rimrunner
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Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:14 pm

I wonder how it would be like to use Raspberry Pi 4 (with 4 GB ram) as a primary desktop computer at home.

RPI4 seems to have enough CPU power and ram to run YouTube and rest of the typical websurfing smoothly, I presume (smoothly at least for a person like me who have uses a 13 year old desktop computer model and 14 years old laptop model).

Needless to say, you wouldn't be able to use applications that require lots of more CPU power, but what other problems might appear if we compare the use of RPI4 to using a traditional desktop computer?

fruitoftheloom
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:17 pm

rimrunner wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:14 pm
I wonder how it would be like to use Raspberry Pi 4 (with 4 GB ram) as a primary desktop computer at home.

RPI4 seems to have enough CPU power and ram to run YouTube and rest of the typical websurfing smoothly, I presume.

Needless to say, you wouldn't be able to use applications that require lots of more CPU power, but what other problems might appear if we compare the use of RPI4 to using a traditional desktop computer?

So this multi-page forum post never came into your searches:

https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/view ... 3&t=244171
Retired disgracefully.....

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clicky
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:02 pm

Not only I was willing but I am using it now! :)

LTolledo
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:31 pm

Been using, and still using, a RPi3B (not the 3B+) as a desktop computer
am using it now to write to this forum...
still can browse the internet with ease
can watch youtube channels
play video using Kodi
make, edit and flash codes to microchips
edit pictures
no complaints.

I do have an RPi4B-4G desktop
and a RPi3B+ desktop as well
same use as listed above...
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Pulsar33
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:27 pm

Hello,

It would be very fine but after 3 or 4 weeks of tests with Raspbian, Gentoo, Manjaro, ... I must say that RPi4 :
- has very limited audio capabilities (no pulseaudio, no serious mixing, loss of stereo in some cases, A2DP Sink problems, ...)
- needs to compile the kernel if you want to use apparmor
- has only firefox-esr 60.9 available instead of firefox 69.0
- miss many applications (vidcutter, FreeFileSync, OBS Studio, kdenlive, and more) not compiled for armhf
- is useless if you expect to run applications under wine or virtualbox

I'm not sure that this list is complete but I'm sure that all is not Rpi4's fault. Anyway, if you want to make hard work about audio, video or virtual machines, you can't use the RPi4 as a desktop replacement.

This is only my point of view at this time. Hope it will change in the future.
Best regards.
Pulsar33
Pi 4 with 4Gb memory, DVB TV pHAT ------------------- Desktop : Core i5 Linux MINT 19.2

bjtheone
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:17 am

Pulsar33 wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:27 pm
- has very limited audio capabilities (no pulseaudio, no serious mixing, loss of stereo in some cases, A2DP Sink problems, ...)
- needs to compile the kernel if you want to use apparmor
- has only firefox-esr 60.9 available instead of firefox 69.0
- miss many applications (vidcutter, FreeFileSync, OBS Studio, kdenlive, and more) not compiled for armhf
- is useless if you expect to run applications under wine or virtualbox
First off audio is a tad sketchy on Linux. Pulseaudio a bit of a mess. I say this as someone who has been running Linux for a long time and who used to get paid by large companies to admin, design and support Unix based CAD design systems. A simple, it just works approach makes sense for most of their user base. If you want to setup pulseaudio it certainly is doable. There also are lots of audio/DAC hats if you want to get serious sound. I am happily listening to Spotify in stereo as I type this on a 4B.

My first reaction to apparmor is why, just why? For a home box, unless you are a serious tinfoil practitioner it is perhaps overkill. Not running with a wide open network, with default passwords is serious security for most home users.

Firefox will come. RPT is supporting Chromium. Someone will step up with a Firefox build. Personally, I walked away from Firefox years ago. Chromium just works better in a multiplatform environment. They don't have the resources to do both and picked the better of the two in my opinion.

A system with 4 GB is probably never going to be a good video editing platform. My bet is that with the release of the Pi 4B - 4G you will start seeing these tools getting built since it is now doable, though slow.

There are solution for running Wine.

Anyways, it comes down to your use case. It brilliantly addresses mine, and replaces an aging laptop that was my main office machine.For me it most definitely is a primary desktop computer.

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Pulsar33
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:49 am

I don't want to flood this thread and as you and me said : it depends on the use case. I simply compare what I can do with the two computers identified in my signature and I feel that RPi4 has not the same capabilities as my Desktop (which is not so recent).

This doesn't made RPi4 a bad computer. It can be enough for you or other. I just wanted to highlight some limitations, as a reply to the thread title.

