Raspberry Pi – The Perfect Mini-Computer For Programming

If you are looking for a computer to learn programming, the Raspberry Pi is a perfect and affordable option. You can get a fully equipped Raspberry Pi for less than 70 euros.

Why is the Raspberry Pi so good for learning to program? This is actually due to the official operating system, which was previously called Raspbian and is now called Raspberry Pi OS. The operating system is based on Debian GNU/Linux. Many tools are pre-installed to pave your way into the universe of programming languages.

The company behind the SBC (Single Board Computer) is the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It encourages users to use Python. There are good reasons for this. Python is a very beginner-friendly programming language.

However, Raspberry Pi OS also offers Scratch as an option for children, so to speak, who want to get a taste of the world of programming. Since the operating system is based on Debian, you can of course also use Bash and all other tools from the Debian universe.

Raspberry Pi Becomes Really Fast

Even with the first Raspberry Pi, you could learn programming, but the graphical user interface was no fun. It was quite slow.

In the meantime, there is the much faster Raspberry Pi 4 and also the Pi 400, which even has its own keyboard. Incidentally, it does not type badly and for beginners or children, it is the perfect machine to learn to program with. All you really need is a mouse and a screen – plus a power supply and microSD card, but there are starter kits for that.

With the Raspberry Pi 400, the speed has once again been increased and the system is actually usable as a desktop. Of course, you can’t edit videos or perform computationally intensive tasks with them. But for everyday tasks like editing documents with LibreOffice, surfing the web, and so on, it’s enough.

As mentioned earlier, Raspberry Pi OS comes with many pre-installed tools to help you get started with programming. Let’s take a closer look at that.

Pre-Installed Tools For Programming

If you have installed the official operating system, then use the menu at the bottom left to open the *Development* area. There you will find many useful tools that will help you get started with programming. Among other things, there are three different Scratch versions. This is a great way to teach yourself the basics of programming.

If you prefer to start with Python, then *Thonny Python IDE* is a good development environment. For Java fans there is *Blue Java IDE* and also *Greenfoot Java IDE*.


Tip: Many useful tools are already preinstalled on the Raspberry Pi OS.

Do you want to use the official Pi OS, but don’t want to get such an SBC? That’s no problem because the OS is also available for conventional computers. You can find the image on the download page (<https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads…/>). Just search for the *Raspberry Pi Desktop (for PC and Mac)* section and you will find it there. Of course, you can also install the operating system on a virtual machine.

Certainly with access to the complete Debian software store you can install thousands of programs. You can find almost everything your heart desires for free.

Sense HAT Emulator

Does the *Sense HAT* sound familiar? This is a relatively expensive attachment for the Raspberry Pi, with which you can read out temperature, humidity, and air pressure, among other things. It was specially developed for the *Astro-Pi-Mission* and such devices were actually already in space on the ISS (International Space Station).

You can control the *Sense HAT* easily via Python. The Raspberry Pi Foundation makes it easy for you at this point and has even created a Python library for it. Experimenting with the Sense HAT is really fun. If you first want to test whether the HAT is worth the money, you can use the emulator and program with it. Your program will later also run with the physical *Sense HAT*.


Tip: You can also experiment with the *Sense HAT* without buying one.

For me, I actually experimented with the emulated *Sense HAT* for a while, and then I had to buy one. This thing is just too much fun.

Another great thing at this point is that you have a goal for your programming. If you have a *Sense HAT*, you would like to read out the temperature and other data immediately and display them on the LEDs. You don’t have to think about what kind of project you want to implement first.

Raspberry Pi As A Control Center

Because a Raspberry Pi is not expensive and needs little power, you can also use it as a control center. Even a Raspberry Pi Zero is sufficient for such purposes.

With a few lines of code, you can monitor whether your servers are online or initiate other tasks. For example, if you are responsible for the backups of several servers and the backups run together on an online hard drive, you can use a few lines of code to check whether the backups have arrived. All you have to do is check the date of the relevant files.

If a backup is missing, Pi Zero could send you a message. You can equip it with a few LEDs and as soon as one of them lights up, something is wrong with the data backup. That’s just one example, but the SBC is incredibly versatile. Let your creativity flourish.

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