Raspberry Pi3 alternative?



  • Having evolved the current Pi3/Domoticz/MySensors system over the last two years, recovered from initial SD card failures (fake/genuine) and ended up with an external portable HDD arrangement, the continued local power failures caused progressively prolongued power off reboot/rinse-repeats, until today.
    And before anyone asks, yes a UPS was on my to-do list and remains there. πŸ™‚
    The "end Kernel panic -not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(8,1)" message finally made me realise I was out on a limb, I'm no Linux geek, but having already swapped a cloned SD card made me realise something HDD related went awol, and with precious little info on how to back it up it was always the weakest link that was going to break.
    Beyond the intellectual disconnect to Linux, the hairy method of getting a Pi to avoid it's SD card problems was always a hope and a prayer, but has the intervening time and tech advancements promoted a more reliable solution?


  • Mod

    @zboblamont exhausted sd cards is indeed a plague for Pi users. I have ”only” lost one installation so far, but when the Pi was failing, the behavior was erratic and hard to diagnose.

    One solution I have tried is to use f2fs. It is supposedly more friendly to flash-based systems. I don’t have any evidence that f2fs works better though.

    The Orange Pi can be bought with eMMC. I am not sure if they are more reliable.

    The Pi can be configured to boot from a usb hard drive. You could then choose a reliable ssd or a spinning drive.

    A common recommendation is to minimize disk writes by turning off logging or moving logs to ramdisk. I have not tried this.

    There are a few threads in this forum, but I have not found a good solution so I am eager to hear what you find and what others might contribute.


  • Plugin Developer

    You can buy 'industrial' SD cards, which can handle this punishment better. They are about twice as expensive.

    Another option would be a Raspberry Pi 4 with a USB3 stick. There are some very small SSD USB sticks now apparently.



  • @mfalkvidd @alowhum I fell over that with genuine fake microSDs issues originally, hence the shift to USB HDD with the microSD essentially booting the Pi3 to the HDD, if I didn't clarify that, I apologise.
    Since the microSD is essentially read only, I reckoned maybe 5-10 years to figure out how to backup the HDD for the Pi setup, meantime I had a backup microSD should fan meet excrement.
    When said fan met said shit after this morning's power cut after 18 months, I tried the backup microSD and got the same result and message I didn't understand, so figured something went Brexit (new phrase for FUBAR) with the Pi3 or the HDD.
    Hence considering a move to a setup which is less geeky to maintain.



  • @zboblamont
    Maybe find an old laptop, and keep it always connected to main 230V, and then create a script that will shutdown laptop if power failure after maybe 5 min.
    ususally an old laptop easily can run a headless linux (No GUI that consume the sparse memory)



  • @bjacobse Had considered that to begin with and concluded the Pi3 did the same, only a UPS and HDD to complete.
    Essentially it was the quirks of the Pi3 and unfamiliarity with Linux I struggled with and still do, but it still appears to be the best solution.
    My complacency over the external HDD relieving the common failure of microSD on power outages has certainly returned to haunt me.

    Time to order the UPS parts and delve into Linux learning I guess, then start over if I can't recover what's on the HDD...


  • Hardware Contributor

    @zboblamont
    Hi.

    Maybe I misunderstood, but I don't use a sdcard on my rpi3, it directly boots on ssd.
    That said for reliability, or longterm use and possible HA evolution, sure a rpi is not ideal, even the rpi4 could be quickly limited, + tests says it heats more.. (though for the moment usb boot is not released)

    Because it depends on what you'll need in future, a NAS storage feature like openmediavault, cameras motion management, a media server (plex, emby/jellyfin), adblocker, IA, voice assistants etc. so many nice services to use. Then a x86 intel/amd solution might be a better solution, a lot more powerful, very well known solution. some cpu have very low tdp but I think this electricity cost variable needs to be compared to the ROI..
    maintaining only one server machine might be easier too vs a swarm of RPIs.

    So:

    • rpi with ssd, no sdcard. nice but limited.
    • odroid N2 with its nice passive cooling. armbian. more powerful than rpi4 I think. you need to add an emmc.
    • tv box flashed to linux, based on s905x (like the odroid n2), or RK (like the recent rk3399). The advantage is for 70-80 bucks you get a complete enclosed board with up to 4GB ram, at least 32GB emmc, and the power supply. But the inconvenient is not all boxes are fully supported in linux yet, it needs digging. so it's not really a non geek solution
    • imho my favorite solution is x86 intel/amd machine, ideally with low noise/passive cooling. some low/affordable tdp, more powerful and evolutive than others solutions. there is odroid H2 based on j4105. you can also find j4105 motherboards for 80 bucks. j5005 motherboards, used servers/proc/motherboard on ebay, mini computers like NUCs or BRIX (some are not really cheap), homemade server machine (my fav because I can pick the exact hw and brand I want).

