Quad Core 1.6GHz ARM RK3188
A nice board, supplied with Android and the Linaro Linux distro installed. I chose this board because I wanted good performance, low power and LInux.
I got a couple from SeeedStudio.
Out of the box it boots Android. One of the apps is a boot into Ubuntu. It asks for root permission and then does it; and continues booting into Linux.. It seems Linaro is based on Ubuntu and LDXE.
Android ran fine; except for the stupid keyboard, mouse, and apps and web sites insisting that you have a 3″ screen and no keyboard. I have a Android phone and tablet but I’m not a big fan. After using Kubuntu for years it’s a bit like going back to windows 3.1, and I don’t really trust it and definitely not most of the apps.
Linaro Linux booted OK but the ethernet and wifi were not working. The network settings GUI from the menu fixed this without too much fuss; got both working. Linaro did boot up expecting a larger screen resolution than I was using (about 720), so most of the useful detail was of the edges. I still haven’t corrected this, and won’t bother for now. The plan is to install Ubuntu server only, see below.
Power Supply Modification
As supplied the board has a small DC power jack for the 5V DC supply and comes with a USB power lead.
I wanted to run this board as a server, without a monitor and from a 12V or 24V DC supply. So I modified a small NZ$5 DC-DC Buck converter from having a variable output voltage to being fixed at 5.1V. These modules are a bit noisy, so I added the toroidal core and 2200uF 6.3V capacitor.
The DC-DC regulator doesn’t get very warm, so the industrial strength sticky foam holds it securely to the acrylic case.
With a 12V DC supply, the current draw hovers around 200mA and peaks during heavy workloads at about 300mA. A power draw of about 4 watts. This was with the wifi operating.
I attached a stick-on heat-sink, which was just the right size on the RK3188 CPU which was getting quite warm.
What to do with it
I’d like to use one as a general purpose machine for internet browsing, Youtube, email, media etc. But IMO Android on anything larger than a tablet really sucks. This means it would have to run Ubuntu, Firefox, Thunderbird, VLC etc. From what I’ve read so far, there are no GPU hardware drivers for Linux, which seriously limits the performance with video playback. It may be OK if the resolution is kept down to 720 or less.
So, until there are some hardware graphics drivers, it’s probably not a good media machine.
So for now I will experiment with it as a email and web server; probably with a SSD connected via USB for storage.
Installing Ubuntu Server
I plan to follow these instructions at cnx-software to install the existing server image.