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Ask HN: Did you find something to use your Raspberry Pi 400 for?
93 points by dusted 60 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 141 comments
It's so cute (to look at)! But it seems to be utterly useless for just about anything I thought I might be able to do with it.. This 4 gigabyte memory, almost 2 ghz quadcore machine seems unable to do much of anything, browsing the web is an utterly horrid experience.. Playing a game of Quake 3 is impossible. Doom can run, but only at 320x240 unless you don't mind terrible lags.

I'm considering what I can do with it.. For once, I can run an IRC client on it, but what else?

Have you found something to actually use this for?




My significant other has been using it as their primary desktop computer for over 6 months now (with a probably-too-big computer screen attached to it). They use it to work on their PhD with LibreOffice and browse the internet (we have some "smartness" in our home and some common online tools we use, but all of those work as simple websites). It's been great, this is their first time seriously living with Linux and open source software. The form factor helped a lot with onboarding (it is quite cute, and the book that comes with it is a really nice addition for non-technical people, even if they never read-read it).

Their complaint is that Calc sometimes lags/hangs with a few thousand rows of heavily formatted data (they're not a data scientist, but still need to deal with government-issued xls[x] files). It wasn't a serious problem though and a great opportunity to "look under the hood" of what was happening and introduce them to CSV files. The other "problem" is that online shopping websites are often horribly slow, but again, I'd say there's a lesson in there and it could be viewed as a feature.

So all in all I am a huge fan. I think it's a great way to onboard people on good-enough-computing and open source. There is something magical about its form factor that resonates with "non-technical" people. Also quite cheap and accessible.


Not sure why you are downvoted (edit: were downvoted I guess), I think this is a great use for it. It's much more powerful than you'd think.

You are also one of the few that specifically gives a use case for the pi 400 (basically a Keyboard with a pi inside [0]), not just a normal pi, which I think has many other use cases (more server-y). The pi 400 is a desktop computer indeed.

[0]: https://www.raspberrypi.com/products/raspberry-pi-400/


Off-topic - beware, here there be dragons

I find the consistent use of the plural "they/their" really jarring and for some reason it stands out even more than normal in this post. I hope this fad will pass and people will finally accept that it is fine to say "he" or "she" again like has been done for centuries without problems. Considering that acceptance of differences - between male and female, between heterosexual and homosexual, between religious and secular, between "white" and "black" and between any other potential identity category - has been the focus of society for the past half century it is counterproductive (to say the least) to suddenly start hiding behind plural pronouns. This trend is even stranger when considering the fact that it has become fashionable to explicitly proclaim membership of other identity categories.


Would you prefer to use "hit" the Old English neuter pronoun?

Language changes. Get used to it. Or not, but it will anyway.


Language evolves naturally, true, but this tends to be a relatively slow process for larger changes like this. What we're dealing with here is not a natural evolution of language but a directed revolution. I prefer evolution over revolution, hence my counter-revolutionary language.


Change is change. It will stick or it will not. This seems like one that might stick.

I have to add, if someone is gay or straight, tall or short, black or white, fat or thin, or has any shade or variety of other attributes we don't immediately reveal that with a pronoun. Perhaps gender should be the same. Unless you think gender is special? In which case, well, maybe that is the problem.


Well, yes, sex - which is what I'm talking about - is "special" in the sense that it is a central and essential part of mammalian life, which we are but one example of. Without it none of us would be here after all.

The fact that what I wrote just now is considered to be "controversial" is a good indicator of the revolutionary drive behind the language change - had I written this 10 years ago nobody would have blinked an eye or if they would it would have been for me stating an obvious fact.


Honestly it kind of seems like you just want it to be controversial. You’re post was off topic (as you prefaced) and I just don’t think it’s constructive.

Anyway, “they” is a perfectly natural way to refer to a person of unspecified gender. I wish HN posters used “they” more often instead of just assuming everyone is male


Sure, but gender-neutral pronouns aren't special. True, English hasn't recently had one. Now, it seems, it does. Why is that a big deal? Just because trendy people think it's a good idea?

Well, I'm not super trendy and on balance I'm in favour of it.

But neither of our views will carry much weight in the long run. It's not up to us.

Also, I have to say, there's a lot of stuff that used to be treated as "obvious fact" that was hugely prejudiced.


So what pronoun should a non-binary person use?


The 400 was designed to be a cheap desktop computer, and not really a tool for hackers to play with. If you already have a computer, then why would you use a 400? Why not just get a 4?

Thanks to generous donations, we've provided thousands of these devices to children all over the UK, to enable them to access education, especially important during the pandemic. Providing an affordable computing platform was always the aim.

