The Raspberry Pi Won’t Fit Into an Altoids Tin

Slaw readers will have noticed a tendency among some of us who write here to geek out from time to time — about things other than law, I mean. I’m going to indulge here about a new bit of tech, so fair warning. (There is a slender link between the tech discussed here and law, if that helps you stay involved…)

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer invented in England and selling for $35. It was conceived and built by a charity with the aim of making computers available to schoolchildren in order to have them learn how to write code. It has ports to let you connect up a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor, though an HDMI connector makes it possible to hook it up to a TV. You turn it on by plugging it in and turn it off by pulling the plug. That’s it.

Launched last week, it sold out within moments. Indeed, the demand was so high the site crashed and had to be replaced with a static page. (The commercial site is still “unavailable,” as it happens.)

You need an SD card loaded with Fedora (a version of Linux) software to operate the Raspberry Pi. And there’s a Canadian connection here: the people who developed the particular version of Fedora are from Seneca College, here in Toronto. You can see them explain what they’ve done in this video.

Those who are truly into this sort of thing will find more information about the Pi on the site’s FAQ page., where you’ll also learn that, alas, it’s not yet small enough to fit inside an Altoids tin, that “modder’s” delight.

The link to law? Oh yes. Well, apart from the fact that a smart firm could save a few bucks here, because the thing costs way less than even one Microsoft license — heck, it’s a computer that costs less than half a dozen fancy coffees — it lies in the fact that a Brit law firm is proud enough to have been involved in drafting the OEM agreement that it posted about that fact. What is an OEM contract you ask? Law geekery informs us that OEM stands for “original equipment manufacturer” and has contradictory uses, referring either to a company that makes parts that are bought for use in others’ products or one that buys components produced by someone else for incorporation into their product. I imagine that here the OEM contracts dealt with the second connotation.


  1. The Altoids tin is a relatively recent concept. In my younger day, I built electronic projects into 2Oz Golden Virginia tobacco tins. I’ll be getting one ready for a ‘Pi.

  2. The Maker Movement could have a lot of fun with a device like that! See The Economist Monitor: Move than just digital quilting It will be great if more kids get interested in technology.