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What’s Wrong with the Raspberry Pi (ownyourbits.com)
253 points by thunderbong on Feb 2, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 154 comments

It’s nice that the rpi project has been received warmly but I think it’s success has come at a price here.

If anyone remembers why the rpi started life: it was to get cheap affordable hackable “computers” in front of kids and hobbyists for programming purposes.

The affordability and ease of use has become a bar that everything else is measured by “that’s x times more expensive than a pi” is a common response when better solutions for your use-case exist.

The raspberry pi has made many compromises to be at the price it is. No dedicated Ethernet controller, no SATA bridge, no eMMC-

It’s literally the definition of suffering from success because now it seems people don’t judge it on what it was meant to do; just on what it’s possible to do with it.

It’s worth remembering that it is not meant as a one size fits all general purpose computer. It’s a hobbyist programming board.

Yes. What I love about the Pi is its versatility at a "disposable" price point. I can repurpose it for any project that takes my fancy at that moment without worrying too much if things go wrong. It's great! It might not be particularly good at any one thing but it's great for experimenting.

However if I have a specific long term purpose in mind I will look elsewhere.

> However if I have a specific long term purpose in mind I will look elsewhere.

I still use my 512mb pi1 for Kodi. That is, mostly watching clips/photos from my camera or occasionally sending it a YouTube link from my android tablet. The ui is a bit sluggish today but if you browse your library via an external app it doesn't even matter. I'm really curious how long it will last for that purpose.

I put a bunch of Rpis in 6" airtight boxes with an lcd screen running continuously outdoors from glaring direct sunlight in 100 degree summers to below zero winter with ice and snow piling up on the boxes.

The only problems I ever had with the dozen or so units after 2 years was a few sd card failures. I believe these were all rpi 2.

Out of curiosity, what was the application?

They were data gathering devices for small, remote oil and gas wells.

"The affordability and ease of use has become a bar that everything else is measured by “that’s x times more expensive than a pi” is a common response when better solutions for your use-case exist"

Yes to a point, but then these conversations always end up recommending $100+ Nucs. If some one asks for a cheap run about, a Ferrari isn't the answer. Although I will admit people ask for cheap run abouts that do 200mph with v8 engines.

"people don’t judge it on what it was meant to do; just on what it’s possible to do with it"

Doesn't this go both ways? Its possible to use it as a desktop, which it may not be very good for. Its equally possible to use it for many 100s of things that weren't intended.

I suppose at minimum you expect it to do what it was designed to do. But it succeeds because of what its possible to do with it?

Well, people don't even really look around, if you're using a distro like raspbian then you have incredible support for many SoC boards.

For example, something like a kodi would run _great_ on an orangepi winplus, since that board has a dedicated gigabit ethernet controller (so the full CPU is left available for actual decoding) and hardware accelerators for x265[0] and it costs about $40 depending on where you buy it of course. That's not "ferrari prices"

For micro-NAS appliances there's things that have existed for _years_ like the cubietruck which has an open source design, gigabit ethernet (dedicated controller) and SATA headers. Even has on-board eMMC.[1] and can still be purchased for around $80

This is what I know of off the top of my head, I'm sure if you look around you can find a _lot_ of boards that have your own particular needs. Not every problem fits in raspberry shaped holes.

[0] http://www.orangepi.org/OrangePiWin_WinPlus/

[1] https://www.newit.co.uk/shop/Cubieboard_3

On the eMMC side the RPI compute models do support it.

Though they come with a different set of tradeoffs the devkit is reasonably priced.

Thank you for saying this. I've been pointing this out forever and it always results in a massive downvote. The educational angle of the Pi is long long gone.

And what really intrigues me is how much time people will spend trying to get this SBC to do something in a one-off project when an extra $75-$150 will get them a system that can do much much more out of the box.

Does that more powerful $100-150 system have an ecosystem comparble to Pi's? Programming tools, shields, etc?

I suppose that could be a significant factor for some (but not all).

I think fear of the unknown here is part of the problem.

The real answer is: "yes, but".

Yes, there's a strong ecosystem elsewhere, the raspbian project deserves _major_ kudos for supporting so many boards and so well, anything listed on their site is basically plug and play, sometimes linux has to be coaxed into doing SPI, but that's Linux itself.

"But" you should have learned how SBC's are working already. Pi's are not the first and last word in SBCs and it's wrong to hold them to that standard.

If you use RPI for it's intended purpose there's no reason you'd be in this position now; learning how GPIO pins work is one of the only things that will differ strongly on a PI vs something else.

Unless you're talking about third-party hardware being built for the platform?