Just in short for your information following your remarks :
- Audio : my desktop can capture, mix, export, stream multiple audio sources without any HW add.
- Apparmor : due to the lack of (working and maintained) application firewall under Linux
- Firefox : my choice
- Video : I do heavy video processing with my desktop and 4 GB memory ...
- Wine : even if it can run, you'll have difficulties to find executable compiled for armhf
- Virtualbox : even if it could run, you won't find VM or installers compiled for amrhf (Windows, Mac, ...)

Once more, this is only my point of view at this time. Hope it will change in the future.
Best regards.
Pulsar33
Pi 4 with 4Gb memory, DVB TV pHAT ------------------- Desktop : Core i5 Linux MINT 19.2

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5t4n5
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:53 am

I'm using my Pi 4 as a part time desktop with the plan of replacing my windows 7 box when that stops getting supported. I'm slowly getting used to linux.

Have mine clocked to 2gig cpu and 600 gpu, temp controlled fan that keeps it nice and cool, also boots nicely from a 120gb SSD and so far so good as an every day computer for general things. Using it right now to write this.

My only gripe is that i'd really like Firefox, but it's not a deal breaker to use chromium. And fingers crossed Firefox will become available at some future day.

For £54 it's a bargain.
Honestly, i've no idea what i'm doing. :oops:

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Gavinmc42
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:29 am

Firefox 68.0.2
Attachments
firefoxwg.png
firefoxwg.png (162.68 KiB) Viewed 2249 times
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pagenotfound
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:40 am

Pulsar33 wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:27 pm
Hello,

It would be very fine but after 3 or 4 weeks of tests with Raspbian, Gentoo, Manjaro, ... I must say that RPi4 :
- has very limited audio capabilities (no pulseaudio, no serious mixing, loss of stereo in some cases, A2DP Sink problems, ...)
- needs to compile the kernel if you want to use apparmor
- has only firefox-esr 60.9 available instead of firefox 69.0
- miss many applications (vidcutter, FreeFileSync, OBS Studio, kdenlive, and more) not compiled for armhf
- is useless if you expect to run applications under wine or virtualbox

I'm not sure that this list is complete but I'm sure that all is not Rpi4's fault. Anyway, if you want to make hard work about audio, video or virtual machines, you can't use the RPi4 as a desktop replacement.

This is only my point of view at this time. Hope it will change in the future.
Best regards.
Pulsar33
No Pulseaudio? AFAIK, it comes preinstalled with Raspbian. But: Just say no. As another poster here said, Linux audio can be a bit of a mess. I have found that, more often than not, Pulseaudio is the problem, not the solution.

Here's what I do:

radically uninstall Pulseaudio.

Install ALSA and all related utilities. Make sure everything so far is correctly configured.

If I want to run music production software, install JACK on top of ALSA

If I just want to run Firefox, which requires Pulseaudio, install apulse. This emulates enough of Pulseaudio for most use cases. Change the command in the menu entry for Firefox from

"firefox %u"

to

to "apulse firefox %u"

This will then automatically be reflected in Desktop or Task Bar entries you create later.

Regarding Firefox, Raspbian follows Debian, which - officially - only supports Firefox ESR. Debian is curremtly testing Firefox 68 ESR, but it looks like they want to wait until Mozilla's grace period is over before they make the switch.

Little known fact: Debian also compiles other versions of Firefox https://snapshot.debian.org/binary/firefox/ which you can install but you'll have to manually update some dependencies in the same manner.

Elsewhere in this forum you'll find instructions to include Ubuntu repositories in your sources list and install the latest Firefox from there.

Regarding video software, I just installed Kdenlive on a Pi 4 with all suggested or recommended packages and I can preview a 1280x720 2.500 kbit/s MP4. I made zero attempts to optimize Raspian or Kdenlive for this. Actually, I'm almost sure I have it all wrong because I deactivated the OpenGL related stuff.

BTW, there are alternatives. I hear Openshot has improved a lot.

Generally speaking, if you want live preview, don't get too fancy with video editing on the Pi. Some video editors can semi-automatically use low resolution proxy files until the final render, though.

jamesh
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:52 am

Pulse audio is not installed by default, and if you have it installed, it's probably best to uninstall it. It's really not great.
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pagenotfound
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:23 am

jamesh wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:52 am
Pulse audio is not installed by default, and if you have it installed, it's probably best to uninstall it. It's really not great.
Must have been automatically installed as a dependency on my Raspian, then. I'm long past the point where I would intentionally install it.

Weirdly, it's not a dependency of Firefox, not even suggested.

emma1997
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:24 pm

LTolledo wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:31 pm
make, edit and flash codes to microchips
You wouldn't happen to have experience with programming Atmel AVR under latest OS? This is one of the last barriers to my use as 'primary' PC. I had it working on a PC with USBASP but not on Pi and a couple different tutorials using GPIO w/o success either.