You can learn more and donate here - https://www.raspberrypi.org/support-learn-at-home/

Disclaimer - I work for The Raspberry Pi Foundation.


Hi, I'm, well, not entirely sure where the line lies between playing with computers, to me, most things worthwhile is some form of play.

Anyhow, I purchased it as a solution waiting for a problem, and I'm trying to find the problem with this post. I didn't mean to come across as overly negative, making such a product for the price point it has, is an achievement no doubt.

However, one can buy used "conventional" computers that are far more powerful than the pi, if one wishes a "cheap desktop computer".

What's attractive about the 400 is the formfactor and, well, it's something new to play with.. I'm truly trying to find out what to do with it, what the things are, where it'd be neat to have this tiny machine, that is totally silent, and can be always-on, probably next to my battlestations for a new usecase that I'd not want to reserve an entire workstation for.

So yea, sorry about the rant, but I'm asking this question not as a way to put down the 400, but to hear what people have used theirs for.


Having everything in one place does help - the traditional pis have so many cables and are prone to being flung off the desk.


Isn't the whole drive behind hacking to make something do things other than it was intended to do?


Why include the GPIO pins if at some level it wasn't intended to be a maker / hacker platform?


I use my Pi 400 for headless note-taking while driving and camping.

I've written up the details here: https://davidbieber.com/projects/go-note-go/

"Headless note-taking" means there's no monitor. I just type my notes or speak them (I've attached a beautiful handheld button I can push to start an audio recording). The notes are stored on-device until an internet connection becomes available. At that point, the notes are automatically transcribed and uploaded to my central note-taking system. For me that's Roam Research, but Go Note Go also supports RemNote, IdeaFlow, Notion, and Mem, and adding others is easy.

I find this super useful for jotting down thoughts about audiobooks while driving, and for capturing those late-night thoughts when camping or drifting off to sleep.


That's very interesting, the site went down, but I read it when it was up. I'm never taking notes, but I do like the idea of typing into the void :)


Link doesn’t work



Ah.... thanks.


Fixed.


I use it to display Grafana.

I also have a little abandoned side project where I used a Pi + spare monitor to display contextual information. My shell prompt passes data to a python script, which connects to the Pi and sends commands to Sway to display something contextually appropriate depending on what I'm doing.

So for instance if I move to a directory with a git repo, it'll show me the git log, and if the branch is named after a ticket in the bug tracker, it'll add a pane with the corresponding info. In an idle state it shows the chat and mail client.

This made sense at the time since I didn't have a way to hook up a second external monitor to that laptop anyway, and the overall idea of having a display that anticipated my likely needs a lot of the time was useful. Covid kind of put a stop to that since my home setup is quite different, but I still might pick it back up.


This is really interesting. Is there any code you could share?


I'll try and see if I can dig something up, but it was really prototype quality and not made to be deployed anywhere else yet.


It's orders of magnitude more powerful than machines that can run Doom or Quake. The ports you have tried must be terrible.


Or misconfigured? Graphics drivers and configuration would be the first suspect.


When I first got my 400, I set it up to run on my 4K monitor at an appropriate resolution for such a monitor and.. it was super slow. The mouse pointer lagged, everything was terrible. After changing to 1920x1080 it was smooth as butter 60Hz even using the browser, so I think something is definitely going on in terms of drivers.


I wonder about this too, particularly with what effects it might be having on the browser performance. It feels noticeably worse than a browser on an equivalent phone.


Even with everything configured right, the browsing experience can be stuttery. From a performance / resource usage perspective, the web is an absolute disaster today.


Well, yes. But making relative comparisons is still useful. And I'm not just thinking about the open web: one of the most common use cases I've got for my pi 400 is as a front-end to the octoprint instances I've got running on other pi's in the house. It's just not quite as slick on the 400 as it should be.


Is this your personal experience, what did you do to get them to run well ?

I literally just installed the official operating system, following the official instructions and installed both pieces of software from the official package repositories.


I haven't tried the official OS but with Alpine I had to enable a DT overlay (IIRC vc4-fkms-v3d) and install the relevant mesa driver (probably mesa-dri-vc4) to get X performance to a level where it's not absolute misery. Some other tweaks were required too to support my screen resolution.

For Quake3, you may have to change the renderer to opengl1 or try q3lite. See https://forums.raspberrypi.com/viewtopic.php?t=247841

(I have not tried Q3 myself but I know it can run, it even runs on RPi1. There are videos on youtube)


If a game from 1993 designed for 4 mb of ram and a 12 Mhz CPU is struggling on your 4gb ram 2 Ghz cpu, something must be amiss...


