Tuesday, January 03, 2023

It's Here, But There Are Delays

My new ATOPNUC Mini PC arrived yesterday, but between work (never change computer horses in midstream) and another home electronics disaster (my television was damaged in a household recombobulation, requiring borrowing a TV from a kid, ordering a new Roku since the borrowed TV isn't "smart," etc.) I didn't have time to do much with it.

First impressions:

  • Booted right up -- and pretty fast.
  • In the past, I've not been a fan of Ubuntu (the preinstalled OS), but I may end up giving it an extended test drive, or at least keep it as part of a dual-boot system. I'd like to do some rearranging of the default desktop/dock stuff, at a minimum, but it seems to run well.
  • No obvious problems, other than it not recognizing one particular USB drive (which may be a problem with the drive). I haven't tried it with dual monitors yet, just messed with it on one screen then put it back into the box until I have time to really futz with things.
  • I ran it straight from an outlet rather than from my solar power station, so I don't know how it is on power usage just yet.
Depending on various things, I may get it fully set up and really start working with it as early as today, or it may be the weekend. My goal is to turn it into a $100 8Gb Chromebox instead of paying $400 for the real thing. But if that doesn't work out, I'm sure I'll find something to do with it, whether it replaces the Raspberry Pi 4B as my "daily driver" or not.

Naturally, after ordering two HDMI cables and finding one around the house, it came with one (not advertised in the description). So I'll have two spare HDMI cables. Whee.

Update, 10am: OK, I've got this thing up and running. Very nice. It wasn't able to boot Chromium OS from a USB (the problem was with the ChromiumOS version, not the machine, I think). I have installed actual Chrome, rather than Chromium (no build of Chrome for the ARM CPU in the Raspberry Pi), and will mess with other OS options later. Unfortunately, it looks like the machine wants to draw 15-20 watts instead of the less than 10 the Pi usually does. But that's the only down side so far (other than that I don't like the little status bar at the top of Ubuntu and haven't figured out how to fix that yet).

Update, 8:30pm: I've spent the day breaking and fixing the machine, including a pretty scary period where, no matter what I did, it booted into BIOS (and reloaded BIOS when BIOS was exited). So far the only alternative OS I've been able to get to work on the ATOPNUC is LUbuntu, which is supposed to be a "lighter" version of Ubuntu. But it seems at least as "heavy" as the other version of Ubuntu, and I don't like its desktop environment as well. I also see that once I turned off stuff I didn't need to be running (Wifi, Bluetooth, etc.), the machine doesn't draw a whole lot more power than the Raspberry Pi. Right now, with Chrome running and eight tabs open, 10-11 watts. So this thing may just work out.

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