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Ask HN: What are some good Raspberry Pi alternatives?
48 points by Mockapapella 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 49 comments

I would pick up a late model i3, put it into a mini-ITX board and case.

This is what I did for some NAS servers that I wanted to be compact, support QuickSync transcoding for Plex, and support a SAS PCI card that breaks out to (8) 10Tb HDDs in a ZFS configuration. Not that the Pi is bad or anything but I see people trying to use them as routers and NAS and the performance isn’t fantastic, maybe on par with an intel chip from 10 years ago. You’d be much better grabbing some old PC hardware on eBay and throwing parts together.

For a moment, I thought you meant a BMW i3. Given that OP gave no requirements, figured it was a fair suggestion

That's a terrible option. I never found the GPIO pins, for instance.

GPIO pins weren't given as a requirement. BMW i3 fits the requirements perfectly.

When it comes to direct RPI competitors, there's Pine64's RockPro64 https://www.pine64.org/rockpro64/

Fantastic little board. I have a couple of these each with a sata card and a few rusty 8TB drives attached. They run Libreelec with Zerotier and a few basic bash scripts to sync some directories. One lives in my living room and one lives at my parents house. Works as on site backup for me, and offsite for Dad as well as vice versa.

Kodi is my favourite media centre software, been a fan since XBMC rolled into the scene.

https://libreelec.tv/ https://www.zerotier.com/ https://kodi.tv/

Considering you've listed no requirements whatsoever that you'd want, which the raspberry pi can't meet (or any at all): how about a raspberry pi? It does have a big advantage in software support and documentation over various competitor boards

Probably also the largest user community and widest distribution. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books on just this subject. Monthly magazines, etc.

This isn't necessarily for any project I had in mind, it's been a few years since I've used them though. I noticed that a lot of the use cases for a Raspberry Pi could be done with a much simpler micro controller (like using an arduino to control LEDs, for example), and was wondering if any documentation/community had risen to the same level as raspberry pi since then.

Not only software support, but ongoing software support. The first rpi is still in use and fully supported.

Depends on the project you want to do.

Many projects dealing with IoT or sensors can be made using ESP32s or the various Audrinos.

If you want a mini computer, there are some built on the Atom or similar. The price can be similar when looking at ones with an eMMC, case, etc vs a Pi with similar attributes.

There are a couple other options out there, but I dont even remember the names.

Software support is so crucial. I can't stress that enough. There is a huge amount of work to prepare the kernel and overlays for a new board and many manufacturers do the bare minimum.

My experience with vendors who do this well are Asus tinkerboard, NVIDIA Jetson (well... I'm being kind there) and from what I've heard the pine products. Basically go to armbian and look for the boards with the most mature support.

I've been working with dozens of these things for the last 4 years and the amount of issues due to poor kernel support saddens me. So much wasted time, they can be amongst the most expensive computers you can buy.

I always thought it was the responsibility of the OS to handle translations from 3rd party applications to machine level code. How could that go awry in, say, an orange-pi running armbian? Are there some applications that won't run because of the difference in hardware that the OS isn't accounting for?

(not the OP obviously) but here is my sense of "why":

I would like something with less blob dependency. Pi still have opaque elements in the SoC. Booting from attached media is a bit of "do this magic to one-time state in your board"

I would like more high speed disk. I got a JMicron controller for my Pi4 NAS, but I'm behind one USB bus. I think there are methods here which have less USB in the path to disk, and more controller choices.

Having a good Android port is becoming as important as the more classic UNIX experience via Linux/BSD

Some OrangePi models come to mind. Also, some of the beefier Odroid models.

Yes, they looked interesting. RockPI also, (the vendor of the 4 port SATA controller HAT I am using) supports RockPI and I think FreeBSD works there too.

On the site they mention older kernels in the 4.x range. Do they support 5.x?

Many of the Odroid boards have pretty good upstream support. I'm running 5.10.something on my Odroid C4 with Armbian.

They have lousy kernel support, in the sense that they have a very small team that moves on to support the newer boards as soon as they come out and pretty much stops updating images for the old ones, leaving it to the “community”.

I have a tiny ODROID-U2 (that I love) running as my home automation controller for many years now, and I have kept it so by patching a lot myself.

Nvidia Jetson Nano - similar to a Pi but more optimised for ML/AI stuff (though I think the RPi 4 has closed that gap somewhat)

Intel NUC - a great step up if you’re using your Pi for Home Automation (eg Home Assistant) and want something more robust/powerful. Likewise if you’re running PiHole or Docker. I have a NUC running VMware ESXI with Home Assistant, PiHole and a couple of other Docker containers and VMs. Most of these started on RPis but I decided I wanted something a bit more beefy. I also backup the VMs to my Synology using the Synology’s superb ESXi compatible backup software which is so good I tend to want to put everything in ESXi now and I’ll often create tiny Linux VMs for applications which I would previously have used a Pi for.

