It's been a few weeks (or maybe almost a month, or is it already a month?) since I had my hands on the Raspberry Pi 3. While waiting for the official touchscreen display to arrive, I decided to use the Pi as a replacement desktop for a little while. My experience with it?
It has been quite pleasant so far.
On the second day with the Raspberry Pi 3, I switched from Raspbian to Arch Linux ARM immediately due to the state of Raspbian/Debian that uses stale versions of packages and hindered me from using a lot of essential things as a desktop user. What I discovered was that the performance of the Raspberry Pi 3 significantly improved since then. One of the biggest change that I've noticed is the 3D performance on the Arch Linux ARM, running the latest 4.4 kernel.
Impressively, glxgears ran for about 150FPS without compton and about 110FPS with compton (configured excessive effects). Do note that the vc4-kms-v3d driver overlay was not enabled at all. This is a huge gain from Raspbian, where I was only able to get 56FPS with the experimental OpenGL driver enabled and about 26FPS with broken colours without the driver.
To make it even more interesting, I decided to try running the desktop with compton enabled. My desktop environment of choice this time is LXQt. I've been wanting to try out LXQt a few years back when it was still called Razor-qt. The performance of LXQt is very impressive. On a side note, I do think that Qt is underrated and should be used more on the Linux desktop environments.
So how did compton performed on the Raspberry Pi 3? Better than what (and most probably everyone else) have thought. With the correct backend specified in the configuration file (xrender), compton runs very, very smoothly on the Raspberry Pi 3. To demonstrate how well it ran, watch me open up a few tabs on Midori, also listening to mopidy + Spotify, ncmpcpp with excessive transparency effects on the desktop.
All of that was done while writing this. Very impressive for a device with 1GB (minus 256MB for the GPU) of RAM. My first thought after installing compton was, "Why do I even bother? I'm sure I'll uninstall this thing right after because there's no way this thing would be able to do it." And I didn't. Maybe the websites aren't heavy enough? But you really don't want to visit the desktop version of Facebook at any costs or even opening up Firefox.
So far, I'm quite pleased with how the Raspberry Pi 3 have been performing all these weeks. I've been able to watch Full HD videos and streaming from Twitch at Source quality very smoothly with omxplayer. If any of you looking to use the Raspberry Pi 3 for a desktop for your children or mom and dad who weren't able to use a computer during their younger days, give the Pi 3 a go. It won't disappoint you. Just show them the right directions and they're good to go.