    All solution are nice, like I said it really depends how many service you'll want to run in future



  • @scalz Wow, that is a pretty comprehensive reply, many thanks for that insight, much more reading to do for the next phase. πŸ˜‰



  • @zboblamont
    I use a RPI3 and use this UPS (powerbank + script), as it's cheap and useful
    http://raspi-ups.appspot.com/en/index.jsp


  • Plugin Developer

    Or get a real UPS. For 95 euros you can buy a 8-socket power plug with built in battery that can power your router, raspberry pi and other devices for about 15 minutes. You can even control it via USB. That's what I use.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=APC+Back-UPS+ES+8&t=ffab&ia=web

    It's pretty great when the power goes out and you can still use your laptop to go online as if nothing has happened.



  • Thanks @bjacobse @alowhum , the UPS parts should arrive tomorrow, and be on safer ground in a couple of days. 7.2Ah at 12v with buck converter should cover the bulk of the outages, will look at a shutdown procedure later for the loner ones.
    Lesson learned, no idea yet if the database can be salvaged from the corrupted drive. Pi rebuilt on Buster with a fresh drive, just Domoticz to reinstall once UPS is running.



  • @zboblamont A cheap and silent alternative could be one of this qotom mini pc.

    I'm using one of this as a virtual machine server with proxmox since 2-3 years and I'm very happy with it.

    One of the vm is running pfsense so it act also as a main router / firewall for the entire Lan.

    The backup of a vm is super easy πŸ˜‰ but the initial setup of the environment requires a bit of Linux learning


  • Hardware Contributor

    @alowhum said in Raspberry Pi3 alternative?:

    for about 15 minutes.

    Haha don't move to Vietnam, here when they cut power it can last half a day.

    @bjacobse said in Raspberry Pi3 alternative?:

    I use a RPI3 and use this UPS (powerbank + script), as it's cheap and useful
    http://raspi-ups.appspot.com/en/index.jsp

    Do you also use the ethernet switch as a power sensor ? πŸ˜„ I would just use an USB splitter before the powerbank, then use one wire and a voltage divider to connect it directly to a GPIO...


  • Mod

    @bjacobse what powerbank are you using? The one referenced on http://raspi-ups.appspot.com/en/index.jsp is no longer available, and according to https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=144621 that bank automatically shuts off when the Raspberry Pi draws too little current.



  • I had one SD failure and that was enough, I use the cheap SSDs 16GB, 32GB type thing for $15 or around that plus case, so far so good.



  • My solution to the problem is to use OverlayFS, AND make sure i clone and replace the SD card every 2-3 years. This method
    writes/syncs modified data to SD card only on reboots.

    Hourly backups are rsynced to another PI.

    UPS is recommended but not a must



  • @nca78 said in Raspberry Pi3 alternative?:

    Do you also use the ethernet switch as a power sensor ? πŸ˜„ I would just use an USB splitter before the powerbank, then use one wire and a voltage divider to connect it directly to a GPIO...

    There are typically many paths to same solution πŸ™‚
    It was easiest for me to just copy exact same setup - why should I bother to purchase an USB splitter and spend time to setup a voltage divider and create a script that needed to measure voltage on a GPIO



  • @mfalkvidd
    The powerbank I am using is a Linocell 7800mA. YES I AM AWARE that it's stated on the powerbank that it's not allowed to both charge powerbank an use it as powerbank - But that is exactly what I do πŸ˜‰
    Bought here:
    https://www.kjell.com/se/produkter/hem-kontor-fritid/fritid/resetillbehor/powerbank/linocell-3x-dual-powerbank-7800-mah-bla-p96870


  • Hardware Contributor

    @bjacobse said in Raspberry Pi3 alternative?:

    @nca78 said in Raspberry Pi3 alternative?:

    Do you also use the ethernet switch as a power sensor ? πŸ˜„ I would just use an USB splitter before the powerbank, then use one wire and a voltage divider to connect it directly to a GPIO...