It depends deeply on what version of doom the poster is talking about. Dhewm3 (source port of Doom 3) runs at 7 FPS on my RPi 4. The original Doom should run perfectly fine. The 2016 version of Doom is unlikely to run with any degree of playability.


Intriguing. I always though that when people talk about running doom it 100% of time meant Doom 1 and 2.


The source ports are more recent, and no longer designed for 4mb of RAM and 12Mhz.


Try one of the other Doom ports. Odamex, Crispy Doom, or Zandronum should be able to run quite well on that machine. You may have to adjust graphics settings.


Not necessarily terrible, just not best for that device. gzDoom is fairly resource heavy, but it's had a load of bells and whistles added. Odamex would be more likely to run, and Crispy Doom is basically guaranteed.


I use it for testing ARM compatibility.

I use it to make sure my desktop software is not too heavy (if all of our tools can’t run on the rpi400 then it should not be mandatory for everyone in the company to run them.)


that's a neat idea


I have couple of uses cases for my actually :)

1. I use it as a wifi access point with hostapd. Where i live net is shared with many residents. This way my devices are isolated from others.

2. I portforward ssh from main wifi router to rpi, when im not at home i can ssh into it and use it at as poor's man vpn - handy at airports/pubs..

3. Its attached to tv via hdmi, i can watch youtube/twitch with it fairly ok (better then most "smart tvs" anyway with ff and ublock).

4. It serves as a "backup", i have usb 1tb hd and some scripts that mirror my github/gitlab repos, this is more as a precaution then as its "real" backup, but if i ever need it i could make it better with md raid i guess.

So, with all above, its a nice device to have for me at least, its not wasted 50-60e :)


I love my raspberry pi 400. It's the ideal camping dev machine. My blog post about this is almost ready.


I'm excited to read that! Will you post it to HN? And maybe also reply here in case I miss it?


I'm looking forward to seeing your full setup!


It's really excellent as an emulation machine for retro gaming. I have an X-Arcade dual arcade controller attached.

It's great because 1. there's a compact keyboard built in, and 2. the 400 comes with a giant heat sink and I can overclock it >10% higher than base rate with no issues.


It's interesting to see that nobody seems to notice I'm talking about the RPi400, which is a keyboard form-factor, and not the small sbc which is clearly meant for iot and other such non-interactive uses.


doh. You are right.

RPi400 could be the replacement for the One latop per child project perhaps.


I use my RPi 4 (8GB RAM) as my daily desktop for months now. I have Firefox opened up with at least ten tabs all the time (even two Youtube tabs). It can easily handle more tabs. No problems at all with my programming tasks (only text-based, so not a surprise). I even run GIMP without problems to edit images/photos. My only little complaint is I can't run SuperTuxkart on it.

Now planning on buying a second RPi 4 to combine it with a touch screen from Waveshare and a fat battery pack to ultimately replace my Aidsdroid smartphone.


It's a device for children to get them into computing. Do you always buy things you have no use for?

Also, is everyone missing that this is about the Raspberry Pi 400. Why are half the comments about Raspis in general and running servers on them etc?


What's wrong with a phone or a PC?


A phone? Really? I don't even know how to hack stuff on my phone and I'm a professional programmer. Nothing wrong with a PC, it's just much bigger, more expensive (although second hand gear is probably cheaper than this, it just won't look as good) and a much bigger barrier to entry as most people don't know how to install Linux on a PC. The Raspberry Pi is literally "do this to the SD card then switch it on". Plus it has GPIO pins and ready to use Python libraries for them. It's literally made for learning.


There's plenty of free cloud IDE / web hosts that you can use straight from your phone. That's plenty if you just want to learn.


Phones are not designed for content creation (and more broadly, treat on-device development as a second-class activity at best), while PCs are much more expensive and you could damage the Windows install by installing Linux in dual-boot.

By comparison, a basic Pi is development friendly, easily fixable, fairly cheap and inexpensive to replace if broken. If you already have the peripherals, the cost is quite low.


I assume most people already own a PC. Even if you are a family who runs Windows you can still use WSL or a VM.


It’s disappointing that we can go from computers in the 80s with 1mhz processors and 64k of ram being considered powerful, to 2ghz, and 4gb of ram being unusable. I get that we require way more from our operating systems now, but does it really add up to that much more?


No, it doesn't add up.

I think there's an inflection point somewhere around 15 years ago (early-mid 2000s) that marked the start of mass webification of software. Back then network I/O was the bottleneck for web software, and web developers didn't really need to care about compute resources. The web was light enough for the things people did at the time (excluding flash games, etc.). Not so today, web has gotten enormously complex (and filled to the brim with multimedia) but it's still written with little concern for performance. And this tech (with electron) is replacing traditional desktop software that was, before the inflection point, written by developers who learned their craft in the 90s when performance actually mattered and you couldn't solve every problem just by slapping three gigabytes worth of new dependencies at it.

