After months of widespread anticipation and a buying frenzy that took its makers by surprise earlier this year, the tiny Raspberry Pi PC began arriving on buyers' doorsteps this weekend.
"There has been a huge wave of anticipation and extraordinary levels of demand for Raspberry Pi since it was launched, so we are delighted to be delivering the first boards to initial customers," said Glenn Jarrett, a spokesman for UK-based RS Components, which is a distributor of the device. "We are working very closely with the manufacturer to bring subsequent batches of boards into stock so that we can fulfill every customer order for Raspberry Pi as quickly as possible."
The first run of 10,000 devices were snatched up within minutes when they went on sale in late February. Those who missed the first round can get in line for the next at RS Components.
Packed with Power
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into a TV and a keyboard.
The ARM-based device comes in two models, both with 256MB of RAM: the Model A, which includes one USB port and no Ethernet; and the Model B, which offers an Ethernet port and two USB ports.
It's the Model B that just started shipping, and it's already selling for much higher prices on eBay, according to at least one report.
Fedora Linux is the free and open source operating system that's used by default in the Raspberry Pi, but Debian and Arch Linux are supported as well. Canonical, last I heard, had not yet committed to providing Ubuntu support for the device.
Originally designed to encourage kids around the globe to learn programming, the diminutive device can actually be used for a variety of other purposes as well, including spreadsheets, word processing, games, and playing high-definition video.
This video from the Raspberry Pi Foundation's Liam Fraser demonstrates some of those capabilities in action.
A Linux-Powered Revolution
It's no doubt because of the Raspberry Pi's impressive array of features in such a tiny and inexpensive device that demand was so overwhelming for its maker, whose site was actually brought to its knees by the rush. There's been virtually no limit to buyers' planned uses for the PC, as can be seen in a recent Reddit discussion, but they clearly extend well beyond the realm of education.
What especially excites me about the Raspberry Pi -- and the like-minded Cotton Candy -- is the way it will bring capable computing power into the hands of those who might not otherwise be able to afford it, including countless businesses and consumers in emerging markets. I believe it's a real revolution in computing.