[Server-devel] Rapberri Pi/clone(s) most ruggidizable for OLPC fieldwork?

Peter Robinson pbrobinson at gmail.com
Sun Feb 7 03:22:33 EST 2016

> You are the expert here (on the low end especially, with $5 Raspberri Pi
> Zeros!) leading OLE refugee camp deployments across many countries.  Whereas
> most OLPC-like schools I talk to want to spend $100 (or more) for a
> mini-server that's truly resilient for years in tropical environments,
> against rodents/humidity, untrained-operators especially, and oh yeah kids
> smacking them around, stealing SD cards etc ;)
> (Yes some of us proudly confess we use XO-1.5 and similar mini-servers on
> the low end, e.g. in many after-school programs, despite Tony's friendly
> fundamentalism that XO's should not be allowed to serve others nearby,
> recycling these XO-1.5's into family/mentoring learning environments is a
> huge win, but more about that another day :-)
> Looking into the future, so many of these community deployment leaders want
> something beefier right now.  Sometimes even a hard disk drive "for just $50
> more" (that's the fantasy anyway!)  Even now that 4 or 8 GB RAM appears
> essentially free--it does not fit on most of these tiny motherboards.  Nor
> does a 1TB hard disk drive fit, that many of these groups dream of (and are
> generally happy to shove in a live/spare HDD inside, when the prior one
> dies!)
> So, in conclusion we're exactly 4 years into RPi era (began February 2012)
> and showing a lot of maturity^h^hgrayhair now :)  I assume there are a
> gazillion Raspberry Pi clones -- the central question is which ones we
> should narrow down upon, now that push has come to shove in 2016, serving
> educational microserver applications (school and non-schools) across those
> ~4 billion "offline" people now asking us for that:
> Will the $15 http://pine64.com (which just raised $1.7M) become genuinely
> productizable for truly hassle-free field use with 128GB MicroSD cards by
> late 2016?  On the bright side, it accommodates 128GB maximum, which is
> exactly what we need on the high end in 2016.
> Or are traditional RPi 2 clones, such as Banana Pi's and this $40 Korean
> unit more practical in the short-term?
> http://www.computerworld.com/article/3030251/computer-hardware/make-a-40-linux-or-android-pc-with-new-raspberry-pi-2-rival.html
> Understanding full well this is as much a plastics / industrial design
> question / economies-of-scale question first-and-foremost, more than a
> computer specs question per se.  Still today, few people appreciate (or even
> understand) how much OLPC's contribution a decade ago was a revolution in
> plastics/maintainability/droppability.  When Apple/Google are daily throwing
> gigahertz specs at us, that marketing-centric misunderstanding is of course
> only natural :/
> Etc, Thanks in advance to those who've done so much more RPi field research
> and can share!!

So having read all of the above I'm not sure what you're asking. Do
you want a device that does end user sugar style interface or do you
want a device for a server?

If the later I suggest two things that should be looked for when
looking for a cheap ARM device to do server:
1) SoC attached network (100Mb or Gb)
2) SoC attached SATA port

Without those two you generally get terrible performance. The
Raspberry Pi is terrible for this as everything is USB attached
through a single (buggy!) USB controller. In the case of things like
the PINE64 above it has a SoC attached network but not storage.

As is stands at the moment some of the best cheap devices for server
style devices is AllWinner A20 devices (CubieTruck, BananaPi and
friends) and i.MX6 devices (Wandboard, CuBox-i and friends)


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