Linux Single Board Computers

The UDOO Advanced Plus versus Latte Panda - x86 SBC faceoff

(September 3, 2017)

For more information on the UDOO Advanced Plus. Both the UDOO and LattePanda are inexpensive single-board-computers that are useful for building custom computers. This video compares the two, and finds the UDOO is more powerful and more flexible. Both run Windows very well as long as your needs are somewhat modest. Both are more powerful and flexible than the Raspberry Pi, another favorite of building custom computers.

The UDOO Advanced Plus - x86 based single board computer running regular Linux

(August 14, 2017)

The UDOO Advanced Plus is so much higher priced than most single-board-computers that it doesn't fit the Maker Project idea. At $160 or so per board it's not like taking a $35 Raspberry Pi to toss into a project. Where the UDOO shines, though, is as a desktop computer. Because it has an x86 CPU, it runs regular operating systems, and the board includes normal ports for connecting to SSD's and hard disks and whatnot. The peripherals include a pair of M.2 ports for WiFi and SSD support, a SATA to connect up a regular disk, 3x USB3 for high speed peripherals, an HDMI and 2x Mini Display-Port connectors allowing you to connect three large screen monitors, etc. In other words, while the UDOO is a smallish computer, it's got a lot of powerful capabilities.

Booting a Raspberry Pi from a regular disk, avoiding the flaky SD card

(August 7, 2017)

The Raspberry Pi is a cool little computer allowing you to do lots of crazy DIY projects interfaced through the GPIO port. While the Raspberry Pi is a small embeddable computer, because it runs Linux the Raspberry Pi is instantly approachable by any programmer. The biggest flaw in this picture is that it uses an SD card as the boot device. SD cards are not exactly fast nor reliable, preventing the Raspberry Pi from being used in serious production situations.

In April 2017 the Raspberry Pi foundation released the ability for the Raspberry Pi Model 3 to boot off a drive connected via USB. That instantly opens the door to using reliable regular disks rather than unreliable SD cards. The downside is that disks must connect via USB2 limiting disk throughput speed. As with anything there are plusses and minuses, but this is an interesting step forward.

For those seriously interested in using a Linux-Single-Board-Computer with a regular disk, some of the other devices will be a better choice. For example the Orange Pi Plus 2 has a SATA connector.

FireFly RK3399 Plus Development Board / Single Board computer - unboxing and review

(April 14, 2017) The FireFly RK3399 is a high-end ARM-based single board computer. It comes with 2GB memory up to 4GB, and up to 32GB of eMMC on-board flash storage, dual WiFi, a long list of ports including dual cameras, USB3 plus USB2, PCIe, and more. With 4GB of memory this unit is equivalent in performance to the ChromeOS devices, but is open enough you control the operating system and more. The PCIe brings the option of using regular hard disks or SSD's.

Inexpensively stream your MP3 collection with Raspberry Pi and Pi MusicBox

(April 10, 2017) Why pay megabucks to buy a commercialized music streaming gizmo that requires a monthly fee? You may already have the MP3 files, and with the right software a simple computer like the Raspberry Pi is sufficient to stream the music anywhere on your home network. The Pi MusicBox software makes it incredibly easy to setup, the only wrinkle being to have a large enough storage device. Fortunately the Raspberry Pi can easily use a USB hard drive.

Build your own Raspberry Pi 3 computing cluster

(April 9, 2017) Single-board-computers like the Raspberry Pi 3 are an inexpensive way to do all kinds of computing tasks, including supercomputing. The computers, ethernet switch, and cooling fans can be powered by a USB power supply. The example software to use is Einstein at Home. However one could use other kinds of software. The system design shown has a private network between 7 Raspberry Pi's all connected to the ethernet switch and an 8th RPI acting as a gateway to that network. By going through the process you learn details of configuring the Linux DHCP service, a NAT Router, and more.

Build your own security camera system with Raspberry Pi and cheap webcams

(April 7, 2017) You can build a powerful and flexible motion sensing security camera system using open source software on a Raspberry Pi and similar single board computers. The key is the MotionEyeOS that neatly bundles everything you need into a Raspberry Pi image. Simply burn it to an SD card, attach cameras, boot the Raspberry Pi, and start configuring. It easily supports monitoring multiple cameras, which can be USB webcams, WiFi cameras, the Raspberry Pi camera, or other MotionEyeOS instances. I have an original-version Raspberry Pi (low CPU power) driving two cameras and it handles things just fine.

Installing OpenVPN on a Raspberry Pi Zero W, inexpensive security for your peace of mind

(March 31, 2017) Nowadays our personal privacy is being threatened by new government policies. Fortunately the open source world gives us tools with which to secure our lives. This tutorial goes over installing OpenVPN on your home network, giving you a secure method to access resources on your home network from anywhere else. Suppose you have a NAS with many terabytes of data at home, but you're traveling thousands of miles away and need to access that data. A VPN service on your home network provides a porthole through which to do so, provided you have VPN software on the computer you're carrying.

Raspberry Pi Zero W, inexpensive Zero goodness, now with WiFi for just $10

(February 28, 2017) The original Raspberry Pi Zero was a game-changer for inexpensive computers, offering a full-fledged for just $5. The biggest problem was the lack of WiFi. The Raspberry Pi foundation have now fixed that, unveiling the new Zero W with both WiFi and Bluetooth.

OpenMediaVault on Raspberry PI 3 - Plex Media Server Plugin

(Sep 24, 2016) A short video showing you how to setup openmediavault on raspberry pi 3. How to enable Plex Media Server plugin.

How to back up your Raspberry Pi SD card, or copy it to another (larger?) Raspberry Pi SD card

(December 15, 2015) SD Cards aren't exactly the most reliable of data storage devices. What happens if you've put hundreds of hours of work into a Raspberry Pi system, it's all on your SD Card, and the card craps out. Have you saved your work? Or maybe you need to move to a larger SD Card because you've run out of space. Or maybe you want to duplicate the card to have additional systems. These tasks are pretty easy, but not intuitively obvious. It'll take some time at the command line, but fortunately the commands are easy.

NanoPi-M3: 8 blazing cores, but... // Review

(February 12, 2011) The NanoPi-M3 has 8 1.4GHz ARM cores, 1 GB data, 1+ GHz CPU, 1GHZ Ethernet, and a number of useful ports. The CPU generates a lot of heat so a heat-sink is necessary, except it's danged difficult to mount one. It has more GPIO pins than the Raspberry Pi. There's a number of ports on various chips that aren't exposed to users. It has enough warts that one might not want to use this, unless high parallel computation rate is needed thanks to the 8 cores.
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