4

There are already lot of computers available in the market, using which the students or enthusiasts can learn computer programming. As to the hardware side also there are many educational kits to teach people about processors/controllers, interfacing and all that stuff. As far as computing is concerned there are low cost PCs and tablets available in the market. What makes Raspberry Pi so special in these area when there are umpteen other options are available?

I am just asking this out of curiosity and not out of doubt of Pi's capabilities.

  • Price. Very very few alternatives this cheap. Secondly it's a really basic PC. But these limitations are what stimulates creativity. – Gerben Jul 15 '13 at 18:17
  • What makes the Pi Special is that it has a full GPU running OpenGL:S - And at that Price it makes the Pi special! The rest of your answer is redundant as there are many other platforms that do exactly the same. – Piotr Kula Jul 16 '13 at 10:04
7

There are multiple things that I know why Pi

1: A full operating system

The Raspberry Pi runs a full operating system with the most common one being Debian linux (Raspbain). This means that you can use a wide range of programming languages from Python, Java (Debian Soft Float) , C, Node.Js, PHP ect! It also allows a GUI interface as default can be used as even a basic linux computer for web browsing and document making. The Raspberry Pi now has the ability to run ANY ARM based operating system, not just the ones using the old arm chip.

2: Price

For me one of the biggest points is the price, being a student it cost me as much as a computer game does or even some textbooks I have to buy.

3: Community

One of the most important things about the Raspberry Pi is the community, there is official accounts on Google +, Twitter and Facebook along with their own website which blogs about projects, news and has a forum for you to ask questions and show off your projects. There is also sites like this one setup for support, an IRC channel and more!

4: All in one unit!

If I wanted to run a website server on an Arduino I would first need to buy an Arduino and Ethernet shield which would cost about the same as a Raspberry Pi if not more. And then I'm also restricted to just HTTP and not stuff like PHP. If I want to display TV output on an arduino I need to buy or make converters and the same to interface it with an SD Card. From where the Pi is a full blown device with OS it allows for this just to be done without any extras needed from the start.

5: Power Consumption Compared to the arduino the Pi still uses slightly more power consumption but a lot less than a computer or laptop! The Model B uses about 5W of power.

6: Space is your limit!

Another thing about the Pi is how many things you can do with it from being able to control RC tanks from it, send it to space and take a picture, use it as a home media center, host your very first website on it, play minecraft on it.

7: Constant improvement

The Raspberry Pi is being constantly improved, it now comes with 1GB of ram, the ability to overclock to 1Ghz without voiding the warranty, currently converting from X11 to Weston / Wayland, Special Camera Module! The team has not stopped working on it since the launch.

6: Education

The final point is what the Raspberry Pi is actually designed for. Being a tool that people can use and hack around without worrying about breaking their own computers especially in schools. Learning computer programming! Before the Pi I only knew some PHP and now I know PHP better, a good bit of Javascript and Python and I am currently learning how to run a distributed computing project on it.

And that is my view of the Pi, for the record I have done quite a few things with it now (http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/1298 & http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/1677). I also now own 4 of the devices and don't regret waking up at 5:55 AM on the 29th of February 2012.

Thanks - Ryan Walmsley

10

From my point of view, there are three basic things that I see in the Pi that I don't see elsewhere:

1. Price: Dollar for dollar, it can't be beat. This is going on the assumption that you already have all the peripherals that the reviews say 'increase the cost'. It is small enough and cheep enough that I can use it as a single purpose machine that just sits there and does nothing else.

2. Physical interface to the real world: True, you can do this with any number of chips, BeagleBone, Arduino and associated clones, and many more, but the Pi is relatively unique in it's power. With the arduino you are very limited with how much you can do with the CPU and memory. You can't do two things at once, and there is very little memory to work with. With the Pi, I can do many of the things that you can do with an arduino, but I can expand more easily into the world of multimedia and cause physical events based on that media, this is not easily done with the arduino and similar products.

3. Full blown operating system: This ties closley into the previous point, but the Pi runs a full operating system that leverages all the open source projects already available. Compare the time setting up a web server on an Arduino, to the time setting up Apache on the Pi. I can then run a full MYSQL database, secured just as I would a production server, and at the same time read a temperature sensor, log the data to that database, and produce a graph with the data. Do that with an Arduino :)

Don't get me wrong, all the other chips have their place, and I use my Arduinos every day, and they can be had for less money than the pi, but if you want Ethernet, that's another cost. You want to upgrade the memory, you need a shield for that (extra cost), plus the SD card itself.

The pi on the other hand is also limited for some tasks. It does not, for example, have any analog ports for reading sensors. PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) support is limited, and there are some tasks that it just doesn't have the horsepower for. but for a beginner hobbyist, an entrepreneur with an idea, or someone who just needs a cheap computer the pi fits the bill.

Edit: Beaglebone recently came out with a new model that may give the Pi a run for it's money, but I have not not having used it, I cannot speak to it's notable qualities.

  • That does not make the PI SPECIAL! What makes the Pi Special is that it has a full GPU running OpenGL:S - And at that Price it makes the Pi special! The rest of your answer is redundant as there are many other platforms that do exactly the same. -1 for generic and not even on topic! – Piotr Kula Jul 16 '13 at 10:04
6

There is one important thing that tends to be overlooked:

The Pi has critical mass - there is enough units out there to make it mainstream and that you can expect other people to have done a lot of the work you need to do yourself for units below critical mass.

Just one example: there are at least three XMBC distributions you just download and boot and have a fully functional media center. Plenty of Linux favors available. Oracle even provide a Java distribution for it.

THAT is what makes the Pi special and interesting... At least to me :)

0

There are already lot of computers available in the market, using which the students or enthusiasts can learn computer programming. As to the hardware side also there are many educational kits to teach people about processors/controllers, interfacing and all that stuff.

Are you sure there are "lots" of all these things? I admit to not knowing much about the market -- the pi is my first foray, I already knew how to program (though there is inevitably more to learn), and I'm generally not a hardware buff. But I got it as a toy...and now, this week I have a breadboard and some goodies coming in the mail! Gotta run out and buy a soldering iron! :)

Anyway, it seems to me the pi's only real competitors are the Arduino and Beagle Board. I'm sure they are all special, but the price point and features of the pi maybe set it apart -- it has the stats of the Beagle Board at the price of the Arduino.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.