I, myself, just got into programming and Linux based applications via the arduino or raspberry pi. One kit i saw that really caught my attention was the SparkFun Arduino kit, available for just $100 USD. (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11236
). Unfortunately, as of posting this it is currently back ordered if ordered directly from Sparkfun however I was able to find it in stock on Amazon for $100 USD as well (http://www.amazon.com/Sparkfun-Inventors-professional-Arduino-retail/dp/B005FMNJ3S/ref=pd_cp_e_3
I wasn't able to grab a Arduino yet, but I did get myself a Raspberry Pi Model B. I hope someone else has another kit in mind because I really wanted to buy a starter kit with a getting-started style booklet included.