bedtime
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Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sat May 11, 2019 1:55 pm

I've been using my RPi 3b+ with the Official Raspberry Pi 7" Touchscreen and a 20Ah battery for a couple months
now. I've used no other computer during this time; my Hp i7 has been gathering a respectable amount of dust!

Below, I will go into detail about some of the most prominent tablet-like features...

A highly customised dwm is the wm. Suckless' virtual keyboard is used as it is fast, lightweight, and easy to fully customise.. Battery life seems to be 14-15.5 hours with wifi on (and likely more due to recently disabling Ethernet and leds...).

As time went on I dropped using the mouse and keyboard completely, though it took a lot of work to get to this stage. Perhaps it's been few months only using the mouse and keyboard a couple times to rescue the Pi and using the Hp to rescue a non-booting computer half a dozen times. Else, all the work, including all new programming, has been done on the Pi without a keyboard and mouse. There is a tablet and mouse mode to quickly allow touch scrolling or mouse gestures, such as highlighting. All scrollbars are oversized to allow for easy touch-based scrolling.

The setup can use swipe gestures to cycle apps, close them, go (fake) full-screen, and bring the keyboard up. It has a 3 different status displays, which can be changed on the fly, to accommodate a more desktop or laptop-like environment. It has several different tiling layouts, a mutable layout that automatically compresses the screen to allow the virtual keyboard to be used without any overlap, and the apps can be moved and resized (though, currently, a mouse and keyboard are needed for this). Apps can also be cycled, closed, rotated... via an onscreen Android-like touch interface built into the tablet-mode status bar to conserve space. The mouse pointer can be toggled on/off; though, this requires a quick logout. I almost always have the pointer off.

It still has a way to go, but it is perfectly usable as a tablet or desktop, at present. The objective is to make a system that can be a mobile, tablet, and desktop, without any loss of features. Eventually, I may install a GSM hat to use as a phone, so it'll be everything in one.

The gui styling is a Tron-like black/cyan colour arrangement. All apps, mouse cursors, icons, web programs (using a .css stylesheet) follow this style, which will allow for minimal battery usage on an OLED screen. I haven't yet found one that can be used on the Pi and is 7"+, but it is ready when I do. The setup can be dimmed extremely low for nighttime reading.

Anyone else use their Pi tablet as their main computer? Any changes made to it to make things work?

The code, if anyone is interested:
https://github.com/bathtime/all

Would like to hear more about your tablet Pi! :D

hippy
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sat May 11, 2019 6:55 pm

I don't think I could use any tablet as my main PC, especially without keyboard or mouse, but it obviously depends on what one tends to do, how one mostly uses their main computer. I tend towards a lot of typing so I can't ever see myself giving up my keyboard.

bedtime
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sun May 12, 2019 8:37 pm

hippy wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 6:55 pm
I don't think I could use any tablet as my main PC, especially without keyboard or mouse, but it obviously depends on what one tends to do, how one mostly uses their main computer. I tend towards a lot of typing so I can't ever see myself giving up my keyboard.
There are 4 USB plugins on a Pi 3b+; you don't have to give it up at all.

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Gavinmc42
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Mon May 13, 2019 2:17 am

Could you try a 3A+ for this?
Save a bit of Ethernet chip/hub power and perhaps even use BT keyboard and mouse if needed.

The official RPF keyboard has a hub in it :D
Already seen people shove Zeros and 3A+ inside them.

I have a RPF 7" LCD but Raspbian at 800x480 res feels a bit claustrophobic so I have been looking at doing my own OS/GUI.

After playing with a bunch of SPI/DPI LCDs, HDMI is turning out to be my preferred option, want one of these :D
https://www.waveshare.com/5.5inch-HDMI-AMOLED.htm

Got some 3.5"; 480x320 LCD to try making Zero based PDAs.
Drivers are only Raspbian so I'm trying to figure out how to use Raspbain Lite without X11 with these but still use OpenVG.

Nice to know you have found the 7" usable, time to box mine up.
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Raspberries are not Apples or Oranges

hippy
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Mon May 13, 2019 1:05 pm

bedtime wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 8:37 pm
hippy wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 6:55 pm
I don't think I could use any tablet as my main PC, especially without keyboard or mouse, but it obviously depends on what one tends to do, how one mostly uses their main computer. I tend towards a lot of typing so I can't ever see myself giving up my keyboard.
There are 4 USB plugins on a Pi 3b+; you don't have to give it up at all.
I suppose it depends where, between "monitor, keyboard, mouse, and motherboard" and "completely self-contained with screen and nothing else attached" something becomes "a tablet".

