4273π: bioinformatics education on low cost ARM hardware.
Barker D., Ferrier DE., Holland PW., Mitchell JB., Plaisier H., Ritchie MG., Smart SD.
BACKGROUND: Teaching bioinformatics at universities is complicated by typical computer classroom settings. As well as running software locally and online, students should gain experience of systems administration. For a future career in biology or bioinformatics, the installation of software is a useful skill. We propose that this may be taught by running the course on GNU/Linux running on inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer hardware, for which students may be granted full administrator access. RESULTS: We release 4273π, an operating system image for Raspberry Pi based on Raspbian Linux. This includes minor customisations for classroom use and includes our Open Access bioinformatics course, 4273π Bioinformatics for Biologists. This is based on the final-year undergraduate module BL4273, run on Raspberry Pi computers at the University of St Andrews, Semester 1, academic year 2012-2013. CONCLUSIONS: 4273π is a means to teach bioinformatics, including systems administration tasks, to undergraduates at low cost.