Arduino (or similar) - not strictly an alternative but a good step down in price and complexity for things that don’t need a full blown computer (simple robotics or home automation components/sensors).

Apple Pie - great if you don’t like raspberries. Fully wireless and nice with custard or ice cream.

A NUC is overkill for PiHole. You can run it happily in a VM assigned less resources than an equivalent Pi Zero.

Yeah you’re right and I realise my comment didn’t make that clear.

I don’t run anything on the bare metal NUC directly. They’re all VMs (or Docker containers running in a VM) running in ESXi, with appropriate resources allocated (in the case of PiHole, as you say, those resources are pretty minimal).

I didn’t mean to imply running PiHole on an entire NUC.

I've been looking at this for the last couple of days. The ones I've seen that are relatively cheap include orange pi and nanopi. Nanopi seems to have slightly better adoption, but orange pi is not far behind, is cheaper on Alibaba, and most of their devices are supported by mainline/armbian. I'll probably go for orange pi zero2. The Allwinner chipset is great.

Balena (formerly resin) publishes a list of supported devices for their OS. It’s been a good list to work from.


I saw this in one other comment, but it bears repeating:


This. A tiny nodemcu can cost as little as $1.5 from china.

I love building tiny APIs for random tech projects

Is it to hook up hardware that the standard Raspberry Pi doesn't support out of the box (ie: SATA, m.2, PCI-E)?

If so, you could look at some carrier boards for the Raspberry Pi 4 Compute Module, which might grant you more flexibility while still being in the Pi ecosystem.

For example, I'm waiting after the Wiretrustee SATA board (https://www.crowdsupply.com/wiretrustee/wiretrustee-sata) to make a compact Pi-based NAS.

Since OP doesn't list any requirements, I'll throw one in.

I have a product where I need to display fullscreen Websites on a TV.

I started building a simple Android TV app to take advantage of the fact that non technical users can configure them more easily (wifi etc) and things are less likely to break (updates etc) but of course I don't like being dependent on their app store.

Anyone know any other hardware that is fairly cheap (since we literally just display a website) but also comes with ease of use for non technical folks?

>hardware that is fairly cheap (since we literally just display a website)

Why not an old, cheap PC or laptop?

you can use second hand fire tv sticks they are cheap and you can use adb over wifi to install/update your app or directly update your app within firetv(without using their store) but that would require some extra coding.

Interesting, I guess I can always sideload apps on Android TV as well. But we're back to ease of use... I can do that, but my customers not.

Getting updates on sideloaded apps is also a lot of work.

Maybe I just read too many horror stories about people getting their apps pulled or updates delayed

Xilinx Kria K26 SOM. It’s a lot of hardware for $199. Lead times are not great but otherwise has a lot of potential. They have a starter kit that’s aimed at vision AI applications and it comes with Raspberry Pi camera compatible interfaces.


I'd certainly love something that's not ARM and doesn't require me to go thru hoops to get simple SSH running (aka headless first)

You only need to create an empty file named 'SSH' in the /boot directory for ssh to be active on boot.

But then you need it to also connect to wifi...

Create wpa_supplicant.conf in the root for wireless. It’s really remarkably smooth.


The whole process is basically:

- Flash SD card with Raspberry OS Lite using the Raspberry imager

- Create /ssh (empty file)

- Create /wpa_supplicant.conf with wifi details

- Put the SD card in the Pi and connect the power

- ssh pi@rasperrypi.local (password raspberry)

It takes < 10 min from unboxing a pi to being SSH’d into it.

Btw since Raspberry Imager version 1.6 there is a hidden advanced options menu. It can be opened with ctrl+shift+x. This GUI allows you to set WiFi and SSH options. So you don't even have to manually create the /ssh and /wpa_supplicant.conf files.


My expectation was: 1. Plug in usbc to usbc cable 2. Execute command to tty

https://archlinuxarm.org has some great alternatives.

The fitlet 2 is really nice, I have one and it's been rock solid. https://fit-iot.com/web/products/fitlet2/

You don't state your use case. Do you need a small device with lots of network connections? http://espressobin.net/tech-spec/

"Technical specification tables can not be displayed on mobile. Please view on desktop"

This is kinda crazy?

Edit: I can read and scroll the tables but they are covered by the above popup...

I find old laptops and VMs are better in most use cases outside of utilizing the GPIO pins. With laptops you also get all of the peripherals and a battery backup.

I'm waiting for RISC-V RPi alternative. RISC-V is taking over, many startups forming.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M72e. Very nice form factor. I bought a refurbished one from eBay, very good price.

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