My view is that, once a keyboard is attached, it's no longer being used as a tablet. If one labels it as a tablet even with keyboard attached, an all-in-one desktop with a touch screen can be argued to be a tablet.

Perhaps we need a definition of what "a tablet" is or we can't judge whether anything falls within or outside that criteria.

bedtime
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Tue May 14, 2019 4:10 pm

Gavinmc42 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 2:17 am
Could you try a 3A+ for this?
Save a bit of Ethernet chip/hub power and perhaps even use BT keyboard and mouse if needed.

The official RPF keyboard has a hub in it :D
Already seen people shove Zeros and 3A+ inside them.

I have a RPF 7" LCD but Raspbian at 800x480 res feels a bit claustrophobic so I have been looking at doing my own OS/GUI.

After playing with a bunch of SPI/DPI LCDs, HDMI is turning out to be my preferred option, want one of these :D
https://www.waveshare.com/5.5inch-HDMI-AMOLED.htm

Got some 3.5"; 480x320 LCD to try making Zero based PDAs.
Drivers are only Raspbian so I'm trying to figure out how to use Raspbain Lite without X11 with these but still use OpenVG.

Nice to know you have found the 7" usable, time to box mine up.
If you get one, do share your experience. I've been looking for an amoled. Would prefer a larger screen though. Also, would be interested in seeing any tablet-related programs/ideas you come up with.

Agreed about the tablet + keyboard = desktop. That said, imagine a 10-15" tablet screen that you use as a desktop, and then take it with you. This is what I'm aiming at, and it's been a lot of work, but it's finally about to happen.

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Gavinmc42
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Wed May 15, 2019 12:12 am

I've been looking for an amoled. Would prefer a larger screen though
Me too, but they seem like chicken teeth, a bit rare.

ClearInk have some interesting stuff coming, but in the mean time I'm looking at HDMI FHD IPS displays.
With IPS displays now down to 0.9" 160x80, it looks like this is the best choice for nice displays right now.

As the Chinese school market is the first target market for big displays for ClearInk perhaps Pi4 will have that option?
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W. H. Heydt
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Wed May 15, 2019 1:27 am

As regards larger screens... A friend of mine backed the Packed Pixel kickstarter and then found he didn't really have a use for the screens, so he gifted them to me. They're 10.1" with a 1.5Kx1K resolution. The downside is that the only interface is DisplayPort. However, it turns out that a Pi2B can drive that through adapters off a USB port. Pretty much a Rube Goldberg setup, but it works.

The next gen (I the the K/S has ended) has two displays planned, a 10.1" 2500x1500 (rounded as I don't recall the exact numbers) and a 15" 4K screen. HDMI is supposed to be an optional input. This *may* be by using the newer version of DisplayPort that is compatible, but I don't know for sure.

I suspect that to properly handle the 15" 4K screen will take--dare I say it?--a Pi4.

I would have gone in on the second K/S effort, but $200 is rather outside my budget at the moment (and that's the smaller screen).

Still...something to keep an eye on.

bedtime
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sun May 19, 2019 8:12 pm

Gavinmc42 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 12:12 am
I've been looking for an amoled. Would prefer a larger screen though
Me too, but they seem like chicken teeth, a bit rare.

ClearInk have some interesting stuff coming, but in the mean time I'm looking at HDMI FHD IPS displays.
With IPS displays now down to 0.9" 160x80, it looks like this is the best choice for nice displays right now.

As the Chinese school market is the first target market for big displays for ClearInk perhaps Pi4 will have that option?
160x80 would not likely be usable with many programs I use; even my 800x480 often cuts off menus such as the settings in VLC. Graphics-wise, I'm fine. Clear ink looks cool but haven't seen anything touch-based.

W.H.,

My only issue is that it must be touch-based, else, it's not much use as a tablet for me. Love the idea of a with a 15" screen though. Would have a lot of fun with that! If you end up getting it, I'd love to hear your experience.

...

Onward and upward, slow and steady, I've made a special touch-based 'Recovery' option which pops up for 1 second before Dwm loads and is graphics-based. It runs via the improved notification system I made (added support for executing programs on touch and/or exit (timeout), and many other features...) and opens i3 and a stable version of svkbd (virtual keyboard). Yes, X has to be running to use it, but it can come in really handy when issues are not X-related and I'm just too lazy to dig out the keyboard. Also, it matches the cyan/pitch-blackTron theme and looks cool in very geek-sheek kinda way. 8-) Nonetheless, there is always the option to Ctrl+C into tty before the wm starts.

