I use a Raspberry Pi as my home server for a couple of years now. It was a cost-effective and energy-efficient way to host a variety of services, including file sharing, media streaming, and web hosting. I mainly used it for my home automation system and for running Pi-Hole.
I wanted to upgrade my Raspberry Pi 3 B+ because I needed more storage, processing power, and memory. I had my eye on the Raspberry Pi 4, the successor to the Pi 3, which has all of these features and can easily support extended storage via USB 3.0.
The supply problem and alternatives?
It took me weeks to realize that the global chip shortage and increased demand for Raspberry Pi would make it difficult for the supply to meet demand, and that the market price, which was already over $200 USD, was unlikely to go down.
After searching for alternatives, I came across a mini PC called the Beelink Mini PC S12. It was more affordable than the Raspberry Pi 4, and it had more storage, memory, and processing power. The only potential issue I could see was software and hardware compatibility.
I spent the next few days setting up the Beelink Mini PC. The first challenge I faced was finding an alternative to Raspbian, the operating system that comes pre-installed on the Raspberry Pi. The Beelink Mini PC came with Windows, but I prefer Linux, especially since I would be using systemd and Docker to manage the services. I decided to use Lubuntu, a lightweight Linux distribution that is based on Ubuntu. It also has great driver support which is important because I wanted to use my external Zigbee USB dongle with the Beelink Mini PC.
There were some downsides to using Lubuntu, such as the fact that it does not support headless setup. This meant that I had to install it using an external monitor for the first time. Additionally, it does not have the ability to easily disable the graphical user interface (GUI) of the system.
I also wanted the mini PC to automatically boot when powered on. Fortunately, this can be easily configured in the BIOS. Other than that, setting up the mini PC was almost the same as setting up the Raspberry Pi.
I have now been using this new setup for a couple of weeks and it has been great. To utilize the extra memory space, i’ve also used it as a media server and added services such as Radarr and Jellyfin. Considering the upgradeability, i could also add more storage space and use it as a NAS server as well. Overall, I’m satisfied with my switch. Raspberry Pi is great but considering its availability and price, there would always be better alternatives depending on your use case.