MagPi 59: the Raspberry Pi PC Challenge

Hey everyone, Lucy here! I’m standing in for Rob this month to introduce The MagPi 59, the latest edition of the official Raspberry Pi magazine.

The MagPi 59

Ever wondered whether a Pi could truly replace your home computer? Looking for inspiration for a Pi-powered project you can make and use in the sunshine? Interested in winning a Raspberry Pi that’s a true collector’s item?

Then we’ve got you covered in Issue 59, out in stores today!

The MagPi 59

Shiny and new

The Raspberry Pi PC challenge

This month’s feature is fascinating! We set the legendary Rob Zwetsloot a challenge: use no other computer but a Raspberry Pi for a week, and let us know how it goes – for science!

Is there anything you can’t do with a $35 computer? To find out, you just have to read the magazine.

12 summer projects

We’re bringing together some of the greatest outdoor projects for the Raspberry Pi in this MagPi issue. From a high-altitude balloon, to aerial photography, to bike computers and motorised skateboards, there’s plenty of bright ideas in The MagPi 59.

12 Summer Projects in The MagPi 59

Maybe your Pi will ripen in the sun?

The best of the rest in The MagPi 59

We’ve got a fantastic collection of community projects this month. Ingmar Stapel shows off Big Rob, his SatNav-guided robot, while Eric Page demonstrates his Dog Treat Dispenser. There are also interesting tutorials on building a GPS tracker, controlling a Raspberry Pi with an Android app and Bluetooth, and building an electronic wind chime with magnetometers.

You can even enter our give-away of 10 ultra-rare ‘Raspberry Pi 3 plus official case’ kits signed by none other than Eben Upton, co-creator of the Raspberry Pi. Win one and be the envy of the entire Raspberry Pi community!

Electronic Wind Chimes - MagPi 59


You can find The MagPi 59 in the UK right now, at WHSmith, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Tesco. Copies will be arriving in US stores including Barnes & Noble and Micro Center very soon. You can also get a copy online from our store or via our Android or iOS app. And don’t forget: there’s always the free PDF as well.

Get reading, get making, and enjoy the new issue!

Rob isn’t here to add his signature Picard GIF, but we’ve sorted it for him. He loves a good pun, so he does! – Janina & Alex


W. H. Heydt avatar

No offense meant, but finding things the Pi *can’t* do as a primary computer is trivially easy. For example…one of my significant activities is playing “Lord of the Rings Online” (LotRO). While people have managed to get the LotRO client to run under Linux, there is no way any Pi to date has the memory or processor speed to handle it, even if the company that runs it were to supply a version compiled for ARM.

So while I support the effort to make Pis usable as “main” computers for people, the premise here is folly on the face of it.

TheDiveO avatar

Thank you very much for introducing the Blue Dot (pages 50 to 52)! Now this is something I need right now but didn’t know it existed.

Nicholas Tate avatar

I use several Raspberry Pi 3’s as my main computers. For getting many of the day to day tasks done they have proven to be superior to mac or windows machines. I have all kinds of apps that work flawlessly and would cost serious money on PC’s and mac’s.
Here’s a photo of one of my primary workhorses. The OS is running off a 500Gb SSD which ensures it boots and loads programs quickly.

Jonas avatar

i think W. H. Heydt is right, but i’m going to come a this from the other end and say there is not much you can’t do or make it do and for that prise.
However, editing pictures effectively would be on thing i can’t do on the pi 3, but my day to day stuff, emails, web browsing, youtubeing etc. It is brilliant and , it just needs to be a little more powerful and faster.
I have got a pi1, 2 pi2, 2 pi3 and a pizerow. You keep up the good work, i’ll keep buying them ;)

James Sweeney avatar

Using only the raspberry pi for a week, what a challenge! I think it is brilliant but will be hard to use as its processors are too slow.

TerryR avatar

MAGPI 58 still on sale today at TESCO Eastville Bristol today no 59 in sight.

Armando avatar

I think being able to use the Pi as the primary computer depends on the needs of each person and if the apps they require have versions optimized for the Pi ARM cpu, memory and VC4 gpu.

Just look at people who have been using their phones and tablets for some time now as their primary “PC” even back in the days when devices were single core chips running 256MB. And there are plenty of people quite satisfied with the selection of mobile games without resorting to one of those monster gaming rigs. I believe that’s one of the reasons PC sales have been sluggish in recent years. Or consider third world countries where the Pi would be probably be more than adequate for people there who have access to much less resources and lower expectations.

If all that is needed is basic browsing, email, wordprocessing then the Pi is quite capable.

Steve avatar

Nowadays I mainly use my home computer (running Debian) for digital drawing. While I haven’t tried it, I’d be shocked if something like Krita could run reasonably on the Pi.

MOB avatar

I think the biggest problem with using Raspberry Pi 3 with Raspbian as an ordinary PC is that the mouse and keyboard locks up (or the windows don’t respond to closing them) when you run out of memory (RAM). I think some RAM (and CPU%) should be reserved so that you can close windows to save RAM. Now you often reach a point where the only solution is to pull the power cable. This happens most often when you open a new web site in a browser. You cannot know before how much RAM a web page will require, but it’s more important to reserve RAM and CPU% so that you can close this or other windows.

AnnieC avatar

My parents are using a Raspberry Pi 3 as their only computer to browse the Internet and to play some simple games like Tetris and card games. As they are usually not doing multiple things at the same time they don’t run into performance issues. I tested their Raspberry Pi while I was setting it up and it was way better than I expected.
What I couldn’t solve is calls in Google Hangouts or Skype.
Regardless of the USB audio device I use with the Raspberry Pi the sound only works for a few seconds then it shuts down. When playing videos in Chromium it works without problems.
I have tried two USB logitech headsets, a cheap USB sound card, but nothing worked. I start the call, the sound works in both directions and then the headphone or the mic or both gets muted after a random interval and stays silent for the duration of the call. I last tried it a few months ago, everything was updated and it still didn’t work.

TheDiveO avatar

Maybe a power supply problem that causes the USB to get shut down temporarily with the headsets drawing to much power?

AnnieC avatar

It’s possible but not very likely with a 2.4A power adapter. As I wrote playing Youtube videos using the same audio devices in Chromium works perfectly fine and I don’t see the weak power supply sign either. But just to be sure, I’ll test it with my new official Raspberry Pi power supply later.

MMO-fanatic avatar

I would love to have a Raspberry-Pi. However, unless nVidia/ATI Radeon make a gaming-quality videocard for use on the Raspberry Pi to run games like Neverwinter, The Old Republic and World of Warcraft… I’m stuck using a PC.


Chuck Dombek avatar

I’ve used the Raspberry Pi to offload background tasks like BOINC from my main system as well as to support my ventures into learning Python and it more than meets the challenge. I’ve even been known to work on documents using Libre if my main system is tied up. For it’s cost, it does the job quite nicely.

Newbie avatar

What about printing capabilities using Raspbian as Desktop PC? Would the most likely solution be to print with Cloud Print eliminating the need for printer drivers?

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