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The rasberry pi seems to be unavailable in storage since at least december 2021. What alternatives do you recommend ? Performant video output isn’t that required, I’d rather use it as a tiny home server. So I’m more interested in stability, at least one USB3 and some IO (maybe throwing one SSD at it without USB would be nice?), while at best working with some standard linux distribution, as custom manufacturer distributions tend to live only for so long, after which you’re on your own to get it running.

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    Uh oh, did someone ask about SBCs? ’Cause I have suggestions. :)

    The nicest ARM boards I’ve worked with in recent memory are the Khadas VIM3 series. They use relatively modern Amlogic CPUs w/4-8 cores, built-in MMC, fast RAM, and onboard mPCI with a full NVMe slot and mini-PCIe for modems, etc. on a stacking expansion board. They’re more expensive than RPis – anywhere from $80 to $150 or so – but given that you don’t need to stack on a bunch of hats or find an SD card that won’t die on you after a few months I consider them a pretty great choice for a “soft embedded” (home server, media player, etc.) application. Their OS image build tool is tailored for Ubuntu, but at least it gives you a fully automated/reproducible – in the casual sense of, “I can run these scripts and get a working image out” – build toolchain.

    Pine64 has already been suggested too, and worth consideration. I’d put them closer to the DIY end of the spectrum w.r.t. OS/distro support, available accessories, etc., but they do seem committed to keeping long-term availability of their hardware. They also document absolutely everything so you aren’t stuck running a weird vendor distro with no clear way to rebuild it on an updated kernel + base Ubuntu image. (I don’t particularly like being stuck on Ubuntu 18.04, and yet that seems to be the standard core that everyone uses for their off-the-shelf system image.)

    If the ARM Linux ecosystem feels a little too fragmented and a NUC is too much, you could check out the LattePanda line from DFRobot. They’re running low-power Intel chips (Celerons and i3s, mostly) but the low-end model in particular has a bunch of GPIOs broken out into “Grove” connectors, runs happily with passive cooling, and is supported by basically every OS I’ve thrown at it. (I’ve tried Windows, your choice of Linux distro or BSD, and even Haiku.)

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      Khadas VIM3 [..] MMC mPCI with a full NVMe slot LattePanda

      Thanks! That seems very interesting

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        Hm so Khadas seems to provide a lot of docs. But, they specifically require you to compile your own linux with their drivers.

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          The vim3 is fairly open hardware, enough so that it’s one of the few supported platforms for fuchsia: https://fuchsia.dev/fuchsia-src/development/hardware/khadas-vim3

          The pi on the other hand requires binary blobs for best performance still, so not really even that is running upstream…

          I’ve personally used Pis, NUCs and Jetson Nanos, but I’ve wanted to try the vim3 and the odroid SBCs for a while. The Jetson was a pain to build Debian for, it’s super focused on Ubuntu and required a fake package or two to install cleanly. Pi was easier to just install the kernel and binary blobs, but it’s still not mainline.

          I do also have the PineNote, which is based on the QUARTZ64 Model-A, which is progressing really quickly, but still is under development and requires running your own debootstrap. It will be completely unhindered though.

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            What about the VIM4 ? Because 4 gig RAM feels limited (I’d go for the 8GB pi if I could, if only for the IO cache)

            Edit: But it feels like the VIM4 is scratching the price space of a NUC, otherwise it looks very good

            The pi on the other hand requires binary blobs for best performance still, so not really even that is running upstream…

            True. I guess I’m hoping for the PI community to outlive that problem ;)

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        A tiny nitpick, but just for reference - modern Pis will happily boot straight from a USB drive, no need to use an auxiliary (& potentially flaky) SD card if you’re plotting to use one as a small server.

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          That’s not a nitpick per se, and honestly something I forget since I mostly stopped using Pis for my personal projects.

          But I will say that the delta from “can boot from a USB drive if you hold it just right” and “starts up from a rescue image on its internal flash to let you choose a distro and put it on fast internal MMC” (as the latest Khadas boards do) is not exactly trivial. :)

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            Some of the Pis (the Zero IIRC) still need an SD card with a bootcode.bin file to boot from anything other than the SD card though.

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          I have a used Intel NUC that’s basically better than the RPi in every way except maybe power consumption.

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            And price.

            I have one for Kodi, but HomeAssistant runs from a Pi. Wouldn’t mind an m.2 connector on the next generation, though.

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              Price, yes, but not value.

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              I’ve wanted to use NUCs, but it’s very hard to find any second hand where I am (Ireland). Even eBay rarely has them as buy-it-now, and the ones that are buy-it-now, tend to be for near-new prices. I’ve tried getting them through auctions, but have always missed thanks to last minute bids.