I find that software is just bigger, slower, less ergonomic. It might SIGSEGV less but there's no shortage of spinners, UI jank, "oops, something went wrong", update churn & related breakage, and other issues.

I'm hoping there are enough retrocomputing / suckless / gemini / low tech / sustainability / etc. enthusiasts to slow start a software revolution. At least one that serves the niche and allows us to leave most of the obese garbage behind.


Most of it comes down to the modern web being a massive bloated pile of crap.

My desktop experience on low power ARM machines only really falls apart when it comes time to do modern web things (twitch, youtube, discord). Live video streaming largely works great at 480-720p, but if I don't hurry up and disable chat when there are more than 100 people talking it quickly brings the entire system to its knees.

Although I can't really blame my pinebook pro when that happens because I have recentish dual core machines (Macbook Air 2017) that hit 100% cpu usage when twitch or youtube live stream chats are moving quickly.


The 400 is all about learning to program.

It has a huge range of GPIO, and I think hats are still compatible.

its a great terminal machine. So anything that requires text based interaction with a monitor is grand.


I've got a pi 400 in my workshop as a computer where I don't give a crap whether I short out something by plugging something ridiculous into it, or spill some random solvent all over it. I've already replaced it once because I did something stupid. I'm sure I'll do it again. When I'm not interfacing random hardware to it, it's a handy front-end for the octoprint instances I've got running my 3d printers.


I’ve been using Raspberry Pi’s since the very first device.

There seems to be a misunderstanding about what the Raspberry Pi Foundation has set out to achieve.

The Linux models 1/2/3/4 were all introduced at $35 as a lightweight desktop or a modest general purpose device. In an education setting they are great and powerful enough to use as a learning tool with IDE’s available and other Linux software.

I’ve used them as simple servers and IoT gateways even with databases.

The model 400 is just a 4GB RP4 build into a keyboard. A very cool idea although I wish there was an 8GB option like the regular model 4’s.

The zero models in the $5 to $15 price range are quite capable Linux devices in a tiny package. Watching one of these boot up with a small LCD display HAT is impressive.

Finally the RP2040 microcontrollers at $4 give you instant on with no OS. Just your program eg Python, libraries and bare metal.

I really hope the model 5, when it comes includes at least one RP2040!

My point is that I still use my MacBook Pro and the cloud for my heavy lifting but around home for automation, servers and the like and for education you cannot beat the huge and passionate Raspberry Pi community for getting things done!


I've used pi3's and pi4's, but not the 400 itself as I had no need. If you're into retro gaming, the emulators available are all decent up to about PS1/dreamcast/N64 era. There's also a distro called Dosbian that sets up dosbox and has it run on start so you get a "boot to DOS" feel: https://cmaiolino.wordpress.com/dosbian/ I think the 400 would pair well with that setup, and should run almost any 90s era DOS game well, including DOOM.

Have you checked the temperatures while running? I'm wondering if the heatsinks aren't on right or it's not flowing enough around it to prevent throttling performance. https://www.raspberrypi-spy.co.uk/2020/11/raspberry-pi-tempe...


I use a pi 4 as a backup server, it has several Tb of attached USB drives. It also functions as a household Plex server pretty well.


How are the transfer speeds with that set up?

I read that for the RPi3 they would bottleneck at around 40mbps.


I confess I don't know. Fast enough not to worry about it! WiFi is more of a limiting factor in my house. I get double the speed if I'm close to the router!


I spent around 5 months in 2019 using a Raspberry Pi 3B+(1GB of RAM) as my sole home computer because my laptop broke. You can browse the web if you aggressively close tabs and block almost all js (and periodically restart the browser). Editing latex was possible as was writing some code (although using a modern editor and the web simultaneously isn't always an option - I grew to love nano). I did have a access to a modern x86 machine in an office.

Github was probably the most painful website (although it's still better than Gitlab which doesn't work at all without js). I think it had recently removed a bunch of functionality for users without js and it's not designed with people who care about every 100MB of RAM in mind.


I bought it for my son on his 7th birthday. He absolutely loves it - uses it to do some school work, web browsing and play games.


Raspberries are not bad as home network equipment. DNS/PiHole, Routing, VPN, NAS, that kind of thing doesn't need much power. Plus they run a full OS so you can manage them in the usual ways, and automate things.


The only sustained use I’ve found for raspberries is IOT.

