iPad + Raspberry Pi

iPad Workarounds

I’ve written before how I love the iPad form factor, but how it lacks in basic functionality. I’m not alone in this. I agree with many of the gripes, and many of the calls to mix the functionality of macOS and iPadOS, but my largest pain point is the lack of a fully functioning terminal.

I’ve largely solved this by SSHing from my iPad, into my Mac (at home) over Tailscale. This gives me a VPN tunnel, wherever I have internet access. I’ve edited files on my home Mac from the doctor’s office and the vet. I could work from pier or beach. But this requires stable internet access, and for my Mac and home network to be up and running properly. What if one of those things isn’t true?

Enter the Raspberry Pi

I stumbled across this video, about pairing an iPad with a Raspberry Pi. This gives me a local linux box that I can easily carry around with me.

While setting this up, I decided to set up my neovim and tmux configs from scratch. These took a bit of tweaking, but now I’m much happier with my overall setup.

I installed Obsidian, which I can use when I VNC in, and obsidian.nvim for most of my Obsidian markdown editing.

I’ve got a rust environment to keep learning, and a hugo environment to hack on my website.

Now I can connect my Raspberry Pi 5 to my iPad via USB-C cable, and either share my internet connection, or just work locally without one. I created local git repos on the Raspberry Pi, so I can easily sync/backup changes between my iPad and Raspberry Pi, even when I don’t have access to the internet.

Problems I’ve encountered

(Solved) I hit issues with the USB-C connection, solved by poking at it a number of times and switching out the cable for a USB-A to USB-C cable, with a USB-C to USB-A converter. Not ideal, but it works.

I can flash SD cards from the Raspberry Pi, but I can’t from the iPad. Either I’m dead in the water if my microSD card dies, or I can carry around a spare.

(Solved) Pref to disable note creation on link in obsidian.nvim

(Open) Have to hit ESC twice in Obsidian vim mode

I’ve also looked at other options for my wiki/novel writing tool. Logseq remains bullet-point oriented, which is not what I want, and the workarounds are not great. VimWiki / wiki.vim + vim.roam are interesting. So is Marksman, but I ran into this issue. I’m sticking with Obsidian, largely through obsidian.nvim, for now.


Again I find that improving my tools can improve my writing or my motivation. Something as simple as wiki gardening can be the impetus I need to start my writing for the day.

Also, I’ve noticed that tech is becoming my hobby again. This may be a good sign that I’m recovering from the tech burnout from my career in software.