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Google Launches Coder For Raspberry Pi

Open source project provides a starter Web server for aspiring programmers.

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Google has released a free software project called Coder that can turn a Raspberry Pi device into a Web server and provide an environment for novice programmers to practice building functional Web code.

Raspberry Pi is a computer the size of a credit card that can be connected to a TV or monitor and keyboard. Launched last year, the ARM-based Linux-powered device comes as an exposed circuit board, without a case. It costs between $25 and $35 and is aimed at hobbyists, hackers or anyone who wants an affordable way to experiment with open source computing.

In April, the Raspberry Pi Foundation said that it sold more than a million of the devices as of January of this year, which is probably in the same general range as the number of Google Chromebooks sold in the past year. The success of the Raspberry Pi offers a counterpoint to ongoing reports of declining PC sales.

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Coder, explained Jason Striegel, creative technologist at Google Creative Lab, in a blog post, is "an open source tool that turns Raspberry Pi into a simple, tiny, personal Web server and Web-based development environment — just what you need for crafting HTML, CSS and JavaScript while you're learning to code."

To install Coder, currently on version 0.4, the user must download the Coder SD card image and transfer it to an SD card using either an OS X or Windows utility app. With the SD card in the Raspberry Pi's SD card slot, power the Raspberry Pi up and then visit the URL http://coder.local using either Chrome or Internet Explorer running on another computer on the same network.

As long as the Coder Web server is used behind a firewall, like a router, it will be accessible only to machines on the local network. It's intended to be a personal Web sandbox rather than a production Web server.

Coder is an open source project and those who wish to contribute to code fixes or improvements may do so.

By giving Coder to the world, Google is continuing its evangelization of Web technology and Web-based development, in which it has bet heavily through its investments in its Chrome browser and Chrome OS.

Last week, Google launched Chrome Web Apps, a way to package Web apps so they run outside the Web browser, in their own windows, as if they were native desktop applications. And on Wednesday, Google and Intel said a forthcoming generation of Chromebooks will be based on Intel's Haswell chipset.

Two additional hardware partners have signed on to make these fourth-generation Chromebooks: Asus and Toshiba.

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