For more general compute - works but you’ve got to have a lot of patience and no other options. Even a modest NUC will be way faster

Still I think the raspberries fulfill their intended roll well.


Note that the Pi 400 is the one built into a keyboard [1], which quite clearly is intended for general computing use and not being embedded into some IoT device.

I haven't used one, I'm considering getting one for my oldest kid when he turns 7 next year, so it's really interesting to hear people's experiences in this thread.

[1]: https://www.raspberrypi.com/products/raspberry-pi-400/


I think a kid who’s interested in hardware projects or learning programming might be a good fit for a 400.


I thought about that too, but, after having used the device, I'd not give it to someone who's not already experienced with computers.. If that was their first experience with something resembling a desktop, they'd run for their tablet and never look back.


Right I’m assuming it’s not your typical kid and they’ve demonstrated that elsewhere. It’s clearly an open question what is going to engage the next generations with Linux/computers.


In that case you could just use a proper PC.


...Which would just perpetuate the PC-bucket monoculture.

At our software company we used to use PlayStation 3 as a development server running YellowDog Linux. Just testing our RPM .spec files was a gargantuan eye opener as to how many things we got wrong when we'd try rpmbuild --rebuild on YellowDog, and just because we'd write the .spec file on a PC-bucket server running CentOS. Monoculture is an extremely toxic, blinding thing, and it breeds ignorance.


If you only plan on supporting one platform it's okay if there are bugs on other problems. You have to make assumptions when making software and it's hard to know if some random platform breaks one of those assumptions.


Not for the price.


Any old laptop you have laying around would do just fine and those are basically "free". It has a trackpad, keyboard, screen and speakers built-in, what more would you need. Only thing I'm worried about with laptops is the kids shutting the lid with a pen on the keyboard, breaking the screen. But so far they seem to manage that fine.


> Any old laptop you have laying around would do just fine and those are basically "free".

Not everyone has spare, fully functional laptops lying around “free”.


By the time your kid is 10 most people would have already bought a new computer 2 times. He can just use one of your old PCs. You don't need that much performance to learn.


> By the time your kid is 10 most people would have already bought a new computer 2 times. He can just use one of your old PCs. You don't need that much performance to learn.

By the time my first kid was born, I’d bought a new computer...well, a whole more than two times. And he’s five, and I’ve done more than two since. But the ones that aren't repurposed and in use also aren't reliable (that's why they aren't repurposed), and while you don't need much performance to learn (a plus for the Pi because it's not a master of performance), having something trustworthy is valuable. (Sure, in some cases the reliability issue is fixable with replace parts costing more than a Pi, but then...)


It strikes me that your definition of "most people" does not, in fact, include most people.


You can get a reasonable second hand laptop for £100. Pi 400 is £60 without the screen.


But you could hook up the Pi 400 to a large TV and you have some decent playground.


Ah fair - so my comment is a little off the mark then. I was thinking of the CM module thing.


> Even a modest NUC will be way faster

With the latest RPi 4 with 8GB ram, with an SSD drive, for my use cases I haven't found the performance problems at all. However I can totally see that for many other use cases performance might be a limiting factor.

I also considered going with NUC earlier, but because RPi is very "standard" it is very no-hassle to set up, and internet is full of different tutorials etc.

I just hope that in the future they also launch some premium & beefy version of RPi, so you could use all the same software etc but have more performance.


I agree with the NUCs, a good compromise ive found is the Lattepanda Delta or Alpha.

I don't have a Pi 400 but I have a similar cyberdeck that has the addition of a screen with the keyboard and board. I use it as a swiss army tool on the go for managing my cloud servers. Its like the classic monitor and keyboard you have hanging on top of your rack, but portable :D


People buying NUCs are not buying Raspberry Pis. Different use cases.


I use it with pi-hole [1], and as a Tailscale [2] bridge.

I tried to use it as an alternative workstation (running on sway over arch); the 4K display output is nice, but limited to 30hz, and the machine just isn't peachy enough for my use-case.

[1] https://pi-hole.net/ [2] https://tailscale.com/


Someone came to our local hackerspace talking about learning python. They had gone through almost an entire python textbook on an android smartphone. Code exercises and everything. We lent out a raspberry pi to them. The upgrade to screen + keyboard + mouse was huge.

Raspberry pi is an excellent computer to learn programming on. These days many people simply don't have access to computers.


I bought it for my daughter, mostly to let her take part in online classes during the pandemic.

Initially, I was disappointed with the performance, but with some tweaks (namely, replacing the default browser with "Chromium Media Edition") it can handle a 15-person hangout well enough. It definitely performs much better in that aspect than our 5-year-old iPad we used before. For one, it doesn't turn your camera off without any notice like the Google Hangouts app does on iPad when the processor usage is too high.

