I decided to try and make a Raspberry Pi 4 as my daily computer.
(I guess I am a bit bored here in Covid lockdown.)
FYI, I am not much of a programmer.
I bought a Raspberry Pi 4, 8GB, a Argon Neo case for passive cooling, and the various other things one needs to use a Pi.
I like two linux distros, Manjaro and MX Linux.
Since MX has no ARM support, it seems obvious to try and put Manjaro on my Pi.
I tried KDE Plasma first, but there was a runnaway process, that ate so much CPU cycles, that the machine was unusable.
(There was a baloo process that was eating up 25-35% of CPU, and I could not figure out how to fix it.)
Then I tried the XFCE version.
So far no issues with it.
I have had some struggles though.
I have extensively customized Thunderbird email.
In the past when I have a new computer, I just copy the thunderbird folder in home directory from my old computer to the new one.
Did not work this time.
It seems the previous computer was running thunderbird 68.11.0 and Manjaro Arm uses 68.10.0
So, I can either wait till it gets updated to 68.11.0 or spend a long time reconstructing things in a fresh thunderbird. Ouch!
The other big software problem I am having is with Wildvine.
As I use my daily computer to watch videos, including Netflix and Hulu, I need the Wildvine software to do that, and according to my limited understanding, there is still no official 64 bit ARM version of Wildvine.
I found some posts on this forum aimed at Pinebook users, that promised a workaround to create a Chromium that somehow uses a 32 bit version of arm wildvine, but tricks the system so it works, Chromium-Armv7.
I could not get this to work.
(I believe I mentioned above that I am not much of a programmer.)
Perhaps this is for the best. I have been watching FAR to much Netflix and Hulu during lockdown.
Hardware issues are heat and speed.
I REALLY like passive cooling, so a fan case was not an option for me.
I choose the Argon Neo case because the metal plate that goes over the cpu/gpu/etc has only a few milimeters clearance, so i could place a bunch of thermal pads on chips not directly cooled by other passive cases.
Still, to play video effectively in a browser, with the current situation that Pi has with youtube playback, really needs over clocking.
But with high overclocking and passive cooling of the case, AND how hot it is in my home in August, means the computer gets too hot if I watch for more than a half an hour.
With moderate overclocking, it gets hot, but does not throttle.
1800 GHz for the CPU, 600 GHz for the GPU (fyi, it ships with 1500 and 500 respectively)
At this setting I can watch youtube videos mostly fine, key word being mostly.
The computer is only JUST strong enough.
(Or youtube video playing code is not efficient enough.)
I have ordered a 2 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch heat sink which I will stick on the top of the case. This should improve cooling considerably, which may mean I can over clock higher.
Also, I am waiting on a M.2 usb enclosure I ordered. When I get that, I can pop in a m.2 drive that I already have, and use it as the boot drive. Reports online suggest that switching from micro SD card booting to fast usb booting greatly improves performance.
While I have had some problems, over all, I am pleased.
Manjaro's ARM implementation, at least the XFCE version, is amazing.
This tiny under powered computer is working out. I really believe I can use it for my daily tasks. Video playback is the only thing I do regularly that makes the Pi seem a bit weak, and software improvements will keep coming to improve that.
I want to thank all of you that have worked to make Manjaro ARM a reality.
I believe that the future of computer is RISC (ARM and RISC-V), and that you all are helping to make it happen.