The SoC differs significantly as well. Raspbian works so well on official boards that this isn’t an issue, but it certainly can be with less common boards. Other SBCs may require binary blobs for certain functionality, and if the manufacturer stops releasing updates then you’re stuck with the last one they made available.

In a lot of cases, and I'll be specific to my ecosystem of choice (NXP i.MX), yes. There are thousands of pages of documentation and TRMs, there's an active kernel tree, the bootloading process is open and documented, there are toolchains and Yocto recipes and etc. Is it perfect? Is the kernel mainline? No in both cases. But they exist.

And regarding shields, a lot of other SBCs have keyed into the Arduino and/or RPi shield setup. I'm working with a Broadcom EVK right now that's not meant for hobbyists, and even that board has an RPi shield header on it. Pick up any recent Kinetis-based board and it's got Arduino shields on it.

But let's think about the complaints the OP presented. He's bitching about the on-board ethernet PHY and whatnot. External add-ons aren't even the topic here.

Price point? It isnt cheap. Im in canada. Getting PI after tax/delivery is about 50$. Want a power supply, sd card and basic case? That will be closer to 100. My last netbook cost less than 200. My current phone 100. The PIs are not cheap. In canada, and i assume a great many other countries, they are very expensive toys.

I'm sorry your import fees are so high.

But those import fees are not going into the production of the board. It's a very cheap board to manufacture and the recommended retail price was (and continues to be) one of the core principles behind the products design.

Those arent import fees. It is local distributors taking a big cut. The PI should be sold openly, without local franchise deals. If i could order one from europe i would. The import fees would be minimal. I bring prototype electronics into canada all the time. Zero import fees for small orders.

Which is pretty disappointing considering the original plan of a $5 computer. I think they lost sight of their original goals pretty early on.

Yeah, except this was never their orginal plan.

There _is_ a $5 computer (i think the zero still costs that in microcenters). But that was never the original plan

Their original goal of being a charity promoting education in computing? I think you got the goals mixed up there.

Not all are compromise, some are strictly bad design. And, unless you get it from some discount offer, which to be fair does come frequently, it's just expensive relative to alternatives.

You should go back and read the blog posts from the project before it became a product you could buy. They talk in great detail about the cost of things and explain why the trade-offs made where the right ones for the original purpose.

The Pi is _easy_

Yes, the SD card sucks massive balls, PSU issues are less of a problem now that most people have decent fastcharge USB lying about now.

The support that the PI is worth _every_ tradeoff. It is not a server, You can use it as one, but you have to spend some money, and do some work.

Yes, I'd love a pi with emmc and proper ethernet. But, I don't want to have to support it myself. Virtually all the other pi clones require significant engineering time from me, _or_ are in a black hole of support, stuck on a hacked version of ubuntu 14/16.

For a real datastore, you need a proper atx board with more than one sata port. That means paying > £200(PSU, case, ram, motherboard). I have one of these, and I don't use it for anything other than storing data(no I don't use own/next cloud. I like my stuff reasonably secure.)

The pi is great for what it is. You're trying to make it do something its not designed to do, and its fighting back.

Part of the reason that PSU issues are less of a problem now is that, to some extent, they were just cover for a couple of actual flaws in the original Raspberry Pi.

The first screw-up was that they misread the data sheet for the USB hub and Ethernet chip they used and backpowered the entire 3.3V bus from its regulator, causing it to overheat and fall over. Since this caused every method of communicating with the Pi to fail the only solution was to reboot. (Not all boards were affected, it only happened if the voltage of the internal regulator was higher than the external one and every chip had a slightly different voltage.)

The second screw-up was a USB driver bug which caused it to send commands to the USB hub at invalid times if a full-speed or low-speed USB device was connected. Basically every USB keyboard and mouse on the planet is either a full-speed or low-speed device. This caused input issues and even complete hub lockups which were blamed on the keyboards and mice drawing too much power or users connecting an underpowered PSU. In reality, the Pi as originally released was incapable of reliably supporting pretty much any USB input device.

I don’t understand why other boards can’t get themselves fully on the Linux mainline, that would take away at least a part of the rPi advantage. There are still a lot of limitations there relative to an x86 computer, although I’m not clear how much those are limitations of the Linux Arm ecosystem, and how much those are to do with the lack of mainline support, the need for blob drivers etc. I wanted to test out a webcam on rPi, there’s as massive difference between just being able to install VLC from repositories as you can on x86, and what you have to do on rPi, to compile a special version to work with the rPi’s proprietary graphics/video stack.

> I don’t understand why other boards can’t get themselves fully on the Linux mainline

They're slowly getting pulled in kicking [1] and screaming [2]. I just installed the mainline arm64 version of Archlinux onto an Orange Pi Zero Plus, and I was pleasantly surprised that I only had to compile one out-of-tree driver (rtl8189fs for WiFi).

