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clicky
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Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:39 pm

I've seen a few posts of people being sceptical if RPi4 now can or cannot be used as replacement for desktop computer and I had to give it a go.
  • 1.5GHz quad core is decent speed - MacBook starts with 1.2GHz dual core (probably faster processor on its own and has 'boost' to 3GHz) but still - not another order of magnitude faster
  • 4GB of ram is something older machines (10+ years) couldn't have or was max that could due to architecture (32bit processors and memory management) - many Linux distros worked quite well in 2GB of ram (and much less)
  • USB3 (for faster HD/SSD) is faster than spinnable HDs from only 3-4 years ago and more
  • 5GHz WiFi/1GBit/s Ethernet - that's quite modern connectivity
So, itself it shouldn't be worse than what computers were up to 5+ years ago and pretty much all we have today was made/built on them without issues and people used them on day-to-day basis without any issues. So, why not Pi4?

I installed raspbian on 'regular' SD card and all pretty much worked (on 350Mbin/s card) attached to 4K monitor. First thing I noticed was that on 3840x2160 mouse wasn't smooth and moved in slightly jerky way. Dropping resolution to 2560x1600 immediately fixed it. That's a bit odd - but my eyesight didn't complain at all :D

Then I installed my favourite - KDE plasma desktop and it didn't work until I switched 'compositor' off. Immediately but rendered all just fine and the rest of KDE worked as expected (minus fancy translucency and such which I can live without). Speaking of such I suffered a bit with my old Protege (~2004) laptop when it came first (who remembers old composer?!) but now I am not bothered at all - knowing that this is entry level 'desktop' as many say ;)

Next to it installed PyCharm (as I am using it for work on day to day basis) and a few bits like Gimp, Thunderbird, etc...All work at perfectly usable speeds - no significant lag nor something that would otherwise upset me. For all those that suffer from scrolling not being super-smooth (millennial's-speak) they'll be disappointed anyway. But same people complained that VSCode is getting slow even on the fastest MBPs these days...

Speaking of speed - lack of vertical blanking (at current setup) causes a bit of a 'tearing' while moving windows and scrolling of code - but that's something I'm happy to get used to.

Next was to move root partition to some old 80GB SSD (speeds of ~2GBit/s through old USB3-SATA caddy), set it up to boot from there and I/O become more than reasonable (definitively better than old computers with spinnable HDs) and responsivenes of system returned to what we all got used to.

Conclusion:

It is not much worse than my first (and subsequent) Linux installations especially when running from fast HD/SSD. I can see it using it as my primary desktop machine given I am not playing (a lot of) games. Java (Idea/Maven), Python (PyCharm), Javascript (Chrome/VS Code - yet to be installed, but I've seen people doing it anyway) - all should work well in 4GB. Here's a desktop screenshot:

Image
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DavidS
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:29 pm

Kool that you are doing well with a super bloated setup.

A few years ago I broke down and purchased an Intel based laptop, at the urging of many on these forums (as at the time the Raspberry Pi was the fastest computer I ever had).

The Laptop was based on one of InTels embedded x86/x64 quad core CPU's (forgot which one), and everyone on the forums told me it would run circles around the Raspberry Pi. It was noticeably faster than the RPi 1B (once it was running a lightweight OS anyway). I did a lot of coding on it to see how fast it was in comparison to the Raspberry Pi, it did alright.

Then the Raspberry Pi 2B came out:
With the introduction of the Raspberry Pi 2B the RPi had caught up with the low end InTel based PC I had just bought a few months earlier, that is the original 2B with the Cortex-A7 based BCM2836 SoC.

It was not much later that the Raspberry Pi 3B came out and now my Raspberry Pi runs circles around that InTel laptop. Yes the laptop has 8GB of RAM, though I never use more than about 500MB on either it or the RPi (when running linux I run with swappoff).

Now the Raspberry Pi 4B is here, I am just waiting for a usable release of RISC OS (been my primary OS since 1988 or 89) for the RPi 4B, then I will get one. I bet the 4B will leave that InTel laptop in the dust.
RPi = The best ARM based RISC OS computer around
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Sentinel
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:31 pm

That is great! Can you write steps how to install KDE plasma desktop on raspbian? It's mine favorite too.

