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JonnyAlpha
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Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:38 pm

Hi,

I am kitting out our new MakerSpace in our school.
On the equipment list I had 5 laptops and a small NAS setup for shared file storage. I also had 10 RPi 3's or 4s for physical computing projects.

I am now thinking of ditching the Laptops and going for RPi 4s (4GB version) with Argon M.2 cases and SSD drives, monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Question:
The 'computers' were to be used for web browsing, writing documents, maybe accessing MS Teams via a Web Browser and the odd bit of 3D design using TinkerCAD or FreeCAD (Not Blender). Will this be possible with the RPi4 4GB setup I have mentioned above?

Many thanks
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teamtiem
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:11 pm

You have a RPI4. So, why don't you try it?

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B.Goode
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:27 pm

JonnyAlpha wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:38 pm
accessing MS Teams via a Web Browser


Replying as the antithesis of an expert.

I would advise checking that your (and your students' and colleagues) intended uses of MS Teams are actually possible, reliable, performant.

'Teams' is a big compendium of tools. I'm sure you will be able to log in to a Teams 'dashboard' - to that extent it 'works'. But can you reliably use one-to-one and one-to-many video conversations? Can you share/open/cooperate with the file types you expect? (Powerpoint?) Do webcams and mics work? Can you do any printing that might be needed?

Does the classroom/lab have adequate Internet bandwidth? Will there be any firewall issues?

There are entries in the Raspberry Pi blog that mention the possibility of using MS Teams.


tl;dr - what the previous poster said...

[All the above potential issues are things I have encountered as a grandparent trying to set up a school-compatible learning environment for grandchildren.]

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JonnyAlpha
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:33 pm

I do indeed have a Pi 4, in fact for Christmas I treated myself to the same setuo that I was planning for the MakerSpace.

I fired it up just now and opened a Web Browser and signed into TinkerCAD, its not fast but definitely useable for the children to do some 3D design.

My reference to MS Teams was only on the basis that when using the MakerSpace in school time we might get the children to save thier work to thier O365 OneDrive, or upload to a MakerSpace Teams file area maybe. This should all work OK when opening Teams in a Web Browser, but I need to test it. If it does not work then that's definitely not the end of the world. If the Pi 4s are good enough for basic rendering and web browsing then I' get them. Subject to additional funding we may get some Laptops down the line, or as we would have the monitors, keyboards and mice, maybe some small Desktops?

I don't have any plans to use the Pi's for MS Teams Video meetings online.
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MacUser2525
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:30 pm

JonnyAlpha wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:33 pm
I do indeed have a Pi 4, in fact for Christmas I treated myself to the same setuo that I was planning for the MakerSpace.

I fired it up just now and opened a Web Browser and signed into TinkerCAD, its not fast but definitely useable for the children to do some 3D design.

My reference to MS Teams was only on the basis that when using the MakerSpace in school time we might get the children to save thier work to thier O365 OneDrive, or upload to a MakerSpace Teams file area maybe. This should all work OK when opening Teams in a Web Browser, but I need to test it. If it does not work then that's definitely not the end of the world. If the Pi 4s are good enough for basic rendering and web browsing then I' get them. Subject to additional funding we may get some Laptops down the line, or as we would have the monitors, keyboards and mice, maybe some small Desktops?

I don't have any plans to use the Pi's for MS Teams Video meetings online.
Some tiny SFF computers see them all the time used on eBay for $100 USD usually with an i3 or i5 Intel processor 4gb of ram, 320gb and higher hard drives. Windows 10 COAs included by manufacturers like Dell or HP. A lot of times it is the Pro version of the license, cheapest way I have seen ever to get a Licence for it. Bonus idea if still wanting to use a Linux system on them they will install and run just fine like it does on a Pi. Or use the included Windows for a very trouble free way of doing it. All depends on how you want to teach them, being self reliant and doing it with cooperation on the Linux or the spoon fed corporate method of closed source your can only share so much because it is closed off.

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Mon Apr 19, 2021 10:56 am

Being a teacher at my local makerspace, I set up a Pi 4 (4GB) with most of the software I use to control and design for our vinyl and laser cutters, our CNC router, and our 3d printers.

I have to say I was impressed at how well the Pi 4 handled freeCAD and allowed me to design a multipart (about 20 pieces) model kit with press fit fixed and moving joints. Will it replace my desktop or lap top? Probably not, but it's surprisingly usable, even after I cranked up the mesh resolution by a factor of 10 just to see what happened.

Even blender ran at a speed that didn't make me want to throw things, though it is really easy to get to the point where things slow down if you throw a subdivision surface modifier on things.

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JonnyAlpha
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:01 pm

Thanks for the replies.
I have set up three Pi4 Argon Ones and will be using them over the next couple of weeks to see how we get on.
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Mon Apr 19, 2021 4:59 pm

JonnyAlpha wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:01 pm
Thanks for the replies.
I have set up three Pi4 Argon Ones and will be using them over the next couple of weeks to see how we get on.
Please post how it goes. Given the lower costs compared to laptops or even tiny form factor PCs, I'm surprised there is not more support and sharing for setting up a school lab of Raspberry Pi computers on this forum. As the foundation seems to be focused on other things, I'd really like to see the Pi-based curriculum you use as well.

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:54 pm

Seconded.

