What can I do with a Raspberry Pi?

So you just got a new Raspberry Pi, maybe it was a christmas present.. Or maybe you decided to buy one for yourself and now you want to know what you can do with this little computer?

There’s a lot you can do with it, you can use it for home automation, a file server, a web server, a media streamer running XMBC, a retro gaming console or just a tiny desktop device.

I’ll get into more detail on some of what you can do in a later post (or a couple), but for now, this post is meant to give you ideas.

First, I definitely recommend having the model with 512 megabytes of RAM, as the more memory you have, the better performance you get.

One thing I like about Raspberry Pi is that the hard drive is an SD card, so essentially, you can have multiple computers on one device, so you could have a card with raspbian on it, another card for raspbmc (the XMBC system), etc.

In terms of cases, I’ve used several cases from a case built with a simply project box, to a case built with LEGO, but my favorite is the blue Raspberry Pi SAFE case from solarbotics which also can be purchased with a mount to attach to the back of a TV.

Now, some uses for the Pi:

  1. There’s a nice getting started post over at Engadget for getting your Pi up and running
  2. Retro Gaming Console:Engadget also has a nice starting point for setting up a retro gaming rig using your Raspberry Pi and some emulators
  3. Media Streaming: Raspbmc or OpenElec both work nicely for XMBC / media streaming, and can plug into any TV. Most TVs also have USB ports which can power the little computer as well. I’ve personally been preferring Raspbmc lately as it seems faster and more stable.
  4. Install the Chromium browser for better web browsing: Since your Raspberry Pi is already hooked up to your TV, why not enjoy some big screen surfing? You’ll need a better browser than Midori for this though, so try Chromium. Just drop into a Terminal and type: sudo apt-get install chromium-browser then hit Enter.
  5. Write Games: Scratch is a programming language that’s easy to get to grips with and easy to use, which makes it good for children to start learning with and for creating rich programming projects. Check out this tutorial, featuring a bonus cat.
  6. Run Firefox OS: Although still in the developmental stages, Oleg Romashin an engineer at Nokia, has managed to get Firefox OS running on the Raspberry Pi. FFOS isn’t out until next year, but check out what’s been achieved so far.
  7. BitTorrent Server: If you frequent the various Torrent sites, then why not create a dedicated lean Torrent machine? Just hook it up to your router and leave it to do its business. Full instructions, scripts and downloads come courtesy of the snapdragon:IT blog.
  8. Pi-powered Cloud Server:  Fancy building your very own cloud server? By using OwnCloud you can. Follow the instructions, and the customised script from petRockBlog and you’ll become your own cloud provider in no time.
  9. Home Automation: There’s a new product called PiFace that’s perfect for home automation. It hooks up to the RPi and allows it to detect switch states from a door sensor, a pressure pad or any number of other switch types.
  10. Raspberry Pi Cluster: Many Pi’s make light work. Check out these instructions from the University of Southampton to make a RPi Supercomputer.
  11. Make a wearable computer:  Interesting article on building a wearable Raspberry Pi, with the display on a pair of glasses and a keyboard on his arm.

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with your Raspberry Pi, I’m just giving some examples to get started. I’ll post some more on here later as I get more ideas for the Raspberry Pi, but the 10 or s0 examples above should be enough to get your started.