[1] https://linux-sunxi.org/Linux_mainlining_effort

[2] https://linux-sunxi.org/Mainline_U-Boot#Status

Many Amlogic boards are on fully upstream Linux, see http://linux-meson.com

I'd recommend Armbian, a nice distro for ARM SBC's: https://www.armbian.com/

Of course, as with everything in ARM-linux land, GPU drivers are still a WIP. For headless use, it works well though.

> The Pi is _easy_

The criticism of the article is not about the Pi being hard or something.

Thats the main thrust, it says it hard to host owncloud/netxtcloud because of the problems they've found.

> I don't use own/next cloud. I like my stuff reasonably secure

Why is nextcloud insecure? Could you provide more information please? (I am about to set up a server for personal use)

I'm curious too. Nextcloud seems to take a lot of security concerns into consideration: https://scan.nextcloud.com . Though there are still going to be server specific security issues Nextcloud won't be able to scan for (outdated packages, firewall configs, etc), not sure what's considered more secure except something offline?

No mention of SD card failure rates? By far one of the biggest shortcomings of pretty much every generation. I'm aware USB boot (only relatively recently) exists, but this lacks the cheerful simplicity of slotting in a ready-formatted SD card, especially for "appliance" style applications of the Pi.

If you want reliability, get an industrial grade microSD card. Here's a random option:


Do you have experience with it? Do you have link to any data? Why do you think it will improve reliability?

> Do you have experience with it?

I do.

> Do you have link to any data?

I spent a month plus at work tracking down SD card issues on a high availability project.

> Why do you think it will improve reliability?

They're made with not bottom of the barrel, failed everything else flash, do stuff like treat MLC as SLC by only putting 00 or 11 into a cell, have controller firmware that's playing significantly fewer games with your data, etc.

If you're shipping a product, some of the other things they do like exposing lot codes that mean something, taking bug reports even though you didn't a million units, and exposing internal status counters are really nice.

The 64GB card costs 145€. For 26€ you can get a 128GB SSD that is more reliable than any SD card on the market.

I'd love to see the data that backs that claim up. A link to the SSD would be a start. Then start pulling the power out on that thing, even when the filesystem is read-only. And then come back to us with the numbers... Yes, some SSDs have capacitors to let them finish the writes but your dirt cheap one probably won't.

Like I said it was a random example, there are many options for different models.

And yes, the pricing on a microSD is different than an SSD, the SSD is 100 times the weight.

From my point of view it is covered by whole section about power supplies. SD cards don't magically break because there is something wrong with RPi. They break because you loose power when writing operation is in progress.

I have 6 of RPi's and running at home without issues, no sd corruption running 24h for weeks now.

But I had a project where we used RPi as kiosk close to 10kv electric motor that was turning on and off periodically. Best power supply dedicated for RPi was not helping there because that was network fluctuation. I got loads of corrupted sd cards at that time.

This is one of the biggest issues outside of power supplies that I've had, I've got 10+ Pi's now, one of them in particular has chewed through SanDisk cards, sadly they'll not replace them under warranty unless you send them back.

The issue with that is the cards fail read-only and I won't send back cards with private data on.

I asked them if I can destroy the card first and they said no, because they have to test it in order to honour the warranty.

I moved the critical box (my home automation) to a NUC, the other Pi's are still doing fine.

It’s really not that bad if you’re using good quality cards. We’ve got a fleet of about 500 RPi based appliances in the wild, and over the course of a year will see 10 or so card failures - that’s a 2% failure rate. I’m pretty sure we could get it lower than that by doing some fairly minor tweaks to our base image such as sending logs to a tmpfs mount rather than disk.

I have a Pi running as a WireGuard VPN into my home, to ensure it lasts, given my other SD issues, I made some tweaks to the system, tmpfs for logs and mounted read-only on boot.

It's going strong and for updates I just issue a quick remount and I can change what I need.

Is that a straight forward approach? If you know of a resource about it I'd be interested.

I started looking into layered filesystems for that purpose. Treat the main disk as read-only and have a writable layer in RAM that you can periodically commit to disk when desired.

But it seemed to be quite cumbersome to setup.

It's fairly straightforward if you know what you're doing. I did it myself, I had been meaning to put a blog together about it but never got around to it, you know how these things go. I'm happy to give some pointers or find something that looks suitable when I get home, if you like.

Edit: This is pretty close to what I've done with mine: https://petr.io/en/blog/2015/11/09/read-only-raspberry-pi-wi...

When I need to update I just run the remount command (IMPORTANT: on both /boot and /), make your changes, perform your updates, clean up the apt cache, then remount read-only or just reboot.

