The Raspberry Pi Foundation hired a former technical overseer as its creator. Amid controversy surrounding his background, the organization has doubled down on its decision.

Raspberry Pi Foundation hires former police officer

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, a charity based in the UK, has taken on an ex-technical monitoring officer named Toby Roberts. Roberts was once with the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which specializes in dealing with organized crime and terrorism threats.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation headed to Twitter to announce its new hire, who will take on the role of Maker-in-Residence.

A Raspberry Pi Foundation news post was also released, which goes into more depth about Roberts in an interview.

Roberts said that he “made stuff to hide video, audio and other covert gear” during his time at ERSOU to avoid “searches for sensitive police equipment”. Roberts also noted that he “started playing with the Raspberry Pi hardware at home at the same time [he] started using Linux at work”. It is clear that he is highly skilled at disguising surveillance technology as everyday objects.

While their capabilities are impressive, this new development has drawn a good deal of negativity from the public.

Raspberry Pi users are worried about this new hire

After the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the hiring of Toby Roberts on Twitter, other users began voicing their concerns about what that might mean. One person commented “Any recommendations for an alternative board?”, another said they need the Raspberry Pi Foundation “to understand how bad this is and how proud you are not to work with the police on surveillance technology” should be”.

People also took to other sites like YCombinator to discuss the issue. One user commented on the YCombinator thread that it would be beneficial if the company “clarified [Roberts’] role”, as the details are currently quite vague.

Raspberry Pi Foundation defends its decision

Although reaction was mostly negative to this new development, the Raspberry Pi Foundation publicly defended its decision.

Some Twitter users also claimed that they were blocked by the Raspberry Pi account after voicing their opinion on the matter, as you can see in the post below.

Another user posted an alleged screenshot from the Raspberry Pi Mastodon server. In the screenshot, it looks like the Raspberry Pi account responded a bit unprofessionally to a critical comment, saying that “[Roberts] lightsabers makes James. Chill.”

When another commenter asked if they were really serious in their reply, the Raspberry Pi account responded by saying that they should unfollow them if they are not happy with the situation.

Another Twitter user posted several screenshots purportedly from the Mastodon servers, displaying more examples of Raspberry Pi account interactions.

In a screenshot, the Raspberry Pi account told a user “if you’re able to read more than a few words in the title, you’ll understand”. Of course, this conduct drew additional criticism from the Raspberry Pi community.

We’re yet to see the full extent of Roberts’ role in Raspberry Pi

Reaction to Tony Roberts’ hiring has been overwhelmingly negative, so it seems more clarification is needed on his role at the Foundation. Otherwise, people will fill in the blanks and guess wildly.

It’s hard to get hold of a new Raspberry Pi. Supply chain issues and demand from the educational sector have resulted in a shortage of the popular single-board computer (SBC).

But do you really need a brand new Raspberry Pi for your project? With so many Raspberry Pi options to consider, there’s a good chance you may find yourself modifying your needs and trying a different SBC.

It should also be affordable. With so many Raspberry Pi competitors out there, finding an alternative can be difficult. But with a shortage of the Raspberry Pi 3B board, Raspberry Pi 3A board, and Raspberry Pi 4S, the popular credit card-sized SBC is proving difficult to get hold of. Raspberry Pi Compute Modules are also hard to come by.

To help you find the best board for your project, we’ve compiled this list of 4 alternatives to the Raspberry Pi.

1. Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W is a smart choice

It may be half the size and more similar to the Raspberry Pi 3 than the Raspberry Pi 4, but a lot of people are counting on the Raspberry Pi Zero 2W. However, this option won’t give you the same level of processing power and not as much RAM.

That’s more than enough to handle basic desktop computing, video streaming/media center use, and retro gaming. Many other Raspberry Pi-based projects will run on the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. In addition, most Raspberry Pi operating systems will also run on the computer.

In the meantime, if the lack of standard USB-A and Ethernet ports is a problem, consider an expansion board.

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