Anybody here into Raspberry Pi?


So lately I’ve been eyeing that mini Commodore 64 thing, and thinking that it would be a cool retro gadget to simulate a C64.

But then I started thinking about Raspberry Pi’s again (I’ve kind of wanted one for a while now), and I thought, why not just use a Pi to emulate everything under the sun?

So this morning I took a trip to my local Micro Center and purchased a Pi 3 B+ kit.

This thing is so cool! It was easy to set up too. I can’t wait to load RetroPie on it (I have to get another microSD card though).

Of course, I can also see myself playing around with the other features — Python, Scratch, maybe some breadboard shenanigans.

Comments (20)

20 responses to “Anybody here into Raspberry Pi?”

  1. lvthunder

    I have one that has RetroPie on it, but it's in a little arcade case so it's more like an arcade game. I just don't have the time to play it much though.

    • ErichK

      In reply to lvthunder:

      I just came back from the store with a 16 GB microSD card, so the plan is to install RetroPie on it tonight after I come home from seeing Star Wars. I'd like to start with some Apple ][ disk images and see how it works.

      I watched a video from The 8-bit Guy last night where he was involved with a project where they installed a Pi in an actual Apple ][ case and made all sorts of mods to it. Pretty amazing.

  2. waethorn

    ARM stuff is crap. (People can try to prove me wrong on this - I stand by this statement)

    ARM hardware is built for Android. Linux support is an after-thought. Most chips come to market without mainline Linux kernel support. This is the unfortunate circumstance with the Raspberry Pi 4. Without mainline kernel support, components of the ARM SoC don't function with mainstream Linux distributions. So in order to support them, distro makers or separate devs have to build custom Linux support for them. The idea with Linux is that hardware companies can just submit code for drivers to the kernel project, and then support is then built into the Linux kernel from that point on. Every Linux OS distribution from that point on has support for that hardware, assuming it uses at least that version x.x kernel (rolling release Linux distros and other distros like Fedora always keep the kernel up to date). The Raspberry Pi Foundation, who is the sole recipient of the Broadcom SoC used in these Pi's, has yet to get Broadcom's approval to provide code to the Linux kernel project, and don't seem to be too willing to get mainline support either. Parts of the Broadcom SoC are not openly documented, such as the GPU, which provides the bootloader mechanism for all of their SoC's in all Pi's. All of the current distros available for Pi4 use a custom kernel package provided solely by the Pi Foundation. The Pi Foundation isn't even the original developers of Raspbian, so their "official" distro is a modified version of something already available elsewhere. It's a mess.

    You'll find this is the same story with other SBC's from the likes of Hardkernel and such. Even with mainline Linux kernel support with some ARM SoC's, you also have weird firmware interfaces on them. ARM doesn't use UEFI or a "BIOS", nor do they use ACPI (except on the AMD ARM server platform, which isn't widely available anymore). The chips that DO have mainline kernel support require weird flashing mechanisms to reprogram the bootloader. You can't "install" an OS - you flash the bootloader, possibly flash the storage drive with a separate mechanism. You need another active computer to program an ARM computer. You can't just plug a thumbdrive with an OS into it and install like you would on a PC.

    And I haven't even begun to talk about the lack of performance on Linux. Let me just put this out there: the cheapest current Intel dual-core Celeron chips can run the "heavy" GNOME3 desktop without any problems. On every ARM chip so far: NO. Just no. Not gonna do it.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Waethorn:

      ARM hardware was built for the Acorn Archimedes (ARM = Acorn RISC Machine) and it took over from the 6502 used in the Acorn Atom and BBC Micro at the end of the 80s. It has been continually developed ever since and is the basis for many SoHo routers, switches, printers, NAS, smart speakers, smartphones, including the iPhone and most Android phones (there are/were some using Intel Atom chips and a few other oddities, but all iOS devices are ARM based).

      Rasperry/Broadcom have to provide the drivers for their ARM SoCs, ARM just provides only the basic design, other companies implement it. I use Raspian and it is fine. I use it for running my Pi-Hole and I am looking at running NextCloud on another one, as well as my Ubiquiti Unifi controller.

      As to support, theoretically, yes, every distribution has support for ARM, but due to the small market share of non-embedded and non-smartphone devices, very few bother to make an ARM based distribution, Arch, Debian, Manjaro and ChromeOS all run on ARM, as does Windows 10 - there has been an IoT version of Windows since the Raspian was first released. But, on the other hand, RISC PA, MIPS and Intel x86 are mainline Kernel, but how many distributions actually bother to make a version for these processors? Several distributions, including Ubuntu axed Intel x86 this year, although Ubuntu backtracked somewhat, because Steam is still 32-bit.

      The ARM chips also use a fraction of the power of an Intel chip. But using them for heavy desktop applications isn't what ARM is about, it is about efficient, low-power computing. The Pi 3B+ I have is fine for the tasks I want to use it for, it runs on a small power supply, it is tiny and unobtrusive and uses next to no electricity. A small Intel based PC doing the same job would be more expensive to buy and more expensive to run and it would never really get used at anywhere near its capacity. I have just decomissioned 2 laptops and I had thought about using them for the NextCloud and Unifi controller, but they are just too power hungry, in comparison to the Pis.

      If you are just popping back and forth in town, you drive a small town car, like a Smart, Fiat 500, Renault Twingo etc. you don't drive a semi. Likewise, if you are going to be hauling a lot of goods across the country, you don't use a littel town car.

      You might argue that a Fiat 500 is crap at carrying several tonnes of load, but I'd like to see you commute in a Kennworth and find a parking sport in a multi-storey carpark down town - oh, wait, it won't fit, it must be crap, right?

      • waethorn

        In reply to wright_is:

        What you wrote doesn't address anything that I said:

        ARM is built for Android. ARM Holdings makes that clear on their website.

        ARM chips are released without having software support first. ARM SoC makers expect that software support will come later, and they only contribute to Android handset makers because they use older Linux kernels with proprietary modules, which handset makers like because ARM Holdings and phone makers both don't want you knowing their "secret sauce" i.e. to be able to audit their code.

        Raspbian, as it comes from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is a patched up piece of garbage. Obsolete, modified downstream packages and yet another hardware-dedicated, out-of-date custom kernel are the reason.

        Just to note: if Google decides to replace the Linux kernel within Android with something else by their own making, as they've suggested in the past, then the Linux-on-ARM fantasy will be dead.

        BTW: The author of NextCloudPlus/Pi doesn't even recommend using a Raspberry Pi.

        Also, your argument about power efficiency has been torn apart many a time before. When you buy a Pi system, you're talking about almost $100 or more for a complete kit. An HDMI stick computer with an x86 processor or a cheap Amazon PC can be had for roughly the same price. Power costs are more, but performance-per-watt is astronomical with a cheap x86 processor, and you're really splitting hairs over the pennies in actual energy costs anyway.

        • spacein_vader

          In reply to Waethorn:

          1. Neither ARMs homepage nor their Processor page make any mention of Android at all.
          2. That ownyourbits article predates the Pi 4 which drastically improved the I/O and network speed issues which are the most important for the software he creates. So no, he (understandably,) does not recommend a Pi3 or earlier for use in creating a personal cloud.
          3. That full Pi system price assumes desktop use. I don't know anyone who uses it as a desktop replacement. It's designed to teach kids how to do basic coding and has been pressed into use in the professional world doing things like driving kiosk/advert displays and controlling machinery. It has also been used by enthusiasts to run smart home kit, weather stations and things like Pi-hole. None of those require a desktop OS.
          4. Google moving from Linux on Android won't kill the embedded market, industrial signage or similar. Unless you're expecting routers and switches to move just because Google did.

          Your point about public source code is valid though, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

          • waethorn

            In reply to spacein_vader:


            2: nothing in the Pi4 resolves the issues he brings up. read the story again.

            3: please explain the description here then:

            4: it won't kill the market. But if Android no longer uses a Linux kernel, ARM Holdings is going to have a hard time pushing the idea of platform-agnosticism.

            • wright_is

              In reply to Waethorn:

              The Pi4 has moved on from USB2 for the network and IO, so, yes, it has eased some of the problems noted in that blog post.

              It now has ARMv8 cores, not v5 as per the article and the author specifically mentions the Pi 3B+ as the most powerful version, so places the blog as being published before the Pi 4 was available. It also uses a Videocore VI not a IV.

              There are now 2x USB 3.0 and true Gigabit Ethernet on the Pi4.

              What he say about using it for (local) NAS storage is totally correct, for the Pi up to and including the Pi 3B+. That said, I am looking at running NextCloud for our family, so we are limited to 50mbps/12mbps, which is way below what the Pi 3B+ can deliver anyway.

