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CaptSunset
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:55 pm

Thanks for Pixel!

Sat Oct 01, 2016 4:56 pm

Hi everybody-

Pixel seems to be running brilliantly on my test Pi. I especially wanted to thank Simon Long & you all for leveling the playing field somewhat for GUI users.

Our local library has a couple rows of coal-powered vintage desktop computers in carrels all Cat5 cabled together. Those carrels are all constantly busy. They also run wifi for the roughly half dozen laptops present at any particular time.

The Library Board wants to upgrade the whole shebang, but are stalled out by the dominance (cost) of Apple vs (the ongoing aggravations of) win10.

It occurred to me that their needs are quite similar to a classroom setup; and then a few other things came to mind- such as drastically reduced Pi power requirements, heat production, cheap HDMI flatscreens and even the interesting new possibilities introduced by 'personal' SD cards.

The main thing is that these users will probably never be coders; but they will become familiar with Raspian, Linux, and Raspberry Pi.

Any links or discussions that might help me build a pitch would be appreciated. Thanks again!

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kusti8
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Location: USA

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:03 pm

There are 10 types of people: those who understand binary and those who don't.

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CaptSunset
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:55 pm

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Sun Oct 02, 2016 12:45 am

Thanks very much Kusti-
That article is very useful for getting the ball rolling, especially since a more reliable Chromium has now been integrated into Pixel. I hadn't actually been focusing much on the 2 catalog computers; most of the time the library users are mainly doing external things ranging from job applications to watching Netflix. They queue up and generally stay until getting kicked off when their time is up. That's what makes the newly cloneable SD card so intriguing- swap in a fresh-cloned card and any hackery disappears; no need for IT red alerts when a fix is that quick & simple.

ejolson
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Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:47 am

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:04 pm

CaptSunset wrote:The Library Board wants to upgrade the whole shebang, but are stalled out by the dominance (cost) of Apple vs (the ongoing aggravations of) win10.
it is difficult to justify Apple from a cost point of view. The OS/X software is based on Unix and retains many of the advantages, however, the hardware is expensive and not maintainable: If the CPU breaks you throw away the monitor too, of the monitor breaks then out with an otherwise working system. Also, computers don't seem to be Apple's main line of business anymore. Having said this, I'll admit I have an iMac and was able to replace the HD when it broke. On the other hand, it sure doesn't work for swapping monitors between computers or connecting one to a laptop.

You mention coal powered desktops, but fail to state specifics of how much RAM each old computer has. If the desktops in question have 2GB RAM or more they will outperform any model of Pi on memory intensive tasks like web browsing.

I know some libraries could be running Windows 95, however, if you are running XP and dealing with the end-of-support issue you may want to check whether the current hardware can be switched to one of the well-supported Intel-compatible Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Arch or Mint. Typical 7 to 8 year old Intel hardware outperforms any Pi when browsing the web. Independent of the computers, new keyboards, monitors and mice will make everything look new.

When it comes to new hardware, there are small and cheap Intel compatible machines with 8 to 16 times the RAM of the Pi. These could be setup with Linux to avoid the issues with Windows 10. An upgradable machine with 8GB of RAM can be expected to outlast a non-upgradeable machine with 1GB by a factor at least 3 fold. The problem is finding a vendor that can be trusted to set up and maintain a well functioning set of Linux computers. Of course you can do it yourself and there are online communities for Ubuntu, Arch, Mint and other Linux distributions that are helpful. One fall-back position that minimizes risk is to buy computers licensed to run Windows 10 and revert back to Microsoft if needed. However, if you think a Pi running Linux would be sufficient, there is little chance that Intel hardware running Linux would fail to satisfy.

The Raspberry Pi is interesting because of the super small size and accessible GPIO pins. It can be used as a desktop computer, but was not really designed to be one. An advantage of the Pi is that Linux is essentially the only operating system people use on it. This has led to this small but focused community with Linux expertise that can help solve problems. It is also cheap, so if a Pi experiment fails, toss the Pi but keep the new monitors, keyboards and mice. Good luck!
Last edited by ejolson on Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bensimmo
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Location: East Yorkshire

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:48 pm

Personally I wouldn't and we wouldn't in a school.
(We use mid range up to 5yr old computers on a rolling turnover as money allows, Simple and basic all running Windows 10. Yes more than a Pi but then we put SSD in them)
Keep then the same and you just clone the drives and can easily rewrite the drive to its standard setup.
If you can do a Pi you can do it on a desktop to.
Cheap hdmi, mice etc also work.
In fact our latest monitors are VGA only (the computer can do hdmi and the old monitors did to*)

Pi's are slow, lots of websites will not work properly, web browsing even on a 3 with chromium is irritating. My phone, a humble 3 yr old £100 back then, thing does it better, so do cheap tablets.

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kusti8
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Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:05 pm

bensimmo wrote:Personally I wouldn't and we wouldn't in a school.
(We use mid range up to 5yr old computers on a rolling turnover as money allows, Simple and basic all running Windows 10. Yes more than a Pi but then we put SSD in them)
Keep then the same and you just clone the drives and can easily rewrite the drive to its standard setup.
If you can do a Pi you can do it on a desktop to.
Cheap hdmi, mice etc also work.
In fact our latest monitors are VGA only (the computer can do hdmi and the old monitors did to*)

Pi's are slow, lots of websites will not work properly, web browsing even on a 3 with chromium is irritating. My phone, a humble 3 yr old £100 back then, thing does it better, so do cheap tablets.
The Pi does things that a desktop can't also and that is power consumption, cheapness, and GPIO to name a few. I have yet to see a cheap tablet that is $35 and is more powerful than a Pi. Also, what phone is yours? You do realize that although you may pay $100 up front for the phone, you pay for it through the contract so the entire phone costs around $600.

