Author Topic: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)  (Read 9613 times)

Offline Jason Wallwork

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My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« on: August 12, 2019, 03:20:03 am »
Recently I purchased Brianís Pi, the model previous to one that is out now Ė itís model 3B which has the following specs:

Quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 CPU @ 1.2 Ghz
400MHz VideoCore IV GPU
1GB LPDDR2-900 SDRAM
802.11n Wireless LAN
Bluetooth 4.1

Brian also gave me a power supply and an 8 GB micro-SD card with it as well as the case itís in.

I donít know if anything was on the SD card but I decided to start fresh by downloading NOOBS. It's the installer tool that Raspberry Pi provides if you buy it with a card. NOOBS gives you the choice of installing Raspbian (Debian enhanced for the Pi). Itís easy to put the installer on the SD card. I used my laptop and the microSD-to-SD card adapter since it has an SD card reader and simply unzipped the files unto it after reformatting. Then slipped it into the Pi, plugged into my monitor, keyboard and mouse, and the power last and it booted up.

A Small Challenge

The NOOBS installer comes up and gives you a choice of what to install but hereís the strange bit, although 8 GB is the minimum needed for NOOBS according to Piís website, it still said there wasnít enough space to put it on. After some messing about trying the whole procedure again, I read about NOOBS Lite which hardly takes up any room but downloads everything it needs. So put that on a card and chose Raspian.

It probably took about an hour to install. Downloading the files didnít take long, most of the time was spent installing. It looked like at times that the install had stopped and I was worried but I left it and it finished. So be patient if youíre doing this and you think itís hung.

You sure are purty

Raspian uses a desktop theyíve called Pixel. It looks like a customized LXDE but it might even be lighter. On bootup, only 110 MB out of 1 GB of RAM is used. Right now Iím running Chromium with 3 tabs open, a terminal, LibreOffice Writer and Task Manager is showing about half of the total RAM. It comes with a pleasant background but there are 15 other nice wallpapers to choose from, mostly landscapes. Text is crisp on my 24Ē LED display and large enough to read. The icons they use beside program names and in the file manager are very pleasing to look at and welcoming without looking unprofessional.

Stuff included

Raspian comes with Chromium and I recommend you use it. You can choose to install Firefox (the ESR version) using their software manager but it hasnít been optimized for the Pi as Chromium has so itís laggy at times and uses more memory.

It comes with LibreOffice 6 installed, CLAWS for email, VNC for remote access, VLC for playing files, Minecraft Pi, Python games, the usual accessories (file manager, terminal, editor, archiver, etc) and a lot of programming tools for use with Java and Python, Mathematica, Scratch and Wolfram.

It's certainly slower than most desktop PCs, even those from 10 years ago. The main lag is in loading programs and sometimes in website rendering (depends on how much JavaScript is used). But it's still very usable and a joy at that. I'm quite impressed. These are just my thoughts after using 2 or 3 times over the last few days. I wrote this article in LibreOffice Writer and posted it using my Pi.

It will probably become a NAS used for media files shortly but I'm going to try a bunch of things with it including probably re-visiting electronics. Feel free to give me your suggestions especially any Pi tips you've learned for those that have one. And let me know how you're using it.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 03:23:07 am by Jason Wallwork »
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Offline ssfc72

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 09:41:33 am »
https://forums.plugintolinux.ca/index.php/topic,187.msg1018.html#msg1018

Jason, you might be interested in this PLUG Forum topic about having the Pi boot from a usb drive.  Apparently the Pi runs faster from a usb drive.
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Offline fox

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 09:53:50 am »
I second Bill's suggestion. The version of Raspian I originally used was really slow on my 3B, but I understand that the newer version has been better optimized to run on a pi. It's certainly more attractive, based on your screenshot. The slowness applies to running it as a regular computer. It does much better as a media centre.
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Offline Jason Wallwork

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 10:52:30 am »
Thanks for that reminder, Fox. It's not really slow for me, it's just slower compared to my i5 obviously. It is quite usable. I think that previous versions of Raspian desktop environment used more RAM. But I'll still look into it to see if it will improve performance. I had remembered you could do this but didn't remember where I had seen it. So appreciate the link to the forum topic discussing running from a USB drive.
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Offline buster

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 11:41:34 am »
Two questions:

#1. Any idea how many in the club use or maybe 'play' with Raspberry? I can think of four.

