The Raspberry Pi went on sale just hours ago through UK electronics companies vendors Premier Farnell and RS Components, the latter quoting a price of GBP21.60 (US$34.43) for the enhanced-spec, credit card-sized Model B - the only one available for purchase today. I say "available" - unfortunately the websites of both vendors went down due to a high volume of traffic from hopefuls clamoring for their piece of the tiny Linux home computer.

"Been trying every 10 minutes from 6 am this morning [UK time] until now," said one disgruntled customer on the element14 forum, a community associated with Premier Farnell. However, not everyone was so unlucky, with users on the same forum reporting success in placing orders at the same website. The vendors are not alone in feeling the launch-day pressure, with the official Raspberry Pi Foundation website switching with a low-bandwidth static website while interest remains high.

Though widely reported as a product launch, some lucky Pi customers are reporting receipt of confirmation emails suggesting deliveries at the end of March. The Raspberry Pi Foundation admits that it has not yet received units from China. In view of this, "launch" sounds rather a strong word considering these are merely pre-orders.

At the time of writing both the Farnell and the RS Componenets websites seemed only to be allowing would-be Pi-owners to register interest, shelving (if only temporarily) the ability to purchase online. Though early batches will merely be sold through the two companies, it sounds as though they are soon to take over manufacturing as well as distribution (we previously reported on the financial difficulties faced by the Foundation in manufacturing the Raspberry Pi within the UK). The deal is good news for international customers, as both vendors have international supply chains, enabling overseas customers to (eventually) order from a local supplier.

Today's "launch" had looked likely earlier in the week when the Raspberry Pi Foundation had warned interested parties to look out for a big announcement at 6 a.m. UK-time on the morning of February 29.

Those interested in obtaining a Raspberry Pi are possibly best advised to keep on eye on the Raspberry Pi Foundation's website, who will doubtless update vendor information as required. For now, sales are limited to a maximum of one per customer. If that.

Sources: Raspberry Pi Foundation