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Things to do with a Raspberry Pi 4...

Discussion in 'off topic' started by Tony L, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I’ve just bought a 4GB one primarily as an emergency backup computer. I’ve initially set it up with Raspbian and it looks to be a perfectly usable little UNIX box hooked up to my TV, an IBM Model M and a rather naff HP mouse. I stuck it in an alloy Flirc case that acts as a heatsink to keep it cool. So that’s one role done, but I have a few SD cards (most 32GB) to play with.

    I’ve built the first spare card up as LibreElec Kodi just to see what it is, but I don’t have any files for it to use (I’m all Apple, plus I’ve got an old Apple TV), so I don’t think this will be a keeper as, whilst it looks nice I just don’t think I need it.

    RetroPi is an obvious choice, and I certainly plan to have a play with that as I like vintage computer games, arcade games etc, though I’d need to get some form of user interface beyond the keyboard and mouse for that (i.e. joystick or gamepad). Would be fun to play Sonic etc, though I’ve got proper hardware for BBC and ZX Spectrum stuff (i.e. refurbished working examples of both along with joysticks).

    I don’t think I need music streaming, certainly not enough to pay for a subscription at this point. There are so many CD bargains around at present I’ve got piles of fresh stuff to listen to as is!

    So, what else should I be doing with it? Also what is the best/nicest to use Linux for a 4GB Pi 4? I assume everything has moved on quite a lot since I bought a Pi 3 when that came out. The 4 is clearly way more powerful and feels fairly reasonable as a simple web/home computer from what I’ve seen so far, whereas the 3 seemed to choke on most websites. I’ve not gone to anything crazy ad-heavy yet like the Independent, All Music etc, which can upset my iPad!

    PS Rant: annoyed to see Chromium, the default browser on Raspbian, comes with a ad-blocker/content theft device enabled. Speaking as someone who’s site only survives at all due to web advertising that is exceptionally poor IMHO. Stealing should not be the default option! The irony is it even blocks Google’s own ads!
  2. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    I was a first user of the Pi4 and it came to pass that it was a waste of my money. Unless things have changed (a lot) this Pi will only boot Raspbian which is based on Debian Linux. I was playing with booting Windows 10 on the Pi3 and thought that a Pi4 would make a cute portable low-cost Windows machine. I actually complained to the supplier that I thought mine was faulty as it wouldn't boot any images that I had already made and acted 'dead'. However things might have moved on since then as I haven't bothered with it since. Now Arduino is a much more useful controller and at much lower cost ......................

    You can install whatever browser you like that runs on Debian. The Pi is aimed at the educational market i.e. 'dumb' beginners so its good that the package has been hardened a little.

    You could use the Pi to teach yourself what computers can do. You'll need to lean a bit of Python (its similar to BASIC) and then you can control things and even build a robot. All parts are available in kit form and at low cost (remember its educational). I recommend the book 'Programming the Raspberry Pi - Getting Started with Python' by Simon Monk and then buy one of his cheap electronic kits.

    Have fun,

  3. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    My Pi4 has the boring job of running as part of a CI setup to test a DSP programming language i've been working on for the last few years, so it's doing useful but rather boring work.

    My older Pi3 is about to get repurposed as a programmable stomp box when my Elk development board turns up... (https://elk.audio/)
  4. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Excellent news, as an ex-corporate IT consultant, trainer, programmer, network manager that might prove rather useful! ;-)

    Looks like Ubuntu Mate is due to arrive for the 4, but still some way off. FWIW I’m impressed by how much better Raspbian is since I last used it, it seems far more ‘finished’ and actually justifies the purchase of the Pi 4 as it is a perfectly usable little computer.

    I next want to see how usable it is via VNC, SSH or whatever from the iPad. I’m curious to see what if any useful integration I can achieve between the two. I could obviously use it as a NAS (I have a spare USB HD, could easily justify a couple of SSDs if it proved useful), so I’ll be having a play in this direction.

