2013 Book Report 19: Getting Started With Raspberry Pi – Matt Richardson and Shawn Wallace

For most geeks the Raspberry Pi (from now on the RPi) needs no introduction. Originally designed to enthuse children by providing a small, easy to understand computer, the RPi has taken the geek world by storm, and has sold more than a million units.

It isn’t clear how many of these units have found their way into the hands of youngsters… I suspect most have gone to adults enticed by the low cost computer that bucks the trend for more and more powerful processors.

This book then, is a sort of manual for getting to grips with the RPi. Most users will, I suspect have started their RPi journey using resources that they found on the internet, so a perfectly valid question to ask might well be what advantage a book, static and unchanging can have in the fast moving world of open source.

This seems to me to be the biggest weakness of what is otherwise an excellent resource. The world of computing changes quickly, and this is especially the case at the fringes, and items like the RPi are definitely on the fringe.

The book covers useful territory such as what the various components on the RPi’s board are (surely part of the demystifying of this small computer), how to obtain and install a suitable operating system (one of the areas that has changed most rapidly) and what to expect when you first boot the system.

These are all great tools for beginners, and I would suggest that the thing that you are getting in a book, rather than a random collection of web pages is the expectation that the writing is well done, clear and easy to follow. In my opinion that is exactly what the reader gets here.

The rest of the book is a quick trip through some of the things that you can do with a RPi. This is a useful section in that when I first got one the question I got most often was ‘what is it for’. The really interesting thing with a device like the RPi is that it has connectors which can be used in software to do a whole range of things. These connectors offer a range of ways of interacting with the world. One day I may even build something from the suggestions (or I may try and find something useful to do online).

In summary, this book is both an easy to read and and easy to follow book. It is well written, and doesn’t come over as being dry (well, not to me, less geek orientated readers may disagree). While it is in danger of being rapidly superceded by the changes in the systems that it describes, the quality of the writing compensates for this danger. I would probably recommend just checking for any updates online before undertaking any particular projects.

 

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