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With Raspberry Pi and Cotton Candy, Linux Launches a Revolution


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Two tiny Linux-powered devices debuted this week, kicking off a new era in lower-cost computing.


All the world may be agog over Microsoft's Windows 8 previews this week, but at the same time a quiet revolution is taking place.

It's powered by Linux, it costs a fraction of Windows' price, and its first tangible evidence is now available in not just one but two “sweet” forms: Raspberry Pi and Cotton Candy.

Like the idea of freedom from the upgrade treadmill and a price that won't put you behind on your rent? Then you may want to check out this new category of computing devices.

The Raspberry Pi

There's been talk about the ARM-based, education-focused $25 Raspberry Pi for quite some time already, but this week the diminutive device made its official debut.


The Raspberry Pi device

That's been nothing if not exciting to watch, particularly because the launch was so successful that it brought the UK-based project's site to its knees amid overwhelming demand.

Premier Farnell and RS Components have both signed up as licensed manufacturers of the devices, the first run of which apparently sold out within an hour or so.

Raspberry Pi devices include a remix of Fedora Linux. No keyboard, mouse, or monitor are bundled with them, but a raft of other capabilities are included. The $25 Model A has just recently been reworked to include 256MB of RAM while the $35 Raspberry Pi Model B includes an Ethernet port and two USB ports, among other enhancements.

Cotton Candy


FXI Technologies' Cotton Candy device

Also this week, meanwhile, Norwegian FXI Technologies made its USB-sized Cotton Candy device available for pre-order, with delivery expected later this month.

Priced at $199, Cotton Candy units each include a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPU from Samsung, a quad-core, 1.2GHz ARM Mali-400 MP GPU, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and HDMI output. They can also decode MPEG-4, H.264, and other video formats as well as displaying HD graphics on any HDMI-equipped screen.

Perhaps most interesting of all, however, is that supported operating systems include not just Android Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich but also Ubuntu Linux.

Weighing just 21 grams, the Cotton Candy device aims to give users “a single, secure point of access to all personal cloud services and apps through their favorite operating system, while delivering a consistent experience on any screen,” in the project's own words.

Lower-Cost Computing

There's clearly no shortage of high-priced computing devices for those inclined to spend more.

For the rest of us, though--including all the many businesses and consumers in emerging markets--there's a real need for lower-cost computing. That's just what's launched this week, thanks to free and open source Linux.

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Raspberry Pi PCs go on sale; immediately sell out

The $35 version of the Raspberry Pi PCs went on sale on Wednesday but one of the PCs two online store outlets has already sold out of its allotment of units, with the other still not taking orders.


The world has been waiting to get them and on Wednesday at least one outlet totally sold out of its allotment of units. We are speaking, of course, of the $35 version of the Raspberry Pi PC. The tiny and cheap device, which went into production several weeks ago, finally went on sale on Wednesday.

The official Raspberry Pi web site announced that while the first PC units have yet to arrive from their Chinese based factories, the organization has now signed up two UK-based companies, RS Components and Premier Farnell, who will henceforth be manufacturing the PCs, as well as being in charge of the distribution of the first Chinese made units.

The blog post stated:

The involvement of RS Components and Premier Farnell means that we can build volume much, much faster than would have been possible on our own. We are no longer limited to batches of only 10k Raspberry Pis; the Raspberry Pi will now be being built to match demand.

Even though the first sales of the PCs were limited to one per customer, that didn't stop Premier Farnell from selling out of its first batch of the $35 Raspberry Pi devices on Wednesday. RS Components are not yet taking pre-orders but are signing up people to be alerted when their first units are available to go on sale.

Meanwhile the $25 version of the Raspberry Pi PC is being put into production "immediately", according to the company. One bit of good news is that the $25 version will now get 256MB of RAM, which is double what was originally announced.

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