My wonderful wife Nathalie surprised me this Christmas with a new computer! That makes it sound like so much more than it really is though… She gave me a Raspberry Pi, which is, by design, the most inexpensive fully functional computer ever, and maybe the smallest too. It really was an awesome gift though, because a true geek loves nothing like learning, and the Pi is the ultimate learning/teaching computer.
I am not sure the kids were quite as thrilled as I was when I plugged it into the TV on Christmas day – the Pi pretty much only supports HDMI output and I didn’t have a monitor that would support it. Fortunately my good friend Adam Riley previously wrote a blog post on setting up remote desktop access to a Pi. Once I had things set up that far I could unplug the TV and set the thing up on my desk without a monitor (or keyboard) and remote to it from any computer in the house.
You have a choice of a bunch of different operating systems to run on the Pi, but all of them are based on Linux. This is really good timing, because I need to learn more Linux. I have of course been aware of Linux since sometime in the mid 90’s, but I have never used it for my day job. Periodically I have taken an old computer and set up Linux on it, but it always takes up so much space and consumes a ton of power. After a few weeks of not using it much, I end up unplugging it never to see it again. With the Pi, I don’t have to worry about power or space. Its sitting on the back of my desk and is so small I don’t notice it. And as far as power, it’s powered by a spare USB port and probably drawing 2.5 watts or something.
In order to learn something, you have to have a project. My goal for the Pi is to set up a public web server sitting on my desk that does something with geo-spatial data. So look forward to another few blog posts about setting up a live web server on this tiny computer and eventually a link directly to it.
Thanks for reading,