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158 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2012
This is the official user guide for setting up and using the Raspberry Pi Model B credit card size Linux single-board computer that costs $35 (plus taxes and shipping). The guide was written by Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder Eben Upton, whose day job is application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) architect (and general troublemaker, as he states it) for the semiconductor device manufacturer Broadcom. His co-author is self-described freelance technology journalist, writer, programmer, electronics designer, and erstwhile sysadmin Gareth Halfacree, whose writing appears in publications such as "Linux User & Developer", "Custom PC", "Micro Mart", "IT Pro", "Bit-Tech" and "Expert Reviews".

The book properly starts with a short, but fascinating, history of how the Raspberry Pi came to be, starting as an idealist concept and a much simpler (and much less capable) breadboard prototype half a dozen years ago, compared with the real deal. As Eben recounts it, the Foundation gradually realized that they had accidentally and unintentionally promised a $25 ~ $35 computer to over 100,000 very expectant and enthusiastic fans, a bit more than the couple of hundred boards they had originally thought they would just give away to prospective students applying to Cambridge University's computer science curriculum. In less than a year, the Pi went from being just-another seemingly great idea that had a very uncertain but potentially great future, to an astoundingly successful reality, with several hundred thousand manufactured and delivered so far, to what are by all accounts highly-satisfied customers.

The book then gets down to the nitty-gritty of how to connect the board to the necessary (and not included) power supply, USB keyboard and optional mouse, HDMI display, and optional wired Ethernet and audio system hardware. Instructions are also provided for creating a bootable SD memory card on a Linux/Windows/Mac desktop or laptop computer that contains the recommended Debian Linux operating system and user files. A subsequent entire chapter describes the basics of the Linux OS, how to administer the system at a fundamental level and, most importantly, how to obtain the most up-to-date version of the OS, which will require a wired Ethernet connection. WiFi networking is possible with the Pi, but not fully detailed in this chapter - it is discussed in more depth in the network configuration chapter. Another full chapter describes how to troubleshoot the keyboard and mouse, power issues, boot-up problems, and network connection gremlins.

The chapters in the second part of the book discuss wired and wireless network configuration, SD card storage partition management, configuring the Pi hardware via config.txt, start.elf, and cmdline.txt boot-time files. Then, additional chapters describe how to set up the Pi as a Home Theatre PC (HTPC) for playing music and video from files or over the Internet, to use it as a productivity using freeware such as OpenOffice and the Gimp image editor, configuring the Pi as a web server using a Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP (LAMP) software stack, and installing WordPress to create your own blogging server.

In the third part of the book, the authors get down to what the Pi was originally developed for: teaching software programming. The first examples demonstrate how to use the very child-friendly MIT Scratch to create the canonical Hello World program, in addition to simple animation and sound, game, and robotics sensor programs. The lessons then shift to the much more capable and more complex Python language, showing another Hello World example, then how to handle comments, inputs, variables, and loops. It ends with how to use the pygame code library to develop much more sophisticated games than can be accomplished with Scratch.

Additional chapters cover hardware interfacing with the Pi board via the built-in General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) port to access the Universal Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter (UART) serial bus, Inter-Integrated Circuit (I²C) bus, and the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) bus. How to access the GPIO port via Python is discussed in detail, complete with code examples for how to flash an LED and read whether a pushbutton is being pressed. A valuable brief guide to soldering is included for budding hardware hackers, followed by descriptions of the Ciseco Slice of Pi, Adafruit Prototyping Pi Plate, and Gert van Loo's wonderful Fen Logic Gertboard. The book ends with appendices containing Python code examples (also available by download from the publisher's web site) and the HDMI display modes that can be set via the boot-up configuration files.

The book reads very well for beginners who are the target audience, and none-too-soon. The geeks have been spewing techno-jargon on the RaspberryPi.org forums and eLinux.org wiki for many, many months, even well before the Pi was even available to the general public. The best thing about the book is that it brings together in one place all of the information that novices need to know in a form that can actually be understood by mere mortals. The fact that it's written by the principal designer of the Pi with education experience and a published personal computing author and journalist goes a long way to making that possible. Other tech authors might be too tempted to jump off into the deep end of the technical pool more quickly than would be warranted.

I was particularly impressed with Chapter 12: "Hardware Hacking", for its very complete and clear descriptions of the Pi GPIO port, add-on hardware options, and how to wire everything together and program the Pi to interact with an LED and a pushbutton. Especially appreciated is the several pages dedicated to both on-line and retail sources for the add-on components, including solderless prototyping breadboards and the individual parts such as LEDs, resistors, pushbuttons, etc. A couple of pages are also spent just to describe how to read the colo(u)r codes on resistors, and a complete list of the tools and materials needed to perform soldering are provided as part of the soldering guide. Another whole page provides the details on how to calculate the proper resistor values to limit the current flowing through an LED for various voltages - this kind of detail often slips through the cracks in such books.

The full Kindle e-book cost me a "whopping" whole $6.60 and I'm a 1970s era veteran of when men were men and computers were made of iron. So, I'm definitely not in the target audience, but even I found enough tiny new details that I'd still missed despite reading tens of thousands of forum and wiki posts, that the price of the e-book has to be the best bargain in tech writing that I can think of in an extremely large number of years. As I understand it, the Raspberry Pi Foundation benefits from the profits for the book, as it does from sales of each Pi board. As far as I'm concerned, they could have charged ten times the price for the book and it would still be a complete bargain. I haven't checked every single detail in the book, yet, but, I didn't see any glaring errors. Yet, I'm one of those people to whom even any misspelling stands out like a geek on the runway at a Paris fashion show, and I don't mean at the airport. Those who know me at all are aware of my persnickety nature, and I really tried to find problems in this book, but I have to say that's a pretty tall order.

