Thursday, January 31, 2013

Raspberry Pi's Momentum Picks Up, and Google Pitches In

As we've reported, the diminutive $25/$35 Linux computer dubbed Raspberry Pi is emerging as one of the biggest open source stories of this year. It's attracted all kinds of developers and tinkerers, is now running many different flavors of Linux, and there is even now a supercomputer consisting of many Pi devices lashed together with Lego pieces (see the photo).

The education market has always represented a natural fit for Raspberry Pi devices, and this week news arrives that Google is giving 15,000 Pi devices to U.K. schools. That's just some of the Pi news arriving in the last few days.

The news about Google's gift to schools was even picked up on the TreeHugger blog, which noted:

"Though some question the gift from Google, noting that the influence of big corporations should be kept out of the classroom, others note how important it is to get kids interested in computer science so that gains in the sector do not falter with the next generation."

Actually, Google's Eric Schmidt began talking about pledging Pi devices to U.K. schools all the way back in May of last year, as we reported here. "Rebooting computer science education is not straightforward," Schmidt said at the time at an event in London, according to the BBC. "Scrapping the existing curriculum was a good first step - the equivalent of pulling the plug out of the wall. The question is now how to power up."

The New York Times also ran an exhaustive retrospective on the rapid rise of the Raspberry Pi this week. "The Raspberry Pi Foundation began selling the computers in February of last year," the Times noted. "They soon could not keep them in stock."

Who would have thought that a credit card-sized device running Linux and available for nearly no money would have such a profound impact? The Raspberry Pi story is actually only beginning.

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