I'm concerned that as density increases and TLC (and QLC) sd cards become the norm, the controllers will be forced to implement read-levelling as most SSDs already do. Once that happens, even your read-only filesystem is going to start doing writes and then we are back to square one.

It's not perfect, but this isn't a replacement to the tried and tested, fail-safe method of backing things up.

Any decent safety solution needs to be multi-tiered;

I backup my configs to Git, make a backup of the now read-only filesystem after you've set this up and put it somewhere safe, and when the worst happens, restore to a new card, or build from the backup configs.

I don't keep anything critical on Pi SD cards, that's why losing so many cards has been little more than an inconvenience.

For read-only filesystems, a simple copy of the card in multiple locations, on and off-site is good, for read-write, backups configs to Git, RAID arrays and off-site.

If the system is time-critical, first, I would suggest not running it on a Pi, use something more reliable (I moved my home automation to a NUC because it's more reliable than the Pis were), or, use multiple Pi's in redundancy, even half a dozen Pis is cheaper than a NUC if your use-case supports distributing the load.

It's just a big hassle when you've got a machine that you wanted to provision and forget about. I think I'll just move to booting from nfs and be done with it.

There's also netboot. It works pretty well and means you never touch flash media at all.

Perhaps because that's not specific to the pi and the same issue is present on every SBC (unless you jump up in price dramatically, but you could argue that's the case for the network speed issue, and in fact most of the article).

Would be quite handy if there was a model with built-in SSD level flash storage (8, 16GB or something like that) and option to write the image on that storage by just connecting the device to computer USB port.

Surely that would make the problem worse? Flash storage wears, and is inescapable with current tech. Building it into the device is the worst of both worlds.

"worst of both worlds" is not quite right

Some SD cards are unreliable because they are removable storage and some vendors therefore think they can get away with sketchy quality. As soon as you solder on the storage (aka eMMC), reliability requirements shoot up through the roof and vendors tend to do a good job of ensuring quality and reliability.

However my suggestion is to just use an external SSD which are dirt cheap compared to SD cards (128GB for 26€).

Are all problems due to the SD card itself? At least with the RPi 2, I've been having some problems where I need to jiggle the card in the connector to get it to boot, but maybe that was just placebo. It definitely would refuse to boot 90% of the time sometimes.

I did have that problem with the original pi and it's big sd cards. But never with the micro sd cards.

And there were issues with the spring-loaded slots although I've never had issues with that either.

Now that you mention it, yes, this problem was almost exclusively with the Pi 2 and the 3 has never given me any such issues.

There is. The new compute module has up to 32GB

The compute module isn't really an option for the _vast_ majority of tinkerers buying Pis. It's certainly not a replacement for any of the consumer boards, which all are microSD based.

You effectively can't even do anything with the compute module without buying another motherboard to slot it into. It literally has no IO ports beyond a DDR2 SODIMM conector.

Yes, there's even an image of an SD card at the bottom?!

It's almost like the author forgot to write the section on this...

Nothing wrong with pointing out the Raspberry Pi’s tradeoffs. Of course someone could write an article about the tradeoffs of any single board computer. For most of them, the list would start with “More powerful but no community to support it.”

I own several Raspberry Pi’s. One of them is taking time lapse photos of a skyscraper going up two blocks away from my office. It had trouble uploading the photos every morning around 7am. It tended to catch back up at night. The problem went away once I replaced my 2amp power supply with a 2.5amp model. Day photos produce larger image files than night photos. My theory is the Raspberry pi had trouble processing and uploading the larger image files while running under voltage.

I never even knew this was a problem until just last night. I wanted to play with OpenCV and so I setup a Pi plugged into a 2.4a ps and got the undervolt icon immediately on boot.

I had always used Pi's in headless mode with first boot enabling SSH and connecting to my network so I had never seen the power/temp notifications to question anything.

Now I'm wondering the best way to validate the Power supplies and USB cords powering all my other Pi projects scattered around the house. I'm less concerned about the power supplies and more concerned about the cables.

I'm having great success using Anker PSUs and cords.

Thanks, I've always heard good things about Anker.

I've always bought Aukey power supplies and battery banks and been very happy with them, however I bought a batch of USB cables once that were rubbish and won't ever buy cables from them again.

Sounds like a cool time lapse and good use of a rpi. When will it be complete and are you going to post it somewhere? I’d like to see it!

Yes I will. In the mean time the most recent photo is always here: http://imgur.com/a/BqbwqRG

Raspberrys are pretty fantastic.

I have a docker swarm cluster consisting of two Pis and two ODroids[1].

What HardKernel has done is quite interesting - taking the idea further. They continue to support the same pin io. However you can get boards with stronger processors, more memory and Gb lan. I would like to the the folks at to consider exploring models with different specs. I would love to see an octocore with 4GB memory and GB lan able to read MMC at +100MBps.

