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What is BeagleBone?

What is BeagleBone?

The BeagleBone is a mini computer, in the size of a credit card. Very similar to a Raspberry Pi.

You can connect a mouse, a keyboard and a display – and you’ll have a fully functional computer.

But most people don’t buy it to use as a normal computer…

…so, what is BeagleBone aside from this?

There’s much more exciting things to make from it… Like:

  • Arcade games
  • Advanced robots
  • Your own coffee machine
  • Handheld gaming devices
  • Home automation systems
  • 3D printers
  • …and much more


Arcade machine

How Does it Work?

Just like a normal computer, BeagleBone needs an operating system to run. On your computer, you use Windows, OS X, or if you’re a bit geekier (like me) you might be running Linux.

On the BeagleBone, you use Linux. There are several Linux version available. The two most common Linux versions to use are Angstrom or Debian.

To make anything happen on your computer, you run programs. And it’s just the same on the BeagleBone, you run programs.

You can find programs that other people have developed, or you can develop your own.

When it comes to electronics, the cool thing about the BeagleBone versus a normal computer is that it has a lot of pins that you can connect components to.

And you can control these pins from within your programs.

A simple example:


Connect an LED with a resistor between a pin and ground. In your program, turn the pin “high”. Wait for 1 second, then turn the pin “low”. Repeat until you close the program.

This will give you a blinking LED.

LED with resistor

BeagleBone vs Raspberry Pi and Arduino

The BeagleBone is in many ways very similar to the Raspberry Pi. So, if you are asking “what is the difference between Arduino and BeagleBone?” then read this article and just substitute the word ‘Raspberry Pi’ with ‘BeagleBone’.

If you’re curious about the differences between BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi, I highly suggest this extensive comparison by Make Magazine.

How To Get Started With The BeagleBone

Do you think it seems complicated to get started with a board like this?

Don’t worry. It’s not that hard, and there are many guides available for you online.

To get started, do this:

  1. Get yourself a BeagleBone Black here.
  2. Hook it up with my BeagleBone Black getting started guide here.
  3. Get yourself the Getting Started With BeagleBone book

Now I want to hear your comments. Do you have experience with the BeagleBone Black? Do you want to start, but something is holding you back?

Let me know in the comments section below!