Raspberry Pi

As some readers of this blog may know, the Raspberry Pi is a very small, very cheap computer — commonly referred to as “credit-card sized”, but a cigarette packet would make a closer analogy for its proportions. Indeed, an empty cigarette packet could probably be made into a case for the Pi in two or three minutes with a stanley knife. The conception descends from the BBC Micro and aims to recapture the spirit of kids messing about with integrated circuits to learn computing with their hands — and possibly a soldering iron.

It is thus with satisfaction and pride that I make this blog post using my Pi. It might appear off-topic, but for instance, Francis Bacon would surely have loved the idea.

Mine is one of the earlier batch with just 256 MB RAM (the BBC Micro had 32 K or 64 K, and a tape recorder). All those trailing wires were too tempting for words to one of my cats (yes, Leãozinho, I have eyes in the back of my head) so the ethernet port no longer functions. A replacement USB hub arrived today so Pi is back on line with low-power wireless. The range of software available for Pi running Raspbian, the official Debian ARM OS, is impressive, and I have sought out lightweight applications: XMonad as window manager, st and surf (from suckless) as terminal and browser, Pyroom for writing (charm, my blogging client, is configured to use it), pine for email, MPlayer for music. I might have had to build one or two of those from source, but no more than that. I believe omxplayer can be used in the framebuffer console (therefore without the overhead of X) to watch video. The Pi comes set up as a learning environment for python.

What more could you wish for?

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