The price will get it in the doors of schools, and its open source nature will ensure that there'll be a ready supply of developer tools. More to the point, if it is taken up by education, then it's unlikely to be as a glorified typewriter. ICT will certainly have to change tack slightly, when the kit they're given won't run Office 2010. This may seem a big 'if', but with 75,000 registered interests on the RS site by 29th Feb, I'll take some of that action.
Measuring up against a 2.5in HDD – the Rπ uses an SD card for local storage though
The whole point of this adventure is to make something that kids can learn how to program with. As it stands right now, the Rπ has the potential to fulfil its promise: but it's clearly not there yet. Just having the kit out there is not enough. To paraphrase one astute El Reg commentard, "it's the manuals stupid".
To its great credit, the Raspberry Pi Foundation acknowledges this: an educational release is due in the Autumn, which is expected to include a user guide and programming manual. The Rπ Foundation has said that by default, Python will be the educational language – although anything that will compile for ARM6 is fair game – and a number of well-resourced initiatives are organising materials to exploit the availability of Rπ come the Autumn.
But for a grassroots take-up, Rπ will also need tools that make writing teachers' own materials straight forward, and an interface that makes getting started seem less of an initiation into some Linux cult, and more like the "just one way in, zero-distractions, would you like to play a game of chess" command prompt of the the early 80's.
So, tongue slightly in cheek, the ultimate success test for Rπ will be, does it help to initiate a second golden age – or is that Diamond Age – of self-educated programmers? No, this isn't nostalgia. It's a reboot; with better production values, a ready-made audience, and priced perfectly for austerity Britain. All we need are some decent writers. Anyone know if Russell T. can write Python? Does anyone have Moffat's number? ®
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Re: Linux computer?
It runs an ARM11 chip, which (confusingly) uses the ARMv6 instruction set, as opposed to the ARMv7 more commonly found in your garden variety smartphone, so support for the chips isn't that widespread. In theory it'll run any OS you can compile to run on ARM11, but you'll quickly find that that list of OSes quickly degenerates to just Linux, and once you start considering usability that list degenerates even quicker to pretty much just Debian (for now, anyway). It's quite a step from common arm chips and a far cry from your typical x86 beast, so whatever OS you want needs to be one that is supported by a broad community of active and talented developers.
Aside from Linux, RISC OS is the one that's already been mentioned, and you should have no bother running Android on the thing, but after that you're out of luck. There'll be no chance of Windows on Arm because the RPF aren't a windows partner (plus MS aren't selling licenses to end users, just OEMs per device). But really, it begs the question, given the nature of the device; a low cost, educational/hobbyist PC/embedded electronics platform, why would you want to run anything but linux on it?
And another thing...
It's pretty disappointing that a lot of comments on El Reg about the RPi show that the spirit of doing something for and by yourself - even thinking - is so degraded, while the expectation to get things handed out on plates is strong. The fact that the Pi /can/ be used as a desktop PC is amazing, not that is /should/ be used as such.
Myself, I'm planning to use them as cheap experiment platforms for a rural wireless grid, where low power is crucial (no mains on the top of a mountain) and the ability to add local intelligence to a node should be good. For example, a local node can provide a little web server that has localised info to its won area without needing to use backhaul bandwidth, remote cameras or weather stations can be set up, nodes can be used as points in e-orienteering - all kinds of things are possible. But, and this is what the "I want it on a plate" brigade will miss, we'll have to think of the ideas and make them work all by ourselves, something the Pi makes possible. We may fail, but we'll have fun finding out. And I'd rather fail having spent £30 than £300 or £3000.
Not sure how developing something like the above using something like a Pi as ONE component, albeit a crucial one, squares with commentard 1's assumption of lock-in though. If I've done 95% of the work myself, I doubt I'l lock myself in.
Come on guys, I've still got some popcorn left.
I know it's ridiculous. I would have thought 640K ought to be enough for anyone.
Re: too much of a salesman
Considering the fact you bought a netbook to run 1080p video you're probably too dumb to bother with this device anyway. If you think all it's good for is embedded electronics you're just plain silly.