With the cabinet already mostly done. I had to figure out what on earth was going to power it. Now that isn’t exactly a hard question as pretty much any computer can run the cabinet, it’s not exactly demanding kit for modern day computer hardware. However, I don’t exactly have a spare computer from the last five years lying around so It was time to get creative…
I remembered that I had an old Raspberry Pi from back when I did computing in school. While it felt like a long shot, I gave it a try. It worked, but one thing struck out instantly, it was terribly slow! Doing a little digging, turns out I had an original 2012 model B. The latest Raspberry Pi was the model 4 B which was close to being a full desktop. So naturally I ordered one of those. A few days later I had the 4 B working with the cabinet. But that wasn’t the last hurdle…
Trial & Error
While the Pi worked, it wasn’t able to run the builds from Unity natively. This was a big problem, as the builds needed to run on the cabinet. So, back to google I went, after some digging, I found several solutions which had varying chances of success. The first method I tried was using Quora, a poorly documented tool that would be able to run x86 applications. However, this seemed to either not work or I mucked up somewhere with the install. Considering everything I was doing was command line, there wasn’t much if any feedback the whether or not I was doing it right. So, I decided to leave that option there and try another one…The next one being WINE, which was a package that could actually be install from the package manager and was made to run windows programs on Linux. One large and seeming undocumented problem, it only runs certain windows applications, you can’t run your own. At least I wasn’t able to find a way to do it, next solution… The last method I researched involved making universal platform builds in Unity and doing some command line to get them to run on Linux. I decided to not even both with this method purely based on the forum discussions alone. It was a big no! Those who tried it and got it working only got around 5 frames per second, on a blank project. Now there were other solutions that may have worked, a good example is Exagear, which seemed promising, but based on the previous attempt I decided to leave the Pi there as performance would seemingly be a big problem with it.
So, what is running the cabinet? Well, my current laptop, an old HP 15-inch notebook from 2013/14 makes a good fit for the role. It can run unity games fine, can run a monitor without needing its screen raised, has all the right ports etc. So that is what I’m going with. By far it’s not an ideal solution as means there is some extra setup for the cabinet that requires the back panel to be removed every time, I want to run it. But it should work for the project. I’m sure if I keep the cabinet after University, I’ll find the time to put a compact PC into the cabinet to complete it.