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                I suggest you check for Chromebooks with a broken screen. You can replace the bootloader via Mr. Chromebox and then install Linux. Some Chromebooks have 4GB of memory and a USB 3.0 port, which may be enough for your storage needs if you are OK with an external drive. Make sure it comes with the external power adapter though, many of them listed for sale do not.

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                I hope the new Wall Street Canyon models are ok for consumers because they don’t have a consumer line this gen. Like, I hope they are priced ok, etc.

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                  Oh damn, are these anything like HP EliteDesk?… It’s what I’m using as my main driver but I didn’t know they were considered on-par with RPi…! Honestly it’s run games great.

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                    Are they energy efficient enough? I know that’s a very vague question, but to me the raspis seem to be more energy efficient.

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                    I look for this every few months and have failed to find a good alternative. The weakness is getting a system that will boot reliably without heroics. (See the recent post here about Rock64 for an example of the problem.)

                    RPi hardware is still available, just spotty. If you only need to buy one or a few you might have luck watching for stock on https://rpilocator.com/

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                      For those looking for performance, some hefty alternatives have popped up lately:

                      Especially the RK3588 SoC looks promising for a server, as it has UEFI and lots of storage.

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                        That does look cool, esp the cheaper model. And an even cheaper one has popped up for a low low $169: https://www.cnx-software.com/2022/05/12/mekotronics-r58-is-a-cost-optimized-rockchip-rk3588-sbc/

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                        RockPro64 has a pci-e slot and in general quite nice to work with - I am using it with a mainline OpenBSD and it works just fine. Video acceleration is not present butI don’t do anything graphic-intense there. 4gb ram wasn’t an issue so far as well, even with firefox and a dozen of open tabs.

                        Radxa Rock Pi 4 uses the same SoC (RK3399) but the physical layout of that board is questionable - with connectors on one side and chip with radiator on other it is quite awkward.

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                            Rhooo… The Atomic Pi looks amazing… Is this US only? I cannot find it in Western Europe :/

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                              Look around. Amazon US has it, maybe it can be shipped to Europe. I also found a few on eBay.

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                              The Nano is actually being EOL’ed in favor the Xavier NX and Xavier Orin. Jetsons too are hard to come by but they really are phenomenal little devices.

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                                Also just found this: https://www.khadas.com/vim4.

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                                I think you might want to look into NUC-style computers. They will be more performant, not use a whole lot more power and are easy to find distributions for.

                                Slightly more pricy, but not as much as one would think.

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                                  The RPi 400 was still in stock recently — it’s a slightly-overclocked RPi 4 built into a keyboard. I bought one from SparkFun in April.

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                                    The 400 is worth it IMHO, relative to the plain rpi4. The whole keyboard acts as passive heatsink. It outperforms rpi4 with fancy cooling solutions. And it is cheaper than these rpi4 after you add the cost of the cooling solutions.

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                                      I hadn’t heard this before and had been looking into cooling cases for an rpi4. So I had a quick search and found this article, really interesting that yes, the rpi400 stays passively cooler than the rpi4 in an active Argon case. Awesome!

                                      https://tutorial.cytron.io/2020/11/02/raspberry-pi-400-thermal-performance/

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                                        apart from the looks / space required that is actually a good argument for taking it as “homeserver”

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                                        Plus, where else are you going to find a keyboard with a raspberry key?

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                                          Here’s one that doesn’t have a pi built-in: https://www.raspberrypi.com/products/raspberry-pi-keyboard-and-hub/

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                                        Microcenter has those in stock locally here right now, too.

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                                        As far as I’m concerned, I find there are few alternatives because of the software support which is often poor with other boards.

                                        I’ve recently found out about https://rpilocator.com (well, this website is quite recent, that’s why).

                                        Obviously this website doesn’t create any board but it’s very helpful to find some. When going that way, it’s good to prepare and check several shops along with their shipping costs because stocks don’t last very long.

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                                          A desktop if you already have one, otherwise an old laptop, or your WiFi router.

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                                            ^ this

                                            One can bring down the energy consumption of such old computers by downclocking and shut down all unused peripherials. with coreboot (if available) it should even be possible to run without graphics adapter. AFAIK pcengines.ch did this for their SBCs.

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                                              Parallel suggestion: an old HP Microserver.

                                              I have 2, an N40L and an N54L. The 54 runs TrueNAS fine, with 8GB of RAM and 4×2TB disks, and is responsive and quiet.