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clicky
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:00 pm

Sentinel wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:31 pm
That is great! Can you write steps how to install KDE plasma desktop on raspbian? It's mine favorite too.
Good point - it was a bit odd:

Code: Select all

sudo apt-get install kde--plasma-desktop
and then switch to sddm manager and select 'Openbox' session (top right corner). Maybe a reboot (or at last 'sudo init 3 ; sudo init 5' from console might be needed) to pick new display manager...

From there run Applications/Settings/KDE System Settings (or something like that), select Screen and Dislpay and in there Composer and switch it off... Also, going back to Openbox (and running KDE System Settings) is good 'recovery' from selecting 'wrong' combo of screen settings for KDE: (Composer Off - first tick box, Crisp or Accurate and not Smooth scaling, OpenGL 3.1 and no vertical blanking works at this moment).

When you exit openbox, select plasma and it should work...

Oh, a quick word about recovery:
Ctrl+Alt+F1 to go to virtual console,

Code: Select all

sudo init 3
sudo init 5
and then select openbox and from there change KDE settings. I am sure you can change them from ~/.kde but I never had time to learn all the intricate details of them...
Exit openbox, select plasma and you're back in...

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clicky
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:04 pm

DavidS wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:29 pm
Kool that you are doing well with a super bloated setup.
I might be wrong, but I wouldn't call it 'bloated', really, or in that matter 'super' bloated. :)

I don't expect it caused too much of a disk usage (what is a couple of hundreds of megabytes :roll: if that much) nor memory usage:

Code: Select all

free -h
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:          3.6Gi       751Mi       2.0Gi       193Mi       885Mi       2.6Gi
Swap:          99Mi          0B        99Mi
with Chromium running and Konsole. I'm now curious to see the same usage on original window manager that came with Raspbian.

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DavidS
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:18 pm

clicky wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:04 pm
DavidS wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:29 pm
Kool that you are doing well with a super bloated setup.
I might be wrong, but I wouldn't call it 'bloated', really, or in that matter 'super' bloated. :)

I don't expect it caused too much of a disk usage (what is a couple of hundreds of megabytes :roll: if that much) nor memory usage:

Code: Select all

free -h
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:          3.6Gi       751Mi       2.0Gi       193Mi       885Mi       2.6Gi
Swap:          99Mi          0B        99Mi
with Chromium running and Konsole. I'm now curious to see the same usage on original window manager that came with Raspbian.
Well that is certainly quite bloated. With Chromium, OpenSCAD, Slic3r, RPCEmu (to have a little RISC OS while in Linux), and xterm running (plus the normal background cruft), in LXDE I have (Raspberry Pi 3B):

Code: Select all

$ free -h
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:           874M        340M         67M         27M        466M        451M
Swap:            0B          0B          0B
Again I run with swapoff -a.

And this is even extremely bloated, to do the same tasks on RISC OS would take about a fourth of that RAM (and that is with a memory wasting JS capable Web Browser).
RPi = The best ARM based RISC OS computer around
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clicky
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:16 pm

OK - Now I did like for like - same RPi, fresh, empty noobs sdcard vs raspbian with KDE, same screen resolution, etc...
(only thing that's not 'far' to compare is KDE has a few 'widgets' more (ram usage, temperature gauge, CPU monitor):

noobs exactly 200Mi (for used in 'free' command)
raspbian with KDE 429Mi

So, still I wouldn't call it 'super' nor 'extremely' bloated given 4GBi of total memory... :)
Quite acceptable in my books.

- - -

In other news: installed VS Code (code-oss) and it works quite reasonably, too.

tpylkko
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:53 pm

Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't Raspbian have tasksel as it is a Debian derivative? That would make installing KDE a bit easier/complete.

https://wiki.debian.org/tasksel

I don't know if I would be comfortable using a large desktop with 3D animations and other intensive stuff.

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clicky
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:57 pm

tpylkko wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:53 pm
Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't Raspbian have tasksel as it is a Debian derivative? That would make installing KDE a bit easier/complete.
No idea about tasksel really...
tpylkko wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:53 pm
I don't know if I would be comfortable using a large desktop with 3D animations and other intensive stuff.
I was slightly worried about it, too, but many stuff are switched off, can be switched off or just do not work. I've been using it all day now and it didn't cause me any issue so far. After all, this is fastest Raspberry Pi and computer faster than original were those effects were first introduced (Actually - that's the fact many people just forget or never lived in that time to understand. Today it seems that if it is not overkill machine then it cannot perform :roll:)

