Linked by Howard Fosdick on Tue 13th Nov 2012 06:13 UTC
In the News The Raspberry Pi has inspired a flock of competitors. Among them are the A13-OLinuXino, which you can purchase here for 45 euros. It comes with an A13 Cortex A8 processor at 1GHz, 3D Mali400 GPU, 512 MB RAM, and complete set of ports. Video is VGA. It ships Android 4.0 but also runs various Linux distros. You might also check out the $49US Cubieboard here and the UG802 for $89US here. And there's the MK802 micro-PC, a USB-sized device priced at $74US that runs Android 4.0, Ubuntu, Debian, and other distros. The tiny single-board computer has come of age.
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Low-footprint, low-power "revolution"
by WereCatf on Tue 13th Nov 2012 13:10 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

I personally heartily welcome this trend of small, hacker-friendly, low-footprint and low-power computers. These are great for exploring and studying internals of computers and their software, especially since it's not expensive to get a replacement even if you manage to totally botch something and end up with a broken device. Since these devices also take very little space, don't require active cooling, and generally consume very little power one can go wild with all kinds of home automation systems on these. Or how about running some small servers for your family, like e.g. your own e-mail server? A web-server so your kids can practice web-development and actually put their websites out there to wow their friends with? (I know I would've loved that back when I was 10!) Best of all, since these boxes are small and totally silent your boyfriend won't get his panties in a twist every time you take the box out to play with!

There are a few issues, however, and the biggest one of them is drivers: at the moment I am not aware of any of these things actually shipping with a GPU that is fully supported by open-source drivers. The closed binaries that I've had to deal with are often either partially or completely broken, and sometimes even the closed ones are still missing features. Having to rely on closed binaries wouldn't be such a bad thing if they atleast were functional and kept up-to-date, but my Pandaboard is a rather good example of what these things can be at worst: on some versions H/W acceleration of decoding or encoding stuff doesn't work, sometimes X acceleration doesn't work, audio output from the analog connectors doesn't work, or like with the latest updates networking got broken and the board goes into a hard lock-up after 1 to 10 minutes!

My point with the above ramble is that fancy specs and lots of promises don't actually guarantee that you get what you think you're paying for, and at the moment you can still really only count on the basics to work, thereby greatly limiting the potential of these little beasts and making them somewhat unstable for any sort of educational work.

Reply Score: 7

pepa Member since:
2005-07-08

But it's perfect for a headless file/email/printserver! The Cubie has SATA, whoohoo!! I would want a case around my Cubie that's more than a screwed-on piece of plexy glass...

Reply Parent Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

But it's perfect for a headless file/email/printserver! The Cubie has SATA, whoohoo!! I would want a case around my Cubie that's more than a screwed-on piece of plexy glass...


IMHO the Cubie seems the most well-rounded box of the ones mentioned here, partly exactly because it sports a real SATA-port. That alone gives it a nice performance-boost and increases its capabilities. I also like the fact that there are SPD/IF headers on the board for digital audio. According to their QA the system will also support real suspend and resume under Linux.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08


Wow, now THAT's big news! There definitely should be an article about this on OSnews, if there hasn't been one already.

Reply Parent Score: 2

DeepThought Member since:
2010-07-17

I personally heartily welcome this trend of small, hacker-friendly, ...


hacker-friendly? Most if not all of these devices are missing JTAG/Debug connectors. At least in standard pin-out. So if you want to replace the Linux on these boards by an RTOS to leverage the CPU you are quiet lost.

Reply Parent Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

hacker-friendly? Most if not all of these devices are missing JTAG/Debug connectors. At least in standard pin-out. So if you want to replace the Linux on these boards by an RTOS to leverage the CPU you are quiet lost.


Why do you need JTAG/Debug connectors to replace the OS?

Reply Parent Score: 4