I know last time out on The one with the Pi, I said the next 'piece of Pi' would be about Kodi, but I just got so fired up when I was thinking about how bad the devices we give our kids for school are so I changed tack.

Mostly loaded with Microsoft (if the kids are lucky) they might have an iPad. Now don't get me wrong, I prefer an iPad over Windows computers anyday but what if I told you that for around 100 euros you can get your kids a perfect yet secure computer setup and that you don't have to be a geek to set it up.

I am talking about the Raspberry Pi 400, your kids complete schooling computer, built into a compact keyboard.

Most people when thinking about the Raspberry Pi think about the do-it-yourself kits, which more recently come as complete starter kits including the OS re-installed. Yet, the Raspberry Pi 400 is more than these starter kits, it's a keyboard with a built-in computer.

“Featuring a quad-core 64-bit processor, 4 GB of RAM, wireless networking, dual-display output, and 4K video playback, as well as a 40-pin GPIO header, Raspberry Pi 400 is a powerful, easy-to-use computer built into a neat and portable keyboard.”

Now you get an idea of how it looks but how is it on day to day tasks? How does it hold up versus the kids school tasks?

The Raspberry Pi is a pretty amazing little computer, it's small yet powerful, and is straightforward to set up. The usability is as simple as you wish a computer to be. Based on our Pi write-ups, you know you can use them to automatically launch things, or host your own bitcoin lightning setup, you can use them for watching or listening to music, it's just easy for many things. Perhaps a Retro Gaming setup — oh yes its upcoming, but did you ever think of using it for your full computer replacement?

After you unbox the little monster, simply plug it to a monitor (or two!) or even to a TV. Start it up and finish the setup, make sure you update all apps.

The base of the Raspberry Pi OS comes with Claws Mail installed, what is a lightweight email client, but of course, its Linux, so you can install any other email client.

You have a chromium browser installed. I prefer a non-chromium browser and installed GNOME web, go to the terminal and type:

sudo apt install epiphany

You can also install apps from the app package manager

  • Go into the Applications menu
  • Open the System submenu
  • Click on Add/Remove software

In the window that opens you have two possibilities:

  • Either use the search tool on the top left to find a package
  • Or use the category browser to list all apps from a category

Once you have found your package, check the box next to the package name and click the Apply button in the bottom

It's that simple, just like on any other Linux version.

Depending on the Raspberry Linux version you choose during setup you should have a LibreOffice and some other great tools pre-installed, if not, you can install it over the app package manager.

VLC

I think that many people will have  heard of VLC. It lets you open Media files like .mkv, .avi, .mp3/4. VLC is, of course, open-source and should be the best solution for your kids to open most media files they will receive from their teachers.

The Raspberry Pi 400 has no webcam built in, so Zoom and other apps will not work 'out of the box' but an external webcam would do to get things up and running. As always I would recommend using this kinda apps on the browser and not on a dedicated app.

Stay safe and think about what you can do to make your kids schooling safer. A Raspberry Pi could be just the solution which saves you money but which also lets your kid work in a safer environment. You should always consider separating the devices they use for school from those they use to watch YouTube, play games and communicate with other kids in their free time. This keeps private life away from school life and helps to close them down when done.

But, of course, the Raspberry Pi (any of them) can also be your office computer, for writing articles ( perhaps even for here on decentralize.today ) or for research.

It is also a great travel companion that you can fit in your suitcase and then plug into the TV in the hotel. It is very light and again you can easily separate your private and your work lives by using the Pi as your office and/or home office PC.