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Why even own a Raspberry Pi?


When I first got my Raspberry Pi, I was convinced it’ll be my personal smart home device. I was thinking of all the neat projects I’d do with the hardware bits. You know, the GPIO pins and the USB ports. Not to mention the onboard wifi card, which would save me from having unsightly wires taped around my apartment.

It’d be just like an Arduino but also Linux.

Software is the worst

Arduino is really easy because everything’s set up for you. You don’t need to worry about versions or support because you’re pretty sure that your Arduino supports Arduino code.

Not so with Raspberry Pi and Linux distros. As soon as you’re worrying about a Linux machine, you have a million moving parts that all depend on each other.

To get to the point, I spent weeks trying to figure out how to interface with the GPIO pins. There are a handful of GPIO python libraries. I think I tried a C library as well. None of them worked. I’m pretty sure it was a firmware problem, or something involving kernel extensions.

At that point, I gave up trying.

Having a personal Linux server is pretty great

So instead of a smart home toy, my personal Pi is just a general-purpose Linux server. I have a Syncthing relay running on it, as well as various game servers. It’s also a music library (which plays via Bluetooth) and a general-purpose database server. At some point it was running a Discord bot and a Phoenix site. If I wanted to, I could run a Pi-hole, or seed torrents, or do whatever you people do with a general-purpose headless Linux box.

Most importantly, it’s a nice playground for various Linux toying and misdeeds. A lot of my often-used commands.md notes were a direct result of Pi hacking.

It’s pretty great, even if only because I don’t need to rent any more Amazon EC2 boxes (for whenever I need a 24/7 Linux box).

Is it worth it?

No. Yes. My expectations for the Raspberry Pi weren’t exactly met, but I’ve gotten enough use and learning out of it to justify the $35 price tag.

I’m writing this as part of #100DaysToOffload. You can directly check out other participating blogs or take part yourself.

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