What is the Raspberry Pi
When you pass through a magazine store or browse the web, you may have come across the words 'Raspberry Pi'. It is getting lots of attention. Being the owner of three Raspberry Pis, I will try to explain what it is. The Raspberry Pi is a microcomputer. This microcomputer is designed to use an SD card as its hard drive which runs a Linux distribution. If you browse enough websites and forums, you will see how popular 'Raspbian' is for the operating system of choice. This microcomputer comes with two usb ports, 1 ethernet connection, 1 HDMI connection (for tv or monitor) and a power connection (like a cell phone power connection).
This microcomputer can be used to browse the Internet and run shell command just like a computer that runs Linux, such as a desktop computer or laptop. However, the performance will not make you throw away your laptop and the Pi will not be a great option for everyday computer use. If the Pi is not a great computer and a usb stick allows me to test and run Linux on my computers, then, why on earth would I want a Raspberry Pi? Well, the Raspberry Pi can be used as a tool to test and work with home web servers or connect to hardware to output results. Here is where its strengths lie. They are excellent devices to test Linux software and applications; such as heartbeat and clusters and take up no space at all. As far as a web server goes, it can help someone make the transition from shared hosting to Linux Administration. If you can manage a server at home and use shell commands, you would be better off than just diving in to a VPS or dedicated server without any knowledge at all.
Many hobbyists use the Pi to connect hardware and sensors and sensors to pins which can be used to gather data with Linux programs. Then, another language like Perl, Python, or PHP / mySQL can be used to output that data.