This week's New Scientist has an interesting interview - login required - with Linus Torvalds, the initiator and leading light in the creation of the Linux operating system that powers the Web and sits at the heart of Android.
Torvalds makes a couple of interesting points - emphasis added below - about the Raspberry Pi and about why open source software matters so much for the coming "Internet of things".
Q. What about Raspberry Pi, a Linux-based computer costing $25? Will that change things?
A. What's interesting about Raspberry Pi is that it's so cheap almost anybody can buy it as a throwaway - throwaway in the very good sense that it could get people involved in computers who otherwise wouldn't be. For a lot of people, it will be a toy gathering dust, but if 1 per cent of the people who buy it are introduced to computers and embedded programs, that's huge. It can get people into the mindset of using a computer to do everyday jobs that even five years ago it would have been ridiculous to use a computer for because they were big and expensive. With Pi, you can say, I wouldn't use a real computer for this, but maybe it can control my water heater.
Q. Is a future where homes are run by computer only possible with open source? If Raspberry Pi had to run Windows, would it be too expensive?
A. Yes. Open source is a very powerful way to try something new. The thing about trying something new is that 999 out of 1000 cases will fail. Having this, easy entry into trying something new means having one case where it works is very good. Raspberry Pi is a way to allow experimentation on an even smaller scale because you have the hardware, too. When you aim for that price you can't afford not to use a free, open operating system.
For some other views see Donald Clark's Raspberry Pi: 7 reasons why it won't work, Google's Eric Schmidt applauds the $35 Raspberry Pi computer, and Mark Johnson's Raspberry Pi: A computer that doesn't matter.