Raspberry Pi Foundation: 1, Raspberry Pi Vendors: 0.

As mentioned in the article, the foundation was prepared, but the two retailers, Premier Farnell and RS Components, were instantly overwhelmed by traffic. I managed to get on one of them for about a minute, then got kicked out. I hope the next batch that goes on sale will have more vendors listed, as I’d expect a Raspberry Pi feeding frenzy for round No.2 as well.

OSNews is Exploring the Future of Computing with news on desktop, server, mobile, and specialty operating systems and new computing technology.

Linux System for $35!

So this $35 Raspberry Pi Beta Board is starting to really interest me. I read about it a few months back, without really thinking about its potential (nettop, NAS, server? who knows), and frankly, at $35 ($25 for the original) it sounded gimmicky. Now, just a few hours from the most likely official short sale event, with a “big and positive announcement” by the Ras-Pi foundation scheduled 2/29 at 0600 GMT, this board is all I can really think about. For a weird reason this is the most excited I’ve been about a hardware announcement since the June 2011 launch of Nokia’s N9 — ok, so that might not be such a good comparison…

What’s astonishing about this credit-card-sized board is that it houses a Broadcom BCM2835 (700MHz CPU), 256MB of SDRAM, Ethernet, and HDMI out, USB 2.0, and micro-USB for power. For $35! The OS will be booted off of an SD card, Fedora comes preinstalled but any ARM-capable Linux distro should be game on (Arch Linux, come back to papa!).

The anticipated sale will be for 10,000 units, which, if you believe forum speculations, will last about a couple of hours (2/29 edit: it lasted only a few minutes before the units were sold out and servers had crashed…), and I will feel like a 6-year old on Christmas if I manage to score one. Amazing what a $35 Linux bare-bones board can do to a middle-aged man!

Well done to everyone on the team. I can’t imagine how stressfull things must have been for you guys these past few weeks. You’ve earned some well deserved R&R. Jason Ozolins on February 2…

FXI Cotton Candy Linux mini-PC, faster than Ras-Pi, more expensive as well.

A mobile system running Android or Ubuntu, your choice, with dual-core Cortex A9 processor, quad-core Mali 400 graphics, WiFi and HDMI out. All for $200, available in March. Otoh, for $35 Raspberry Pi will be available very soon also, so I’m not sure which little-Linux entices me more.

The specs haven’t changed much since we last previewed FXI’s pocketable Cotton Candy PC at CES in January, but the tiny plastic shell has gotten a mild refresh ahead of a preorder program announced……

Waterfox for 64-bit systems

These might be already old tricks, but I’ve found them quite useful on a 64-bit system:

1. Waterfox browser, the 64-bit variant of Firefox [http://waterfoxproj.sourceforge.net/]
2. Speeding up browsing by moving cache to RAM [http://lifehacker.com/5687850/speed-up-firefox-by-moving-your-cache-to-ram-no-ram-disk-required]

Waterfox is a high performance browser based on the Mozilla Firefox source code. Made specifically for 64-Bit systems, Waterfox has one thing in mind: speed.

Corsair K90 Keyboard

After a few years with Logitech’s MK700 wireless keyboard, I decided it was time for an upgrade, and went for the new Corsair K90 mechanical keyboard.

The Logitech wireless was in fact a good keyboard, it worked as advertised, provided good battery life, and tactile feedback was decent. The only thing missing really, was back lighting. I often end up working on the computer ’til the wee hours of the morning, and realized my typing-in-the-dark would be so much more fun, if I had a keyboard with back lighting.

So, I got myself this aluminum cased, blue backlit mechanical keyboard by Corsair. Corsair, as you may know is mostly known for their RAM memory and HDD’s, but recently they have been making a splash in gaming accessories with their Vengeance line-up, with gaming mice, keyboards and headsets being the focus. The K90 is their attempt of making a mechanical gaming keyboard good enough for everyday heavy-duty typing — or maybe it’s the other way around: a mechanical keyboard built for heavy-duty typing that also excels in gaming?

My verdict so far: mmmkay. At $130, this is not exactly an inexpensive keyboard option, and it is one with some flaws and compromises.

If you are not familiar, mechanical keyboards are the sort of the tried-and-true old school option to the modern dome/membrane cheap(er) keyboards one can pick up anywhere from $10-$100. The K90 employs Cherry® MX Red key switches, i.e. there is a mechanical switch for each and every key — well, actually not quite, more on that later — allowing deeper key travel with an accompanying enjoyable (or annoying, depending on your preference) loudish click every time you press a key. The Cherry® MX Red is slightly quieter, and has slightly shallower travel, than a Cherry® Blue switch, and as such is a compromise between gaming performance and typing efficiency.

The K90 compromises where it employs the mechanical switches. Where the mechanical switches are actually not found, are in function key row, including the Esc key, the Insert/Delete/Home/End cluster, and the included programmable “G” keys on the very left of the keyboard. Most of the time my fingers are solidly on the QWERTY section of any keyboard, so not having mechanical switches on F-keys, or some less frequently ventured keyboard areas seem like not a big deal. But on that odd occasion when you do use a let’s say the “Home” or “Esc” key, you are treated with a not so clicking and free traveling keystroke, but instead more of a “thump”. Again, not really a deal breaker, but for the price, couldn’t Corsair just go all in with the Cherry switches and not skimp on here and there?

Now to the back lighting. I have an Alienware M11X I use extensively, with a decent backlit keyboard (granted to get it to work on my previous Arch Linux, and current Linux Mint installation, is, if not impossible, not exactly easy). It’s not exactly sophisticated, and with plenty of flashing lights and multitude of colors available, one might call it even cheesy. But for s sub-$1000 ultraportable, you can’t have the cake and eat it too. On the other hand, for a $130 purpose-built external keyboard (close to $150 in CA with taxes), you sort of want to eat the cake, and, you know… So why did Corsair give me measily three brightness levels for backlighting? 33%, 66% and 100% lighting levels. Or to translate, these will be “bright”, “brighter” and “other room lighting optional…”. Now the night-typing challenge is not how to see the keyboard, but how to match the screen and room brightness with very bright backlighting of the keyboard. The end result is workable, but again, c’mon Corsair, couldn’t you tone it down just a bit?

But all is not lost with the K90. When you type on it, it does feel like a solid, well-built quality product. I like the aluminum roller for volume control, as well as the minimalistic media playback buttons above the numeric keypad. I haven’t done much gaming with the K90 yet, so the programmable keys and configurations for games have yet to truly reveal themselves, but the glimpses I’ve gotten so far (for example, I’ve programmed several “G” keys for different web browsers, email client, DreamWeaver etc) indicate there’s much more this keyboard can bring to the table.

The K90, and its sibling, the K60, does offer mostly a good bang for your buck. These are Corsair’s intro to gaming keyboards, and as such, they will not be perfect. Even if you are not a gamer, but are just looking for a solid, backlit mechanical keyboard, the K90 is in my opinion, mostly worth the price premium.