Yes, This Is The Droid For Which You’ve Been Looking

Chuckle a day after a near-disastrous storm with power-failure and rising waters, all is right with the world of IT in my home. The new Odroid-C2 intended for TLW has arrived. There were a few surprises:

  • It came with a European power plug. Not a big problem. I just used an adapter we had kicking around since our honeymoon in Saudi Arabia.
  • The thing did not do DHCP automatically so I could not see it on the network.
  • The thing had a blue light blinking which means it wasn’t seeing HDMI 1080p.

To see what was happening I had to drag it over to the nearest TV and hook it up. It took a while to make that happen as the grandkids were over and the darned TV was set up to skip other than the default HDMI port. Finally I saw the usual Linux boot screen and prompt. I plugged in a USB to wireless keyboard thingy and was able to login as root with password “odroid”. I promptly changed that. I had to manually start the Ethernet connection with dhclient eth0 and service sshd start to allow me to interact from the comfort of my office. I did an updating of the software via APT. It’s standard Debian GNU/Linux with a few packages for bootability.

root@odroid64:~# lscpu
Architecture: aarch64
Byte Order: Little Endian
CPU(s): 4
On-line CPU(s) list: 0-3
Thread(s) per core: 1
Core(s) per socket: 1
Socket(s): 4
CPU max MHz: 2016.0000
CPU min MHz: 100.0000
root@odroid64:~# free -m
total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 1719 428 1290 5 17 278
-/+ buffers/cache: 132 1586
Swap: 0 0 0
root@odroid64:~# date
Wed Dec 31 17:54:19 MST 1969

Cool, eh? I fixed the date
(dpkg-reconfigure tzdata;ntpdate-debian) and began to play with the system. Gigabit/s networking was smooth once I realized I was using a defective cable and changed the cable.

The software on my SD card came from Odrobian, a Debian distro, basically adding a few packages particularly for the Odroid series of motherboards. I chose the “vanilla” disc image. It resizes the partition to use the full SD card on first boot. apt-get update;apt-get upgrade then pulls in the latest Odrobian and Debian packages.

The sources.list:
deb jessie main contrib non-free
deb-src jessie main contrib non-free
deb jessie-updates main
deb-src jessie-updates main
deb jessie/updates main
deb-src jessie/updates main

I added some frame-buffer packages and kodi, a multimedia player, xserver-xorg-video-fbdev, mali-fbdev, and kodi-odrobian-fbdev. startx gets the gui going. Also, X -query beast -noreset& brings up beast’s login so TLW can use all her old setups with no change except the HDMI display. I configured a desktop for the odroid user. It’s sharp, snappy and TLW will love it. I put the X -query beast -noreset& in /etc/rc.local and all my configuration survives reboot.

According to demsg, booting took 18s. Not too bad for a PC costing <$100CDN delivered, taxes included.
[ 13.637223] libphy: stmmac-0:00 – Link is Up – 1000/Full
[ 17.717938] ttyS0 use xtal 24000000 change 115200 to 115200
[ 17.718345] ttyS0 use xtal 24000000 change 115200 to 115200
[ 17.735611] ttyS0 use xtal 24000000 change 115200 to 115200
[ 17.735937] ttyS0 use xtal 24000000 change 115200 to 115200
[ 17.863504] fb: osd[0] canvas.idx =0x40
[ 17.863507] fb: osd[0] canvas.addr=0x78000000
[ 17.863510] fb: osd[0] canvas.width=5760
[ 17.863511] fb: osd[0] canvas.height=1080
[ 17.886597] fb: osd[0] enable: 0 (Xorg)
[ 18.380574] fb: osd[0] enable: 1 (Xorg)

I’m pretty happy with that. It does work hard playing video, but I’d rather have the CPU working hard doing something rather than idling all day long… Now, for a kernel-build…
root@odroid64:~# apt-get install build-essential wget gnupg2 nfs-common bc
#mount -t nfs beast:/mnt/backup/odroid/linux /home/odroid/linux
#mount partition on 1gB hard drive on the server
su odroid
cd;cd linux
unxz linux-4.4.15.tar.xz
gpg –recv-keys –keyserver 6092693e
gpg –verify linux-4.4.15.tar.sign
…gpg: Good signature from “Greg Kroah-Hartman (Linux kernel stable release signing key)
tar xf linux-4.4.15.tar
cd linux-4.4.15
make mrproper
make oldconfig
time make -j 8 bindeb-pkg

During the build, load averages varied from 7 to 8 and individual CPU-cores ran from 50-90%. The chip is working hard. The process appears noticeably slower than builds on Beast but it’s still getting done. One thing make detected was that the clocks on Beast and Odroid-c2 deviated by a few tenths of a second and several warnings were issued like “make[5]: Warning: File ‘drivers/video/fbdev/omap2/built-in.o’ has modification time 0.13 s in the future”.

The bottom line?
dpkg-deb: building package `linux-firmware-image-4.4.15′ in `../linux-firmware-image-4.4.15_4.4.15-1_arm64.deb’.
dpkg-deb: building package `linux-headers-4.4.15′ in `../linux-headers-4.4.15_4.4.15-1_arm64.deb’.
dpkg-deb: building package `linux-libc-dev’ in `../linux-libc-dev_4.4.15-1_arm64.deb’.
dpkg-deb: building package `linux-image-4.4.15′ in `../linux-image-4.4.15_4.4.15-1_arm64.deb’.
dpkg-genchanges: binary-only upload (no source code included)

real 57m31.963s
user 149m0.730s
sys 17m8.970s

Chuckle. So, it’s a little slow compared to Beast… by a factor of 8 or so. It’s still very usable and as a thin client will give TLW access to Beast’s blazing speed. It will be interesting to see how the Lemaker Cello, with it’s A-57 cores and faster RAM/storage compares to this S905 with A-53 cores and slow RAM/tiny caches/networked file-system. We should be within a factor of two by then.

The question remains, “Do I let TLW have it now or do I play with it longer?”.

UPDATE: No, the kernel did not boot. Nothing showed on the TV and while there was link there was no activity on the Ethernet connection… I guess I missed something. So, it’s a lot like the familiar PC environment but not exactly the same.

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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2 Responses to Yes, This Is The Droid For Which You’ve Been Looking

  1. dougman says:

    On the Raspberry Pi3, I could use the desktop, but it was noticeably slow, but I was on wifi. Had I plugged in a cable, then that should have helped a bit. Eh, it setting on my filing cabinet running a OpenBazaar store which is fine with me.

  2. Further update: I installed the new image based on Ubuntu Mate 16.04. The sound is great! However, a lot of the applications are flaky, like FireFox segfaulting and Chromium switching to tabs and then freezing. I updated a lot of packages and the system became unstable. X froze. had to reboot. It’s looking better. Perhaps by 16.10 these bugs will be squashed. Sources.list points to, whatever that is. As I type this the cursor in Chromium is doing a silly dance where it jumps back a character or two and then forward. Very annoying. This thing will have to be a thin client. The desktop is barely usable.

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