Pi-Top 3 Unusably Slow

Hello! I was excited to receive my Pi-Top 3 yesterday and put my RPi3 Model B to use.

Installation went smoothly with the included SD card. But then then actually interacting with the OS was unusably slow. I’d try to launch Scratch and after 30s-1min get the “Low System memory available” message in the top right. I let it sit for 45 min and it never reached a functional state.

I thought maybe it was because of a lack of swap space. So I downloaded the latest pi-topOS image (Bullseye) and burned that to a larger (64gb) microSD card. I ran all of the updates.

This time the system memory message does not appear, but Scratch still does not get into a functional state. Other programs, like VSCode, are barely usable.

I realize the hardware is quite limited but I seem to remember having much better luck with the RPi 3 years ago. I’m not expecting miracles but I can’t imagine this is the expected user experience. Is there something I’m missing? Any recommendations on next steps? Thank you!

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I just noticed this, myself, having just built a couple of the [3] laptops from eBay. The first boot, partition resize, and whatever else, takes a very long time. I’ve been spoiled by fast SDcards on the Pi 4 (and SATA over USB). You could try watching the memory status and processor load with htop or glances (both are installable via apt). To really understand what is happening, I recommend installing netdata. https://www.netdata.cloud/ It’s free and it works perfectly fine in a local standalone installation, but they try to sell you the
cloud. You might try using a fast-ish USB 3 thumb drive for your boot disk. Tests showed they were a bit faster on the Pi 3B’s USB 2 ports. Weird. This article says it’s faster and I recall switching all my pi 3 systems to boot from USB. Unfortunately, my music/audio application area didn’t work well with the storage bandwidth, even via USB. The Pi 4B made it a viable platform for me. My plan is to use my pi-top [3]s with converter boards that have the standard pi 3B layout but they accept either a compute module 4 or a Zero 2 (plain Zeros work as well). That would make for a Pi 4 pi-top [3] and a very low power, long battery life for blackouts laptop. Those are different carrier board products.

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Thanks for the tips, Eirikur. I’ll give netdata a spin.

I could not even get netdata to run without crashing. But I am pleased to report it is working beautifully with the regular Raspberry Pi OS desktop image. Aside from some slight flickering in images (UI graphics are fine), it is perfectly usable and will be a fun way to introduce my kids to tinkering with electronics.

It’s because the swapfile on the pitop os is not configured correctly.
in the terminal, “systemctl --failed” you will see that.

dphys-swapfile setup

systemctl restart dphys-swapfile

and maybe also

dphys-swapfile swapon

should fix it.

The pi-top OS is almost unusable on a Raspberry Pi 3.

I tried the Raspberry Pi OS and then installed the packages from Pi-top.
It works much better this way. https://knowledgebase.pi-top.com/knowledge/pi-top-and-raspberry-pi-os

Also, I just heard about DietPi OS, so that is also Debian, but even more lightweight then Raspberry Pi OS. https://dietpi.com/

I think the Pi-Top OS got a bit heavy as they developed their version 4.

I also got a Pi-Top 1 (first gen Pi-Top) and put a Raspberry Pi 4 in it. It’s pretty awesome except for the small keyboard, it’s wonderful. I found a tiny bluetooth speaker and ran a short charging cable to it and it fits inside the glass as well. It isn’t easy to find short cables that aren’t terribly thick for HDMI. For the USB to USB c, I just used a low profile adapter about the size of my pinky nail.

This is a major problem for me too, with my new pi-top[3], notably when a graphical web-browser has been started. Mouse fails to respond. Many seconds are needed to echo just a few keystrokes.

The screen recently having stopped flickering due either to thermal compound or Providence, I returned attention to the sluggishness. The pi-top people offered to send a new hub and a new cooling bridge. Meanwhile I followed David’s links first to Raspberry PiOS and then to DietPi. Raspberry PiOS seemed 3 percent better than PiTopOS in some sense, but still froze to a stop when I invoked a Chromium browser. DietPi, however works !! !! !! Even the browser works (but still a little slow, probably due to the Pi’s innate limits).