#2. If you buy everything new, and compare it to buying a desktop,  I assume the difference in cost would narrow down to all the bits and pieces, wires, connectors, case, whatevers, that are needed to make the 'computer', what would be the dollar savings, and what would be the disadvantages?
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Offline fox

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 01:54:13 pm »
I haven't tried the latest version of Raspian and I also haven't played with my rPi 3B in about a year, but based on previous experience with Raspian and Ubuntu Mate, I don't consider the rPi a reasonable substitute for a desktop computer unless you cannot afford anything more expensive. It was just too slow; frustratingly slow. To me, its utility is all the specific projects one can do with it - file server, media server, robot, running cameras or appliances, etc. Maybe that's different with the latest version of Raspian, and with the pi 4.
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Offline Jason Wallwork

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2019, 11:36:05 pm »
Two questions:
#1. Any idea how many in the club use or maybe 'play' with Raspberry? I can think of four.

I can think of about the same number.

#2. If you buy everything new, and compare it to buying a desktop,  I assume the difference in cost would narrow down to all the bits and pieces, wires, connectors, case, whatevers, that are needed to make the 'computer', what would be the dollar savings, and what would be the disadvantages?

No, the difference is more than that. The speed is still much slower than a desktop although I found it very usable unlike Mike but I don't know if Mike's version was using Pixel or the previous desktop. The processor you're using in a Pi is similar to the kind you'd see in a smartphone, probably a mid-range phone though the phone will likely have a little more RAM and more storage than the default 8 GB.

You're limited in what you can do with it in terms of a desktop. It's fine for web browsing as long as you don't use Firefox which is a pig on it. You can watch videos full-screen at 1080p but there does appear to be some frame dropping going on when that's happening. You probably don't want to multi-task on it a lot especially with full-sized applications like office suites but you can do a little as I've shown. Sorry, I didn't think of trying Tuxracer, Buster!

You can't connect a SATA drive to it directly so you're limited in storage to USB drives which are USB 2 so not as fast. If you get a drive enclosure you could do this, though but you'd still be limited to USB 2 speeds.

A new Pi costs about $35 USD but then you need to buy a case, micro-SD card, HDMI cable and power supply. So you're talking about $80 CAD if I'm right. You can get a used desktop that will be much faster for not much more. But if you're comparing to a new desktop, the minimum would probably be $200-300 without the accessories.

The clear advantages with it is that it's quiet (no cooling on it), uses little power and is small. You could attach it to the back of a monitor if you wanted.

Sum up: Fine for a basic desktop for most users - word processing, web browsing, playing videos. But due to it's small size, and low energy use, great for single uses like the ones that Mike mentioned.
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Offline ssfc72

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2019, 08:34:34 am »
Mike has reported the following, after our Tim Hortons PLUG Mug get together.

"I was inspired to test my Pi3 at home after our meeting, connected to a 1080p monitor. My version of Ubuntu Mate (16.04) is truly awful; I wouldn't call it usable at all. Kodi (also an old version) is more responsive, but when I tried to play a video residing on my usb stick, the playback was jerky."

I suspect the issue could be running the RPi OS from the usb2 pendrive.

