Raspberry Pi? Buying frenzy crashes website

Raspberry Pi? Buying frenzy crashes website

Summary: Overwhelming demand for the Raspberry Pi computer has overwhelmed its website on launch.


A new British computer that costs a mere £22 ($35) has experienced such high levels of demand that its website crashed.

Launched this morning at 6.00 am GMT, the credit-card sized Linux computer immediately sold out -- crashing not only the official launch website but also other manufacturers that sell the machine.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has had to replace the original website with a static page offering details of sales partners and offering updates via its @Raspberry_Pi Twitter account. The website message reads:

"We've temporarily changed to a static site, while we're experiencing a very high level of traffic for the launch of the Raspberry Pi. The full site will return once traffic levels have subsided, hopefully later on today."

Today's sales were limited to one per customer, so as many people as possible could purchase one of the devices.

The high demand for such a machine is uncommon in the relatively quiet tech sphere in the UK, of which the first model was originally intended purely for developers to write software that can be used on the machine.

Rather than simply developers attempting to purchase it, the general public also want to own their own device -- which has caused the shutting-down of the launch site due to such overwhelming demand.

The scheme, years in the making, is aimed at encouraging children to learn how to both control and program computers -- potentially helping to bridge an ever-widening skills gap in the technological and business industries. At such a small price (and perhaps even cheaper if bought in bulk), many schools would be able to purchase a number of them for students to use.

The younger generation may be considered more tech-savvy than their elders, however, knowing how to access social networks or use Microsoft Office applications does not necessarily equate to knowing how the software actually works -- a skills gap that many businesses and organisations are now coming across.

The Raspberry Pi is sold uncased and comes with a USB port for a keyboard, an Ethernet port, SD card slot, a HDMI port for video and is able to run a number of systems. In order to use the Raspberry Pi, users must supply their own keyboard and screen.

The $35 version runs as a Linux computer with 256MB RAM -- although a £16 ($25) version is in the making and will be available later in the year.

Created by volunteers, mainly from technological and academic circles, the Raspberry Pi Foundation hopes that it will help inspire children to learn how to program. The charity was set up by Eben Upton, who thought up the idea five years ago after becoming concerned over the lack of knowledge displayed by university applicants in the fields of computing and programming.

It is hoped that the strong community of developers and enthusiasts now surrounding the Raspberry Pi will develop additional software and perhaps other avenues in which the device can be used.

Within a month, the company hope they will be able to take batch orders for the computers with two manufacturers, Premier Farnell and RS Components. As the Raspberry Pi Foundation has entered into licensing agreement with the two manufacturers, production will be scaled to meet demand -- and if we take the launch day into account, that is likely to be beyond the charity's expectations.


Topics: Processors, Browser, Hardware, Software Development

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  • Not impressivve...

    The device might have been cheaper than the competition but it isn't as impressive as them either.
    • ????

      It is quite impressive for its purpose. You just do not get it. It is not supposed to be running nexuiz....
    • Valuable feedback

      Thanks. Now I know to not waste a whole 22quid on a credit card sized computer. I was expecting a quad core with bluray player and 2tb disk. :oD
      • Actually...

        ...the board has decent graphics acceleration and has been shown running the XBMC media center and playing back HD video, so it is quite powerful in that area for the price. I expect a lot of people will be turning these into micro home media centers.
    • So, what is their competition?

      Arduino? I doubt it. Windows, probably not. Apple, just maybe. McDonalds? Lloyd's Bank?
      • It doesnt have any.

        The Pi is a game-changer, its designed to be everything that modern computers are not.
        No case, no keyboard, no screen sounds like a niche hobby computer from the 80s or early 90s, and thats exactly what its trying to do. It just has modern hardware, HD graphics and networking to attract the more savvy youngster, which is where the older hobby systems (Arduino, Stamp and PIC) fail - kids arent interested in blinking LEDs and motors any more, they want flash graphics, killer sound and robotics hanging off it.

        Schools have been beholden to the industry for a long time, and the Microsoft paradigm that teaches kids that computers are PCs that run Windows is about to be broken. The Pi has an ARM11 core and wont run Windows, or indeed Wine, which isnt compiled for ARM - its designed to be a cheap prototyping platform as well as a building block. Its also designed to be open and shared, which is why it'll never run Windows, and also why the foundation have leveraged manufacturing numbers to bring the price down to 'pocket money' prices.

        Just as soon as they are delivering hardware, I'm getting one to play with. For the price, why not?
  • Opening Statement

    Your opening statement is wrong:
    "A new British computer that costs a mere ??22 ($35) has experienced such high levels of demand that its website crashed."

