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Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:53 pm

I have the opportunity to show a group of people that a Raspberry Pi (Model 3B) can easily replace a full laptop or desktop in terms of general performance. The people I plan to show generally believe that Windows 7 is the preferred option, and usually on a full desktop computer. When I demo it, they will not initially be able to see it's a Pi. They will, of course, know it's running Linux.

To start, I plan to demo some typical programs like Inkscape, GIMP, Chromium extensions, LibreOffice, etc. Are there any others I should consider?

Is there anything else I can do to convince them that the Pi is a fantastic single-board computer, other than tell them the cost?

scotty101
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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:01 pm

Check out MagPi Issue 59

It contains an article about someone replacing their 'normal computer' with a Pi, what limitations it had/what it did well.
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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:15 pm

Pi server or any sort of remote desktop might be worth it, as people can use that to access faster servers if the Pi itself isn't fast enough.
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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:19 pm

It will probably be best to avoid anything that needs much RAM, since even a low-spec PC has far more. The same goes for processing power, so avoid showing web pages with much JavaScript. Don't mention the possibility of using two displays, a mouse pad, high-speed Ethernet, USB3, 5GHz Wi-Fi, high-speed graphics or an integral CD-ROM drive.

The Raspberry Pi is a very admirable product, in its place.

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:09 pm

Well, I hope the intent isn't to defraud them into thinking they're getting more than they are. It is a recipe for a lot of ill will to try to make an RPi look like it can do more than it can. Demo it as fit for the tasks they need done, and bang-for-buck in doing that is a major selling point.

Personally, I think the whole premise that they need to make a single choice is misguided. What most places actually need is a well-planned continuum of computing. These days, that usually starts with phones/tablets. The people who need a desktop environment beyond that might be served very well by an RPi, especially if they don't require any specialized software for their job. The much fewer number of people who need a true workstation to get things done can then be given a traditional desktop (running whatever OS and/or apps they need).

Perhaps the better approach would be to ask them what percentage of people could do their work on the system you present. I expect it would be more than 50%, which is a big win for a computer that costs 1/10th of what even a mini-PC normally costs.

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:05 pm

Agreed. But for my purpose, it will never fully replace traditional PCs (due to lack of RAM, hard drive size, etc.). However, if I can open people's eyes to see what can be done, then I've accomplished what I've set out to do.

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:39 pm

It's a great idea to get more awareness of the Pi and other alternatives in the computing world.

But don't try to oversell the Pi for tasks for which it is not suited.

Inkscape, GIMP, LibreOffice are already painfully slow on a thousand dollar laptop. It might not impress the audience. Unless they are severely budget limited of course.
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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:00 pm

Alligator wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:05 pm
Agreed. But for my purpose, it will never fully replace traditional PCs (due to lack of RAM, hard drive size, etc.). However, if I can open people's eyes to see what can be done, then I've accomplished what I've set out to do.

I have other products, to overcome limitations with RPi 3B....
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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:09 am

jamesh wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:15 pm
Pi server or any sort of remote desktop might be worth it, as people can use that to access faster servers if the Pi itself isn't fast enough.
Definitely worth it.

I have about 40 users who have a pi3 on their desk with a regular keyboard/mouse/monitor that connect back to a 24 core XEON, 128gb of ram terminal server running windows server 2012r2.

its been working great for our business for years now.

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:46 am

Zebu wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:09 am
jamesh wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:15 pm
Pi server or any sort of remote desktop might be worth it, as people can use that to access faster servers if the Pi itself isn't fast enough.
Definitely worth it.

I have about 40 users who have a pi3 on their desk with a regular keyboard/mouse/monitor that connect back to a 24 core XEON, 128gb of ram terminal server running windows server 2012r2.

its been working great for our business for years now.
I will replace all 11-year-old notebooks with RP3B+ for all staffs in my office.
Most of our jobs use only MS IE/FireFox, MS Excel, VBA on MS Excel and MS Access.
And then I will move to Chromium, LibreOffice Calc, BASIC(Macro) on LibreOffice Calc and LibreOffice Base.
All RP3B+ will connect back to ClearOS HP server.

Can you please help advise?

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:21 pm

droleary wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:09 pm
.. a computer that costs 1/10th of what even a mini-PC normally costs.
Please explain that 1/10 figure. One well known UK supplier has a Lenovo laptop which has 14 inch screen, 4 Gbyte RAM, 64 Gbyte solid state storage and WIn 10 (Pro if you download the free upgrade) for £180 delivered. (Even had it down to £140 on several of their "offer days".) Where can you get a RPi, display, PSU, SD card, keyboard, mouse and case for anywhere close to 1/10 of that.

I'm not decrying the RPi for what it is but please don't compare apples and oranges.

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:01 pm

To @rpnk:

Welcome to the Raspberry Pi forums.
Most of our jobs use only MS IE/FireFox, MS Excel, VBA on MS Excel and MS Access.
And then I will move to Chromium, LibreOffice Calc, BASIC(Macro) on LibreOffice Calc and LibreOffice Base.
All RP3B+ will connect back to ClearOS HP server.

