For months I considered purchasing a Raspberry Pi single board computer. For the unaware, the Raspberry Pi is a single board computer, which is amazingly inexpensive ($35) and reasonably powerful for its size and cost. The design concept was to create a small, inexpensive computer to use as a learning tool for children. The back-story is really cool and a great example of how things should be done, well worth the read.
The Raspberry Pi Model B is a 700Mhz ARM1176JZF-S core processor with 512 MB of ram. It has an HDMI and RCA video out, built in Ethernet, 2 USB connections and audio out. Storage is done with an SD card and powered by a 5 Volt, micro USB connection.
The first thing to know about the Raspberry Pi, is that this is all about cost for them. So, there is nothing extra in the package. When ordered, your will get the ‘board’, no power cord, no SD card, no case, nothing. This is not a pick one up from Best Buy and plug it in kind of computer. But that is part of its charm, and the intent behind it, is to teach kids how to work with computers.
To get my PI running, I simply used to micro USB charger which came with my Samsung Galaxy III phone. Obviously, I needed an SD card, and fortunately, I had an extra laying around so that is a non issue. When I purchased the PI, I opted to spend an additional $7 to get the black case. My only complaint with the Raspberry Pi, was the case screws. There were so small, and very tough to screw into the hard plastic with such a small screw driver. There are a wide variety or add ons you can purchase, but for now, I just wanted to get started with it.
I downloaded and configured the Rasbian (Raspberry Pi & Debian Linux) distributions and with a simple ‘dd’ command, I booted the image. It just worked… The first boot opens up the Rasp-config program which allows you to setup time zones, re-size the SD card partitions, overclock the CPU and set the password. My only issue was that I didn’t reset the password. When the Pi rebooted, I was unable to login. There could be directions somewhere to warn you to this, but that would require I read the directions. So, I re-imaged the SD Card again and was quickly and up and running with a desktop. Impressive.
So, now I have my little Raspberry Pi, the question becomes what to do with it? I have two answers to this question. My First answer is that I am going to play with it. I plan on playing with the different OS distributions and maybe learn some Pi programming. Once I am done with that, my good friends at NerdVittles.com have an image of PBX in a flash which will run on it. My home server is currently running on a 300 Watts power supply. The electricity for this server is my only home phone expense. Image dropping this down to about 3.5 Watts which would truly been and environmentally responsible step to take.
More to come…