the Raspberry Pi Foundation says won’t add to the cost).
While the educational sector will no doubt attract the majority of orders, there will also be a lot of interest from the developer community and amateur enthusiasts who will want to rediscover the joy of programming their own computer. Some developers who've got their hands on one of the few Raspberry Pi beta boards have already begun tinkering with them and you can see below an AirPlay app working perfectly with an iPad.
When and where can I get a Raspberry Pi?
The first batch of 10,000 Raspberry Pi units is rolling off the production lines in China this week and will be shipped back to the UK before hopefully going on sale early next week.
There is currently no option to pre-order one of the units from the first batch of computers. When they finally do go on sale, it will be only through the Raspberry Pi website, with orders limited to one per person for the first batch. This will be relaxed once production is in full swing.
You will be able to pay by credit card, PayPal as well as offline payment options being available. Pricing is in dollars even though the company is UK-based because all the components were priced in dollars. The $25 and $35 prices do not include local taxes and the mini computer should be available internationally from launch. Shipping prices have not yet been revealed.
We would love to hear from you about the Raspberry Pi and whether or not you think it could be the catalyst for a rejuvenation of computer programming skills in the UK and elsewhere?