I am able to stream 720P movies from my RPi (I will have to check out a 1080P movie) on my HD TV without any issues and people do use the RPi as a media server, so I think the RPi should play a 1080P movie without a problem.
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Offline fox

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2019, 08:56:41 am »
I'm thinking of buying a Samsung EVO Plus SD card today at Best Buy ($20 for 32 GB model); this gives 95 mb/sec read speed. It's probably overkill for an Rpi 3B, but as far as I know, you don't get the same speed restrictions in the Pi's SD slot as you do in its usb 2 ports. Anyone know whether there is a speed bottleneck in the SD slot of a Pi 3?

I think that this will be a better test of its potential utility as a desktop computer than my current setup. It would be nice to know what speed level Jason's SD card supports for comparison.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2019, 08:58:34 am by fox »
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Offline ssfc72

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2019, 09:10:15 am »
Fox, check out Staples store. Online they have a 32GB, 95MB/s Lexar SD card for $8.99.  The store may have the same promotion.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2019, 09:12:10 am by ssfc72 »
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Offline fox

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2019, 09:21:42 am »
Reviews of Lexar cards on Best Buy are quite negative - high failure rates. But since my last post I've been doing some reading about the SD card performance on a Pi 3, and they are (1) quite limited by the bus; (2) deteriorate over time because use makes it take longer to find the relevant bits for applications. Now I'm thinking that maybe the usb 2 speed is, in fact, faster. And I'm not sure anymore that it's worth $20 to buy a fast SD card for a Pi. Some testing on Pi 4 seems to suggest the same, and that you'll do better booting from a usb 3 port with a fast usb 3 stick or external SSD.
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Offline Jason Wallwork

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2019, 10:28:00 am »
It would be nice to know what speed level Jason's SD card supports for comparison.

It sure would be but I can't find the specs for the micro-SD card that came with it despite doing lots of searches. It's a good name, though. It's a SanDisk EDGE 8 GB and it also says MICROSD HC 1 on it with a #1 in what appears to be a bin logo, kind of like a U. In any case, I ran speed tests on it using some benchmarking software in Windows 10 and from memory, I think it came in at 30 Mbps read and 12 Mbps write (not maximums, average throughput) - I might have to check it again. Apparently the Pi 3B only supports up to 25 Mbps bandwidth on the memory card interface (the Pi 4 does double that).

You should try it with the latest Raspian though, which is based on Debian 10 (buster). I think the OS makes a huge difference in how much RAM is available. You might also want to make sure that you have some space left on your memory card (if you're using 8 GB) after setup because I think it might use a swap file and not a swap partition.
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Offline ssfc72

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2019, 11:00:32 am »
I will buy the Lexar sd card and test it out with my RPi.

It would be nice to know what speed level Jason's SD card supports for comparison.

It sure would be but I can't find the specs for the micro-SD card that came with it despite doing lots of searches. It's a good name, though. It's a SanDisk EDGE 8 GB and it also says MICROSD HC 1 on it with a #1 in what appears to be a bin logo, kind of like a U. In any case, I ran speed tests on it using some benchmarking software in Windows 10 and from memory, I think it came in at 30 Mbps read and 12 Mbps write (not maximums, average throughput) - I might have to check it again. Apparently the Pi 3B only supports up to 25 Mbps bandwidth on the memory card interface (the Pi 4 does double that).

You should try it with the latest Raspian though, which is based on Debian 10 (buster). I think the OS makes a huge difference in how much RAM is available. You might also want to make sure that you have some space left on your memory card (if you're using 8 GB) after setup because I think it might use a swap file and not a swap partition.
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Offline Jason Wallwork

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2019, 11:27:00 am »
I can't remember - did you find your Raspberry Pi 3 unusable as a desktop along with Mike? And were you using the latest Raspian?
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Offline ssfc72

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Re: My Raspberry Pi experience (using Model 3B)
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2019, 11:41:39 am »
I haven t done a great deal of usage, with my RPi, but i don t recall having any lagging like mike was having. I am going to get back to using the RPi with the latest OS and see how it works playing 1080P video on my hf tv and the quickness of a browser surfing the internet. I will be using the Opera browser.
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