    It wasn't their website that crashed. It was the website's of the new suppliers (Farnell and RS Components) who's sites crashed. They are major component suppliers with worldwide departments, and they couldn't handle the additional traffic that was brought to them from http://www.raspberrypi.org.
    • crash

      It was forced to take down its original website and replace it with a static HTML page in order to cope.
      • The switch to a static page was planned.

        I've been following this project for a while now. They had planned ahead of time to switch to a static page as they were expecting a large surge in traffic. So it didn't actually crash, they were planning to do it all along.
  • Good on them!

    but it should be noted that nobody can really know it all end to end. Systems are too complex. Similarly, just because I know how to write script, does not mean I know how to program. Both are needed though. Jack of all trades is still a master of none.
    • Sounds a bit defeatist

      Just because you are not a master of a trade, does not mean, it isn't useful to know a little bit about it. If you do DIY, you may not be as good as the professional, but taking your time you may be able to do a good job of it. I'm not a programmer, but at least knowing how to code allows me to pickup on almost anything pretty quickly. I'm not a web designer, but at least knowing how to use graphics editors and WYSIWYG's and tags gives me the ability to dabble. I'm not an electronics engineer, but at least I understand electricity and most electronic components and how they work. Definitely no CPU designer, but at least I understand the arithmetic, logic, registers, pointers and cache.

      The younger generation have grown up with ghz CPU's, GUI's and drag'n'drop programming. You need at least some of them to have an appreciation for the history and development of of computers and more importantly how it all works because otherwise what do you have really?
  • Just like a Woot Off.

    I tried to get one here in the mountain region of the US (11:00 PM last night).

    It was like a woot off! The servers fell down, then they were sold out! I expected it to be tough, with only 10,000 of them to be had, but this was more than I expected. I guess I will need to wait a few months until manufacture can ramp up to cope. Until then, I am in 8 bit land with my Arduino. Once this is out, the Arduino becomes an IO board for it. Should be fun.
    • Also an unsuccessful US shopper

      I, too, hopped over to the Raspberry Pi site shortly before 10:00p PST last night. Quite pleased by their foresight in replacing their dynamic site with an informative static webpage. Equally disappointed that their distribution partners couldn't keep up with the traffic.

      What really frustrated me, though, was that neither distributor seemed to have their act together in regards to actually allowing a user to purchase the device. One of them kept redirecting me to a "register an interest" page (which caused the RPi team to issue a "you're seeing the wrong page" message: https://twitter.com/#!/Raspberry_Pi/status/174737984413896704 ). The other site consistently failed to add the item to their shopping cart, displaying a "part number not found" error even though the part number matched the info on their "buy now" page.

      While I want one of these suckers as soon as possible, I can wait for their next production run. As any experienced computer person knows, there are pros & cons to being early adopters. :)

      Side note: Kudos to the RPi PR team - I felt they did an excellent job preparing for the onslaught, and then actively interacting with the community during the sale and continuing for hours after the distributors ran out of stock.
    • Me too, and I'm in the UK

      I was there at 6am, having been following the PI for a while now. I have to say I didnt think it would ever come out, literal Pi in the sky, but its here. Snapped up in seconds as well, I knew it'd go off, but I wasnt expecting the bunfight that happened...

      I have to agree with your assessment of the Arduino. I've got a couple of Unos and they are great for driving servos which the Pi's GPIO pins arent exactly designed for. The Uno however is useless for scanning a video image and making fuzzy decisions because of the memory and speed, so the two together would make a decent platform to build a robot from...

      The good news is the foundation is only allowing one per customer for now, and they have secured some pretty extensive manufacturing so there should be plenty to go around. RPF look pretty serious about what they are doing!
  • Decisions, decisions ...

    Should I splurge the extra $10 for the premium version? Decisions, decisions.
  • Expect these on ebay and Craigslist?

    Curious to see how many of these end up on ebay and Craigslist at ridiculously inflated prices like the HP Touchpads.
  • Raspberry Pi ? ? ?

    Wonder how long it will be before APPLE PI comes out?
    Didn't Apple patent PI for PC's a long time ago?
    What's next?. . .
    Blueberry PI phone
    Ice cream sandwich phone and PI
    PE-PI-PO-PUM, I smell the bloody courts over flow'n again!
    PI in the SKY (mini/micro CLOUD computing)
    • Apple Pi in the sky

      You can't patent a greek word and Apple wouldn't know how to build a useful piece of tech.
      • Useful, sort of, but

        Beautiful, yes! However, I drive a truck, so I have a useful machine, not a beautiful one. I value function over form too much, I guess.
  • Cracking the crust

    This is a gamechanger. Build a cluster for 250 quid. Oh my.