Kernel.org Is Knocking On The Door Of My Odroid-C2

“Amlogic
 
* Added Meson GXBB (S905) pinctrl support
 
* Fixed memory nodes on Vega S95 DTS
 
* Added Hardkernel ODROID-C2, Amlogic Meson GXBB P200 and P201 development systems”
 
See Linux 4.7 Release – Main Changes, ARM and MIPS Architectures
I’ve tried three different specialized distros hacked together for the SoC of the Odroid-C2 motherboard. They work but they need a lot of configuration to be useful. For instance, the one I’m using now started with grey fonts on black backgrounds and a black pointer on a black background… I had to walk right up to the TV-screen to read them and wander all over the screen to find something clickable…

Now that Kernel.org is receiving commits specific to this system, we should soon see mainstream distros working on the Odroid-C2. I can manage with my current hack until then even if it runs Linux 3.14…. It’s light, cheap, snappy. The only real bottleneck I’ve run into is the video driver which struggles with 1080p at ~100% CPU load. Dropping to 720p works fine at around 50%. As TLW will be using it on a 20 inch monitor, this will be fine. I will use one machine on each TV besides. I can configure Mplayer to play 720p video quite well and sound is very nice. VLC and XBMC/Kodi are broken… but YouTube videos work very well in 32-bit firefox (firefox:armhf). We rocked the place with Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep”.

If this ~$100 CDN tiny box pleases TLW, it’s Good EnoughTM. When a proper video driver gets into Linus’ mainline, say, with Wayland, and distros have all the usual applications working, these things will take over. It surely blows away her old VIA box with 8 core-gHz CPU, gigabit/s networking and 2gB RAM compared to 0.4 core-gHz, 100 mbits/s, and 0.25gB RAM. We’re using files over NFS so TLW will be able to use her old desktop environment on Beast III if she wants. Otherwise, she can use the Odroid-C2 as a thick client well enough. Cost for the old ones was ~$150 CDN delivered a decade ago, with real money, not this inflated stuff. Life is good.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.

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7 Responses to Kernel.org Is Knocking On The Door Of My Odroid-C2

  1. dougman says:

    “The keyboards are too small for my hands and the screens are just too small for both of us.”

    Chromeboxes do NOT come with keyboards or screens., you can use which ever you want.

  2. dougman wrote, “a chromebox gives you that functionality.”

    No, it doesn’t. The keyboards are too small for my hands and the screens are just too small for both of us. I’ve been using the TV in the living room for a couple of weeks now and it’s the size I like, far enough away there is zero eye-strain and with high enough resolution that I can read the smallest font of enjoy the most detailed picture without leaving my chair.

    There’s nothing wrong with the Odroid-C2’s hardware. It’s just a little ahead of AMLogic and the Kernel folks but they are getting on it. The Odroid is a relatively new product just a bit better than most TV boxes with gigabit/s copper. I could build my own kernel. The recipes are out there but because booting is so strange I don’t want to bother. The Debian kernel may well work with it next year. It works well enough now that I have no concerns. I will buy 2-3 more right after I buy a few more hard drives. I will build a new RAID on Beast and move it over to the Cello if/when it ever arrives. It’s a puzzle why these guys are so slow to market with a desirable product. They are missing a great opportunity to be alone in a pricing-slot. The Odroid-C2 is in the right place but as usual Linux has to catch up. That’s on AMLogic, not the kernel folks because they did not send all the information upstream as soon as they could have. ARM may have some share of that blame but it’s no matter. This will be our hardware for a decade and I can wait a bit more for Wayland and better/faster drivers. ARM and AMLogic have delivered the hardware but they’ve been asleep with the concept of FLOSS thinking they had to do everything in-house. That’s a mistake. Throw this on the fire and stand back. The software will come.

  3. dougman says:

    “Nope. There is no requirement for portability. This is literally an on top of a desk system on a copper network. We are old and need large screens and big keyboards. ”

    You missed the memo, a chromebox gives you that functionality.

    https://www.asus.com/us/Chrome-Devices/Chromebox/

    You talk about the benefits of Android and smartphones, but on a desktop you refuse to use a simple hardware device that just works, instead you waste days trying to make something work.

    The Odroid looks good on paper, but uses the dated 3.14 kernel which is now two years old, with support ceasing in this year. (EOL: Aug, 2016) This Odroid does not look to be a quality purchase.

    https://www.kernel.org/category/releases.html

  4. dougman wote, “A chromebook or chromebox would have been a better choice in the long term.”.

    Nope. There is no requirement for portability. This is literally an on top of a desk system on a copper network. We are old and need large screens and big keyboards. The Odroid-C2 has been functional since Day One. I was just hung up on 1080p because folks were saying it only worked at that resolution. That’s not the case. Sooner or later Debian GNU/Linux will run on it. For now I will use this bastardized Ubuntu because it will actually boot and has drivers for Linux 3.14. The Odroid-C2 will enable many more developers to work with ARM64 and this hardware will be well supported because those guys/gals will want the machines they use to be very functional. It’s quite usable for what we want. TLW has given me the go-ahead. The HDMI to VGA adaptors have arrived in the mail today. She likes what she has seen and I should be able to give her access to her old environment and file-system from Beast so she should have little or no adjustment to make except whiplash from the greater responsiveness.

  5. kurkosdr wrote, “No video acceleration? How many times do I need to say “cheap un-integrated Linux devices suck”?”

    This has nothing to do with Linux. ARM made the device and will eventually release proper code. The hardware certainly has lots of power for the job. This frame-buffer thing is just a quick and dirty temporary measure and my tests show it is certainly not a show-stopper. 1080p was. The issue seems to hinge on the relationship between ARM and AMLogic. It’s AMLogic which has to deal with Linux because the S905 is their creation built from ARM’s components. It’s definitely in AMLogic’s interest to see Linux work better with Linux. They will be able to sell more units for more roles in IT. It’s not in ARM nor AMLogic’s interest to restrict performance.

  6. dougman says:

    A chromebook or chromebox would have been a better choice in the long term.

    Don’t waste your time chasing things that will never be beneficial to your future.

    As much time as you spent on this odroid, you could have planted multiple beds of produce.

  7. kurkosdr says:

    WTF? No video acceleration? How many times do I need to say “cheap un-integrated Linux devices suck”?

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