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MercuryGuy7815

Which ARM SoC is most suitable for a light linux desktop experience at this point?

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I wonder if somebody can help me make a good choice. I'm sorry if I'm a bit rambling but I spent a good part of the weekend looking at different SBCs.

 

I've played around with the early Rasperry Pi, then later on I got a Cubietruck (which still faithfully does network stuff at home) and a Cubox. (Which I wasn't that happy with because I needed a little bit more omph, it was *mostly* fine though)

 

What I'm looking for is an ARM based setup I can do some browsing with, run some lightweight X11 (jwm window manager and some very light programs mostly dependent on X-libraries) and watch videos up to 720p. The screens' resolution would be 1280x1024. It'd be cool if I can use OpenGL up to 2.1 on that machine (maybe with GL4ES?)  for some development I'm doing. I'd also like to run some emulation on it, mainly dosbox (up to 286 VGA era, I figured out with dynamic cores even the i.MX6 can do this) C64 and amiga emulation. (the latter was a bit too much for the i.MX6 when I tested it)

 

I'm mainly interested in ARM because many ARM SoCs can be passively cooled appropriately, they're very low power and don't take up much room. For a later project I'm planning (epaper screen) it'd also be nice to have a GPIO header. I personally don't care much about blobs like those for Mali, as long as they work. I'm also fine with mostly staying in the framebuffer and just starting X11 or even Wayland occasionally for browsing.

 

Now I've looked at a lot of SBCs, as there are tons. The RK3328 seemed interesting, but it's a bit older at this point, and although it's much faster than the i.MX6 I'm worried it might not be quite enough. The S922X (which you apparently can only find on the odroid N2) seems very powerful and even though the GPU will never support X11, I have the feeling it wouldn't be much trouble for the SoC to just do fbdev (or fbturbo, which has neon optimizations) at 1280x1024. I also like that I can get the N2 from a local retailer where I live and don't have to order it from another country. I also might even decide to dual boot the N2 with android for multimedia consumption, as I've seen a LineageOS build.

 

I'm a bit worried though about the vendor kernel and how long it might be supported. (although hardkernel apparently has a good track record for that kind of thing?) The RK3399 seems to be a little bit less powerful but slightly better supported. I don't really know if it can be passively cooled effectively (fans are a big nono, if I wanted fans I can stick to x86) and the power consumption seems a bit higher than what ARM-based SoCs usually have and much higher than the S922X.

 

I should also add that I don't need a solution that works out of the box, I've been using gentoo for 12 years and have written custom patches for software when I needed something and I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty.

 

On the other hand, my current AMD SoC served me fine and does all these things well, it's just kinda loud and it takes away quite a bit of room in my already cramped space. Maybe it's not time for ARM yet.

 

I'd love to hear opinions or maybe even experiences.

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37 minutes ago, MercuryGuy7815 said:

Now I've looked at a lot of SBCs, as there are tons. The RK3328 seemed interesting, but it's a bit older at this point, and although it's much faster than the i.MX6 I'm worried it might not be quite enough. The S922X (which you apparently can only find on the odroid N2) seems very powerful and even though the GPU will never support X11, I have the feeling it wouldn't be much trouble for the SoC to just do fbdev (or fbturbo, which has neon optimizations) at 1280x1024. I also like that I can get the N2 from a local retailer where I live and don't have to order it from another country. I also might even decide to dual boot the N2 with android for multimedia consumption, as I've seen a LineageOS build.

 

I'm a bit worried though about the vendor kernel and how long it might be supported. (although hardkernel apparently has a good track record for that kind of thing?) The RK3399 seems to be a little bit less powerful but slightly better supported. I don't really know if it can be passively cooled effectively (fans are a big nono, if I wanted fans I can stick to x86) and the power consumption seems a bit higher than what ARM-based SoCs usually have and much higher than the S922X.

 

I'm running an Odroid N2 as a desktop at 2460x1440@60hz  typically with 3 terminals, and chromium with hangouts, homeassistant, plex, slack, and armbian forums always pinned.   

i'd tried ARM desktop in the past with my le potato and tritium h5... wasn't quite there...... I used an Atomic Pi and it was sufficient--but ultimately 2 gigs of ram wasn't enough even with zram compression.   Finally I tried the N2, and I think it's there.. even with bruteforce fbturbo doing the video..    I'm running Armbian bionic, with vendor kernel and Mate Desktop... pretty happy with it.

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Nobody can give you the right answer, you should try a few and sell them back if too costly or just keep them. For a start, you should try a pi4b 4gb with fanless massive heat sink - very little work, everything can be bought. Try it for a few works and see how you like it. Sell it back with minimal lost.

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I'm not a fan of the rasperry pi and the fundation behind it for reasons I don't want to go into here and would rather not support them with money. Honestly, hearing that the N2 will have no trouble with fbdev/turbo in 1280x1024 was pretty much all I wanted to hear. I could probably use kodi for multimedia, that'd leave checking out how well libsdl/sdl2 is supported with mali and framebuffer. Many thanks!

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