[1] https://photos.app.goo.gl/UNZyeKdM41DV2cE99

I have 2 odroid boards for my computing needs and a couple of raspberry pis for any DIY projects. The extra power of the odroid boards is hard not to notice.

Still no POE hat though.


> There are other affordable alternatives out there where developers have given more consideration to those issues.

Like what?

ROCK64. Same form factor, up to 4GB of LPDDR3, USB 3.0, GbE, eMMC, SPI flash, mainline support (except GPU, but Lima sort of can display a Weston desktop already).

NanoPi is a good replacement, they provide distros, have all infos in the wiki and their libraries are open source on Github. You can order directly from friendlyarm https://www.friendlyarm.com/index.php?route=product/category...

That NEO4 looks really nice. Supposedly it can handle decoding H.265 10bit @ 60fps. If true it would make a nice upgrade for my Pi 3 which I'm using as a media player. Anyone here have success using a NanoPi with HDR and 10bit video?

Watch out for the power requirements of that board.

If you want to run something heavier, like Nextcloud it’s a good idea to consider an Atom board. It comes real SATA connectors and USB3 and you can get them for 70-80€.

If heard good things about the Beaglebones, but never used them myself.

I‘m not a fan of the Odroid board, because they require custom Linux or Android and at some point those are not updated any more.

Only if you have bad luck. I run a NextCloud on RPi3 for over 1 year constantly and didn't have any issues so far.

Yes it's just 2 users but I also shared folders with people who up- and download stuff.

The web interface is responsive enough and the weak end when downloading stuff from it is my internet connection (upload sucks).

I agree that it's a good idea though ;-) I've ordered a successor with some serious power and SSD for the Pi (https://blog.codinghorror.com/the-scooter-computer) to get more users to work with it and also try the NextCloud Talk feature.

Also heard good things about the beaglebones.

> Only if you have bad luck.

I hope your storage is not an SD Card though, because if that's the case you are tempting fate ;-)

Thank you very much for the "Scooter Computer" link! I had seen those off-brand x86 boxes on Alibaba and I wanted to get a couple for a project but didn't know where to start from, that article by Atwood is a good start.

That is like double the price though.

I know its all trade offs, but for its price, there isn't really anything to beat the pi.

Except the Chinese clones! They compete in price, ports and clock speed. The downside is smaller community, less images etc.

By less images, you mean 1 patched Linux kernel, that's never updated.

As I said, trade offs

For pretty much all Rockchip and Allwinner SoC based boards, just run mainline Linux. Or BSD :)

> Atom boards

It's more than a double price of RPi. It's definetly not afforable for education purpose.

> Beaglebone

I love this SBC but it is seriously underpowered than RPi in 2019. It focus more on real-time embedded system performance and rapid hardware prototyping.

> If you want to run something heavier, like Nextcloud You get that in this case Atom-boards or the odd AMD Geode are a lot better than any of the * -droids out there?

The RPi has it's own specialties, especially the price. For 40USD (give or take) you get a system: - which might be running proprietary FW but still has it documented and allows you to run any OS you can imagine; - is (partly) manufactured in Europe!; - has an actual company/community behind which is caring for the product/itself way more than the "let's make some-money from the rich DIY-guys in EU/US"-* droid-company

>> Atom boards

> It's more than a double price of RPi. It's definetly not afforable for education purpose.

It's definitely more affordable than those ipads units bought by some schools.

atom isn't opensource.

But then thats a pretty weak argument against any board. the raspberry pi foundation are a charity, they spend virtually all their profits on education.

Asus Tinkerboard, Libre Computer LePotato. Both much more powerful than the RPi. Both available with eMMC which is much more robust than your typical sd-card.

And much more expensive...

LePotato has no GIgabit Ethernet support though.

All sorts of *pi's exist and have better hardware for a lesser price. rpi only excels on OS packaging and a sort of early mover advantage.

On performance the tinkerboard is more beefy. The support/software side sucks though

And costs 50% more. And I wonder what you are doing with the power, if you don't have any software to use. And for all the people out there looking for a PC/NAS/...: for 100USD (barely 30% more, than everything more beefy than said RPi) you can get a NUC, an atom-based-ITX-board or even a real (tm) x86-embedded system (which is also sipping power if that's what you're after): https://www.pcengines.ch/newshop.php?c=4

Orange pi, Odroid, etc...

Could some of them still have similar issues? Possible, but the issues he describes have been there for a while on different Raspberry models.

The only decent thing to come out of the Raspberry project after the original model was the Zero.

The only decent thing to come out of the Raspberry project after the original model was the Zero.