                                              The 40 is noisy – I don’t know why – but runs OpenMediaVault happily in 6GB of RAM.

                                              Both cost me about GBP 100 used.

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                                              This is a little outside the scope, but does anyone know of any Pi Alternatives that support POE. The known working POE hats for Pi are the main reason I’ve stuck with Pis thus far.

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                                                I was looking for years for some kind of POE blue pill board. Did not find any. I keep hoping and praying for Single-Pair Ethernet.

                                                The only thing which comes to mind are (dev-) boards for networked cameras, or modded networked cameras where there are documented GPIOs. It depends on what you want to archive.

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                                                I’ve bought a bunch of odroid SBCs in the past on ameridroid.com

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                                                  One alternative is picking up a 2nd hand laptop from a retailer that deals in ex-corporate stock.

                                                  Pros: screen, half decent CPU, all the ports you need. Negatives: the battery will be shot & you might not trust it anyway, especially as it gets older. Maybe go for an old Thinkpad with a removable battery & pull the battery entirely?

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                                                    Honestly I’m pretty pessimistic about other SBCs. For my similar use case, I mostly want a good amount of memory (8+GB) and low power at idle. I’m seriously considering picking up a used M1 Mac Mini even though they’re many times the retail price of a Pi (the Mac Mini also includes an SSD, a much faster processor, a better GPU, a case, etc), especially since one potential use case would be a media server, and Pis can’t generally manage the transcoding workload very well.

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                                                      If you’re going full PC, I’d probably just go for a NUC. Easier to replace parts and more software support.

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                                                        I’m working with a cluster of existing raspberry pis, so keeping everything ARM simplifies things somewhat. That said, there’s also a fair amount of value in not needing to virtualize Linux. I’m not particularly worried about replacing parts. That said, the NUCs seem to have pretty competitive idle power draw specs.

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                                                          amount of value in not needing to virtualize Linux

                                                          Why would you need to do that ?

                                                          That said, the NUCs seem to have pretty competitive idle power draw specs.

                                                          Well that’s also good to hear.

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                                                            Why would you need to do that ?

                                                            Because I don’t want to install Linux directly on Apple hardware as I’ve had poor experiences with that in the past, and I’m also running Kubernetes (I want my hypothetical NUC/MacMini to be a node in the cluster) which requires Linux. That said, I think Docker for Mac makes it pretty easy.

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                                                              Ah yeah makes sense. My mind was at the NUCs.

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                                                      How about some cheap x86 boards? You can get wyse 3040 (4C 2G) for ~25$ and wyse 5070 for ~80$ (doesn’t have any good deal yet) on ebay. The wyse 3040 is more like RPI with limited interfaces, and similar CPU performance, however, it’s x86 and widely available.

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                                                        Not sure if this is really considered an alternative, but I kind of like the Zotac C series mini PC - I’m using one at home for Kodi. It has a fanless design, support for an internal SSD and USB 3.0, 3.1, HDMI, DisplayPort and Wifi, and the Nano and Edge models are reasonably small (but bigger than a Raspberry pi, for sure). It comes with a plate for mounting it on a wall (but setting it down is fine too of course).

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                                                          There are cheap NUCS (as gerikson mentions) and many Celeron based solutions that are relatively cheap and skirt a lot of the SBC pain. I advise against Pine products. The odroid stuff is probably among the best supported SBC boards.

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                                                            Why do you advise against Pine products? I haven’t used them a ton, or for anything really load bearing, but I’ve had good luck with a Pinebook Pro and a couple of PineTimes. I think the Pinebook Pro has a lot in common with their RockPro SBCs.

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                                                                I read that thread as “putting a distribution onto an ARM SBC that doesn’t have a premade image available for that distribution is a challenge right now”. It seems like stretch to expand that to a broader dislike of pine products, IMO… theirs might even not be as bad as some of the other products in this space. (If you wanted to argue that the default manjaro is a rougher fit on pine than the default raspbian is on rpi, that’s different than the point that was being made in that post… certainly still legit but feels like a gripe that falls a little outside OP’s question to me.)

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                                                            If you need any volume… looking around for alternatives helps… but I managed to snag 2 new pi-4’s this month from my local reseller, they do occasionally get a few hundred/thousand items in. Though this then results in everyone just buying them so they have stock later if they need something.

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                                                              I’ve long used the ODroid series for years now, but it seems like their standalone SBC offerings haven’t seen a refresh in a good while.

                                                              I also seem to be gravitating towards the NanoPi line of boards due to their large variety of form factors and capabilities: https://www.friendlyelec.com They even ahve some that are capable enough to be used as stand-alone routers