Alternate operating systems (other than those from Microsoft and Apple) have been used and are being used in everyday items, such as iPhones, iPads, and other old (servers) and new technologies. One of the newly touted 'computers' for sale is a very small computer out of Britain. It is the 'Raspberry Pi'. It is still in mock up phase but is an attractive idea and the creators claim it will only cost about $25. I say bah! Our students can make their very own versions of the 'Raspberry Pi' using flash drives and their old computer parts and come out ahead. Familiarity with alternate OSs is the main goal, although opening up thought processes to create and engineer new designs of computers comes in a close second intention.
In this lesson, students will load a simple linux OS onto a flash drive. They will then take a computer that has had the hard drive removed (or otherwise rendered useless), insert the flash drive into a USB port, and turn the computer on. (The computer will have been previously set to boot to the USB device first.) The computer will go through the POST and boot up, loading the linux OS from the flash drive (instead of the hard drive) and run just like any other computer.