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Fun and interesting for what it is, but overrated
on August 16, 2014
I've been working in, around, and with computers and electronics for over 35 years. I've owned early home computers such as the Timex Sinclair, Commodore 64, and Atari ST, and have worked with many others through the years from early Wang systems to mainframes. There's a lot to like about the Raspberry Pi (I own two of them) -- they're great for experimentation, Linux exploration, and small projects. But let's be clear about what it IS and what it ISN'T. The Raspberry Pi can be loads of fun but it is not a device that should be used where you're looking for even a reasonable level of stability. It will cough. It will choke. It will run slow as mud. It will hang, sputter, and croak unexpectedly. Both of my model-B Raspberry PIs are, quite honestly, a complete pain in the ass to keep running reliably 24/7. I own multiple SD cards, all of them on the tested and validated list, and all have crashed in the PI, with the only recovery possible a complete re-imaging of the card. I've tried using the PI as a very simple home automation controller (nothing elaborate), and it wheezes and geezes on even very simple tasks. After running for a few days, the whole operation croaks, the Raspberry PI freezes, and the only fix is either a reboot or reimaging of the SD card.
After several months of experimentation with the Raspberry Pi, I've come to the conclusion that, although the Pi is fun and interesting, it has become vastly overrated. To put it somewhat bluntly: the zealots out there (let's call them the "church of Pi") may want everyone to believe that this cute little computer will slice your toast and brew your coffee, but the real truth is that it's not much more than a tiny, ARM-based experimental platform that might end up slicing your coffee and brewing your toast -- and at the most inopportune moments!
My advice: go forth and purchase, but caveat emptor.