Raspberry Pi and Open Source Software to Change the World
I have been banging my head against my keyboard, trying to fix an unexpected BizTalk issue for the past few hours. Just like this, actually:
To save my sanity, I decided to step back, take a break, and consider more hopeful topics like changing the world. Yes–sometimes I believe I can change the world before I can solve some BTS issues. To the point: I wanted to share some very exciting thoughts I’ve been bouncing off of my friends recently.
I introduce to you, the Raspberry Pi:
This little guy is a computer. You heard me right: a computer. You can install a full OS onto this little guy, plug a monitor, mouse, and keyboard into it, and do everything you would normally do: browse the internet, check email, create documents/spreadsheets/presentations… and so much more. Let me give a bit of an outline to this post before I ramble:
- Getting Started (Hardware, Software, Costs)
- Raspberry Pi Possibilites
- RasPi and Education: Changing the World
Getting Started (Hardware, Software, Costs)
This is where stuff gets exciting. As you will notice, all of the components are 1) universal, and 2) inexpensive. Its hard drive is an SD card, its power source is a micro USB, its video out can be either an RCA video or an HDMI, has an ethernet port for internet, and it has two USB ports for your mouse/keyboard/another USB hub. See where I’m going with this?
Now, take all of those inexpensive, easy-to-find parts, combine them with the RasPi price tag of $35, and you have one of the most inexpensive computers known to man. What about the operating system, you might ask? The Raspberry Pi foundation has a few free operating systems to choose from. Looking for specific software to run? It’s a Linux system, so it is practically synonymous with open source. In fact, people are so excited about the RasPi, there was an app store created just for RasPi users (for free and paid apps). Overall, this thing is inexpensive and universal.
Raspberry Pi Capabilities
Every day, I see new applications of the Raspberry Pi on their website. Here are the projects I’ve seen:
- Home-built satellites
- Media centers
- Automated hydroponics gardens (Not a RasPi, but close)
- 3-D Cameras
In general, these little guys are easy, inexpensive means to fun programming. I have a challenge for you. Think about the Raspi: how could you use one? I don’t know too much about the hardware/automation side of the RasPi, but I am brainstorming on how to turn a RasPi into one of the most inexpensive and impactful tools for education.
RasPi and Education: Changing the World
Back in 2010, I spent some time in Haiti with a fantastic organization called Mission of Hope Haiti. They are a Christian nonprofit that is having a huge impact on the island of Haiti. One of their initiatives is a technical school to teach “diesel mechanics, auto body, welding, and information technology.” Imagine for a minute the impact a computer lab of RasPis could have at Mission of Hope. Not only would it make for an inexpensive lab (well under $1000 for a 10-computer lab), but the RasPi would be a perfect playground for learning Python, SQL, and many other programming languages.
There are so many free online learning resources, that anyone with an internet connection and a bit of guidance could learn some very marketable skills. Just to mention a couple education resources:
Think of all the jobs Haitians could fill if they had this knowledge. Think of all the mouths that could be fed by their salaries. Think of how little projects like this could stimulate the entire country’s economy. That is world change, people.