Raspberry Pi Review

I just received my Raspberry Pi* and I have decided to do a quick article on my first impressions. The Raspberry Pi (FAQ) is a $25 (Model A) to $35 (Model B) computer developed to be a cheap, accessible, programmable computer. The Raspberry Pi’s main purpose is to give the new generation an affordable tool that can inspire them to be the programmers, engineers, makers, hackers, and inventors of the future.

Specifications

Both Models of the Raspberry Pi come with ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor, VideoCore IV GPU, 256 Megabytes of RAM, an RCA video out, an 3.5mm audio out, and HDMI out. The Model A also has one usb 2.0 port and no Ethernet controller, while the Model B has 2 usb 2.0 ports and a 10/100 Ethernet controller. I purchased the Model B Raspberry Pi.

Image from raspberrypi.org/faqs

Operating System

Currently there are three Linux OS distribution (distros) images that are supported for the Raspberry Pi. (download page)

  1. Debian “squeeze”
  2. Arch Linux
  3. QtonPi

I used the Debian “squeeze” distro for my first install and use of the Raspberry Pi. This image is highly recommended for those just starting out. If you have used Ubuntu before, this Linux distribution (distro) will be slightly familiar since Ubuntu is also a Debian based Linux distro.

Pros

  • The price! The $25 to $35 price point cannot be beat.
  • It is extremely small about the size of a deck of cards.
  • It has very low power consumption. It running off a 5v usb micro phone charger.
  • Operating systems run on easily swappable, low cost SD cards. This allows for easily changing the purpose of the device without having to spend a lot of time re-imaging and reinstalling software.

Cons

  • It runs off a 700 MHz processor. This causes the device to slow down when doing any CPU intensive process like opening an application or installing software. Also, this prevents it from doing almost any kind of multitasking.
  • The Ethernet is only a 10/100. This along with the slow processor makes it time consuming to download and install software. It took at least 20 minutes to install gedit. This also makes it quite difficult to browse the Internet.
  • The build in browser does not support HTML5 and it does not have a flash player installed. This prevents you from using many websites, such as YouTube.

Conclusion

The Raspberry Pi has several downsides, but I think its overall capabilities and its low price point make it a great tool. Many great things will be developed and built with this device and I cannot wait to see what those are.

*Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation

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