Why not to use Raspberry Pi

Chrome vs Raspberry Pi

  • You have to select and install an Operating System (OS)
  • You have to build a case, make sure it has ventilation and keep cool
  • Software & Firmware Updates must be applied
  • Device lifecycle – Raspberry Pi is on a 2yr cycle
  • Remote Management – Must supply your own secure remote management.  No management features built in.
  • Security – Security is on you to configure and apply best practices
  • Performance – Raspberry Pi, even the latest models, are not recommended for video content or interactives.

One question we get a lot here at Arreya is “What about using a Raspberry Pi?”  The thing to remember with Raspberry Pi devices is that they are development boards that are used to prototype something that will be put into production if it works.  They are great for DIY, and while we use and love them here at Arreya for a variety of purposes, they aren’t a good fit for most of our customer’s digital signage or kiosk needs.

Let’s start by talking about performance.  Most of the questions we get about Raspberry Pi look at it as a more cost effective solution, with comparable performance.  But they aren’t comparable.  The optimization of Chrome devices with Chrome OS make it so even the lowest end device – a Chromebit, with similar hardware specifications, runs circles around a Raspberry Pi for content performance.  Picking a solution on one feature or metric is not a good way to look at things, so let’s look at the other ways a Raspberry Pi is different from a Chrome device for digital signage and kiosks.

There is a lot more work to do to make a generic DIY device like a Raspberry Pi into a production ready digital signage device.

There is no software that comes standard with a Raspberry Pi for digital signage, you’ll have to do the research, configuration, and testing in order to turn the device into something usable for Digital Signage.  Most customers are not familiar with locking down Linux for public use, configuring a Linux firewall properly, updating a kernel, or turning off other unused services that hackers may be looking for.

Updates and Security are up to you.  Making sure the right updates make it to a device at the right time are crucial not only for maintaining a working network of devices, but also for preventing security threats and exploits that are actively looking for outdated software to infect.  Testing those updates? That’s on you too.  Unlike Chrome where thousands of people are testing the same software, you’re on your own to test yours and if there is an issue, hope that maybe someone else had it too, and they are willing to share the solution.  There is no support number to call, no person to email.  Beyond being confident in your security, is your customer going to allow this on their network, and does it follow their best practices?

Now that you have devices deployed, how do you manage them?  That’s on you as well.  There are tons of options, and it’s up to you to make them secure.  You don’t want to be the one running an open remote desktop on your signage, just waiting for someone to find it.  This happens more than you think it would.  What about those updates you need to deploy?  How are you going to handle those remotely?  Again, there are many options, and security is a top priority – it’s all up to you.

The next thing to consider is how you are going to house your Raspberry Pi.  There are no fans or other cooling options installed by default.  You’ll have to make your own case and make sure that it is properly ventilated.  Also, you need to think about how large of a space you have available when making that case.  Is your insurance going to cover you – or your clients – if your DIY device catches fire or burns the place down?  It’s not likely to happen, but these devices have not gone through the same regulatory approvals that other devices go through as a full product for sale.

Most of our customers are asking for a solution to these problems, they don’t want to deal with it themselves.  Each of these areas is one that Chrome has focused on, and solved.  You can spend your time going DIY with a device, or for a little more money, you have the power of one of the biggest companies behind you, supporting your digital signage efforts.