Exploring Ubuntu Desktop on the Raspberry PI
With the release of Ubuntu Desktop 20.10 being available for the Raspberry PI this week I thought I'd take it out for a spin on one of the Raspberry PI 4's I have lying around. Now, officially you need to use a 4GB or 8GB device, however both of my spare ones only have 2GB so thought I'd try anyway and if things go well look at treating myself to a new shiny 8GB one.
Note: most of this post was written on the 25th however after a mishap (I knocked the PI off my desk and broke the SD Card slot 😒I had to wait until the 31st to complete the .NET 5 test instead running the PI 4 via an old USB SSD)
First off Installing Ubuntu Desktop 20.10 is nice and easy, you can get the image and apply it to an SD Card or for a nice step through wizard the Raspberry PI installer is the way to go. It's a nice four step process, choose Ubuntu and then 20.10 Ubuntu Desktop, choose the destination device and click write. It takes a while to write and verify but once complete you can eject your SD Card and slot it into your PI 4, power up and off you go!.
A quick aside, I've ended up doing this twice over, usually I use a Samsung Evo 32GB SD Card as I know them to be quick and reliable but initially I thought one of my USB 3 sticks would have performed better so chose to use that. This was a mistake :( If you have multiple USB sticks or even SD Cards I recommend running a benchmark tool against each of them to find the best one to use. My USB stick experience wasn't great and kept having random pauses / stutters. After benchmarking I found my USB stick was not up to any sort of standard. 65MB/s Read... but bare 5.4MB/s write :( I also tested a few of my SD Cards and decided to use one of my Kingston gold cards as although it scored 10MB/s lower in sequential reads its write speed was much higher. Now the 4K performance is often a true tail of random reads and writes for a disk but the test was taking too long so I opted to just base my decision on the sequential tests.
First BootThe first time I tried to boot just using my Raspberry PI Touchscreen, I can confirm that although it works you will struggle to setup and configure the device. Like most desktop OS' they expect a 1024x768 resolution minimum and without this menu's or buttons get blocked. This was the case for me so I had to switch to a 1080p monitor, not a hardship and actually better for testing the OS anyway but it's worth noting, particulary if you are thinking about Ubuntu Desktop for any small TouchScreen UI's. I will revisit using the touchscreen as I'm sure once configured running a browser or application in kiosk mode would be more than possible.
What can it run?
Visual Studio Code
Running .NET 5
With VSCode running, lets push the boat further and try running .NET 5... Just like installing VSCode this is straight forward, go to go to the .NET 5.0 download page and choose arm64
Follow the instructions and you should find you then have .NET 5 running....