Hi all. In this post we will try out new Pop!_OS for Raspberry Pi 4 called Pop!_Pi. Is this good alternative to Raspberry OS and does it has some advantages? Can you use Raspberry Pi are desktop PC or it’s better suited for network and retro gaming projects? I will try to answer to these question in this post.

First Look

It’s nice. At first glance you noticed very nice GUI and effects applied when simply moving one window. We have full functionality for GNOME Desktop environment which in next for Raspberry Pi, always good. We have application launcher, workspace switcher, docks and even LibreOffice Office suite installed.

And now it’s time for but. But we are on the Raspberry Pi 4, still low power one board PC. Can it handle so much stuff. Let’s check RAM usages after reboot. Information from neofetch is showing that we are using around 1.3Gb RAM on start up, and I think this is a lot. And this is Gnome’s fault. For system that has variants for 2, 4 and 8Gb, 1.3Gb at startup makes 2Gb variant unusable and 4Gb can be much slower, so basically only valid choose for Pop!_Os for Raspberry Pi is 8Gb variant.

RAM usage inside neofetch
RAM usage inside htop

Too heavy for Raspberry Pi

Then the next strange thing that I noticed from neofetch is CPU clock speed. It’s a bit slower (1.5GHz) that other distro Raspberry OS Bullseye (at 1.8 GHz). Raspberry OS Bullseye is also recent release and out of the box it comes with about 300MHz clock speed advantage. Yes, of course you can overclock Raspberry PI very easily, but maybe Pop!_PI should have small overclock out of the box. I understand that Raspberry Pi doesn’t overclock well if there is some good cooling, but I don’t think that some one how will use Raspberry Pi as Desktop PC replacement will run it without some kind of cooling. And for some embedded, internet for some more technical project, you would probably use some lighter OS anyway. So, maybe this is a miss opportunity on part of Pop!_Pi.

Clock Speed

And if you want to use Raspberry Pi as Desktop PC you will probably want to watch YouTube videos and with this configuration of Raspberry Pi 4 8Gb variant and Pop!_Pi that is not so good experience. I check out some other review of Pop!_Pi and some said that for 720p videos playback is OK, but for me it’s a bit too choppy. For 1080p, in my opinion there is no chance. Again I’m looking for Desktop replacement and maybe creating some All in On PC with monitor and Raspberry Pi, and for that Raspberry Pi 4 and Pop!_Pi are not yet good enough. Check out two images bellow from YouTube and Stats for Nerds.

YouTube 720p playback
YouTube 1080p playback

Overclock and check playback

Lets do overclock the same way as for my other project PC games on big TV with Steam Link. The only difference is the path to config.txt file. In Pop_Pi config.txt file is located in /boot/firmware instead in /boot. The rest of the procedure is the same. Edit the file and then reboot Raspberry Pi and you are done.

But this wasn’t very helpful for YouTube video feedback. It’s a bit smoother but form me this isn’t usable jet.

Problem with Pop!_OS for Raspberry Pi – Pop!_Pi

I noticed something is strange with Pop!_Pi on my Raspberry Pi 4 8Gb version. Installation of some application was halted and there was error something about not enough space. But how? I’m on the clean install on the 32Gb Micro-SD card. There is no way I populated all space with just couple of programs and updates. So, let’s install program Gparted and check our partitions.

And there was a problem. For creating SD card I used official Raspberry PI image maker and Pop!_Pi form official System 76 site. Only 8Gb were formatted into usable partition and the rest for 32Gb was unused!!!

Don’t know is this isolated error on my side but in you are using Pop!_OS for Raspberry Pi (Pop!_Pi) please check your partitions.

Fix for this is shown in images bellow and the procedure is next.

  • install gparted with command sudo apt install gparted
  • open gparted and enter your password
  • right click on 8Gb partition and click on Resize and Move option
  • simply extend partition to max size
  • apply changes

Now you have full size of your SD cart to play with Pop!_OS for Raspberry Pi.

Final Words

Pop!_OS for Raspberry Pi – Pop!_Pi is the great step for single board PCs and to create usable experience as Desktop replacement but at this point Gnome and Pop!_Pi is a bit too heavy for the Raspberry Pi 4. Maybe the better option is to use much lighter Desktop environment or even just window manager like i3wm or maybe OpenBox.

The YouTube channel DistroTube have a great video how to configure Raspberry Pi 4 in order to be more usable with window manager some please check that as well, comment down bellow and see you in the next one.

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