              He seemed to also be getting a bit desperate with the argument about the power. Any sensible user ensures they have a proper PSU for their kit. If he had stated that people should buy a sensible PSU, instead of ranting about Pis being throttled all the time, I would have had more sympathy for him, but he was just using the fact that some users use underspecified PSUs as an excuse to bolster his argument about the unsuitability of Pis.

              I know several dozen people who use Pis for different purposes. What none of them do is use it as a desktop PC. Heck, most don't even have a GUI installed.

              For what the Pi is designed to do, it is more than fast enough. It is cheap and cheerful and it costs a lot less to run than a cheap Intel board. Yes, the x86 board will probably run rings around the Pi, in performance terms, when under load. But if the ARM chip on the Pi is never being fully loaded, that extra power in the x86 also doesn't bring me anything. The running costs of 24/7 do make a difference between the two platforms and if the ARM is more than powerful enough for the task at hand, that is a nice saving over a couple of years of use.

              Electricity cost around 0.30€/kWh (around 35c USA/kWh) on average here in 2019, and due to climate tax, the price will increase to over 40c USA/kWh next year.

              You are correct about the closed source blobs. But, I don't care. That isn't important to me, I want a running system, not a "pure" system. If I have to mix-and-match proprietary chunks with open source, then so be it. I've always had to do that - whether it is bluetooth drivers, wireless drivers/firmware, video drivers or something esoteric.

              My previous Linux laptop had a Radeon X600m graphics chip, the generic VESA driver wouldn't work with it, the open source Radeon drivers couldn't do anything with it for the first 2 years, I had to use the close sourced drivers. Likewise my GeForce desktop back in the previous decade, I had to use the proprietary GeForce drivers to get 3D performance to play games on it.

              From a purely ethical, open source point of view, yes, the Pi isn't 100% open sourceable at present, But at the end of the day, Linux runs on it stably and I can run my projects on it.

  3. sekim

    I have a couple of Pis running at my house. One is a Pi-Hole and my Ubiquiti controller. I have another Pi running RetroPie to play old games. I have a third reporting air traffic back to FlightRadar24. I have another that is currently powered off.

    • ErichK

      In reply to sekim:

      You've really introduced me to some new things here. I didn't know about Pi-Hole or FlightRadar24. I just looked them up -- very cool. The flight radar tracking website is amazing!

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to ErichK:

        Pi-Hole is awesome. Although I have it running in a hypervisor instead of on a physical Pi.

        But yes in general they are awesome. I’ve been working my way through their official magazines and project books.

        There are a lot of great ideas in the Pi community. My son and I are considering how we might be ale to bridge into robotics.

        And I’ve been looking into getting a small screen and adding a PC case mod that uses the Pi to display real-time CPU/GPU/Fan stats.

  4. jimchamplin

    I just recently got a Pi 4. 2GB model. It’s a nice little guy but I wish I’d gone for the 3. Seems like software support is still pretty thin for the 4.

    I’d love to build a tiny handheld for running Linux but I’m having trouble getting CDE to build in raspbian. Perhaps I should refocus on another idea until I can figure that out.

    • jwpear

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      I've come to this same conclusion. The 3 has better support. I'm also not crazy about the quirky USB-C power implementation and 3A power requirements of the 4. Feels like this is one to skip until they address the USB-C power issue. I am planning to build a Pi Kubernetes cluster with my son, but after review of the 4, I think we'll stick to the 3.

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to jwpear:

        So far the thing that cheeses me off is the damn mini HDMI. I have to get an adapter for it. Sure, the kit came with a cable but it’sa pain to get behind screens and switch them out.

        Edit: Fixed some autocorrect screw ups.

    • ErichK

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Yes, I considered the 4, but the 3 seemed like a safer bet for now.

  5. wright_is

    I have a pair of 3B+ and my colleague, here in the office, has a 2GB Pi 4 (the 4GB wasn't available at launch).

    I use the first one as a Pi-Hole for doing DNS lookups and blacklisting tracking, malvertising etc. at the network level on my network - around 2.5 million sites blocked at the moment, over 2,000 from Facebook alone!

    The second one was bought for the PiDP-11 project, but the PiDP-11 is totally dead at the moment - usually a few LEDs probably won't work or the switches don't work, but it is 100% dead. I've tried both Pis in it and I've double checked the solder, but it isn't showing any signs of life. :( I'm guessing I've probably burnt through one of the key power lines on the adapter, but I don't have the time to look at it at the moment.

    With SimH you can emulate most things.

    I'm considering connecting the second 3B+ to my NAS using iSCSI and running up an instance of NextCloud on it, to serve as a family groupware server...