The Raspberry Pi is a creation of the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory. Eben Upton, Rob Mullins, Jack Lang and Alan Mycroft were concerned that incoming computer science students had little experience with programming. They ascribed this shortfall to a lack of cheap simple computers for students to fool around with. Their answer was the Raspberry Pi.
The Raspberry Pi model B is a small multipurpose computer capable of running a lightweight distribution of linux. It has two USB ports, video output, a ethernet port and a audio output. It runs on a 5 volt and 1-2 amp USB power input. It is available for purchase for between 30 and 50 dollars.
It’s heart is a Broadcom ‘processor on a chip’. This chip contains a 700Mhz CPU, 512Mb of RAM and a GPU. The Raspberry is capable of running programs available for the Linux operating system. A SD memory card serves as the storage and start-up disk.
The user must be careful to take into account the whole cost of the platform. The user must buy a USB power supply and a SD Memory card. In addition if the user wants a wireless network then a wireless dongle is needed. These items can run another 40-80 dollars.
It is important that the power supply delivers sufficient voltage and amperage to support the pi. The Raspberry Pi needs a minimum of 1 amp of power. Many phone chargers and other USB power supplies do not deliver this amount of current. In addition, connected items such as WiFi dongles and hard drives can increase the power consumption. A 1.5 to 2 amp power supply is recommended.
By supporting Linux programs the Raspberry Pi lets the creator of a community intranet to utilize the rich ecosystem of network server software available for that operating system. All of the software packages we discuss run on Linux and the Raspberry Pi is a good low power platform to run a modest Linux server.
In order to get a compatible SD card and power supply consult this list of hardware tested on the Raspberry Pi: http://elinux.org/RPi_VerifiedPeripherals
If you want to use your Raspberry Pi to host a wireless network you will need a USB wireless adapter. Here is a list of adapters compatible with Linux: http://wireless.kernel.org/en/users/Devices/USB
Vendor in the United States: http://www.alliedelec.com/lp/120626raso/