April 27, 2014, 9:58 AM — Raspberry Pi: A Quick-Start Guide, Second Edition by Mail Schmidt and published by The Pragmatic Programmers may just open your eyes to a new way of experimenting with computers. It will give you enough information about the Raspberry Pi to make intelligent decisions about how you install and configure the smallest computer you have ever owned and then take you on a tour of some very impressive things that you can turn your Pi into -- like, maybe, a burglar alarm.
Even those of us who have been working with Unix/Linux systems for decades are likely to find that working with the Raspberry Pi wakes up the experimenter in us and makes us think differently about how computers work and what we can do with them.
Sure, maybe we could get off the ground with a lot less help. Opening the box and taking out the credit card sized computer is easy. But getting around to deciding to what you are actually going to do with your Pi is something else. First, there are all the very practical beginners' questions. How do you prepare an OS? Does this thing have enough memory to actually do something? How do you hook the thing up to a monitor? How can you tell if it's actually doing something? What software tools are going to help you get your OS set up? What configuration options will you have and what choices are likely to be the best for you? And what are the tradeoffs? Unless you've seen one of these systems in action, you're just starting at a palm-sized circuit board and maybe wondering if you should have instead spent your $35 on a new desk organizer.
After all, what you pull out of the box is just a circuit board -- one with a bunch of ports, a couple chips, and some pins sticking up. At first, just imagining making progress with it and getting it to work might be something of a challenge.
Pulling out this book prepared me to make a number of choices. First, it just helped me to get excited about the Raspberry Pi and the confidence to jump in and give it a try. I made some decisions -- like going with the most common OS (Debian wheezy) and then moved on to addressing how I was going to get it ready for the Pi. Fortunately, I had a nice USB 3.0 card reader on hand that allowed me to connect an SD card to my laptop.
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