Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

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Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby kedaha » 2019-09-06 21:41

Do you have, or are you thinking of acquiring a single-board computer like, for example, a raspberry pi?
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If so, what do you use it for?
I have the pi2 and installed Debian on it. I'm considering other sbc's so I'd be curious to know your views.
I think that these little microprocessor boards will supplant larger devices for many uses; for example, why run a dedicated server when one of these little gadgets, connected to your home router, can do practically the same stuff? Maybe the same goes for larger desktop computers. An sbc with 4 gigas of ram would be fine for my purposes, either as a desktop system or for a server.
They're inexpensive, consume very little power and are noiseless.
Thanks for any comments.
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby ruwolf » 2019-09-07 18:16

Yes, I have Orange Pi PC.
I had used it only for flashing LibreBoot to Lenovo ThinkPad X200. 8)
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby Dai_trying » 2019-09-07 18:26

I have a couple of Raspberry Pi's although I mostly use them in conjunction with other micro-controllers for messing about, I have a stash of arduinos (pro-mini, nano, uno and mega) and a handful of esp8266 boards that are used for various experiments and tests, a few have been made into permanent fixtures in my house (remote controls and led lighting controllers).
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby pylkko » 2019-09-07 18:47

There are so many threads here about these that readers are not really inclined to reply, I suppose.
Many members here have SBC's, I have seen it mentioned in various posts. It's nearly ten years since I acquired my first SBC.

The use cases are very variable. Typical things are:

  • some kind of multimedia centre (standalone kodi on a minimal OS) for example libreELEC
  • audio servers (Volumio, Pi MusicBox)
  • multi-room synchronized audio (picoreplayer)
  • NAS
  • retro gaming (emulators of old console games etc) (https://retropie.org.uk)
  • storage servers (you rent your hard drives in change of crpyptocurrency) (https://documentation.storj.io)
  • DNS caching and ad locking (https://pi-hole.net)
  • robotics and electronics projects, home automation
  • CCTV type camera systems
The RPi is the most popular and perhaps the only "flaw" it has is that it cannot be booted without a closed-source proprietary blob. Well, you cannot boot linux anyway (you can do bare metal code). There is a project on github which was trying to create a open source booting firmware, but it is not production ready yet.

The RPi is the most reliable of these SBC's as there is a large team of staff and millions of volunteers using it. Other boards often have the problem that they require some patched kernel, customized OS or other idiosyncratic code to work, but the vendors are not so active (or might stop working on it entirely). This is one thing to keep in mind when thinking about getting an SBC - that you might be stuck on whatever software work on it now forever, if the support dies out and you don't have the time or required knowledge to do it yourself.

The old Pi's had some issues with the graphics side, 3D graphics and acceleration depended on experimental kernel modules. The latest version uses a new graphics chip and apparently you can run 3d games on it with relatively goof FPS (OpenGL ES 3.x on 500 mhz VideoCore VI)

There are other boards that have been around for long and have fairly good support. For example, Beagle board (they have some boards that can run full open source software stack even).

The place to hear about new ones is http://linuxgizmos.com/
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby milomak » 2019-09-07 20:20

i had one of the original pi (well 2 as they sent a 2nd one to me by mistake)

no clue where both are. though i seem to think i gave he one to my brother.
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby NFT5 » 2019-09-07 23:15

A timely question, kedaha. I fall in to the "considering acquisition" category.

At this stage I'm looking at the Rock Pi 4B. It seems to have the edge in terms of performance, features and accessories when compared to others, even the new Rasperry Pi.

In my cars I've been running Double DIN navigation/entertainment units but they all suffer from build quality shortcomings and eventually die. My plan was to replace with a 'carputer' and I'd actually bought an XSFF PC as the heart of a new system. However, more recent advances in SBC technology mean that this is going to offer many advantages in terms of size, performance and connectivity. For example, having 6 cores means that the Rock Pi should be better able to handle running navigation and entertainment together with bluetooth for phone and not continually crash. The smaller size means that I can mount in the dash rather than under a seat, so safer and easier to connect components. Graphics capabilities are pretty good so I can run a 10" screen and the onboard GPIO makes connecting ancillaries a breeze compared to a modified desktop PC. PCIE mounted NVME means great performance.

For software I've been thinking OpenAuto Pro running on Raspbian. Integrated with Android Auto seems to be a fairly complete solution.
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2019-09-09 15:35

I was given a Raspberry Pi Zero W. It runs OpenELEC (or is it LibreELEC? I always get those confused. KODI anyway) but the on board wireless is too slow to stream HD movies, which is a shame.
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby pylkko » 2019-09-09 18:34

I don't think that is even possible... I mean youtube cites bandwidth requirements for 1080p 5 Mbps... even wifi cards that don't do 802.11n can easily do 10x that. I remember I used to stream HD on the Rpi 1, which I believev had the same SoC. Also Kodi has a buffer that you can adjust in case our network works erratically.
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby Hallvor » 2019-09-09 19:47

RPi 1 with 256 MB RAM, running 24/7 since 2012. Headless torrentserver (Transmission).

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RPi 3 from 2017. Media center and storage server.
Lenovo Thinkpad T440S, Intel Core i7-4600U CPU @ 2.10GHz, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, Debian Buster (KDE)
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby kedaha » 2019-09-10 14:57

Thanks to everyone for their interesting replies; I really do appreciate them.
After doing a lot of tests with my RaspberryPi 2, I decided to use my old Acer aspire One, like the one in this photo which, while it only has only has 1G Ram, has a 160G hard drive.
I have decided not to renew the contract for my remote dedicated server but to only run a home web and email server instead. I have already set it up and it seems to be snappier than the pi. It might be that using nginx instead of apache2 might influence it.
I like the raspberry pi, except for the binary blob but when I can, I'll get something a bit better with more RAM, even though, with only 1G, this is not an issue now.
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Re: Do you have a single-board computer (sbc)?

Postby pylkko » 2019-09-10 17:54

It's really hard to avoid the proprietary code. Most of the boards either have boot blobs or video drivers that are non-free, sometimes network firmware. There are a few ongoing projects to get free video stacks, for example:
https://linux-sunxi.org/Mali wrote:Panfrost is a project to develop a completely open source graphics driver which supports ARM's Mali-T6xx, Mali-T7xx, Mali-T800 and Mali-G7x GPUs. This is a work in progress and not yet ready for general use.
https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/panfrost

the etnaviv effort
https://github.com/etnaviv

The "lima" project
http://limadriver.org/

the Freederno project targettign qualcomm adreno chips
https://github.com/freedreno/freedreno/wiki

more:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_and_ ... ice_driver

https://www.fsf.org/blogs/sysadmin/sing ... ing-on-arm
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