I was reading the latest edition of MagPi last week and it was chock full of things I wanted to play with. The one thing that really caught my eye was Chromium with support for videos over the GPU.
I installed a fresh Raspian image from the foundation and dove into the new rebranded Pi desktop.
Part of this launch was Pixel which is the Pi foundations attempt to add a branding face to the Pi desktop experience. This was a good idea because to be honest up until now the Pi desktop experience was something you’d want to avoid .
The theme is basic but refined and you get a nice boot screen instead of Linux text. You can also set it up to boot to log in screen instead of the usual boot to desktop. This isn’t a huge jump but it establishes a look and feel which was the intent.
If you install the current Raspian image with Pixel your default browser is already Chromium without having to install anything because why bother refining the desktop if you still had those junky old browsers right? Chromium goes along perfectly with the new refined image the Pi foundation has started to put forward. Finally you have a browser that can do everything you expect to be able to do and not completely slaughter the system doing it.
I was able to play youtube videos without much issue. I did notice going full screen still hits the system hard and it will start to stutter but just watching them as is without full screen has no problem.
Facebook was torture trying to use on the Pi’s previous browsers but it works as expected even inline videos played. Facebook chat was also co operative on Chromium for Pi.
Twitter performed very well considering it autoplays videos. I was concerned that would be an issue but it wasn’t
I use wordpress obviously to make these posts and I am writing this post on my Pi 3 right now. This would have been completely impossible on previous Pi’s and browsers
So while full screen videos seemed to be a bit much this is still such a huge improvement in the Pi desktop front. I look forward to seeing where this goes as further refinements come forward. One thing is for sure, the Pi Desktop is here to stay.