Other than that pretty much the same desktop functions as in your list. Maybe not so 'primary' ATM. lol

Technocolour
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:15 pm

emma1997 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:24 pm
LTolledo wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:31 pm
make, edit and flash codes to microchips
You wouldn't happen to have experience with programming Atmel AVR under latest OS? This is one of the last barriers to my use as 'primary' PC. I had it working on a PC with USBASP but not on Pi and a couple different tutorials using GPIO w/o success either.

Other than that pretty much the same desktop functions as in your list. Maybe not so 'primary' ATM. lol
I'm not at home to test, so I guess that a buspirate with avrdude doesn't work?

*edit*
I went home, and sure enough, I can install avrdude. Bullshitting it with "avrdude -c buspirate -p c32 -P /dev/ttyUSB0" gives me:

Code: Select all

Attempting to initiate BusPirate binary mode...
avrdude: Paged flash write enabled.
avrdude: initialization failed, rc=-2
         Double check connections and try again, or use -F to override
         this check.


avrdude done.  Thank you.
And more interesting to you I guess, under supported devices:

Code: Select all

  usbasp           = USBasp, http://www.fischl.de/usbasp/
  usbasp-clone     = Any usbasp clone with correct VID/PID
  
Last edited by Technocolour on Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Fraoch
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:29 pm

pagenotfound wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:40 am
Just say no. As another poster here said, Linux audio can be a bit of a mess.
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cruster
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:20 pm

rimrunner wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:14 pm
I wonder how it would be like to use Raspberry Pi 4 (with 4 GB ram) as a primary desktop computer at home.

RPI4 seems to have enough CPU power and ram to run YouTube and rest of the typical websurfing smoothly, I presume (smoothly at least for a person like me who have uses a 13 year old desktop computer model and 14 years old laptop model).

Needless to say, you wouldn't be able to use applications that require lots of more CPU power, but what other problems might appear if we compare the use of RPI4 to using a traditional desktop computer?
It depends on what you want to run? There is a much much, greater variety of software that will run on windows than anything Linux based or Raspberry Pi. So, you're up against that limitation to begin with compared with a Windows desktop.

If you're looking at Photoshop (for instance) which likes lots of ram, then you'll encounter all sorts of problems. Gimp is the alternative and... yeah.

Youtube? when the Pi4 first came out, was jerky and horrible. (See various threads on this site) That's now improved somewhat but there is still tearing visible, a probem that seems unlikely to be solved until perhaps another revision of the Pi? Or whatever needs to be fixed software wise. Or both?

If you just want to browse the web, compose emails, do a bit of programming, watch Youtube (screen tearing an issue to some) & explore the stuff the Pi comes with then it's "adequate" If you want to use it for truly embedded stuff, (which I think you don't - but I'll mention anyway) it's probably not the best choice as there's an operating system in the way. But, it will very easily allow you to "dip a toe in the water" - look at Arduino/AVR/PIC instead if your interests take you in that direction.

Either way, it's quite a little miracle, for the price point.
So, I'd say. Buy one. Prod & poke it and see what you think? :-)

cruster
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:27 pm

Oh! Just to add. One other drawback. (Over a Win desktop) is - you will have to learn the command line crpytology that is Linux. :shock:

scottf
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:43 pm

I'm giving using a Pi as my desktop a whirl. I had a desktop i5 machine with dual displays on my desk at home. I used it mostly to do a lot of reading, some writing, a small amount of coding, and remote-connecting to a whole raft of servers and network equipment for work. I don't really play games, but I do watch movies and shows from my Plex server and listen to music from Plex and Spotify quite a bit. The box I had was big, hot, kind of noisy, and took up around 60L of volume under my desk.

I got a 4 GB Pi 4, a Flirc case, a USB hub, and a USB3-SSD adapter. I had a lightly used 250 GB SSD, and I have a FiiO external USB DAC that works with Linux for decent audio because the codec on the Pi is a bit lacklustre.

I've been running this setup for a couple of weeks now. Apart from having to give up Firefox in favour of Chromium, it seems to work pretty well. I ran Fedora Linux on my old machine, so I'm having to adjust to the Debianisms of Raspbian, but that's minor. I have been able to remote into my work stuff using SSH, Remmina, and the Chrome Citrix Workspace plugin without difficulty.

My luxurious secret weapon to overcome any shortcomings is that I have a FreeNAS server in the basement with some beefy hardware, and I have my home directory on there shared to the Pi via NFS that mounts at boot time. All my media stuff is on there too, and I can run virtual machines under FreeNAS with more powerful hardware as the need arises and just remote connect from the Pi.