This is just such a massively dumb comment.

The stuff coming from the group is all pretty good and relatively well priced. This includes the various upgrades and different form factors. It has some shortcomings as described; literally every other SBC also has some shortcomings too. Like the Orange Pi you mention, which might as well be alien technology given the quality of the documentation and code required to get it running.

I doubt you will read this now, just wanted to say that I'll remember this comment every time my raspi2 resets due to overheating :D

Also, with "relatively well priced" do you mean "overpriced"? And with documentation you mean the stuff the users wrote on the forum (ok, they did at least try, but the real useful stuff is from the forum)?

Come on, while I realize that other SBCs have a lot of issues too, let's not forget that every iteration of the Raspberry had its issues, some of them being the usual issues found in boards from other vendors too.

If you need an example of a well built board, well documented and with amazing price, check out the CHIP from the now defunct NextThing Co. Best SBC I've ever had, for a fraction of the cost of a Raspberry.

And if you need something that you can still buy, look into the Asus Tinkerboard. Yep, it costs more but it feels like alien technology that works compared to the raspberry 3F+ (... or was it the 3D-? Hard to tell, when they are a rehash of the same stuff, even worse than the Arduino).

I know there are lots of alternatives but I'd rather have the author actually make a clear recommendation. For all I know, ODroid has some serious limitations that a quick Google search would not show.

Orange Pi has no mainline Linux support though, or did that change?

Depends on the version. H3/H5 SOC based has been for the most part in mainline for some time now, although lacking Mali GPU support. I run Armbian with mainline kernel on mine since 2017.

Yes. Most of the hardware on most of the Orange Pi boards has mainline support as of Linux 4.17. The main exceptions seem to be camera support (forthcoming in 5.0), video decode and encode (work in progress), 3D graphics (even more experimental work in progress), HDMI audio (???), and the handful of boards which use the Allwinner H6 or more exotic chips.

Another unfortunate issue is the DRM infection of the camera.

The Pi camera communicates with the GPU through a standard MIPI connector, but it is equipped with a DRM chip and will reportedly refuse to work with boards that are not equipped accordingly, with the proper secrets.


We are developing an add on for the Raspberry Pi (tujasdr.com) and I spent some time looking at alternatives particularly because the Rbpi lacks OpenGL 3 support, which would have been nice.

There are a lot of boards with stronger hardware which are maybe great for general use, but they very often lack good drivers, for example many support I2S out but very few support I2S in.

Also the community support for the Rbpi is great.

What are the best options for a device that doesn’t cut as many corners? Say I’m spending thousands on som home automation gear, and many hundred hours on configuring e.g home assistant - then I don’t care whether the controller costs $39 or $299.

Are there similar projects with good high quality enclosures, dedicated power supplies? Are there any that support some kind of atx-like shutdown signals (requires quite a bit of hacking to do that for an R-pi)

Do I need to go to a “real computer” such as a NUC to get this, or is there something in between? I like the simplicity of single board with everything on board including the possibility to run of a memory card - but I’d like something I can trust will run for years without a failing power supply preferably without having to spend a grand.

Closer to a real computer but the fit-pc's are nice I've run a fitpc2 for over 6 years as a home server https://www.fit-pc.com/web/products/product-selection-charts...

Really nice to hear that. After having Pi's for years, I've just picked up 2 fitpc2's, one I've made into a small headless DVR for my single IP camera (running Shinobi\Node)

The other I was hoping to put Kodi on to sit behind my TV, but Kodi on Linux refused to start up telling me there was no hardware accelerated graphics available.

They are good too! Have one running vyos as my home router :-)

Generally the hardware and software ecosystem isn't robust enough in these applications to make a big difference. It is a bit like desktop linux. You can run different distributions, environments or applications, at the end of the day it is still desktop linux. This is why people run raspberry pi. It's isn't great, but what you are doing is still likely going to be a hack anyways.

If anyone is interested, I updated the script (linked in this article) to check if your Raspberry pi power supply and cable are good enough:


Hey, I tried running your script but it doesn't terminate at all.

’wget -O - https://gist.githubusercontent.com/maxme/d5f000c84a4313aa531... | bash’

It really is time for a RISC-V based Raspberry Pi, with as much open peripherals as possible. That would be a fantastic platform. Mediatek might have something in the works already.

I see a lot of folk mentioning SD card failures, but truth be told that I've yet to have a corrupted card since the Pi 2 and the move to microSD (or if I did, I forgot about it). Even considering I've run a cluster of the things and have three running 24/7 for well over a year...

It depends on the use case, I have a dozen or so Pi's, one, which was logging hundreds of lines a second and loading/executing lots of code/config had cards die every other week, others with less load have had no issues at all.

