I've just done a little work trying to get to the hardware through a Raspberri Pi or Beaglebone OS. It's possible, but not easy. Funny thing is, though, that I used to have to work through an OS way back in the Apple II and DOS days. It can be quite the struggle.
The Arduino, without an OS, is far easier to use, and in my opinion, a much better educational tool.
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.