TL;DR I higly recommend this for a early-primary-school child (even one without strong technical inclinations.) +++ Very small, easily fits on the desk + Cheap: I think for this price we would only be able to get an old and clunky PC. + Good way to introduce your kid to Linux and its quirks (like only being able to connect a bluetooth speaker after you try 3 times... ;) ) + Potential for future fun with hacking - Not very good for games (but we like to keep an eye on our children's screentime anyway, so they can play on a console in the living room instead)


I turned mine into a pretty decent personal computer by switching over to booting via SSD. Some of the heat sink was removed and some inner plastic was sanded away to fit the SSD directly inside.

I even wrote about it[0] if anyone is interested!

[0]: https://tdarb.org/pi-400-internal-ssd/


I got Lazarus (Free Pascal) running on my Raspberry Pi Zero W, which only has 512 MB of RAM. It seemed to work fine.

My better half wants to have a flat panel that shows my photography in a slow slide show... and we have a surplus HD TV with an HDMI input, so it looks like that's what it'll eventually end up doing as soon as I write a little slide show program.


I bought an RPi 4 with the goal of streaming my Android screen using scrcpy but that turned out to be horrible. If I'm not mistaken, the RPi 400 has the same hardware specs as an RPi 4 (minus the keyboard) so your experience would mostly be the same on both.

After a while, I realized that an RPi 4 is a terrible device if you intend to use it as a desktop. Either hardware acceleration won't work and even if it does, YouTube will lag like hell on 1080p. Forget YouTube, even stock XFCE with hardware acceleration is not as responsive as it would be on a meager Celeron/Pentium potato. The cost might justify using RPi 4 as a desktop for some people but if you're not restricted by cost, don't buy an RPi 4 to use it as a desktop.

RPi 4 can be a great choice for a headless server though. I use it to run AdGuard Home to block ads on all of my devices. I'm also considering buying another RPi 4 to use it as a router and another for using a e-Ink screen to show time.


Power usage is another point in Pi 4's favour. My desktop spends at least 120W (ish) for fairly lightweight tasks.


I’m using mine as a frontend for a simple HTML5 online game, left unattended at a conference so that anybody can walk up and start playing. Any entry-level hackery can be fixed by rebooting, any more advanced abuse can be fixed by flashing a fresh SD card; if somebody physically smashes or steals it, I won’t go bankrupt replacing it.


Stand alone/single purpose devices are a great use for RasPIs


This is such a good question. I wondered for a long time when it first became available and couldn't come up with any practical uses either.

The main motivation for wanting one for me is likely connected to how my first experience into computers was on an Atari 400 home computer and the Pi 400 very much looks/feels like a retro homage to it and its kind. The best uses I could imagine would be as a lightweight terminal/client and/or as target spec hardware for making 8-bit like games in various programming languages/engines.

Edit: I just came up with a new way to use it. I often wonder if/when I can use my phone as a computer with a real OS. Using a Pi 400 with a phone for a display could fit the bill, especially if you DIY the 400 with portable power. I don't think there's a phone that can be a display while providing power via USB-C (as some LCD monitors can do).


I've been using the raspberry pi's since the original release as experimental low power desktop replacements.

I don't have a pi400 but I have a 8GB Pi4 clocked to 2.1ghz as a secondary desktop. Emulators, DosBox, lite web browsing, and some gaming with friends (Quake 3 LAN parties). The Pi400 should be able to clock a little higher IIRC.

For Quake 3: I would recommend the same settings I also use when loading it up on a Pinebook Pro

DBUS_FATAL_WARNINGS=0 ./ioquake3.aarch64 +set cl_renderer opengl1 +set r_mode -1 +set r_customwidth 1280 +set r_customheight 720 +set r_fullscreen 1 +set r_overbrightbits 0

Additionally in the game I have simple items turned on and various other personal tweaks to really turn things down.

Alternatively you could try the experimental vulkan build stuff but I haven't messed with it at all.


I use mine as the living room computer. Something I can use with the kids to let them learn about computers and xode. And as a MAME box for playing through the history of video games with them.

I really love having a computer in a shared space. It helps turn “screen time” into “social time”


I'm currently working on getting Kali Linux installed and working on my Pi400 with an adafruit screen attached to the GPIO port. It's a convenient size for hand-carrying, and with the screen disconnected it could pass (to the casual observer) as a simple compact keyboard. Especially when paired with the pi400kb "driver" [1]

That it'll run off of a USB battery pack for quite some time is an added bonus. It's obviously not as powerful as a dedicated laptop but as a "cyberdeck" or an incognito penetration test device, I think it'll find a place of regular usage in my life.