First I used Samsung cards, it eat a bunch of those for breakfast, then I switched to SanDisk, which did the same.

They all failed the same way; permanent read-only state.

The problem is that some did so silently, for weeks the pi was writing things to it, but none of the data was lost until a reboot, where the FS instantly travelled back in time.

Love the pi but lack of sleep mode makes it inadequate for off-grid IoT. No dual sta/ap mode also a problem. Over/under voltage indication cannot be relied on. All in all great for hobbiest grade, should not be used beyond.

Seems that the hardware is capable of sleep mode.. however the devs are not supporting it in their closed source firmware. Grr. https://github.com/raspberrypi/linux/issues/1281

Sadly the open source alternative is lacking the human resource to replace it. https://github.com/christinaa/rpi-open-firmware

For easier technical comparisons of what is out there: https://www.hackerboards.com/home.php

Other than being worried about open source os, that shouldn't be where to stop. What about the hardware? Open source SoC specs are starting around 100k afaik (example: sifive)

Many thanks to the author for this very informative write-up. We are putting our open source deep learning codebase to run on raspberry with good performances for us, near 3fps for image object detection but we had little insights on how things truly worked internally to the pi. Again, very interesting, thanks.

Excerpt: "The GPU cores run a real time operating system called ThreadX. This operating system is closed source and rules the system without the open source Linux Kernel being aware of it."

My favorite is the pi zero .. too bad the W version is twice the price. It's tiny, cute and capable enough as a fat microcontroller.

+1 - the Zero is about five quid, about as much as two bottles of beer at a supermarket. It's the cheapest machine on the market capable of running FreeBSD.

Technically true, but "twice the price" is still just $10.

I know, it feels spoiled to say that, it's just that the wifi/bt chip doubles the price.

That's fair:) It is a little funny that we've gotten to the point where (apparently) the entire SoC is as cheap as a wireless chip:)

Plus $14.00 for shipping in Canada.

time to get real and buy esp32

I love my pi! Today I took the 5 mins to install PiHole and it's great! No more ads on any device on my home network. Lovely! :)

One thing I don't understand is why there's no added arduino on the board as an option. The a la mode isn't the same form factor - and an arduino chip would be cheap to add and provide so much embedded options like adc and much more pwm. Every project I've done included an arduino and it's a pain that they don't sell a combo in one board.

Because it would increase the price. Their focus is on having one SOC that can do most things, instead of specializing it on, say, GPIOs.

If they combined a pi zero with an arduino - it would be the cost of a model 3... same price.


tl;dr “the Pi is no good as a NAS”.

Pi wasn’t meant to be a DIY NAS, so use something else. No HN post required about this really.

Keeping in mind what the Pi is aimed at, including the price point, it actually has more features and power that one could have dreamt of.

When people say it is "lacking" something it should really be interpreted as them saying that it is not a good match for their project.

It is lacking because right now there are better, cheaper alternatives, no matter what your use case is.

There's always cheaper/better but change has a price too.

The points the author addresses are absolutely a thing but you get to know those after a few projects. I don't really see an upside of switching out the SBC every year (or whatever the actionable advice is meant to be here) since that's quite literally never a point I want to spend time thinking about and the Pi is good enough (tm) for my use cases. It's not like the common use case for these hobby boards is in critical infrastructure.

So, please elaborate and produce those alternatives. I know none which are documented in a way that you can get next to any ARM OS up there without too much hardship. Of course you can get an STM-based µC, but I guess this is something else than a full-blown Linux-machine@40USD.

Odroid is a better alternative these days.

I have an ODROID U2 and love it, but it was much more expensive than my Pis and is a pain in terms of OS support (I'm still running the original kernel since Hardkernel has pretty much dropped support for it, and have hacked my way up to Ubuntu 18.04 on top of it). The Pi's popularity helps a lot in terms of support.

Oh, yes? How good is it in community support, learnability and cheapness? You know, the original points of the Raspberry Pi.

What do you mean by learnability? It's Linux anyway. What you learn for the Raspberry Pi can be reapplied to any other board out there. The only aspect where compatibility depends on the board is the GPIO part.

Cheapness? Most ARM boards are in the range 50 to 60 USD and I don't know in what world that is not "cheap". Plus, at such prices you can get stuff you just can't buy with a Raspberry Pi anyway (specs wise), so it's not like they are a little more expensive for no reason.

Community support, Odroid is good enough there, while I would not recommend things like the BananaPi.


For absolute beginners, a common platform is essential to be able to follow instructions, in special if they don't have external support and must learn on their own; think kids in a rural town in a developing country.

Trying to follow tutorials for the Raspberry Pi on a different platform will more often than not be a nightmare and demotivate anyone first approaching the device. There's a network effect at play, making the most popular platform also the most desirable for diving in.

