obarthelemy wrote: ↑
Fri Dec 27, 2019 9:51 am
Hi everyone. I got a nice Pi 4 for Christmas; I wanted to set it up as a mixed-duty server. I'll probably get another one to have some fun on the client side.
I'm rather good with IT (friends and family's go-to guy) but a Linux lightweight. Here's how things went. Spoiler: mostly OK, but a non-nerd would have failed hard and early.
1- Hardware. I wanted to wait for the updated version with the right USB wiring, but that's been an eternity coming. Hope the current defective wiring won't come back to bite me. I got a starter bundle off Amazon, with a case, heat spreaders, and a fan. That measly fan is more noisy and bothersome than all my other fans put together (gaming PC, Synology, fridge not too far...). I hope the 64°C I got when I unplugged it won't damage things in the long run.
2- OS: no issues. Grab image ,burn image, boot.
3- Apps (pihole, vnc, deluge, vpn): some issues, made exponentially more difficult by iffy documentation. What's jarring as a non-expert Linux user is that
a- nothing works right after the install. You've got to sudo nano into 2-6 config files (which are in random spots).
b- and then again to make stuff autorun.
c- to compound the issue, there are glitches and stuff that doesn't work how it should and is described. Getting my external exfat drive to automount was not correctly described anywhere (hint: use PARTUUID in fstab, not UUID), I had to guess it from other lines in the config file ? On the bright side, what I got to work has been reliable (except that damn drive, going to sleep I guess ?)
d- There are a lot of different ways to do any one thing (choice of apps, choice of autorun method - I counted at least 3 ?), with no way to really know which is best, so you've got to pick a random app and a random way to make it autostart.
e- This means you pick one tutorial and stick with it. There are some very nice ones, but I got painfully reminded of 3 things:
+ read the whole thing through before doing anything. Including comments. Read a handful and pick one.
+ check the date. The fresher the better, stuff over 2yrs old probably won't work. Tutorials as a rule are not maintained, so a good-but-old explainer probably won't work.
+ keep track of the actual tutorials you used - I saved them to my Google Drive. You *will* have to go back to them, and searching for them again will be cumbersome, especially if you don't remember the exact search terms you used the first time, and you clicked on several before picking one so several show up as "clicked" in the results. Also, the Pi doesn't use Google Search, so you'll get different (and, sadly, worse) results than on your PC. Lesson learned ;-o Took me 2hrs to get vnc to start with a comfortably large screen because I could not find where I launched its daemon.
In the end, kind of a mixed bag. As a nerd, I (re-)learned a few things, but I don't feel that'll be transferrable to anything but other Pis. Things mostly work, but with such effort that I'm loathe to do more. Stuff that Just Runs in Windows or Android takes 2-3 hours of head-scratching and doubt. On the very bright side, anyone looking to start with Linux should definitely do that with a Pi (I assume the same goes for hardware tinkering, which is not my thing); I've been able to go much further and smoother than all my previous Linux attempts on a PC, those usually ended with HW issues, much worse documentation starting w/ a cornucopia of random choices to make (I got mired in StartUp last time around, where's my autoexec.bat ? ^^).
I wouldn't recommend a Pi for anything but tinkering. The learning curve is steep, the documentation is if not lacking at least messy, and stuff you didn't know couldn't work doesn't or requires work (exfat drives, Skype...) (the triple negative is here to convey that sense of confusion ^^). I think one of the great thing about modern Mobile ecosystems is not so much that they're mobile, but that they're admin-less. Linux on the Pi is a nice reminder of the road not taken. I'm also using Android desktops (souped-up TV boxes), and while not perfect and much less flexible, from an end-user point of view, for the same price, they'll let you do what you expect, they way you expect, a lot easier and faster.