I have been thinking of doing this for a while, so now I thought I would throw myself into it.
The idea is to use an ARM board, like the Odroid N2, as a substitute for my quite beafy and powerhungry desktop PC, for a while.
So I loaded up Manjaro ARM (via the installer) on an eMMC module and started setting it up for my every day needs.
I installed the regular
linux kernel instead of
linux-vim since I won’t be using the onboard sound card anyway. And I also installed other stuff I use, like
nextcloud-client and a few other minor things for my every day work.
And I must say. Overall, I’m pretty happy about it. But it does have it’s share of Pro’s and Con’s. So let me list them out for you.
- No GPU Acceleration. This is suppose to be incmoing in kernel 5.10 however, but the lack of hardware acceleration means that some apps, like Element, are very slow.
- Bitwarden won’t load properly. This could be because of the lack of hardware acceleration. I don’t know. But the app starts and then just displays the loading spinner for hours, until I kill it. Anyone else have this issue with the Bitwarden desktop client on ARM?
- Root filesystem size. The largest unused eMMC module I had laying around, was a 16 GB one. Just installing my system and apps, plus syncing my Nextcloud folder takes almost all that, so I’m down to like 2.5 GB space left on my root drive. So it’s unlikely that I will use that setup to create and upload Manjaro ARM images. Or even build large packages.
- It’s quiet! Holy moly, the sound difference between my desktop being powered on and this board is noticable. The Odroid N2 I have, does have a fan on the case, but I have not had any reason to actually connect it yet, since I haven’t been able to push it above 60 degrees celcius yet.
- Light power consumption. While my desktop when running would be using about 350-400 Watts, this little device has a max power consumption rating of about 6 Watts. Yes. 6 Watts.
- Platform connection. Working on the same platform you develop for is always gonna be a Pro. It’s easy for me to check if a change I made, would build, install and work, since I can do it all locally and natively.
- Size. The little board is sitting on my desk. Right beside my monitor. My desktop PC is standing on the floor underneath my desk, and the top if its case is almost touching the buttom of the desk. I could in theory ducktape this board to the back of my monitor and it would look like an All-In-One PC.
I’ve been running it like this for a couple of days now. Yesterday I turned off my desktop completely and will now see how long I can live without turning it back on.
I still have my x86 based laptop, to handle the things that take up lots of storage space, like creating Manjaro ARM images, but the plan is to use the Odroid as much as I can, and of course test out kernel 5.10 a soon as it hits RC stages.
So if I can get myself a 64+ GB eMMC module and the 5.10 drivers have proper Panfrost support for the GPU in the Odroid, I think I’m all set.