Can you please help advise?


My advice - by all means go ahead if you have approval and support from all the levels of management and staff involved.

But be prepared and have your answers ready for when the end users complain that you have 'broken' their IT provision and they can no longer get their daily work done effectively and efficiently.

You and I may know that there are perfectly good alternatives to Microsoft products. But for the staff who may have invested time, mental effort and maybe money in learning the details of these Microsoft tools to use as the means to earning their income there may appear to be no good reason to move to an alternative which will inevitably mean some relearning. Expect some resistance.

This isn't an argument in favour of Microsoft, or of never making change. The same principles would apply if you wanted to move in the opposite direction.

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:16 pm

rpnk wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:46 am
I will replace all 11-year-old notebooks with RP3B+ for all staffs in my office.
I am wondering what a Pi equivalent for a notebook and its replacement would be ?
rpnk wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:46 am
Most of our jobs use only MS IE/FireFox, MS Excel, VBA on MS Excel and MS Access.
And then I will move to Chromium, LibreOffice Calc, BASIC(Macro) on LibreOffice Calc and LibreOffice Base.
Have you checked that all they do can be done with what your are replacing things with ?

rpnk wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:46 am
Can you please help advise?
I presume you are going to have staff engagement, training, a proper roll-out and testing, or you will do the change and arrive at work to find people just staring at what they have with no idea of what to do.

There is probably no better way to disrupt a perfectly happy office than force things on people without having got their buy-in first. It's quite amazing how disruptive and wilfully awkward people can be when they aren't happy.

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:49 pm

I think the crucial sentiment that people have been using is "the Pi is good in its place, as long as you know what its limitations are".

I use my Pi 3B+ for the two tasks that require a computer to be left on 24/7: for logging data from a weather station and uploading it to a web server (using Cumulus MX), and as a PVR to record TV programmes (using TVHeadend). It is fine for those tasks, and barely breaks out into a sweat: CPU usage is around 2-5% and memory usage is about 200 MB out of 1 GB total. I write videos to the SD card but then copy them to my Windows "server" PC once a day to free up space on the card.

That's for mostly background processes. I don't know what load it would put on it to play the recorded video in VLC (I've no need to, so I've not paid for an MPEG licence).

I know that Firefox ESR is a lot slower to open and to display pages than my Windows 7 PC, and makes the Pi run at about 70% CPU while it opening initially, and about 30% when changing from one page to another (using the BBC News site as a test - just normal pages, no videos etc). Memory stays at about 400 MB used. Similarly, LibreOffice (eg the Word equivalent) takes a loooong time to open, but then it also does on my Windows 7 laptop (I've got real MS Office rather than Libre on my desktop).

The Pi can do various tasks that a Windows PC can do, but window-based apps do seem to run more slowly. But as a stop-gap machine, it's better than nothing.

And for low-tech weather station and PVR work, it's brilliant. It uses a lot less power and it's silent. And for the first time in several years, my Windows PC can be turned off at night!

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:48 pm

Heater wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:39 pm
Inkscape, GIMP, LibreOffice are already painfully slow on a thousand dollar laptop. It might not impress the audience. Unless they are severely budget limited of course.
I must question this.
I have a laptop that cost me less than $150USD, brand new and not discounted.
It runs GIMP and Inkscape quite happily. I do not have LibreOffice installed because Windows Notepad is adequate for my needs.
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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:56 pm

Imperf3kt wrote:
Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:48 pm
Heater wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:39 pm
Inkscape, GIMP, LibreOffice are already painfully slow on a thousand dollar laptop. It might not impress the audience. Unless they are severely budget limited of course.
I must question this.
I have a laptop that cost me less than $150USD, brand new and not discounted.
It runs GIMP and Inkscape quite happily. I do not have LibreOffice installed because Windows Notepad is adequate for my needs.
IT also depends on what you may have sitting around unused... I could put a new Pi into service for just the cost of the Pi, but that's because I have PSUs, keyboards, mice, cables, monitors and SD cards sitting around not being used. If you have to buy to buy the support equipment, it will depend on how you go about it. The monitor is probably the biggest single expense for most people, but I have a 19" monitor that cost me $10 and a friend of mine got a 17" Viewsonic for free, so there are ways around those issues as well. On average, I would budget about $60 to $80 (including the Pi) to set up a Pi.

For those replacing desktops with Pi, rather obviously there is already a monitor there. If it has DVI input (likely), then one is all set.

And...to contribute to the overall topic...a Pi cannot replace my desktop machine. I play an MMO and besides there not being an ARM client, the Pi just doesn't have the chops to handle it.

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Re: Showing a Pi can replace a standard computer

Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:59 am

I love the pi, I use a ton of them, even for desktop applications....but as remote terminals or video playback stations. The limit ram really kills even casual browsing and the very slow storage makes everything else drag.

If you are using it for a single task then heck yeah, the pi can do a single, focused task where you can tune and control everything very well.

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