As for price, 60USD is almost double the price than a Raspberry Pi 3 (and 10 times a Pi Zero), so it would be double the effort for someone with limited economical resources in those countries.

"better" only has meaning if you elaborate for what. Especially since they seem quite a bit more expensive than a Raspberry PI.

Can you be more specific? I've had a quick look on their UK site but they seem a lot more expensive (since I'll need a psu).

Except for the C2 but is that really stuck on "Ubuntu 16.04 and Android 5.1 Lollipop based on Kernel 3.14 Lts"??! Or just an outdated website? Oh and no WiFi/BLE anyway so that's out.

Which UK website? They only have one official website: https://www.hardkernel.com

C2 stuck on 16.04? I have no idea where you found that. It runs 18.04 currently since last year: https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-c2/os_images/ubuntu/v3.0

And the C2 is not the right one to buy right now. You should rather consider the XU4


https://www.odroid.co.uk/ is the first result from duckduckgo. That should answer your 2nd question too. I bought an odroid some years ago (C1 maybe?) and I found quite a lot of things didn't work. I ended up paying quite a lot after the customs people had their way so I'd always go with a local distributor now. I could have returned it if I'd done that too.

That xu4 link states it runs 16.04 but maybe that's also out of date info. The cpu performance sounds good but I think we'll have to disregard the pi3 comparison they provide as per the throttling the OP describes. Usb and network performance improvements would certainly be worth it for a NAS system, but then you don't get any sata ports.

Gpio wise you've got a non-standard 2mm pitch header and 1.8V. What a pain.

For me, the lack audio output and WiFi is a bit annoying. A media centre with a only hdmi1.4 would be a problem for some (you'd also maybe have to go for the slower one without a fan).

Also remembering we are comparing a £42 device (I've included the official pi PSU) with a £70 device (+ if we want wifi). So maybe it's better compared against an atom board for those who want to spend a bit more. But an atom gives you sata so if that price comparison is fair (edit: had a quick look, it's not fair), the xu4 isn't that great.

Maybe it is the use as a desktop system where the xu4 shines.

I'm not convinced it's an obvious choice.

XU4 has 18.04 support for like 9 months now:


And this you can find with a 30 seconds search online.

> https://www.odroid.co.uk/ is the first result from duckduckgo.

Why would you want to go to a Distributor website to find software/hardware information? It's like looking for a manual on amazon, it's just the wrong place.

It's hardly like that. Sales websites should have accurate info else they don't gave a leg to stand on when you want to return the falsely advertised product.

But I'm going to focus on the actual issue, even their official site gets this wrong and you have to look in the forums. This is a great example of one of problems you get with these other boards.

The hc2 looks very interesting for nas type applications like nextcloud etc. Removing the hdmi and usb 3.0 ports in exchange for a sata port. It'd surely be a lot faster than my old microserver, which arguably I don't need it to be... Frustratingly that UK distributor doesn't stock it. Edit: I tell a lie, they do!

My use case is working with motion vectors from its GPU through picam [0]. Is there an alternative?

[0] https://picamera.readthedocs.io/en/release-1.13/api_array.ht...


Could you please add some more substantiated information to your comment? You’ll be received much more nicely on HN if your comments contribute positively to the discussion.

What I dislike about Raspberry Pi is that it gives people the wrong idea of embedded programming. It led to a profusion of these tutorials and articles where someone is booting up an entire operating system and coding in Python just to make an LED light up. It would be much better if there were some kind of equally popular open source platform that focused on actual microcontrollers, with the associated focus on efficiency and performance.

> It would be much better if there were some kind of equally popular open source platform that focused on actual microcontrollers, with the associated focus on efficiency and performance.

arduino is certainly a popular open source platform that uses a microcontroller, but it is increasingly distant from the practice of actual embedded work.

in the unlikely event anyone is interested, i see embedded projects developed every day. STM32 parts with STM32CubeMX-generated projects using the HAL is quick, largely painless, and ships real projects on a regular basis. get a nucleo board. they're subsidized by ST so they're both more powerful than any arduino, and also cheaper.

Would you mind elaborating a little on what makes Arduino "distant from the practice of actual embedded work"?

I bet you heard of Arduino?

Wilderness Labs are working on the Meadow, which is a microcontroller that can run some .Net Code. This sounds closer to what you're looking for - https://www.wildernesslabs.co/meadow

They've got a record for delivering as they've also made the Netduino a .Net version of the Arduino - https://www.wildernesslabs.co/netduino

Are you aware of the the Microbit? It's used around the UK in schools - https://microbit.org/

Arduino, esp8266, micro:bit?


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