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How to set up a computer lab for less than $1500 with Raspberry Pi

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Come back for more Raspberry Pi articles[1] next week as we celebrate 3.14 on March 14, 2018.

Setting up a typical school computer lab with computers, monitors, keyboards, cables, switches, and more can quickly become very expensive. In developing and less prosperous countries (which comprise the largest part of the world), it's common for several hundred students to share a single computer. Even in the developed world, small schools and clubs with small budgets often are poorly equipped with technology.

The Raspberry Pi[2] offers a low-cost alternative to traditional, expensive school computer labs. In fact, with Raspberry Pi, it's possible to set up a complete, reliable, low-maintenance computer lab for under US$ 1,500.

Computer lab requirements

If you would like others to use the computer lab, the system must have few technical hurdles and be easy to manage[3] (e.g., management shouldn't take several hours per week).

In my opinion, these are the minimum requirements for a school computer lab:

  • Is easy to use
  • Quickly establishes a target state
  • Offers short start times
  • Has reliable infrastructure
  • Is continuously virus- and malware-free
  • Is low-maintenance

Ingredients

Hardware

If you have a US$ 1,500 budget to set up a computer lab, it's crucial to save money on hardware. Most of the things students do in a computer room today require only a browser and possibly an office suite. They don't need the latest, most powerful hardware. A set of Raspberry Pis or used computers is quite sufficient.

You can set up a lab with 12 Raspberry Pi workstations within this budget with the following:

  • Server: It can be an older (3–7 years old) computer with a larger

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