Updated January 4, 2022
The Raspberry Pi has come a long way from educational device to IoT endpoint. Here’s everything you need to know about the world’s favorite little computing device.
The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit card-sized computer with big ambitions. Originally, it was made to teach tech newcomers about computers. Thanks to the ever ingenious nature of IT leaders, however, the potential use cases for the device expanded far beyond academia. Today, the Raspberry Pi is used in a plethora of settings by enterprises and organizations around the world.
History of the Raspberry Pi
Before we dive into what the Raspberry Pi is used for today, however, we should take a look back at its inception. The Raspberry Pi traces its roots back to a Cambridge laboratory in 2006. There, a group of computer scientists concerned with the general lack of understanding students had about computers thought up a way to educate them. Thus, the Raspberry Pi was invented, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation formed. Thanks to the Raspberry Pi, schools could inexpensively provide their students with computers. Young people now had access to education on computer programming.
Since then, the Raspberry Pi has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.
What’s with the Name?
Not to be confused with any other pie, the Raspberry Pi’s name comes as an allusion to the phrase “blowing a Raspberry” which was how the Raspberry Pi’s founder, Eben Upton, viewed the project at the time. Plus, a lot of computers are named after fruit so Upton wanted to continue in that tradition. The “Pi” part is not in reference to a tasty desert, but rather to “Python” which was used with the first Raspberry Pi ever created.
Working As a Business Device
Naturally, once the Raspberry Pi caught on, tech enthusiasts and innovators began to wonder about additional applications for the Raspberry Pi. Sure, the Pi’s use in fun tech projects is legendary. But could the Pi be used in a business environment?
The question became a serious one with the release of the Pi 2B and then the 3B versions. These updated Raspberry Pis showed great advancements in terms of power and flexibility when compared to the original Raspberry Pi. Right under IT’s nose, an alternative, next-evolution endpoint had taken shape.
From this early stage, tech leaders saw the possibility of the Pi. One promising application was that of a VDI thin client. However, there were several problems standing in the way of the Raspberry Pi and becoming a true alternative endpoint.
Perceived Challenges with the new “VDI” Device
The Raspberry Pi had all the trappings and promise of a VDI device. Like x86 thin clients, the Raspberry Pi is bare bones, and supports various Linux distributions. It also offers competitive security, as well as the benefit of a small form factor. But before the Raspberry Pi could even be conceived as a VDI device, a few challenges had to be overcome.
One concern was the fact that the current Raspberry Pi models did not include native support for dual monitor display. Because dual monitors are standard in enterprise settings, this was a major hurdle to overcome. Indeed, it wouldn’t be overcome entirely until the release of the Raspberry Pi 4.
Raspberry Pis also faced a management crisis. In an enterprise setting, IT managers must be able to easily and securely manage all endpoints. Additionally, most endpoint deployments already contained x86 Thin Clients. How do you add Raspberry Pis into the mix, and how can you manage both together?
Lastly, it seemed unlikely an OS existed that was capable of running on a Raspberry Pi device. It had to be minimal enough, powerful enough, and be ready to connect to VDI solutions providers directly out of the box. IT managers can’t be at each and every location that a device is needed. Setting up the Pi-based Thin Client would need to be streamlined
The First Major Leap Towards An Enterprise Ready Pi
Despite the challenges, the first major breakthrough towards an enterprise ready Pi device occurred when Stratodesk, Citrix, NComputing and ViewSonic collaborated on the Citrix Ready workspace hub. The Citrix Ready workspace hub was powered and managed by Stratodesk NoTouch software, built on NComputing and ViewSonic hardware, and backed by Citrix technology, with the Citrix Workspace app preinstalled.
A Comparison Between Raspberry Pis and Traditional, x86 Thin Clients
With an enterprise grade Raspberry Pi now available in production environments, IT leaders faced a choice: whether to use the Raspberry Pi or a more traditional, x86 device.Both could achieve similar things. However, major differences exist between the two.
The Traditional Thin Client Option
Traditional Thin Clients are the proven standard for end user computing. In situations where more powerful hardware is necessary, it might be the right choice for you to invest in a traditional thin client. The impact of purchasing pricier devices might also be felt less if you are only purchasing a few thin clients, as opposed to purchasing thousands.
The Raspberry Pi Advantage
In most other situations, however, the Raspberry Pi holds its own. It can access virtual apps and desktops securely, and can be installed and setup at remote locations without IT hassle. Also, the price-point of the Raspberry Pi cannot be beaten.
The Pi 4 Revolution
Although already a major success, the Raspberry Pi VDI endpoint was about to undergo yet another upheaval. This was thanks to the Raspberry Pi 4. Equipped with next generation capabilities including native dual screen, 4k support, USB 3.0, enriched CPU and GPU, and up to 4 GB RAM, the Raspberry Pi 4 further established the Raspberry Pi as a viable alternative to x86 Thin Clients.
What’s more, Stratodesk solidified its mark as the de facto Thin Client OS for Raspberry Pi when it announced day one support for the Pi 4.
Going Above and Beyond the Pi Thin Client
Today, the Raspberry Pi is an established device for next-evolution end user computing. However, end user computing is not the end of Raspberry Pi innovation. In fact, the Raspberry Pi is already being used in a number of exciting and new ways, including in IoT deployments. It is used in healthcare, in education, in manufacturing and beyond in order to solve an increasing number of use cases that plague workers, business leaders, city planners, and beyond.
Stratodesk software works with these Raspberry Pi IoT endpoints. Indeed, even the early manifestations of the Citrix Ready workspace hub contained IoT capabilities, like Citrix Casting and proximity authentication. As we head into the future, Raspberry Pis will be used to solve even more creative use cases. And NoTouch software is the ideal platform to make this vision into a reality.