Raspberry Pi launch crashes sales sites

The cheap Linux computer, aimed at getting children into programming, has finally gone on sale, with demand bringing down the websites of its vendors
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The ultra-cheap Raspberry Pi computer went on sale on Wednesday morning, with a torrent of demand crashing the websites of the companies selling it.

Raspberry Pi board

Demand for the cheap Raspberry Pi computer has crashed vendors' websites. Image credit: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a £22 ARM-based Linux computer aimed at getting children into programming — a cheaper, £16 version is set to arrive soon. The credit card-sized devices are being manufactured in China, but also in the UK, under a licensed manufacturing agreement that will see the Raspberry Pi Foundation charity receive royalties.

Apparently some of you are VERY ANGRY. We're really sorry; it's out of our hands.
– Raspberry Pi Foundation

It was the British manufacturers, Premier Farnell and RS Components, who started offering the Raspberry Pi in the early hours of Wednesday morning, albeit not for very long. Both companies' sites were swiftly brought down by the weight of demand.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation's own site temporarily shifted to showing just a static page, but Premier Farnell and RS Components's sites were effectively broken for a while.

"We warned both partners, but the traffic has been just ridiculous," the foundation said in one of a long series of exasperated posts to Twitter. Another message read: "We're so frustrated about the DDoS effect — and apparently some of you are VERY ANGRY. We're really sorry; it's out of our hands."

Both RS Components and Premier Farnell have their sites back up and running, and are now taking pre-orders for the Raspberry Pi.

As the foundation explained on its site, both of the companies have the capacity to build the devices to match demand, and both have worldwide distribution networks so people in other countries do not have to have the computers shipped from the Foundation itself.

At the moment, customers can only order one Raspberry Pi each. The foundation said batch ordering would become possible in about a month's time. As educational use of the cheap computer would involve batch quantities, this would suggest that those accidentally crashing the suppliers' sites on Wednesday morning were individual enthusiasts rather than schools.

Although the government has not actively funded the Raspberry Pi initiative, it has been vocally supportive. Education secretary Michael Gove said in January that the scheme "could bring the same excitement as the BBC Micro did in the 1980s", and that it was "being carefully watched by education and technology experts all over the world".

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