I've had a few people try and convince me to start a code camp or the like, and wouldn't mind some input from someone setting things up on Pis, as I live in a rural area where a cheap alternative to a desktop would be beneficial.

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JonnyAlpha
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:03 pm

Well we used them this week for Tinkercad, couldn’t access the web site at first as the time and date were not set correctly on the Pis, but once corrected the web browser and Tinkercad operated fine. In fact better than one of the donated iMacs that we have.
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southernzephyr
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sat Apr 24, 2021 4:36 pm

You gotta love those little time and date hiccups... :D

Glad to hear the Pi's were being little champions!

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JonnyAlpha
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sat Apr 24, 2021 8:36 pm

southernzephyr wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 4:36 pm
You gotta love those little time and date hiccups... :D

Glad to hear the Pi's were being little champions!
Yes it’s a bit of a flaw in the OS setup, you get asked to set the localisation but not the date and time and it’s not set by the Internet. You can’t set the date and time using raspi-config either.
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:02 pm

JonnyAlpha wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 8:36 pm
... and it’s not set by the Internet.
It is actually set if you have an Internet connection, but it sometimes takes a little while to sync with time servers.

The Pi has no real time clock on-board, but there are some available as 3rd party add-ons if it's something you really need. There are other options as well (like setting up an always-on Pi or other computer as a local time server).
My mind is like a browser. 27 tabs are open, 9 aren't responding,
lots of pop-ups...and where is that annoying music coming from?

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Apr 25, 2021 12:38 am

Just curious...If you're letting students etc use the Pi systems, how do you reset them to their original pristine state if needed?
Pi tools:
Quickly and easily build customized-just-for-you SD Cards: https://github.com/gitbls/sdm
Easily run your network's DHCP/DNS on a Pi: https://github.com/gitbls/ndm
Easy strongSwan VPN installer/manager: https://github.com/gitbls/pistrong
Lightweight Virtual VNC Config: https://github.com/gitbls/RPiVNCHowTo

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Apr 25, 2021 12:41 am

bls wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 12:38 am
Just curious...If you're letting students etc use the Pi systems, how do you reset them to their original pristine state if needed?
That's a good question. Do the students have sudo access to root?

808ST8
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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:28 am

HawaiianPi wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:02 pm
JonnyAlpha wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 8:36 pm
... and it’s not set by the Internet.
It is actually set if you have an Internet connection, but it sometimes takes a little while to sync with time servers.

The Pi has no real time clock on-board, but there are some available as 3rd party add-ons if it's something you really need. There are other options as well (like setting up an always-on Pi or other computer as a local time server).
HawaiianPi, I was wondering, by any chance are you in Hawaii/Honolulu currently?

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Apr 25, 2021 2:59 pm

on average I have to leave my pi running for about a minute or two before it manages to catch up to the time synch, depending on how fast it can grab my wifi.

As for the students having root access, I know at my makerspace we've let some of the older kids have root access to the Raspberry pis, but we also don't have anything "mission critical" really running on them, except maybe some Libre Office power point slide shows. We're also using fairly small micro sd cards (like... 8 GB, I think) so we have a back up image that we can chunk on to it if things get too messed up.

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Apr 25, 2021 4:05 pm

southernzephyr wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 2:59 pm
on average I have to leave my pi running for about a minute or two before it manages to catch up to the time synch, depending on how fast it can grab my wifi.

As for the students having root access, I know at my makerspace we've let some of the older kids have root access to the Raspberry pis, but we also don't have anything "mission critical" really running on them, except maybe some Libre Office power point slide shows. We're also using fairly small micro sd cards (like... 8 GB, I think) so we have a back up image that we can chunk on to it if things get too messed up.
I would encourage a class or two on how to wear the hat of a responsible system administrator before giving any student the root password to a machine shared by another student. For example, if the Pi is used to log into any online services such as email, Facebook or the Raspberry Pi forum, it's important that the individual passwords for those other services be kept secure.

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Apr 25, 2021 5:10 pm

Apologies, as they are the older kids, I didn't explicitly state that there were a few hoops to go through before getting root, and as all the computers in the makerspace are shared (unless you bring in your own) it's made clear that anything you save the password for someone else may be able to get into, and anything you put on the hard drive may not be there after you leave, or may not be in the condition you left it.

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Sun Apr 25, 2021 6:49 pm

808ST8 wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 8:28 am
HawaiianPi, I was wondering, by any chance are you in Hawaii/Honolulu currently?
No. I was born and raised there, and lived there most of my life, but I moved to Oregon a few years ago.

I like the cooler weather here, but I do miss Hawaii (and I really miss the food).
My mind is like a browser. 27 tabs are open, 9 aren't responding,
lots of pop-ups...and where is that annoying music coming from?

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Re: Pi4 4GB SSD - Computer Alternative

Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:23 am

I have a classroom in Haiti with 22 PI Desktops. The PI's setup with my user acct as PI with all access, a teacher account with a folder symbolic link to the student account for periodically adding files. We do have the boot and file system overlay enabled unless docs need to be added. I tried to go the route of being responsible, but things happen and we have 200+ kids a week in class. So, we use usb flash drives to save students work. Every student gets the same desktop and if they mess it up, just reboot. The student account has some of the menu items removed and they do not have access to change the overlay.

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