Which language on the Raspberry Pi?

What language should you use on the Raspberry Pi? There is quite a choice, including Python, Scratch, Java, C, Julia, and that's not counting the web stuff like Javascript, Html and Php.
There is no definitive answer - it depends on what you want to do. If you are teaching a child the basics of programming then Scratch might be a good choice. If you are an older learner then you might go for Python or Java with Greenfoot.
If you are interested in programming the Raspberry Pi hardware then there are libraries for pretty much any language that will let you do that. 
If you want a graphical user interface then you may want to give C a miss. But not necessarily because you can tack on a GUI in almost any language these days.
So where does that leave us?
Here is a list of some of the programming languages available for the Raspberry Pi with my brief personal notes and an example program for each one (except Scratch).

Scratch This is a graphical language designed to teach kids about p…

PC PIXEL on your hard drive

Since the end of 2016, you've been able to run Raspbian PIXEL on a PC or Mac by burning a DVD or USB memory stick.

Read here about the USB stick version and why you might want to use it.

Now you can get a version that you can install on a hard disk, too. It's not an official version, however, and includes extra software that the author of this new version thinks is useful. Whether this makes it better, I’m not sure.

I've been using Debian PIXEL on an old laptop for a while now and it works well. It takes rather longer to boot up than the Lubuntu OS that is on the hard disk but once running it's absolutely fine. It has nearly all the same software as a Raspberry Pi and looks exactly the same.

If you have an old laptop that perhaps used to run Windows XP, this would be a very suitable machine to try it out on. I used an 8 gigabyte pendrive which gives me persistent storage (i.e. I can save files which you won’t be able to do if you are running from a DVD) and an old laptop with 1 gigabyte of RAM. It takes a little while to download and install on the pendrive but there are pretty good instructions on how to do it provide by the Raspberry Pi Foundation

All in all you don’t really notice the difference between using a system that is running from a pendrive or one running from a hard disk so why would you wipe a hard disk in order to run PIXEL from there? Well, you might be able to create a dual-boot system so you wouldn’t lose what is on your hard disk. But if it’s an old unused laptop, perhaps you wouldn't care about wiping the hard drive. The main advantage would be the extra disk space that you would have to store data and download other applications. It might be quicker to boot up and run, too.

I’m not convinced that this installation is for the faint hearted but if you want to try it out, the web site is here.

Raspberry Pi on a PC

You can download Raspian and PIXEL and run it on your old PC, Mac or laptop. It looks just like a Raspberry Pi

Run PIXEL in a virtual machine on a PC

If you are nervous about installing PIXEL on a hard drive then why not use a VM. It's quite straightforward. Here's how.

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