I am just waiting to see what is needed for compositor to be fixed on RPi and really see those effects spring in life. Raspberry Pi's GPU is not that bad!

binaryhermit
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 6:20 pm

Not that GPUs need to be that good for 3d effects

(recalls the good old days of Beryl on an Intel i845 GPU)

wren
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:01 pm

It is faster on average than my 07 Core2Duo MacMini.
Image
edit: It was PG rated X-Files episode that happened to land on a questionable scene. Sorry.
Last edited by wren on Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

cspan
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:11 am

Wren: Those images in the upper right window of your screen capture look rather morbid and disturbing. You might want to pick something else when illustrating multiple windows here. Sorry if this seems prudish but it looks like a bunch of crime scene photos of murdered human beings to me.

interestedindividual
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:02 pm

I've installed kde via tasksel on raspbian buster for my pi 4. It was super easy. There are a couple of hiccups. No acceleration for rendering. Opengl doesn't work. Xrender is fine. There are some apps that don't recognise the network connection in kde including the packaging apps. It is a totally useable system so far as I can see, only having used it a couple of days.

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clicky
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:37 pm

interestedindividual wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:02 pm
I've installed kde via tasksel on raspbian buster for my pi 4. It was super easy. There are a couple of hiccups. No acceleration for rendering. Opengl doesn't work. Xrender is fine.
That's interesting - OpenGL3.1 selected works for me. Now, does it really use it or just showing it is using it - no idea.

"It is a totally useable system so far as I can see, only having used it a couple of days." :+1:

At the moment I am struggling getting Eclipse (4.11 or about) compiled on Pi4 and failed to install Citrix Receiver (which I might need for work) - but otherwise so far so good! :)

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schorsch76
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:01 pm

I currently write from my pi4. I try to use it as a desktop too. Has anyone tried to visit amazon.de from it? It looks like it is expecting something it does not get.
Amazon.jpg
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DirkS
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:34 pm

schorsch76 wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:01 pm
I currently write from my pi4. I try to use it as a desktop too. Has anyone tried to visit amazon.de from it? It looks like it is expecting something it does not get.
Just tried it and it showed up as expected

jamesh
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:56 pm

clicky wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:37 pm
interestedindividual wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:02 pm
I've installed kde via tasksel on raspbian buster for my pi 4. It was super easy. There are a couple of hiccups. No acceleration for rendering. Opengl doesn't work. Xrender is fine.
That's interesting - OpenGL3.1 selected works for me. Now, does it really use it or just showing it is using it - no idea.

"It is a totally useable system so far as I can see, only having used it a couple of days." :+1:

At the moment I am struggling getting Eclipse (4.11 or about) compiled on Pi4 and failed to install Citrix Receiver (which I might need for work) - but otherwise so far so good! :)
I would be interested in knowing how on earth you compile Eclipse. In my attempts the system was so complicated I was unable to make it compile. Even Debian are thinking of dropping Eclipse from their repos because building it is so difficult.

(I like Code::Blocks, and VSCode seems to work fine on the Pi4)
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LTolledo
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:24 pm

am using a RPi3B+ as main desktop (since April 2018)
prior to that I was using RPi3B as desktop (bought is Oct 2016, but used as main desktop from May 2017). Still being used as secondary desktop unit.
myRPi3B+Desktop.jpg
myRPi3B+Desktop.jpg (104.01 KiB) Viewed 3131 times

RPi3B+overRealVNConRPi3B.jpg
RPi3B+overRealVNConRPi3B.jpg (95.32 KiB) Viewed 3131 times

when the RPi4B arrives, it will push the RPi3B+ down to secondary desktop... the RPi3B as file server/NAS #2
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Come to me with 'problems' and I'll help you find solutions"

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interestedindividual
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:31 am

clicky wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:37 pm
interestedindividual wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:02 pm
I've installed kde via tasksel on raspbian buster for my pi 4. It was super easy. There are a couple of hiccups. No acceleration for rendering. Opengl doesn't work. Xrender is fine.
That's interesting - OpenGL3.1 selected works for me. Now, does it really use it or just showing it is using it - no idea.

"It is a totally useable system so far as I can see, only having used it a couple of days." :+1:

At the moment I am struggling getting Eclipse (4.11 or about) compiled on Pi4 and failed to install Citrix Receiver (which I might need for work) - but otherwise so far so good! :)
I'm interested to know how you got that working? Did you install with tasksel?

