Review: Raspberry Pi model 3 B, with Benchmarks vs Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 3 - Front

Raspberry Pi 3 - Back

On Pi Day (3/14/16), I finally acquired a Raspberry Pi model 3 B from my local Micro Center (I had ordered one from Pimoroni on launch day, but it must be stuck in customs). After arriving home with it, I decided to start running it through its paces. Below is my review and extensive benchmarking of the Pi 3 (especially in comparison to the Pi 2).

Hardware changes

There are a few notable hardware changes on the Pi 3:

Happy #PiDay 2016 - Celebrating with the Raspberry Pi

I think today was my most Pi-full π day, ever! Let's see:

Early in the morning, I finished upgrading all the Ansible playbooks used by the Raspberry Pi Dramble so my cluster of five Raspberry Pis would run faster and better on the latest version of official Raspberry Pi OS, Raspbian Jessie.

Later, opensource.com published an article I wrote about using Raspberry Pis placed throughout my house to help my kids sleep better:

Orange Pi Plus Setup, Benchmarks, and Initial Impressions

tl;dr: The Orange Pi Plus offers much better specs, and much better performance, than a similarly-priced Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately—and this is the case with most RPi competitors at this time—setup, hardware support, and the smaller repository of documentation and community knowledge narrow this board's appeal to enthusiasts willing to debug annoying setup and configuration issues on their own.

Orange Pi Plus - Front

Orange Pi Plus - Back

A few months ago, I bought an Orange Pi Plus from AliExpress. It's a single-board Linux computer very similar to the Raspberry Pi, with a few key differences:

Speaking at php[tek] in St. Louis May 25 and 26!

php[tek] 2016 logo

I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be delivering two sessions at php[tek] this year:

Both topics are near and dear to me, as I've had more time to refine the Ansible roles and performance of Drupal 8 on a Raspberry Pi (see Drupal Pi and the Raspberry Pi Dramble website for more info), and I've also been spending some time lately optimizing my WFH environment (the nice cave-like office in my basement, where I spend the majority of my waking hours!).

Configuring CloudFlare with Drupal 8 to protect the Pi Dramble

In a prior post on the constraints of in-home website hosting, I mentioned one of the major hurdles to serving content quickly and reliably over a home Internet connection is the bandwidth you get from your ISP. I also mentioned one way to mitigate the risk of DoSing your own home Internet is to use a CDN and host images externally.

At this point, I have both of those things set up for www.pidramble.com (a Drupal 8 site hosted on a cluster of Raspberry Pis in my basement!), and I wanted to outline how I set up Drupal 8 and CloudFlare so almost all requests to www.pidramble.com are served through CloudFlare directly to the end user!

CloudFlare Configuration

Before anything else, you need a CloudFlare account; the free plan offers the minimal necessary features (though you should consider upgrading to a better plan if you have anything beyond the simplest use cases in mind!). Visit the CloudFlare Plans page and sign up for a Free account.

Drupal Pi project featured on Acquia Dev Center Blog

Acquia Raspberry Pi model 2 B

I recently wrote a post detailing how to set up Drupal 8 on a Raspberry Pi using the Drupal Pi project (the same setup which is currently powering www.pidramble.com!) on the Acquia Developer Center blog: Drupal and the Raspberry Pi.

Hopefully people will find more and more useful ways to use Drupal 8 on the Raspberry Pi for automation, for interactivity, and most of all for fun and experimentation!

How to Build Your Own Raspberry Pi Cluster ('Bramble')

Rasbperry Pi Dramble

One of the first questions I'm asked by those who see the Dramble is, "How do I build my own?" Since I've been asked the question many times, I put together a detailed parts list, and maintain it on the Dramble's project wiki on GitHub: Raspberry Pis and Accessories.

For a little over $400, you can have the exact same setup, with six Raspberry Pi 2s, a network switch, a rack inside which you can mount the Pis, microSD cards for storage, a 6-port USB power supply, and all the required cables and storage!

Raspberry Pi RGB LED boards

Launching my first Drupal 8 website — in my basement!

I've been working with Drupal 8 for a long time, keeping Honeypot and some other modules up to date, and doing some dry-runs of migrating a few smaller sites from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, just to hone my D8 familiarity.

Raspberry Pi Dramble Drupal 8 Website

I finally launched a 'for real' Drupal 8 site, which is currently running on Drupal 8 HEAD—on a cluster of Raspberry Pi 2 computers in my basement! You can view the site at http://www.pidramble.com/, and I've already started posting some articles about running Drupal 8 on the servers, how I built the cluster, some of the limitations of at-home webhosting, etc.

Some of the things I've already learned from building and running this cluster for the past few days:

The Constraints of in-home Website Hosting

I run dozens of websites, and help build and maintain many others. Almost every one of these sites is served on a server in one of the giant regional data centers in New York, Atlanta, Seattle, LA, Dallas, Chicago, and other major cities in the US and around the world.

These data centers all share some very important traits that are key to hosting high-performing, highly-available websites:

  • Power redundancy (multiple power feeds, multiple backup power sources)
  • 1 Gbps+ upload/download bandwidth (usually with many redundant connections)
  • 24x7 physical security, environmental controls, hardware monitoring etc.

When I choose to host the Raspberry Pi Dramble website in my basement, I get almost none of these things. Instead: