Pi Beats Rock In A Big Way

r-pi 3b+
My ersatz R-Pi3b+ used for testing and fiddling, baby.

Subtitle: Thoughts on new Raspberry Pi 4

Been posting a few things here or there regarding my SBC journey, dear worst-reader. And what a journey it’s been. It all started a few years back with the Raspberry Pi. Wow, I thought after initially fiddling with an R-Pi 2. This sort of thing could finally allow me to move away from the monolithic PC/Mac world that has been a thorn in my side since the advent of cloud computing, subscription software and, of course, corporate/strategic hardware obsoletism running amok. Even though I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford whatever hardware I want, I’ve always been a minimalist when it comes to my personal digital world. Perhaps that’s a bit of contradiction considering up to late last year my digital household consisted of numerous Macs, which I ended up selling to the highest bidder so that I could reduce things. I simply wanted to reduce my hardware portfolio but at the same time maintain all the files accumulated with that hardware over the last ten to fifteen years. Raspberry Pi and SBCs have been my enablers, don’t you know.

There was one problem with the Pi, though. It was just too slow to fill the shoes of my 2010 MacPro. Every time I went into my basement and heard the roar of that old cheese-grader running twenty-four-seven and/or waiting and waiting for it to copy/backup files, my head would ache. Having fiddled with Linux, OMV and various distros on the R-Pi, I eventually realised that maintaining all my data no longer needed the oomph of a MacPro. So I waited for when/if the R-Pi could deliver more/enough bandwidth. In early 2018, out of patience waiting for an R-Pi 4, I turned to Pine64. After a few weeks of reading and research I splurged on a Pine64 Rock64 SBC. Even though there are numerous SBCs on the market, I chose the Rock64 because of its power source and the fact that it has gigabyte ethernet. The power source was important because I had a few issues with R-Pi and its micro-usb power source. This made me invest in purchasing dedicated micro-usb power sources for the two R-Pi’s that I use as media clients. Gigabyte speed is a no-brainer considering the extreme limitation of transferring files with the R-Pi’s USB 2 dependencies.

After fiddling with the Rock64, though, I faced a new reality. Although I really like what Pine64 is doing, there simply is no comparison to the R-Pi when it comes to functional software. I should also add, although I can do some top-level Linux work, pretty much everything below that is too much (tech) for worst-moi. It took till April of 2019 that I was finally able get my Rock64 running OMV to the point where I no longer have to struggle with it as my main network storage device.

Ok. Ok. If you’ve read any of my other SBC posts, I apologise if I’m being a bit repetitive here. The thing is, while on vacation on the Baltic Sea in Northern Germania last week, I was blown away by the news that–out of nowhere–the R-Pi 4 had been released. Holy krapp, I thought. I just spent almost a year finally getting my two Pine64 devices–a Rock64 for files and a RockPro64 for as a Plex media server–up and running where they’ve easily replaced my 2010 MacPro and now R-Pi is dangling not just new candy in front of me but bombshell candy. Holy double krapp, baby!

Needless to worst-say, I spent a few hours while on vacation reading and researching what R-Pi is up to. Am I impressed? You bet I am. But hold on to your lug nuts, dear worst-reader. Am I about to relegate my Pine64 devices to the bin? Not quite. As with most new tech, I rarely buy first iteration hardware, although the Rock64 is kinda first gen. Of course, the new R-Pi 4 is more than just an upgrade. The specs are mind boggling–at least they are for how I would use it. It’s exactly what I naively lost patience waiting for last year. Oh well.

That worst-said, I’m really digging what I got working/running with Pine64 right now. I also still dig the Pine64 (NAS) case and PCIe SATA card because it’s allowed me to utilise all those HDDs lying around thereby saving me a ton of money not having to upgrade my mass storage situation left over after selling the MacPro. Also, having discovered DietPi on both devices, my digital household has been zinging along without flaw. Which begs an answer to an obvious question: Uh, heck yeah, I will probably be in a bind (with Pine64) when R-Pi delivers their next version of their new monster SBC. Then again, maybe not. The Pine64 case is still waaaay cool!

Rant (and tech) on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:

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