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clicky
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:49 pm

jamesh wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 8:56 pm
I would be interested in knowing how on earth you compile Eclipse. In my attempts the system was so complicated I was unable to make it compile. Even Debian are thinking of dropping Eclipse from their repos because building it is so difficult.
I order not to derail this subject - I've just created new topic here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/view ... 1&t=244765
interestedindividual wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:31 am
I'm interested to know how you got that working? Did you install with tasksel?
Eclipse or Citrix Receiver? For the latter - answer is no (again new topic should really be added for it) - there's issue with some library that has newer version under Buster (libxercces? - something like that) and it cannot work with older version.
LTolledo wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:24 pm
am using a RPi3B+ as main desktop (since April 2018)
prior to that I was using RPi3B as desktop (bought is Oct 2016, but used as main desktop from May 2017). Still being used as secondary desktop unit.

when the RPi4B arrives, it will push the RPi3B+ down to secondary desktop... the RPi3B as file server/NAS #2
:+1: You'll see what kind of difference 4GB of memory, faster CPU and GPU and 4K screen makes :D Do report here...

Prince Hal
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:25 pm

Having used the 2GB and 4GB versions for a few days, I can say that the Raspi 4B is by far the closest to being a plausible desktop computer of any of the Raspis. No surprise there.

Is it as good as my iMac 5K from five years ago? No. Is it better than my Raspi 3B+? Absolutely.

There will always be things that are either impossible to do or not possible to do satisfactorily on a $35-55 computer that you can do on a $1000-2000 computer, so the Raspi will never be a complete desktop replacement for everybody. But the combination of high video resolution, increased RAM, faster network and USB3 ports make it a usable desktop computer for non-power users.

I've seen some YouTube videos reviewing the Pi 4B that complain it's being over-hyped by Eben & Co. While there may be some truth to that, in my experience it's a significant upgrade and well worth buying.

The two current issues that need attention are (1) the video playback still needs improvement, e.g. watching YouTube in HD is still not quite working, although lower resolution works reasonably well; and (2) the thing does get hot, although a tiny fan will lower the temp by 10 degrees or more.

I suspect future software updates will improve (1) and that (2) is not that serious a problem for the typical user not trying to run lots of compilers or deep learning programs. Frankly, I couldn't watch YouTube videos on the 3B+ and with the 4B I can, so good on the Raspi engineers.

jamesh
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:33 pm

Prince Hal wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:25 pm
Having used the 2GB and 4GB versions for a few days, I can say that the Raspi 4B is by far the closest to being a plausible desktop computer of any of the Raspis. No surprise there.

Is it as good as my iMac 5K from five years ago? No. Is it better than my Raspi 3B+? Absolutely.

There will always be things that are either impossible to do or not possible to do satisfactorily on a $35-55 computer that you can do on a $1000-2000 computer, so the Raspi will never be a complete desktop replacement for everybody. But the combination of high video resolution, increased RAM, faster network and USB3 ports make it a usable desktop computer for non-power users.

I've seen some YouTube videos reviewing the Pi 4B that complain it's being over-hyped by Eben & Co. While there may be some truth to that, in my experience it's a significant upgrade and well worth buying.

The two current issues that need attention are (1) the video playback still needs improvement, e.g. watching YouTube in HD is still not quite working, although lower resolution works reasonably well; and (2) the thing does get hot, although a tiny fan will lower the temp by 10 degrees or more.

I suspect future software updates will improve (1) and that (2) is not that serious a problem for the typical user not trying to run lots of compilers or deep learning programs. Frankly, I couldn't watch YouTube videos on the 3B+ and with the 4B I can, so good on the Raspi engineers.
If you are happy to try prerelease software, try an 'rpi-update' and the video in Chromium tests again. Been trying it this afternoon and 1080p was working fine in a window or fullscreen. Occasional tearing, which is a consequence of X11 and Chromium being single buffered, but otherwise seemed fine. This is on a 1200p60 display.
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Gomoto
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:48 pm

The amazon issue is only a firefox issue not a chromium issue. I think it is related to the arm firefox version?

jamesh
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:54 pm

Gomoto wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:48 pm
The amazon issue is only a firefox issue not a chromium issue. I think it is related to the arm firefox version?
Ah, we have spent lots of time optimising Chromium, haven't touched Firefox.
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Gomoto
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Re: Pi4 as Desktop computer

Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:30 pm

and chromium works very good on the pi :-)

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