    There are typically many paths to same solution πŸ™‚
    It was easiest for me to just copy exact same setup - why should I bother to purchase an USB splitter and spend time to setup a voltage divider and create a script that needed to measure voltage on a GPIO

    It's just that it looks like a serious overkill and cable mess to use an ethernet splitter + it's own supply + ethernet cable when it can be done with less than 1$ of hardware and only one splitter + one spare usb cable. But that's just my own opinion πŸ™‚

    And if you want to really go for cheap and easy solution the raspi ups hat (blue PCB like in the link below) works like a charm. Compact, efficient, no extra cable. And I think the price is even cheaper than powerbank + splitter.
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32882666003.html



  • Wasn't where I was headed with the topic, but some interesting future considerations developed...
    UPS - I went with the AD-55A, 7.2Ah cell and buck converter previously suggested elsewhere, WAY bulkier than the HAT arrangement which tempted, and may yet be deployed as a secondary safety.
    What I found particularly infuriating was commercial UPS offerings mis-stating and misleading available USB current output, clearly targeting phone charging as a marketing ploy to expand their legacy constant dual voltage conversion lines without really developing anything new. Compared to these my own UPS will beat them in efficiency by a country mile as it's not designed from the ground up as dedicated dual conversion.
    Aside the various HAT variants, there has not been minimal attention paid to more efficient UPSs for 5v etc devices despite an exponential increase in their deployment...
    It is a little ironic really that this community has squeezed every Joule out of battery conservation on Nodes (my Gas meter is now passed year two on two AA alkaline πŸ˜„ ) yet reliance on a constant electrical supply remains for the Controller.
    Perhaps French, German and Dutch supplies are more reliable, but here in Romania, "Vorsprung durch fuckup" prevails 😏



  • @nca78
    I think you must have misunderstood the concept. I did not use a ethernet splitter and extra cable mess...
    I use my router as IP supplier, 1 ethernet cable to my RPI, so I have cable to my domoticz, the RPI gets IP via cable, and if the I'm not able to ping gateway (router) then there is no power as the gateway is down.
    the ONLY extra thing I have purchased is a the powerbank πŸ™‚


  • Hardware Contributor

    @bjacobse said in Raspberry Pi3 alternative?:

    @nca78
    I think you must have misunderstood the concept. I did not use a ethernet splitter and extra cable mess...
    I use my router as IP supplier, 1 ethernet cable to my RPI, so I have cable to my domoticz, the RPI gets IP via cable, and if the I'm not able to ping gateway (router) then there is no power as the gateway is down.
    the ONLY extra thing I have purchased is a the powerbank πŸ™‚

    Indeed I misunderstood, it makes much more sense like that πŸ™‚

    @zboblamont said in Raspberry Pi3 alternative?:

    Perhaps French, German and Dutch supplies are more reliable, but here in Romania, "Vorsprung durch fuckup" prevails

    Same here in Vietnam... That's why I'll also have a wifi gateway with battery backup soon.



  • i know this is old thread but here is what i have to deal with, truck load of different sd card ordered from amazon from different supplier, some full filled by amazon and some sold by amazon and all of them are fake and devil is in serial number so until you order more then one SD card you can never know if its real or fake.

    image 1
    image 2
    image 3
    image 4
    image 5



  • @pihome It's a nightmare even for reputable stores. Bought an expensive Samsung thinking it would be reliable, turned out to be fake. Store wasn't happy when I asked for money back.



  • may be its time for Raspberry pi foundation to put some storage on the board, these fake cards are very unreliable and i think small pc is better option then Raspberry pi at this stage.



  • @pihome I gave up and used a laptop hdd, a little bulkier but no regrets..


  • Plugin Developer

    It seems to be me the issue is buying fake SD cards. How do you even get in that situation? Do you buy them from China?



  • @alowhum
    All of them from Amazon sold by Amazon, i m out of ideas how and where to get genuine sd cards



  • @pihome I second that.
    @alowhum I don't think you appreciate just how far this fakery extends, so, sorry your criticism is unfair - Suppliers are playing Russian roulette offering what they believe is genuine product as the market is swamped with "genuine" fakes. My own experience was a with a big local store, and despite the usual evasion from the sales people initially they were caught with no escape when I presented the evidence. When you are selling in the zillions few can verify authenticity as they are packaged, it is a nightmare for those buying in in bulk.
    The only solution I found was to go for the cheapest brand on the market as it is not the pirates' intended target. My mobile microSD is HAMA on year 2, the "genuine" Samsung blew after 2 months... Go figure...


  • Plugin Developer

    I just buy them in brick and mortar store. Always genuine.


 

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