The benefit to me is that I have a silent, relatively cool computer at my desk that lets me do everything I need, and I can stretch out my legs because there is no old-school tower case under my desk. I'm also saving quite a bit of wattage compared to the old machine.

bjtheone
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:31 am

cruster wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:27 pm
Oh! Just to add. One other drawback. (Over a Win desktop) is - you will have to learn the command line crpytology that is Linux. :shock:
Or looked at another way it ships with a full GUI environment and as an added extra bonus a complete set of high performance command line utilities that will let you do stuff that a Windows user only dreams of. It all depends about where you come from. Personally I find it hilarious that Windows is dabbling in Linux with bash and a Linux kernel and WSL. Oh look its powershell for grownups...

If you want to live abstracted any from all your apps and data you certainly can in Linux. The biggest difference is that you get to choose, and it is easy to dip your toe in the deep end of the pool.

Kidding aside, there is very very little you have to do at the command line if you don't want to. My wife has no issues with surfing the net on one of my laptops. She logs in, she double clicks on the browser icon, which presents her the same set of bookmarks etc as she gets on her windows laptop and off she goes. Online stuff is her biggest use case. The funny thing is that she wants to stick with Windows for her laptop as that is the app set she "knows". She is running OpenOffice.

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bomblord
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:09 am

All I ever use a desktop for is web browsing, some incredibly light image editing (ex making memes or sharing pictures on social media with color correction), just random tinkering, and occasionally I get a desire to play a game... The game part I just ignore unless it's emulation or Morrowind.

Anyway in my use case it far exceeds anything I would ever want to do with it. It even supported my 21x9 monitor out of the box.

goodburner
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:46 am

It can be used as a desktop computer.

I'm really happy with the recent updates of eeprom, firmware, rpi-ui, rpi-chromium-mods and other packages that have greatly improved web browsing on my Pi 4B 4GB ram.

Ultimately it depends on what you are looking to do with your desktop computer, but for most of my purposes, which excludes gaming and video rendering and other heavy duty stuff, it performs exceedingly well and I'm happy to have it.

jcyr
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Oct 02, 2019 3:45 am

goodburner wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:46 am
I'm really happy with the recent updates of eeprom, firmware, rpi-ui, rpi-chromium-mods and other packages that have greatly improved web browsing on my Pi 4B 4GB ram.
Quite true, but I sure miss Firefox.
It's um...uh...well it's kinda like...and it's got a bit of...

pagenotfound
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:50 am

Fraoch wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:29 pm
pagenotfound wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:40 am
Just say no. As another poster here said, Linux audio can be a bit of a mess.
Image
To be fair, that picture was popular 10 years ago. And it shows there are direct connections between Alsa and the actual audio device and from Gstreamer to Alsa. That's how it should be. Leave out as much of the other nonsense and legacy stuff as possible and you should be OK. Maybe use JACK if you want multitrack, low latency connections between different Programs and whatnot.

BTW, "Just say no" is quoted out of context. I was specifically refering to Pulseaudio.

pagenotfound
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:24 am

jcyr wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 3:45 am
goodburner wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:46 am
I'm really happy with the recent updates of eeprom, firmware, rpi-ui, rpi-chromium-mods and other packages that have greatly improved web browsing on my Pi 4B 4GB ram.
Quite true, but I sure miss Firefox.
I used Firefox even on the Pi 3 for years. I was a bit unhappy that Raspian/Debian didn't update it for a long time but it worked. Later on I discovered Jdonald's builds of FF 64/65.

Now on the Pi 4 there's just one prominent (and totally ridiculous) bug remaining that separates me from pure bliss. It was introduced somewhere after FF 60 and is fixed in FF 67 so it will be gone in FF ESR 68 when Debian finally goes ahead with it.

rbscebu
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Re: Raspberry Pi 4 as a primary desktop computer?

Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:42 am

I am currently using an old ASUS B202 in my office with Win XP/Ubuntu 18.04 dual boot. The Win XP is only kept and used because of AutoCAD. Everything else is done in Ubuntu. With a 32 bit single core 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of RAM my B202 is starting to show its age.

I was going to buy a new mini computer to replace the B202 but then the RPi4B with 4GB RAM became available (I already have an RPi3B+ to play with) so I thought that I would give that a go. So far I am impressed. I have not yet tried using dual monitors but that could be an added bonus that most other affordable PC's do not provide.

My main needs are an office suite (LibreOffice), browser (Firefox), VeraCrypt (security necessity), KeePass and a decent CAD program (2D only required). So far I have all these up and running the way I want on the RPi4B except CAD. There has been a slight learning curve going from Ubuntu to Raspian but that keeps my brain active.

Next project will be to see if I can get BricsCAD working on the RPi4B. If that works the way I want, the B202 get given to the poor (if they will take it).
RPi4B 4GB with Raspian Buster
RPi3B+ with Raspian Buster
RPi0W with Raspian Buster

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