[1] https://github.com/Gadgetoid/pi400kb


Using RPi 400 as a home PC in living room to read news, to watch videos, to listen music, etc.

Using RPi 4 8GB as a desktop PC for office manager (LibreOffice) and for a couple of developers as a "terminal" to bigger dev system. They pretty much used to it.


How can a 2GHz machine have trouble playing Quake 3? It was designed for ~400MHz, after all.


That's what I am wondering too, especially since it's a quad core, and Q3 can actually use more than a single core.. It ran fine on my 400 mhz pentium2 back in the olden times.


Maybe it's using software rendering? Try to run `glxinfo` and look for the OpenGL renderer string.


Quake 3 doesn’t have a software renderer. It requires OpenGL.


I mean, the system could be using Mesa with the llvmpipe driver. Software rendering but OpenGL 4.5 compliant. That's why I suggested looking at the output of glxinfo.


SBC are generally not intended for typical desktop usage, although they're sometimes advertised to do so. The memory limitation is not the only problem; out-of-the box storage speed is (some competitors have an eMMC port, or even a built-in SATA port(s)).

I've previously used an older RPi version as server, specifically:

  - file sharing server
  - VPN server
  - BitTorrent client
  - SMB server
It did work fine, although I personally find SD cards slow (and didn't want to add extra complexity, ie. adapters), and ARM tricky in some cases, so I moved to an SBC that was more comfortable for my use case.


> SBC are generally not intended for typical desktop usage, although they're sometimes advertised to do so.

The problem though is that in an embedded system you often want instantaneous boot-times. So from that perspective the pi doesn't seem to serve both markets very well.


Pi's original CPU was designed for set-top boxes. No set-top box I've ever experienced puts a priority on boot time.


I used it as my desktop for months. Almost a year, in fact. But then I was given a new (old) computer so the pi400 is in a closet until the summer when I will out Gcompris and Eduactiv8 on it for my kid.


Wanted to use it as a desktop computer but couldn't find a suitable screen or monitor for it. Any suggestions? A 10" tablet like screen with HDMI input would be fine.

I use it for programming microcontrollers, since I'm afraid not to fry my laptop's USB ports. But some of the embedded tools don't build on arm7l? Newer Racket 8.x based in Chez Scheme doesn't yet run on arm7l? For Javascript, Python, Ruby or Perl programming it works fine.


I have used Racket on the RP400.

Check https://download.racket-lang.org/ and get "Unix Source + built packages".

Most likey it is your distribution that are missing the latest Racket version.


May be bigger than you want, but I picked up a Lilliput UMTC-1400 (14", USB powered with USB-C and HDMI input) portable monitor in part to use with my Pi's. It's well built, portable, and is usable with a Pi or my laptop.


I've tried a RPI 3b for backups & home server, but found it too slow. Also backup drives connected over USB are said to be unreliable. Since then moved to slightly bigger, but fanless & low power motherboard, with intel x86, in mITX form factor. Asrock sells a bunch of motherboard models with J-series processors. Its more expensive though


After playing with earlier generation RPi's, my opinion was that they are useless crap, not performant and stable enough for my projects. But now I tried RPi4 8GB model, and I have to say that it is entirely different beast. For my projects they have been very stable and performant so far.


Exactly my experience. My mind boggles at the thought that a Pi 1 was considered sufficient by anyone to be a desktop replacement with its tiny amount of RAM and processing power, even back then.


I used a Pi 1 for a couple of years as my main desktop. It's definitely possible if you don't need bloated apps to do your work.


Unfortunately the modern web is the perfect definition of bloated software, and you cannot really get stuff done without it. At minimum, it's needed for banking, government documents, and e-learning/collaboration platforms.


After setting up a NAS with a Pi 3 earlier, I came to the same conclusion: it just wasn't ready for primetime yet. The USB bus was a huge bottleneck.

Pi 4 is a different beast. It's actually feasible to run it as a NAS without greatly compromising performance. They did a great job reducing the bottleneck, to the extent that I don't mind attaching all my external drives to a couple of these.


RPi-400 isn't attractive for me. I always thought they are nice gifts for my nephews, but I wouldn't use them myself.

What I want is a few RPi4 8GBs to make a cluster at home and play around with them. Sadly they are very hard when you don't want to buy anything from hoarders.


There has to be something wrong with your Quake config. One of the first things I set up on the original, single core Raspberry Pi was Quake III Arena, and it ran well enough to play (so much so that I kept it hooked up to an old monitor for a few weeks).


