As everybody knows by now, the raspberry pi is the perfect geek toy, a credit-card-sized computer that costs very little and comes with its own operating system, raspbian, which is an optimised reworking of Debian Gnu/linux.
The Raspberry Pi can be plugged into a TV and a keyboard, and will do most of the useful things a PC can do. An SD card is used for booting and storage of data. Raspbian defaults to an LXDE desktop, and comes with development tools and most of the basic applications and utilities for working and playing on a computer. The Raspberry Pi is also shockingly cheap – $35.
But the interesting part of the Raspberry Pi is the ambition of its caretakers that it should become an ultra-low-cost tool for introducing schoolchildren to the lost idea that computer programming can be fun, as it was for the kids who grew up with the Sinclair QL, ZX Spectrum or BBC Micro three of four decades ago. The early home computers were cheap and cheerful, but you could get inside and look at the source, take them apart and learn.