    PS Stomp box is an option too!
  5. Man in a van

    Man in a van pfm Member

  6. ks.234

    ks.234 pfm Member

    I bought a pi4 to teach myself a bit about how computers work, but I just had problems, the latest was a black screen that happened 9 time’s out of 10 startups.

    it’s in the drawer now
  7. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    Well at least you’ve learned a bit more about what drawers can do.
    booja30, ks.234 and Woodface like this.
  8. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Yes, thanks - I’ll certainly build an SD of that and try it.

    Apparently it is reasonably possible to semi-brick the Pi firmware, though it is not hard to replace it. Some details here on TomsHardware. I plan to update mine later as chances are it isn’t current and the new version runs much cooler.
    ks.234 likes this.
  9. Hook

    Hook Blackbeard's former bo'sun.

    You could program it be an AI engine for modding PFM threads. :)
  10. russel

    russel ./_dazed_and_confused

    or put a heat sink on it, the update gives you a couple of degrees headroom, a heat sink more like twenty or thirty at least.
  11. Marchbanks

    Marchbanks Golly, do I ever have a lot of soul!

    I’ve set up a Pi2 abroad with access via reverse SSH over 3G for remote control of heating, lighting, temperature logging, taking snaps etc. Happy to share info if you want to do something similar in your Seychelles shack.
  12. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I've already done that with an alloy Flirc case! Just checked the firmware and I'm up to date there too, so a nice cool running Pi 4.

    I'm actually really impressed with it. I don't know why but it looks *way* better on my standard HD 50" Sony than the Pi 3 ever did, the fonts, icons etc are way better (I assume this is Raspian being better than it was) and it seems a very useful little stand-in computer. Perfectly up to most folk's day to day computing usage (internet, accounting etc) IMO. I'll start playing with VNC, hard disks etc at some point. but my initial impression is its a proper computer whereas the Pi 3 wasn't really (it just choked even on normal web-browsing etc). It will be interesting to see if I can get it to talk to my wi-fi printer too!
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Manjaro XFCE looks like an interesting contender too, 64 bit Pi 4 version available and allegedly lightweight. Will give it a go.
  14. Man in a van

    Man in a van pfm Member

    Why not start with installing Logitechmediaserver onto the basic Raspbian Desktop? (the one without the recommended software).

  15. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Yes, let us know if you pick up a few useful tips. Good luck.
  16. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Streaming isn’t really of interest to me, I’ve tried it previously and just don’t use it. I’ve got a fair amount of Apple kit so LMS, which I’ve tried before, just doesn’t bring anything I actually need or haven’t already got with iTunes, Airport Express, Apple TV etc.

    I’m actually more interested to see if Kodi is any better than my quite old Apple TV. I suspect it is far more versatile, but whether I need that versatility I have no idea. To be honest I just use the Apple TV for YouTube and Amazon Prime as whilst my Sony “smart” TV has this functionality built in it is bugged to hell and frequently crashes requiring a cold boot!

    I’ve just built a Manjaro SD card, so will have a good play with that later. I suspect I’ll end up with two scenarios I want to pursue; using it as a nice slim and minimal Linux box/backup-computer (which is what I bought it for) and also explore use as a NAS option for the iPad via OMV.
  17. russel

    russel ./_dazed_and_confused

    Have you got a decent quality SD card, PI needs a lot of current, did you get a recommended PSU?, other than that try reinstalling the SW.
  18. ks.234

    ks.234 pfm Member

    Yes, got recommended psu and hdmi cable, and swapped them with equivalents to check. My only thought was SD card as I’m using a class 1. Maybe try as a sandisk ultra?
  19. Yomanze

    Yomanze pfm Member

    Buy a PS4 DualShock Controller, or Buffalo USB Controller (SNES clone from Japan), and put Retropie on it. :)
    booja30 likes this.
  20. russel

    russel ./_dazed_and_confused

    Do you mean hc1?, the speed is the number inside a small c on the card. It’s not worth scrimping on the card as good quality makes are quite cheap, I use Sandisk class 10 cards in the pi zero security cameras, they have been running for months and I havnt seen any issues on the pi 4, although that hasn’t had a lot of use yet.

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