Day by day I am seeing that the Pi is more and more tablet ready. :)

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Mon May 20, 2019 4:55 am

bedtime wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 8:12 pm
W.H.,

My only issue is that it must be touch-based, else, it's not much use as a tablet for me. Love the idea of a with a 15" screen though. Would have a lot of fun with that! If you end up getting it, I'd love to hear your experience.
If I get one, it probably wouldn't be before next year. As for touch screens, I really don't like them. I'm very much a keyboard and trackball/mouse person. (And I detest trackpads, but trackpoints I'm okay with.)

Hanicef
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Fri May 24, 2019 6:19 pm

I have a Raspberry Pi 7" touch screen, but I haven't really used it much.

It was originally for a project to replace a sea chart (they are absurdly expensive), and while it worked, it unfortunately wasn't good enough because we couldn't find a good sea map, which lead to the image being very blurry. After that it's just been lying around and collecting dust.

Maybe I'll come back to it someday. There is a lot of things you can do with it after all.

bedtime
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sun May 26, 2019 2:50 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 4:55 am
If I get one, it probably wouldn't be before next year. As for touch screens, I really don't like them. I'm very much a keyboard and trackball/mouse person. (And I detest trackpads, but trackpoints I'm okay with.)
I mean this in a good way, but I find that the geeky crowd tend to feel the same. Pi's are computers that guys like us tend to use, so it's no wonder that there hasn't been a huge interest on the tablet side of things. I, too, love my keyboard shortcuts. Even on my virtual keyboard!

It was originally for a project to replace a sea chart (they are absurdly expensive), and while it worked, it unfortunately wasn't good enough because we couldn't find a good sea map, which lead to the image being very blurry. After that it's just been lying around and collecting dust.
Can't fault the Pi for that. Would be great if you could find a decent map and get it going nicely. How cool would that be to take a nice 'slice' out of that niche market and get the Pi some more exposure! ;)

As for my current tablet, things are looking up; I have implemented in dwm an ability to resize and move windows which is fully touch-based. The windows move as one would expect them to, and they stay within the visible screen, as well as snap to it for ease. It has the shortcoming of needing to be activated via the panel and not the window corners themselves. So far, I've got corner resizing to work only on apps that use hinting...

I find this quite exciting considering that Android, Metro, and iPad aren't able to do such things with all apps, and when they can, they usually have severe restrictions on size, number of apps, placement, etc.

dshaw619
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sun May 26, 2019 8:52 pm

Hanicef wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 6:19 pm
I have a Raspberry Pi 7" touch screen, but I haven't really used it much.

It was originally for a project to replace a sea chart (they are absurdly expensive), and while it worked, it unfortunately wasn't good enough because we couldn't find a good sea map, which lead to the image being very blurry. After that it's just been lying around and collecting dust.

Maybe I'll come back to it someday. There is a lot of things you can do with it after all.
Have you looked at OpenCPN? In particular, as included in the very useful OpenPlotter distribution. It can display both raster and vector charts (e.g. free NOAA charts if in US).

Doug

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HawaiianPi
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sun May 26, 2019 10:29 pm

hippy wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 1:05 pm
Perhaps we need a definition of what "a tablet" is or we can't judge whether anything falls within or outside that criteria.
No need to reinvent the wheel. A "tablet" device with a removable OEM keyboard is a 2-in-1 detachable convertible (like my HP x2 Chromebook). A "tablet" device with a foldable keyboard or screen is a 2-in-1 convertible, and a "tablet" used with a generic USB or Bluetooth keyboard is still just a tablet.

It could be argued that anything built from a Pi would be defined as a portable computer, since the Raspberry Pi was not designed to be a mobile device and lacks some features common to true mobile devices (power management, for example).

bedtime wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 1:55 pm
Anyone else use their Pi tablet as their main computer?
As far as using a Pi as a primary computer goes, it's not something I could do or recommend. Even the 3B+ model is aggravatingly slow at times. While it can be done, and I know there are people here who use a Pi as their daily driver, I think most people would not find it very satisfactory due to the limited RAM and processing power.

While making a "Pi Tablet" is an interesting DIY exercise, the cost and end result will be much bulkier and less performant than existing solutions. So again, it's not something I would do unless it was just for fun, and it's not something I would regularly use or depend on.

