Create your own operating system for the bite-sized PC
The University of Cambridge has launched a free online course designed to help programming enthusiasts write their own operating system for the Raspberry Pi computer.
Called “Baking Pi – Operating Systems Development”, the course consists of twelve lessons, introducing the basics of assembly language programming and OS building to people who don’t have much experience with either.
Raspberry Pi, created by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, is a basic ARM-powered computer that can be connected to a TV or monitor via HDMI. It can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, including office work, Internet browsing and high-definition video playback – all possible through a circuit board the size of a credit card – but its real purpose is educational play.
Created by Alex Chadwick and the University of Cambridge Computer lab, “Baking Pi” will take the students through the basic components of an operating system, teach them how to manipulate one of the board’s LED lights and build a USB driver. Then, it’s time to write basic code to manipulate text and graphics.
After finishing the course, the students will be able to create their own command line interface and build upon it to produce a unique, if simplistic operating system.
The programme was designed for people aged 16 and older. Each lesson includes both theory and a practical exercise, with examples and downloadable solutions for every stage of the project. Chadwick plans to add more lessons to the course in the future.
Although “Baking Pi” is aimed at the beginners, it should not be taken lightly. “It’s not easy, and it’s not meant to be; we expect you to find this course challenging – and you should find you come out of it with a great deal of skill and knowledge that you didn’t have before,” wrote Liz Upton, Foundation’s communication officer, on the Raspberry Pi blog.
The interest for “bare-metal” programming on Raspberry Pi has been so great that the Foundation had to open a separate section of the forum to accommodate all the enthusiastic bit bashers.
Since its launch in February, the miniature computer fan community has been growing at a steady rate. This month saw the release of the fifth issue of the MagPi – the magazine written by Raspberry Pi owners, fro Raspberry Pi owners. You can find all of the past issues here.
Last month, the miniature computer had finally arrived on the high street, with electronics specialist Maplin starting to take pre-orders for a £69.99 “starter kit”.
Interesting projects on the Raspberry Pi include an installation of the new Firefox OS mobile operating system, which Mozilla is promising of phones.
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