Pi's are great for small self-hosted apps like Home-Assistant. And those little SCBs were the stepping stone for me, one year later I bought a refurbished Dell server. Great learning tool, without the humble pi...I would never have felt comfortable getting a server blade.


That's the usecase I see for the usual RPis, I have a couple doing various busywork around the house, but the 400 is a different thing, with it's formfactor and keyboard..


You can run this https://foldingathome.org/ And contribute to science, remember even though you get Banano coins in return, the cost to run it will far exceed the value of Banano.


I wrote a very simple Python/OpenCV based surveillance video app that plays about 10 fps and saves a new video file every few minutes. I write video surveillance software, and seeing if the RPi400 could handle the processing load was my goal. It can.


For some other Raspberry Pi's I can see an use IoT, automation, play with dyi robots.

But for a stand alone computer which is slower than my 2 years old phone, I can't find an use. Maybe it could be useful to slowly and painfully port some software to ARM.


I bought it as a seed box/media player. It works (kind of) but had to deal with a bunch of issues when getting it to work with my SSD. I think I'll be turning it into a baby monitor soon.


Retro gaming comes to mind.


Definitely for retro-computing with the keyboard. Game consoles don't need a keyboard built in.


I used my Pi's for C64 and ZX Spectrum gaming.


I was contemplating getting one of these for my 3 year old. He’s very interested in computers, but we don’t have one to let him have/use.


I used mine as a spare computer when my laptop broke


It powers the arcade with RetroPI at my friend's hang out place.


Video conferencing.


Not really. Max 4 people jitsi and it's pretty slow with pretty bad quality overall. Any cheap 2nd hand laptop is better.


Do RPi's have hardware accelerated encoding? If not, that's probably going to be fairly cpu intensive.


I use my Pi4 with 8GB as a daily machine. It sits as a SSH box so I can remote in from outside and use the other devices on my network if I need to. It runs a VNC server on the main desktop.

It also runs piHole to block adverts on my network. It also periodically updates DDNS so I can connect to my home via a domain name, since my house is on a dynamic IP.

It also acts as a CUPS printer server so my wife can actually print something from her iPad/iPhone to our dumb wireless printer.

It also runs as an AirPlay receiver so I can play music to it from devices (if necessary) over the good pair of speakers it is plugged into. (I don't use the native audio interface - I use a USB interface plugged into it).

I also use Moonlight on it so I can run games on my nVidia PC downstairs (plugged into the TV) but I can use them upstairs on the Pi, so that my wife can use the TV downstairs... bit of a first world problem really.

I used to use WindowMaker but now am using mate desktop with some Apple/Mac icons and theme, with wbar running so it really looks like my Mac. I turned off compositing on the desktop else it ran too slowly and battered the CPU for every screen update.

I did use Chromium on it but Firefox seems to run better.

I did try using box86 on it to run the 32 bit Intel DEB version of Zoom on it but despite the impressive performance of box86, Zoom is still too heavy to have smooth framerates on the USB webcam I plugged into the Pi.

I did use the PlayStation 3 camera plugged into it running a mjpeg webcam at very low resolution but fast framerates to stream to the PC downstairs, which ran a MJPEG -> local Windows webcam piece of software (it makes a MJPEG stream appear as a native camera in Windows). I used headtracking with this so whilst using Moonlight to play games, headtracking would also work over the network. Clever really.

I also tried gl4es since the Pi doesn't have "proper" OpenGL as far as I am aware? That seemed to run very well on the few test apps I tried (can't remember what they were). You might get better framerates with that perhaps?

It also acts as a Fossil SCM "server" or remote that I can check code into/out of from the other machines. Kind of like a git "server"/remote, acting as a central hub for other development machines to use (I do other work on Mac/Windows). I think gitea would run fine on it if you wanted to use it from other machines for git.

In any case, I think the Pi is a great as a daily driver! I am happy that there's a power-conscious machine I can leave on all the time, silently running (I use a heatsink on it) and also use USB3 NVMe to boot from.

I imagine that using a SD card isn't much fun, but you might have more joy if you use log2ram on it and/or also mount your browser's cache directory in tmpfs.


This post is about the RPi 400, the one built into a keyboard.


Besides the RAM choices (1/2/4/8 vs 4) they are largely the same thing but the pi400 has a higher stock clock since they are using a later revision of the SoC (which has made it's way to pi4 boards recently)

Anything which applies to the pi4 also applies to the pi400.


The OP is asking more about how people are using the form factor.


I use the Microsoft wireless keyboard next to my Pi4, so it's essentially the same form factor??

It's surely identical to asking how someone uses their BBC Master and then complaining when someone with a BBC Master Compact tells them how they use it - as a computer.




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