No one has any excuse now for not learning computer science fundamentals with a Pi, thanks to this book. Just go spend about $50 for this book and a Pi and you'll be much better off than consuming the equivalent cost in a week's worth of froo-froo caffeine beverages - five very broad smilies from this admitted SillyCon Valley curmudgeon!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2012
This book offers a great introduction to anyone interested in learning about the Raspberry Pi. The coverage is fairly comprehensive, starting with a description of the Raspberry Pi and getting it setup, followed by Linux Administration and using the Raspberry Pi for a number of different purposes. These range from using the Raspberry Pi as a media centre, to a development platform and finally for hardware hacking with the GPIO port.

I found the Python and Hardware hacking sections particularly useful as these are the main things I want to play with on the Raspberry Pi.

All in all, a worthwhile purchase. If you are a Raspberry Pi owner this is a recommended purchase!
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2013
It had some information that I found useful, but it left a lot to the imagination. Not a good template for technical documentaion.

Very extensive info about WHO designed it, WHAT it is, WHEN it was developed, WHERE to buy it, and some minor postulations of WHY you would buy it.

HOW was almost completely absent from this book. This is why I bought the book. But in reality I could have just rummage through the website and gathered all the info found in the book.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2012
I got the kindle edition and so far I am not able to find any formatting errors. I would like to point out one error in "Flashing from OS X". On step 6 instead of dd if=imagefilename.img of=/dev/diskX bs=2M it should be dd if=imagefilename.img of=/dev/diskX bs=2m. Notice the last argument where Big M should be replaced with small m for OS X because it carries the BSD heritage. I am not sure if there are any other errors but nothing critical that cannot be fixed with quick web search.

Even though this is Raspberry Pi user guide, most of the things mentioned can also be applied to other Linux based OS because Raspberry Pi uses Debian which is based on Linux Kernel. This means we are also learning Linux utilities.
The writing is very clear and concise. Also, all the information in the book can be found online with web search but it is always handy to have a reference available in one place. Granted I have not read the whole book but it seems to be an excellent companion to your Raspberry pi. I am even thinking about buying the physical book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Gareth Halfacree and Eben Upton's RASPBERRY PI USER GUIDE is a must purchase for the first time owner of the credit card sized educational computer, the Raspberry Pi. The Pi computer is simplicity itself, and deserves a work like this to get the user up and running. It IS NOT an in-depth reference or thorough user guide. It IS a work that will get one up and running with all of the most important aspects of the 256K Raspberry Pi. Note that the primary focus is on the revision B Pi (the one with the two USB ports). After a brief history of the Pi project, the user is given straightforward directions on hooking it up to monitors and keyboards. After simple directions on getting an operating system "flashed" on an SD card, you're off.

By the end of this book, you will be shown the basics of Linux administration, mostly in the context of configuring the Pi and setting it up on a network. The rest of the book leads users to install home theater software, web servers, and several programming environments. In no way will you be an expert in any of these areas, but you WILL be up and running and ready to proceed a lot deeper in any direction of personal interest.

Think of this book as the manual that comes with your new car. It's got every thing you need to get up and running, but if you want to tinker you'll need more information!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2012
Es una lectura que recomiendo para todo aquel que este interesado en arrancar con la RaspberryPi y el mundo python.
Algo bueno es que esta escrito por un miembro de la fundacion y nos explica como surgio el proyecto y el avance.
No tengo ningun comentario en contra, me gusto mucho.

It is a recommended reading for anyone interested in starting with python RaspberryPi and the world.
One good thing is that it is written by a member of the foundation and explains how did the project and progress.
I have no comment to the contrary, I loved it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2012
This book provides all the information you need to know on how to start using your Raspberry Pi... Nothing more to say...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
I am skimming this guide on my Droid 3, and find it to be informative and well written. I'd like to see another book that covers the myriad Linux bits that help one use Raspbian (really, any Debian) effectivley. Experinced Linux hands don't need that, but teh RaspI universe is populated by a gazillion folks who are either rusty re Linux (me) or new to the experience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 17, 2012
The stuff in this book assumes that one is a beginner in all sorts of areas of expertise - The Pi, programming, electronic circuit construction (now known as Hardware Hacking apparently) and so forth.

It gives excellent starter tips on what's what, from hooking up the Pi and your options in doing so to configuring Debian on the Pi, shell basics, a light intro to Python, basic soldering techniques, resistor identification (only needed for a hardware hack of course, the Pi comes ready-built), and some details of piggy-back boards that open up the world of the programmable GPIO pins (which is where the Pi becomes more than a tiny desktop computer).

It's not a thick volume, but it packs a whole lot of useful stuff for the newbie between the covers. I've fired up more than my share of Linux boxes and I already know how to solder but there was a wealth of stuff in here I can use even so, especially the info in the piggyback boards. I may not know all the options out there as of today, the world of tech development being what it is, but I now know what questions to ask about the stuff I might want to use with my Pi.

There is nothing in here that you couldn't find online, but I prefer a book for those times when I want to use my commute for education and give my eyes a rest from the computer screens I look at all day. Also, the book gathers all the topics that are likely to prove useful in one place, and serves as a basis for further on-line research.

Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2013
Sorry for the quick review but I haven't read the book front to back yet, just skimmed most of the book. The book provides a great overview for the Raspberry Pi, what it can do, and the linux operating system. A great quick starter/introduction guide. Although it doesn't go into great detail on any of the subjects it is a good introduction to what you can do with the Pi and how to get started with linux and everything else. Definitely can't beat it for the price and it's good to have on hand to get some ideas.
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