Home / Linux / A $10 Raspberry Pi alternative? La Frite packs Pi-like specs into low-cost Linux board

A $10 Raspberry Pi alternative? La Frite packs Pi-like specs into low-cost Linux board

If the $35 Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is too expensive, how about a $10 computer?

The $10 La Frite comes close to matching some key specs of the $35 Pi 3 B+, using the same underlying Arm-based CPU and even offering faster DDR4 memory.

On paper, the La Frite also promises comparable video playback performance to the Pi 3 B+, can output to 1080p displays via HDMI 1.4, and offers two USB 2.0 ports.

As you’d expect for the price there are various cutbacks. The board is missing the Pi 3 B+’s Wi-Fi support, and offers a slightly slower wired Ethernet connection than the Pi 3 B+. While the underlying CPU is the same, a quad-core Arm Cortex A53-based processor, the La Frite’s CPU runs slightly slower than the Pi’s, 1.2GHz compared to 1.4GHz.

SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)

Whether those changes are acceptable to you, very much depends on what you want to do with the board. Like the Pi, the board is aimed at software developers and technical enthusiasts who want a low-cost machine for personal projects, such as building a media center.

La Frite has just launched on Kickstarter and had raised more than $4,000 towards its $10,000 goal at the time of going to press. The catch is that the $10 pricing is only for early backers of the project, with the suggestion the retail price will be above $15.

The board’s makers, Libre Computer Project, say it has tried to loosely base the board on the Raspberry Pi A+ and used a similar layout for La Frite’s general-purpose input output (GPIO) pin header, which can be used to control homemade hardware hooked up to board.

As well as being cheaper than the $20 Pi A+, La Frite’s specs generally compare favorably, offering a faster and more modern processor, double the USB ports, Ethernet connectivity and double the memory.

Libre Computer Project says La Frite supports a range of Linux-based operating systems, including Ubuntu, Debian, LibreELEC, Lakka, RetroPie and Android Oreo.

Reviews of an earlier board by the Libre Computer Project found the Ubuntu operating system to be stable and responsive, but also reported difficulty using its GPIO pins to control hardware due to missing software libraries and documentation.

As with most single-board computers, it’s worth noting that few boards are as accessible to new users or offer the same breadth of stable software as the Pi.

For its part, Libre Computer Project says it will focus on ensuring Linux-based operating system are stable on its boards.

“By following upstream Linux and u-boot, we can provide support for the latest software like Linux 4.19 instead of relying on obsolete vendor board-support-packages with outdated security-hole-ridden Linux kernels,” it wrote on La Frite’s Kickstarter page.

“This means that our platforms are up-to-date, secure, and will be supported for years or even decades to come.”

A $4 version of La Frite with 512MB of DDR4 RAM is also available to Kickstarter backers, with final retail pricing again looking likely to rise.

Libre Computer Project says the La Frite boards should ship to backers from next month if the campaign is funded.

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Image: Libre Computer Project

Specs

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