Shortly after I embarked on a study of Python, which is my first foray into programming, my sister, the UNIX guru, surprised me with a little raspberry pi. If you have not encountered one already, a raspberry pi is a little self-contained computer the size of a credit card that retails for about $30. Here it is shown in its optional case. The business card beside it provides a size comparison.
It comes with connections for standard peripherals (keyboard, mouse and monitor) and free operating system and software sufficient for learning Python,handling standard word processing, spreadsheets and other tasks, both common and more advanced, such as home theater and robotics.
Designed to provide complete, low-cost tools to teach students programming, it is an impressive little package that has accomplished its goal very well and thereby taken the world by storm. Programmers like it because it lets them test programs without risking damage to the family PC. Parents and students like it for its portability, completeness and low cost. Although its power is more comparable to a cell phone than a standard computer, its design nevertheless allows very complex and sophisticated applications.
The resources are similarly valuable. Raspberrypi.org hosts a blog, community and project archive dedicated to the RPi. Numerous books teach system administration and programming using the device. The advantage of these is their friendliness for the genuine novice. Unlike many other programming books supposedly intended for beginners, the RPi books really address those of us who have never programmed at all.
My sister recommended I chronicle my progress with Python and the Raspberry Pi. I recommended she bracket that with entries on her site, wizardsowl.com, that address questions I direct to her as I learn. Together, we should be able to cover the subject, and maybe our experiences can be useful to others.