Computer systems are getting more and more expensive now. Around 2005 or so computers were somewhat costly but not horribly expensive; now a MacBook Pro can run close to $2000 or more. That is way too expensive to do experiments with. And that is a shame, because a whole generation of people will grow up with computers that are easy to break with a few ill-executed lines of software code; it is not too hard to brick your computer just by making a small mistake if you’re playing with the inner workings.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has recognized these problems, and has taken steps to address them. The Raspberry Pi is a series of single-board computers with 1 GB. of RAM and anywhere from 8-32 GB. of storage. These computers reduce computing to the bare essentials; if there’s a way to break them beyond repair by experimenting with them I have yet to find it. Here are some reasons that the Raspberry Pi is the best way to learn hardware and software programming.
A Raspberry Pi board runs about $35 USD or less. That is NOTHING for a computer system. These units have more power than any computer of the 1990s; you could in a pinch use them as an office computer for basic applications. I was able to get a Raspberry Pi plus a whole huge bag of accessories for me to do projects with for less than $100. You can start yours for far less than that; I’m just a junkie for all kinds of cool gear.
There are so many projects that you can do with your Raspberry Pi. If you look up any YouTube series you will see that people have done everything from creating VPN servers (a fairly simple process) to creating Bitcoin Mining devices (a fairly complex process). I was able to make a small desktop computer where was able to browse the internet easily and do normal activities. To test it, the first site I visited was dogsrant.com. I recently bought a dog DNA test from them because I wanted to see exactly what my mixed breed dog WAS. And I was not disappointed. With my regular computer down, the Raspberry Pi worked wonderfully!
Raspberry Pi computers don’t work out of the box. They do not ship with an operating system; you have to install that yourself. If you want to get your Raspberry Pi working you HAVE to learn how to do some basic command line operations. You are forced to learn some things along the way, so by the end of it you’ll have a much stronger knowledge of computers and hardware and software interactions than you did before.
I love my Raspberry Pi. It was not hard for me to get mine running, but it might take you a little more time. And that’s fine! Because the goal is learning, and the Pi will teach how you!