Chances are you’ve all heard about this great new project already. If not, it’s basically a (very basic) computer system, all on a single circuit board about the size of a credit card. It runs on an ARM CPU at 700MHz, but it also has a respectable video chip which can apparently cope with 1080p video. Video output is by HDMI or composite video. It has 256Mb RAM. As yet, only the “development version” is available. It comes case free: you just get a board with all the components sitting exposed on it. But hey, all the better for modding, right?
Oh, and did I mention - it’s selling for around £21/$35! That’s excluding sales tax, but still.
There’s no permanent storage on the PI. However, the version currently shipping sports 2 USB ports, an ethernet connection and an SD card slot. Booting is necessarily via the SD card: right now you need to image your own; when the “educational” version of the Pi comes out later this year, you’ll be able to get cards preinstalled with Debian and some other tools.
Otherwise, the Wiki is there to help, with growing instructions including the way to cross compile various Linux Distros on your main PC to run on the Pi’s ARM processor. When it comes to choosing an SD card, I’ve read that class 4/6 is the best choice (they are better than class 10 for lots of small files, and class 10 has issues with the Linux kernel). I’m planning on either an Integral or Transcend 8GB class 6.
Right now, it’s still difficult to get hold of the things. You just have to register your interest with one of the suppliers – Farnell Element 14 or RS Components. Then you’ll hear from them at the first possible opportunity. And due to the overwhelming popularity of the Pi (I heard Farnell sold out their initial stock within 3 minutes of availability), you should sign up for emails from both of them as soon as possible!
You may still be wondering if it’s worth the effort, low price tag or not. Well tomorrow, I’ll post again, and mention a few of the things you can (or can’t) do with it. And if you want to read more about it, head over the official website (or, of course, Wikipedia).
And in case you’re wondering. Yes. I have already pre-ordered mine