It’s always fun when one open source project hooks up withanother.

I’ve mentioned the Raspberry Pi before in passing; if you’renot already familiar with it, it’s a $35 piece of hardware designed to help peoplelearn programming, using the power of Linux. Originally conceived to help fillthe gap after the disappearance of computers like the Commodore 64 and Amiga –which encouraged users to learn to program – the Raspberry Pi has been taken upboth by beginners and those who just want to hack around a bit.

If you’re used to buying your computers from the store, bewarned though: the ARM-based Raspberry Pi ships to users as a basic board withno enclosure, encouraging users to get creative in creating a case for it. It’sa fairly basic design, coming with either 128 or 256 megs of memory, and aSecureDigital slot for storage (but no hard drive or SSD). It has two USB portsfor accessory connectivity (like, say, keyboard and mouse), and it comes withhigh-def video output capability, if you want to hook it up to a big-screen TVusing HDMI.

Now, the Raspberry Pi has already demonstrated the ability torun Gingerbread, and now the team is working on getting Ice Cream Sandwich upand running, too. So: raspberry-flavoured Android happiness is coming verysoon.

This differs a bit from the previously-announced Android PCfrom Via, which sells for $49 but comes with a slightly beefed-up set ofonboard connectors. But there’s another key difference: while the Android PC isdesigned specifically to run Android, it has the OS baked into the hardwareitself. On the other hand, the Raspberry PC can theoretically be rebooted backinto Linux simply by swapping the storage card to a different bootup OS.

Either way, it’s nice to see a bit of competition for theAndroid hacker-crowd in this value-priced bracket, because it means that kids(and other interested beginners) now have a few options for learning how toprogram, without it costing a fortune to do so. (Canadian users can buy theRaspberry Pi for $35 plus shipping at Element14.com)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to boot up my old Amiga 500and see if I can find a good Android emulator.

 

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