Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Let the kids hack the operating system to pieces

Half the techies in schools I know, don't even know what Linux is! Bandy words around like Debian, repositories and dependencies and it will fly over there heads.  The one thing, they know is that they certainly do not want somebody messing with the programs, never mind and the operating system processes and certainly not the OS itself.That's one of the beauties of the Raspberry Pi. You don't actually have to tell the school technicians and give them a heart attack!

Of course I also manage a network of PCs in my school and frankly, downtime is a killer and so I completely understand the technician's point of view. Fun it maybe for the students, but its a lot of extra work for them.

So why is it not a problem with the Raspberry Pi!  Well firstly the OS is on an SD Card, so if the kids mess it up, the worst that can happen is you reformat the card and copy the OS over again. Let's have a look at what Operating Systems and distros you can play with:

  • Arch
  • Debian
  • Fedora
  • Gentoo
  • Puppy
  • Raspbian
  • Amiga OS
  • Android
  • Symbian
  • QTonPi

Admittedly not all of these are fully working yet, but even if you just use the ones that are stable there's a lot of potential to play with the system!

Windows 8 - Not for now
They keep on talking about Windows 8, but the instruction set isn't compatible, that's not to say that in a couple of years time the Pi won't get an upgrade and then there's a chance it will work.  Microsoft have been incredibly generous to Education over the years and if they thought it is going to be worthwhile, then I think they'd do it!  The only OS I'm pretty sure isn't going to be there is iOS and that's not because it wouldn't work, but Apple hold onto their toys with a viper like grip!


  1. Hi James, I'm interested to see how things pan out with Raspberry Pis, I've been playing with mine (Debian, LAMP, Python etc) but I'm interested to see what ideas people have for projects once pupils have got the hang of transferring an OS. Setting up their own webserver is a possibility, with the intention of hosting their own webpages.

  2. Definitely... There's lots students can do and as software is developed I think there's a great potential.