Raspberry Pi 4B

Last updated 11-04-2021

Last updated 1-21-2021

Raspberry Pi 4B with dual HDMI ports!

Note the new dual micro HDMI connectors (up to 4kp60 supported), 2 USB 3.0 connectors and full gigabit network connector now. It is available with 2, 4, or 8 GB of LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM with the 2 GB model selling for $35 .

Also now available built into a keyboard (keyboards eventually wear out leaving you no salvageable parts, so I prefer mounting the Pi 4B in a small case on the back of my monitor and with a wireless keyboard/mouse so no cords needed between the monitor with the Pi 4B and the keyboard/mouse unless using headphones).

This is a game changer for energy efficient computing. It costs less than a zero client while locally being fast enough to serve as a desktop computer for most used applications. In an educational computer lab, all you now need is a file server for students to save their files, submit homework to teacher, and receive comments on their homework. You will probably want to setup network booting to centralize administration and avoid microSD cards failing or being stolen. http://www.multi-seat.com/piserver/

Mine uses 3.6-4.1 watts idling at the Desktop with one 1920×1080 monitor, Logitech unifying wireless keyboard/mouse receiver, and headphones attached. Playing a Youtube video raises power usage to 4.3-5.6 watts.

There are multiple OS that can be installed. Since I experiment with burning different MicroSd cards, I prefer the manual install to the automatic Raspberry Pi method. Download the OS image from this link https://www.raspberrypi.org/software/operating-systems/ I like the full Raspberry Pi OS with desktop and recommended software

  • Release date: January 11th 2021
  • Kernel version: 5.4
  • Size: 2,863MB

I like BalenaEtcher because it protects against overwriting your internal hard drive and validates the flash after writing. Get it here https://www.balena.io/etcher/

See my X2GO page for installing x2goclient to access a remote computer. I particularly like having dual monitors because I can run a full local XFCE graphical desktop on one monitor and x2goclient on the second monitor to access a different, remote computer that may be more powerful. http://www.multi-seat.com/x2go/ Unlike other network connected zero clients, I have a full OS and can wake up a remote computer by sending it a WOL magic packet based on its MAC address.

I also like being able to run a complicated graphical program like GIMP on one monitor and have its help documentation handy on the other monitor. You can also drag the various tool windows to the second monitor to free the entire primary monitor for your picture.

Dual HDMI Monitors on Raspberry Pi 4B requires no additional system software

Note that HDMI and analog headphones have separate volume controls. Run alsamixer in terminal, press F6, and choose headphones to then increase volume if desired. The volume control on the upper right panel is a master volume control for both HDMI and analog audio which modifies the separate settings in alsamixer.

There is no google-chrome for the Raspberry Pi. Fortunately you can add digital rights management to the default 32 bit Chromium. See https://www.widevine.com/solutions/widevine-drm and https://blog.vpetkov.net/ for the install script below.

curl -fsSL https://pi.vpetkov.net -o ventz-media-pi
sh ventz-media-pi

This will let you stream

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO, Spotify, Pandora, Hoopla, Kanopy, MUBI, BritBox, and perhaps others. My public library system subscribes to Hoopla and Kanopy so those are the services I use to augment the DVD and BlkuRay collection of films the library stocks.

VLC does not play commercial DVDs without the following steps:

sudo apt update 
sudo apt install libdvd-pkg libdvdnav4

During this install you will see this screen (screenshot shown is from Armbian):

Be sure to run “sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg” as soon as you have the terminal prompt again because “<OK>” does not do this for you.

Adding frequently used apps to the panel. By default, the panel shows icons for dropping down the main menu, for the Chromium Browser, for the File Manger, and for the CLI Terminal. I like to add Firefox and the text editor to the panel. To add an app to the panel that exists in the main menu, 1) right click on the panel and select add/remove panel items, 2) in the pop up, select the “Panel Applets” Tab, 3) Select “Application Launch Bar,” 4) Then click on “Preferences” on the right giving you this picture:

In this case I selected “Firefox” in the right window and when I then clicked “Add” in the middle column, it was appended to the list in the left window and also appeared in the panel I wanted to add it to. At this time I can use the Up/Down options in the middle column to change its location in the list in the panel, or just “Close.”