Of course that's just my opinion, and I don't mean any disrespect to the OP (you did ask). I am impressed at the work done so far, and I would like to see some pics of the project (with screenshots of the Tron themed GUI). I previously did a Tron theme in Linux Mint that looked like this.
Tron_Themed_Mint10_01.jpg
Tron_Themed_Mint10_01.jpg (182.04 KiB) Viewed 1255 times
(open image in new tab for full size)

I can't recall the name of the icon set I was using. If the OP is interested, I'll look through my archived backups and see if I still have it.

EDIT: Found it!
The theme and icon set are Azenis.
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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Gavinmc42
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Mon May 27, 2019 3:21 am

All these dark themes should look really good on OLED screens and save power.
But they all seem to be a waste of power on backlit LCD's even if they help with the blue light syndrome.

Nice Tron theme, got some other nice looking stuff on gnome-look.org.
Thanks for the link, time to freshen up my Mint boxes.
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bedtime
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Tue May 28, 2019 8:44 pm

It's only fair that I post a few pics, having talked so much about it.

With extra-wide border in desktop (status) mode with translucency. In column mode the keyboard overlaps applications:
Image

Laptop mode with columns and vlc. Custom notification window is on the top right and overlays windows permanently. Note the status bar is on the bottom of the screen and can be changed on the fly without recompile.
Image

Shows pic of no borders with Epiphany (Web). [m] (move), [r] (resize), and the 'float' option are included in tablet mode. Xterm with oversized scroll bar for easy touch operation on small screens. Chromium, Surf, and Epiphany all have such oversized bars, but they are not showing as they have timed out and went invisible. All browsers retain the same black/cyan theme on all websites.
Image

Epiphany browser. Plan9 menu with many customisations such as a virtual border and replacement functions to lower memory usage. Reset restarts dwm without closing X or X apps. Sleep turns off the screen/backlight and is turned on by a simple touch. In 'Mutable' mode only one application is shown at a time (exception in floating apps such as xterm displaying 'df' output in this pic). This is to mimic the Android/iPad window layout. All windows will adjust their height to the virtual keyboard. The user may scroll through apps whilst the keyboard is up via a swiping motion from the left hand side of the screen inwards. A swipe from the right hand.side inwards closes the current app. Swipe from top down toggles the status bar. Swipe from bottom up toggles the keyboard. All status bars may be turned off on the fly for extra screen space as may borders without recompile:
Image

Those are some of the features, but there are many more.

bedtime
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:46 pm

HawaiianPi wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 10:29 pm
bedtime wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 1:55 pm
Anyone else use their Pi tablet as their main computer?
As far as using a Pi as a primary computer goes, it's not something I could do or recommend. Even the 3B+ model is aggravatingly slow at times. While it can be done, and I know there are people here who use a Pi as their daily driver, I think most people would not find it very satisfactory due to the limited RAM and processing power.
I've noticed a slowdown on sites such as youtube. It's a bummer, to be sure. I do find VLC to work wonderfully, though. A little more juice would be nice. Tried running gnome shell on it, and while it made a great touch-based system, it was simply to slow with too much memory usage to consider. A nice solution would be a working smtube, an app which displays youtube results in a gui and runs the videos in the user's preferred app. It works on Fedora x86 but not Raspbian. I might have another look on github to see if something else exists.

While making a "Pi Tablet" is an interesting DIY exercise, the cost and end result will be much bulkier and less performant than existing solutions. So again, it's not something I would do unless it was just for fun, and it's not something I would regularly use or depend on.
Quite true; my Pi is rather bulky with a 20Ah battery bolted to the bottom of it, but it does get about 15 hours of battery life with constant touchscreen use. Can't say many tablets could do the same.

The number one reason I use the Pi is the privacy and the freedom to make the changes I want.
Of course that's just my opinion, and I don't mean any disrespect to the OP (you did ask). I am impressed at the work done so far, and I would like to see some pics of the project (with screenshots of the Tron themed GUI). I previously did a Tron theme in Linux Mint that looked like this.

Tron_Themed_Mint10_01.jpg
(open image in new tab for full size)

I can't recall the name of the icon set I was using. If the OP is interested, I'll look through my archived backups and see if I still have it.

EDIT: Found it!
The theme and icon set are Azenis.
None taken; all your comments seem valid to me. A nice theme you have considering that everything seems to match nicely! Thank you for taking the time to post it; it's nice to have a picture to refer to.

I personally don't like theming with Gtk or Qt as it is just too complicated for me; the Gtk theme I edited has 7000+ lines. I've spent dozens of hours on it, and still it is not 100% how I'd like it... I also prefer fully flat themes. As for the icons, I use 'convert' and a script to batch convert simple, flat, mono-colour icons to cyan and black/transparent. Same goes for the mouse pointer icons.

