Raspberry Pi 4 review

For Christmas I got a Raspberry Pi 4. I had to order a thermal cooling case as well as a USB-C power lead as well as a microHDMI to HDMI adapter (first one didn’t work, second one did luckily). I got the 4GB version so expect some great performance.

I installed NOOBS on the microSD card. NOOBS is 32-bit and installs 32-bit OSes (sadly) but Raspbian runs great on the Pi 4 despite it having a 64-bit CPU and 4GB RAM, and you’d expect to be performance limited due to 32-bit restrictions. But it runs fine. But when you have a 64-bit CPU and 4GB RAM you want a 64-bit OS that utilises this. So I choose Debian 64-bit, for which there are several forks out there, but I decided to manually build my own image with qemu-user-static, debootstrap, and loopback devices and images. It was a long process but worked. I was able to install 64-bit Debian Buster onto my Pi 4.

I chose a desktop environment to install: XFCE. I wanted to remain light on the Pi’s resources. However, XFCE just didn’t look attractive for me. I decided to flash a fresh image and choose KDE Plasma instead.

KDE Plasma ran incredibly laggy, to which I later found out I had to enable the graphics acceleration overlay by adding dtoverlay=vc4-fkms-v3d to config.txt. After that KDE Plasma ran smooth.

I installed some stuff (some games, coding utilities, and graphics programs) and they all ran smoothly. Even 3D games like GLtron ran wonderfully. Graphics programs were quick to load, and coding on the Pi 4 felt like an amazing and responsive experience.

Your experience may depend on your variant. The Pi 4 has a 1GB RAM variant costing £35, but even an extra £10 for the 2GB variant at £45 would be worth it as 1GB just doesn’t hold up anymore. The 4GB version is £55, which is worth the money to get the extra performance and multitasking benefits.

It’s recommended to use a case with the Pi 4, as when I tried it without it became very hot and slow. A case with a fan is recommended, I bought a GeeekPi transparent case which looks nice and cools the Pi 4 right down.

Can it replace your desktop PC? Yes, but also not fully. There are lots of games that are still too intensive even for the new BCM2711 SoC to handle. Not to mention it’s still ARM, meaning not all programs can run that require x86 or x64. ARM’s a good thing though, however, as it keeps the price down whilst keeping good performance. If the Raspberry Pi Foundation wanted x86 or x64, they’d have to put in something cheap like a Celeron or Atom which just isn’t as good as the ARM CPUs provided by Broadcom.

However, for some open source Linux games, which can still be incredibly fun, as well as word processing, web browsing, and media editing, the Pi 4 is up to the task of replacing that old Windows 7 desktop you are still clinging onto (and I’m warning you right now that W7 support ends on 14th January so you may want to look at upgrading).

The Raspberry Pi has came far from that £30 SBC that ran slowly back in 2012 made to inspire young people coding to a capable desktop replacement. It’s original purpose still stands however, and the Pi 4 is an amazing device to use for coding purposes.

Restarting with my Raspberry Pi

I’m restarting my use of the Raspberry Pi.

I have not used my Raspberry Pi 3 for a while but found a good microSD card to use for it today and will be restarting my use of it.

Expect tutorials, Linux distro recommendations, and tips and advice to be posted on here about the Raspberry Pi. At some point, I may buy a Pi 4, but I’ll have to see how I get on with my Pi 3 first and how easily it is to get back to using the Pi after not using it for months (If I buy a Pi 4, it’ll be the 4GB RAM version).

I’m planning on building a script that will allow for easy creation of Debian ports for the Pi in armel architecture (All Pi models, but slow due to not targeting the hard float Pi architecture), armhf architecture (Pi 2 and later excluding Pi Zero, 32-bit mode), and arm64 architecture (Pi 3 and later excluding Pi Zero W, 64-bit mode). Hopefully the experimental OpenGL driver (Pi 2+ only) will improve performance on more resource heavy desktop environments (KDE and GNOME 3), but I reckon GNOME 3 won’t be usable on any Pi except the Pi 4 and even on the Pi 4, only the 4GB RAM variant.

As for Chromium ARM, I may give it another go considering RPF Chromium is lagging three versions behind of the current stable release, however the support is definitely better than it used to be. I remember when Chromium was at version 60 or something and RPF Chromium was still on 51. However using Ubuntu packages in Raspbian or Debian can cause lots of dependency errors. You used to be able to get away with it because most of Ubuntu Chromium’s dependencies were already fulfilled in Raspbian back then, but it isn’t as simple now. Chances are if I restart Chromium ARM I’ll be using the Debian variant instead as Debian is more compatible with Raspbian than Ubuntu is. However, nothing’s confirmed yet.

I hope you’re all excited for the upcoming Raspberry Pi posts.

Enjoy!

-Chas 😎

Gameband and RasPi3

A Gameband is a cool wristband that backs up Minecraft data, allows you to create animations and even tell the time! You must plug it into your computer through USB to charge it, and while it is plugged in you can play Minecraft through it by opening the Gameband app and clicking Play Minecraft and you can customize animations and view them when the Gameband is unplugged from the PC. The thing is, could you use the Gameband application on a Raspberry Pi 3? The Gameband is compatible with Linux, so would it work on a RasPi3. I would really like to make PixelFurnace animations. I plugged my Gameband into my RasPi3 and saw the Gameband as a mounted USB Drive so I clicked on it and clicked on Gameband_linux.bat and pressed Execute and nothing happened! Is the problem to do with my Raspberry Pi 3, the Gameband or the Operating System. I have also found out that you can run Minecraft PC on a RasPi 3.

Epic Chas Gamer 🙂