I think it's an excellent idea to use it in a library and that way you could even encourage programming if people want to.
There are 10 types of people: those who understand binary and those who don't.

ejolson
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Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:47 am

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:47 pm

CaptSunset wrote:the library users are mainly doing external things ranging from job applications to watching Netflix.
It would appear that Netflix is a very difficult to get working on a Pi. Job applications could be done using LibreOffice and submitted with Chromium. However, some job application templates that were created with Microsoft Word format badly with LibreOffice.

From a maintenance point of view, Raspbian and Linux in general have the capability to run from a read-only network-mounted root filesystem. This is called PiNet on this forum and LTSP in general. However with about 7 lines of scripting any Linux distribution can be booted in a similar way.

The advantage for a library or student lab is that the entire operating system image resides on a secure server that is impossible to modify or corrupt locally. If something goes wrong with one of the workstations simply reboot and you are back to a clean working system loaded directly from the server. This is something that neither Windows nor OS/X support. It sure beats re-imaging hard disks every night and is extremely useful from a maintenance point of view.

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bensimmo
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Location: East Yorkshire

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:10 pm

kusti8 wrote:
bensimmo wrote:Personally I wouldn't and we wouldn't in a school.
(We use mid range up to 5yr old computers on a rolling turnover as money allows, Simple and basic all running Windows 10. Yes more than a Pi but then we put SSD in them)
Keep then the same and you just clone the drives and can easily rewrite the drive to its standard setup.
If you can do a Pi you can do it on a desktop to.
Cheap hdmi, mice etc also work.
In fact our latest monitors are VGA only (the computer can do hdmi and the old monitors did to*)

Pi's are slow, lots of websites will not work properly, web browsing even on a 3 with chromium is irritating. My phone, a humble 3 yr old £100 back then, thing does it better, so do cheap tablets.
The Pi does things that a desktop can't also and that is power consumption, cheapness, and GPIO to name a few. I have yet to see a cheap tablet that is $35 and is more powerful than a Pi. Also, what phone is yours? You do realize that although you may pay $100 up front for the phone, you pay for it through the contract so the entire phone costs around $600.

I think it's an excellent idea to use it in a library and that way you could even encourage programming if people want to.
It's an old MotoG it was just less than £ 100, I never use a contract ;-) even the G3 (£80 iirc) or newer G4 Play can be had for under £100 and there are cheaper out there.
It has a much better web browsing experience.

Even my £100 Hudl2 tablet has a lot better experience.
It can stream and play all the videos, use ms office or other office suits.

Yes cost, but I get a screen, 'keyboard', speakers, inbuilt 'SD card', HDMI out (on the tablet) usb, etc. On/off button
Yes no gpio, but that's not really what you need in a library?


In fact for quite a bit cheaper you can get Win10 Tablets, quite capable things now.

ejolson
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Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:47 am

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:34 am

bensimmo wrote:In fact for quite a bit cheaper you can get Win10 Tablets, quite capable things now.
Any tablet or phone with 2GB of RAM or more makes a better web browser than a Pi. However, I think the original Moto G had only 1GB RAM, which would make it about the same as a Pi 3. At any rate, I would not want to prepare a resume and job application using a tablet without a real keyboard and mouse.

To test things, consider installing Linux on a couple of the existing computers and see if it is useful to anyone. Maybe Lubuntu would be worth a try as it uses the same LXDE/Openbox desktop environment as Raspbian.

fruitoftheloom
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Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:03 am

Retired disgracefully.....

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bensimmo
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Location: East Yorkshire

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:12 am

ejolson wrote:
bensimmo wrote:In fact for quite a bit cheaper you can get Win10 Tablets, quite capable things now.
Any tablet or phone with 2GB of RAM or more makes a better web browser than a Pi. However, I think the original Moto G had only 1GB RAM, which would make it about the same as a Pi 3. At any rate, I would not want to prepare a resume and job application using a tablet without a real keyboard and mouse.

To test things, consider installing Linux on a couple of the existing computers and see if it is useful to anyone. Maybe Lubuntu would be worth a try as it uses the same LXDE/Openbox desktop environment as Raspbian.
It does as does the G3, it still browses much better.

It was just a reference and since you need a keyboard for the Pi a keyboard for a Windows tablet is not a lot and you could hook it up to a HDMI monitor and not neither would I. But kids can do it easily.

I do use the Pi (Pi2 and Pi3) everyday and browsing is still a poor experience in general.
I would get the old computers up and running like you say, but it depends how old they are, it not a lot as shown above for something far better as a general purpose library computer.

Of course once you have used the limits of a computer programming and wish to run a code club and physical programming, the Pi becomes ideal.

AntonAV
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Location: Rural South India

Re: Thanks for Pixel!

Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:14 am

ejolson wrote:
bensimmo wrote:In fact for quite a bit cheaper you can get Win10 Tablets, quite capable things now.
Any tablet or phone with 2GB of RAM or more makes a better web browser than a Pi.
True only at home for a single private user: not in a school where lots of different people (kids) work /play with it. In such a public place a RP 3 with a replaceable keyboard, mouse and monitor will last many years longer than any tablet or phone. For young children Pixel with Chromium + 1 GB is OK; they only open a few tabs anyhow.

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