The BeagleBone is amazing! Given the proliferation of smartphones, the idea of holding in one hand a computer that is capable of performing two billion instructions per second is easy to take for granted—but the fact that you can modify the hardware and software of such a small yet powerful device and adapt it to suit your own needs and create your own inventions is nothing short of amazing. Even better, you can purchase it for as little as $45–$55.

The BeagleBone board on its own is too complex a device to be used by a general audience; it is the ability of the BeagleBone to run embedded Linux that makes the resulting platform accessible, adaptable, and powerful. Together, Linux and embedded systems enable ease of development for devices that can meet future challenges in smart buildings, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, smart energy, smart cities, human-computer interaction (HCI), cyber-physical systems, 3D printing, advanced vehicular systems, and many, many more applications.

The integration of high-level Linux software and low-level electronics represents a paradigm shift in embedded systems development. It is revolutionary that you can build a low-level electronics circuit and then install a Linux web server, using only a few short commands, so that the circuit can be controlled over the Internet. You can easily use the BeagleBone as a general-purpose Linux computer, but it is vastly more challenging and interesting to get underneath the hood and fully ...

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