Feeds

Cambridge Uni publishes free Pi-OS baking course

12 step program to build a very basic OS

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Cambridge University has joined the ranks of terribly prestigious universities giving computer science classes away online, releasing a 12-step course teaching how to create what it calls a "basic terminal Operating System" for the Raspberry Pi.

To create the OS you’ll need YAGARTO Tools and YAGARTO GNU ARM, a Raspberry Pi (not necessarily connected to a display), an SD card to insert into the Pi and a PC running Windows, Mac OS or Linux to get everything ready.

The tutorials start with some theory, progress into lessons explaining how to get a Pi's sole LED to turn on and off, and eventually explain how to display graphics and text. There's an obligatory Hello World exercise, and at the end of the course you'll have built a command line interface to play with, albeit one with just four commands.

Along the way participants get a decent introduction to many aspects of computing, with a lot of the assembly code required there to be cut and pasted. The section on graphics includes bitmap grids that will remind some of the free wipe-clean plastic cards used to ease the creation of custom graphics that your correspondent pulled off Spectrum magazine covers in the 1980s (and before such magazines devoted themselves entirely to games, but that’s another story).

The text of the course tries to be friendly and generally succeeds, but at times is also rather dense. Some sections include rather meandering descriptions or footnotes. The lessons are also also long: there’s a lot to do in each of the 11 formal lessons. Introductory chapter zero suggests the course is fine for anyone over 16 and should be fine for younger kids with some hand holding. We suspect many 16 year olds may need that help too and that anyone taking the lessons may find their attention spans challenged.

A downloads page offers solutions to the exercises in each lesson, along with a sample OS produced by the course's author Alex Chadwick.

Overall, the course looks a little more confronting than Coursera's Computer Science 101, which your correspondent survived half of before losing patience.

It is also just the kind of thing the Pi-pushers proposed when they summoned the machine into existence and far closer to their sentiments than pre-rolled media centre OSes. As such, this course is tantalising. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.