My Raspberry powered, Debian based Linux Kernel Computer Desktop


Part One:  Introduction, Cost and Gathering Parts
Emma Berry


Why? It’s always a good idea before undertaking any DIY project to ask yourself “Why should I?”  1) Raspberry Pi is one of the leading platforms for taking advantage of the Internet of Things Technology (IoT).  Setting up a monitor, USB keyboard and USB mouse to run on a Raspberry Pi 4 B 4GB RAM is the easiest way to introduce yourself to the Raspberry Pi and how it works.  Believe me, it’s a lot easier than trying to learn by using one of the many AIY (assemble it yourself) kits such as Google Voice Box for your first Raspberry Pi learning experience.  The Google Box assembly involves attaching a HAT (hardware on top) to a Raspberry Pi.  This particular Google hardware is a voice user interface (VUI).  Of  course, I am a non-geek but nonetheless it took me five days to get the thing working as it is intended (like an Amazon Echo).  Today, that same process would take me about 2 hours.  I know for a fact that it would have been so much easier for me to begin with first setting up a monitor, keyboard and mouse to run on a Raspberry Pi circuit board.

2) A Raspberry Pi powered computer runs on a Debian Linux kernel operating system and you will get lots of free open source software. Linux is available in many “distributions.”  Debian is one of them.  Ubuntu is another and there are many more.  As of 2015 there were over 400 distributions of Linux.  A Linux distribution is  a version of the open source Linux operating system that is packaged with other components, such as an installation programs, management tools and additional software.  The Debian distribution comes with all the open-source Linux-based programs, management tools and software you need to work with Raspberry Pi’s.  This OS also comes with additional software such as the complete set of LibreOffice (Linux’s answer to Microsoft office suite); Claws Mail (Linux email); games; the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Python, the language that Raspberry Pi understands; tons of Raspberry Pi resources; a VNC viewer, virtual network computing allows you to remotely access and obtain information from other computers such as a Raspberry Pi that may be monitoring gas wells several hundred miles away. 

3) You will have all the tools you need to learn the programming language Python.  Python is used across diverse fields from web and game development to machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), scientific computing and academic research. It is easy to learn as a first language and a valuable skill-set to have in any programmer’s stack because of its diverse usage. Python is the fastest growing computing language in the world today.

4) You will have access to the vast open-source world of Linux.  Freedom is the power to decide what your computer does and the only way to have this freedom is to know what your computer is doing.

Who might want a Raspberry Pi Computer?
If you have a crowded household and only one computer, you might want to have one as it will provide access to the Internet—especially good for kids doing homework.  They can also use it to play games such as Minecraft.  If there is someone in the family who wants to learn how to code in Python, that’s another good reason.  It’s especially good for those who want to learn more about the Linux environment.  If you want to learn more about the new technology called “the Internet of Things” (IoT) and applications in the field for Raspberry Pi’s, then a Raspberry Pi powered computer with its Debian- based Linux kernel is a great asset.

What is a Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi 4.B . 4 GB RAM

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized circuit board. Most people call it a “single board computer”. But it really isn’t that because it arrives with no hard drive.  A pre-loaded microSD card, the hard drive that runs it must be inserted into the SD port on the circuit board. (You can purchase this card pre-loaded for about $18.00). Then, using the various USB and HDMI ports, it can be connected to  a computer monitor or TV, a standard keyboard and mouse and finally powered up by plugging it into an electrical outlet.  If you have access to the Internet via WIFI in your home or office you can connect your new computer to the Internet.  If you need to, the Raspberry Pi also comes with an Ethernet port for connecting to a wired network and then to the Internet.

How much?
Compared to most computers, the Raspberry Pi powered computer is about the cheapest you’ll find.  If you already have an extra USB Keyboard, USB mouse, and HDMI monitor or TV—you can have a great computer for about $100.   Even if you have to purchase the monitor, keyboard and mouse too, it will still cost under $250 for a new computer which is still inexpensive.

What do I need?
Following are the items you need to put together a Raspberry Pi 4 B powered Computer.  These are prices current today.  I’m sure if you like to shop you might find them cheaper.  However the very best deal I found was to purchase a Cana Kit Raspberry Pi Starter Kit for $97.00 on Amazon.  It comes with all the items in the first list.  I’ve forgotten what tax was but it was a total in the neighborhood $106—under $110.

Raspberry Pi 4B. 4 GB                                   55.00
3A USB-C power adapter                               27.77            
Micro HDMI CABLE                                    10.99
Clear plastic Case for Raspberry Pi               7.00
five-volt fan.                                                   15.95
2 heat sinks                                                        2.00
on/off USB pi switch                                         5.00
micro card reader                                              6.99
Micro SD card pre-loaded Noobs 32 GB       18.98

HDMI Monitor                                               $100.00
(or HDMI TV)
USB keyboard                                                   $20.00
USB Mouse                                                       $10.00


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