So I got through the initial challenges with the Raspberry Pi 4. First all I did was the cookbook stuff, put bootable Ubuntu onto an SD card and power it up. My network was a wired ethernet and the monitor was a Vizio TV. So everything went (mostly) according to plan. But my simple setup quickly turned into something more complicated. I’m still hashing it out but here is what I’ve gotten so far. I can report that I am posting this from my Ubuntu Raspberry Pi desktop!
Mouse and keyboard: didn’t have a spare dedicated wired keyboard since I just cleaned up my office and gave away a couple of old ones, figuring I wouldn’t need them any more. Had a wireless pair that I liked and was using on my old PC but was told I needed a wired USB keyboard and mouse for the first boot, so I bought this Amazon mouse and keyboard bundle. Turns out it probably wasn’t necessary, but hey, I probably should have kept a spare USB keyboard around anyway. Looks like the wireless keyboard set would have worked.
Flash Card: had an older 32 GB flash card from an old phone and figured I could use that. It worked ok, but eventually flaked out on me. Couldn’t make a partition writable. After much pain and suffering found out it was a known flaw in some older SD cards. Bought a newer, biggger, faster 128 GB Sandisk. Found out I didn’t have a good way to easily write an SD card. One old reader I had didn’t work and the slot in my wife’s Intel NUC didn’t seem to work either. Bought one of one of these Anker USB Card Readers. Money well spent.
Hard Drive: since I wanted to use this as both a desktop machine and a media server, I figured I needed a large HDD. Got a Seagate 4 TB USB drive. Would have preferred an SSD and maybe it would have been worth it (more on that later) but this seemed to be the solution. The plan is to boot from the HDD. Not that hard to do. Ok, maybe harder than I though. This article (and comments) got me going: How to Run Raspberry Pi 4 or 3 Off an SSD or Flash Drive
So I had my files on another USB HDD. Figured I could plug it into the other USB slot and do a big copy. Uh Oh. That didn’t work. Seems the two drives draw too much power (more on that later). Bought this powered USB hub to plug it all in without causing my processor to die from starvation.
Bluetooth: had some issues with the sound output. After much googling, got a poor quality output from the audio jack. Some other config settings cleaned it up. I had a Bluetooth Speaker. Maybe that would be the way to go. Never got it to work. As best I can tell a bluetooth module called pi-bluetooth or possibly bluetooth-pi is currently missing. I gave up, figuring one day someone would fix it and it would all start to magically work.
Wifi: after initial install I went to move my Pi 4 to a place without a convenient ethernet connection. No matter, the built in WiFi would be good enough. Except it didn’t work. Never could get it to work. Bought a second Pi 4 thinking it could be bad hardware. It wasn’t. Gave up and bought a TP-Link USB PC N150 WiFi Adapter. It sorta worked. Not very reliable. After much messing around, I went back to my powered USB hub and plugged my HDD and the WiFi dongle in there instead of directly into the Pi 4. That did the trick! More on this power issue later.
CD Drive: If I ever decom my old x86 Shuttle I may need a CD / DVD drive. Bought a USB CD / DVD Drive, and it worked, but I didn’t do anything too heavy with it, like ripping videos. Will try that some other time.
Am I done? Not really. Want to get Bluetooth working and see if the onboard WiFi can be fixed. When SSDs get cheaper I might spring for a 2 TB or so to hold media. Also been looking at temperature, More on that later. Bought this fancy metal heatsink case, more to protect the board than for cooling. No fan, but I don’t want one of these if it needs a fan. At this point my simple little PC is a bit complicated. I’m hoping that over time fixes and maybe some new hardware (an SSD) will simplify things. Until now, it is working well enough to post this!