Getting back to the issue of cpu and memory and resulting sluggishness, I was able to use x11vnc on a remote machine and vncviewer to view it and interact with it on my client (Pi). The remote computer is connected to my projector which casts a 7' image on the wall. Watched some of 'Das Boot' (the 5+ hour series) on it yesterday. The refresh rate was such that it could be comfortably viewed on the Pi.

I still have to get it to deliver sound from the remote machine to the Pi, and while I know I can likely get it to work using Pulseaudio, I'd rather find a solution that doesn't require Pulse. If anyone has ideas which are lightweight, I'd like to hear them.

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HawaiianPi
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sun Jun 02, 2019 5:25 pm

Thanks for the pics. I like your flat theme! It looks like a simplified version of the Star Trek TNG LCARS displays.
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?

bakerJoe
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:22 pm

Great idea. I have a different use case. I'm looking at a simplified access for people with disabilities. This seems to fit the bill.

For social media and net apps, do you just use the epiphany browser or a less busy interface e.g. alpine for email, API for twitter etc?

Thanks for the great work.

bakerJoe
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:06 pm

Hi - great work. I have a strong interest in using something like this for people with disabilities. The idea is to have a easily navigable interface. For interface to emails, I am thinking of using something like alpine. And may be API access for social media sites.

I was able to use dmenu but when I tried to use dwm, I got the following (running on a PI 3):
X Error of failed request: BadAccess (attempt to access private resource denied)
Major opcode of failed request: 2 (X_ChangeWindowAttributes)
Serial number of failed request: 142
Current serial number in output stream: 144

@bedtime: could you provide a brief description on how you set up the environment to run the code in GitHub?
Last edited by bakerJoe on Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

OdinsCat
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:19 pm

I am planning on using my Kano Tablet as a main PC as soon as I get the touch screen working. I don't know where to get a spare cord though for the screen to work?

bedtime
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:39 pm

HawaiianPi wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 5:25 pm
Thanks for the pics. I like your flat theme! It looks like a simplified version of the Star Trek TNG LCARS displays.
Cool to hear. And thanks. :)
For social media and net apps, do you just use the epiphany browser or a less busy interface e.g. alpine for email, API for twitter etc?
I don't use any social media apps, so I don't know what they'd look like. I use surf, epiphany or chrome to browse. All browsers follow the same theme throughout. They use a .css stylefile to create the black/neon theme.
I was able to use dmenu but when I tried to use dwm, I got the following (running on a PI 3):
X Error of failed request: BadAccess (attempt to access private resource denied)
Major opcode of failed request: 2 (X_ChangeWindowAttributes)
Serial number of failed request: 142
Current serial number in output stream: 144
I'm not sure what your level of experience is in Linux, but dwm would have to be compiled by you on your machine to work with the changes I made. That is well beyond the scope of this thread, though.

Dmenu is entirely keyboard-based, so I question if that would be fitting for people with disabilities. I use Plan 9's '9menu' program and compile that.
@bedtime: could you provide a brief description on how you set up the environment to run the code in GitHub?
It sounds as if you may be a trifle confused about how github works. Github is used as a code storage place for programmers to share their code; one doesn't run anything on github; they download code from it, compile it on their computers, and then run it.

This is a no small task for someone who is a novice to compiling (if this is the case). It's like going down the rabbit hole; you'll be there a while and you'd be learning a lot of new things. I don't mean to discourage you but just to ask yourself if this is what you really want; else, it can end up in hours and days lost and little to show for it.

A good place to ask about coding would be: viewforum.php?f=14

bakerJoe
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Re: Anyone using a Pi (as a tablet) as their main computer?

Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:50 pm

@bedtime: could you provide a brief description on how you set up the environment to run the code in GitHub?
It sounds as if you may be a trifle confused about how github works. Github is used as a code storage place for programmers to share their code; one doesn't run anything on github; they download code from it, compile it on their computers, and then run it.

This is a no small task for someone who is a novice to compiling (if this is the case). It's like going down the rabbit hole; you'll be there a while and you'd be learning a lot of new things. I don't mean to discourage you but just to ask yourself if this is what you really want; else, it can end up in hours and days lost and little to show for it.

A good place to ask about coding would be: viewforum.php?f=14
Hi - I am just interested to try out your tablet interface. I know how to download from GitHub and compile code. It's not clear how they all hang together in Rpi environment. Thanks in advance.

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