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Quad-Core Stick PC Runs Ubuntu

timothy posted about a year ago | from the these-are-getting-awesome dept.

Ubuntu 72

New submitter asola writes with this cool piece of small (ha!) news from Liliputing: "This Freescale i.MX6-quad based stick will officially support Ubuntu in addition to Android. This is a first among the newfangled category of ARM-based stick PCs. This Ubuntu may very well have the hw accelerated Gstreamer plugins created by Freescale for the i.MX6 so full HD video playing will be available under Ubuntu as well."

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I can almost see the product behind the watermark (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42462295)

...in the picture.

Re:I can almost see the product behind the waterma (4, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#42463857)

It's a real shame too: the product is beautiful to gaze at. A real work of art. Here [photobucket.com] is a -slightly- lower resolution image of the product with no watermark.

cores?` (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42462399)

Could we get some goddamn information in the summary? Who cares how many cores it has? How much storage capacity does it have? How good is the built-in screen? How good is the input device? How good is the network connection?

Re:cores?` (3)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42462451)

This is a PC on a stick, there is no display and the input is likely just a USB port. You provide display and input devices yourself, like pretty much all non-laptop computers.


mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | about a year ago | (#42462985)

Got any URLs for good tutorials on how to get the thing up and running? [Yeah, "Google is your friend", blah blah blah...] Thanks in advance!


mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | about a year ago | (#42463023)

wtf? no WYSIWYG carriage returns at /.? 1995 just called - it wants its Web 1.0 formatting back...


afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#42463151)

Change your preferences, slashdot used to make you choose between HTML markup and WYSIWYG but the WYSIWYG editor now support HTML code =)


AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#42465149)

I don't know what you mean, is there a WYSIWYG editor on /.?

the code option looks new to me, but the other three are the same as from as long as I remember.


uniquename72 (1169497) | about a year ago | (#42464387)

Yes, you can change this setting, but I consider it a feature.

/. is in theory a site for knowledgeable geeks. If very basic HTML is too hard for you, please go away.


Phreakiture (547094) | about a year ago | (#42463403)

I think this [liliputing.com] is probably as close as you are going to get, though it is not specific to this particular machine; YMMV. Essentially, you get an image that is compiled for ARM and stick it on a USB device or SD card and plug it in before booting.

Re:cores?` (1)

hattig (47930) | about a year ago | (#42464241)

4 Cortex A9s at 1.2GHz
8GB + MicroSD slot
No screen, it's HDMI 1.4 capable
Use your own favourite Bluetooth input devices
802.11n wifi - 150mbps in theory

8 gb? Cmon....we can do better than that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42462493)

If I can get 4 gb in a puny little PNY usb stick, surely we can do better than 8 on this thing.

Re:8 gb? Cmon....we can do better than that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42462869)

There seems to be an obsession with not providing access to sata even when the SO[CM] supports it. I'd like one of these designed to simply couple to a 2.5" drive rather then something which will be limited to the access speeds available from shitty flash/sd (or usb and extra cpu load).

Unrelated, the prior quad-core o-droid was reported to handle 1080p playback in software (but requiring some cooling as it would push the cpu hard for a prolonged period) so I really don't know what is so exciting about another quad-core arm having some blob for hw acceleration. Now if it had source code for the hw video acceleration of any sort so you could actually dream of being able to use an upstream kernel or your preferred distro this would be news.

Render farms (1)

koan (80826) | about a year ago | (#42462547)

Wondering if anyone has tried making a mini render farm out of these small scale units, for 3D rendering, video effects rendering or even cracking passwords.
The only reason I see doing it is price point, GPU's these days kick ass on all of the above but typically can be more expensive.

Re:Render farms (2)

Phreakiture (547094) | about a year ago | (#42463487)

I had been tinkering with the idea of implementing HPC tasks in Javascript so that the compute nodes can be anything with a web browser. It wouldn't be the most efficient thing in the world, mind you, but I think it would be an amusing way to structure distributed computing. A popular enough site might be able to overcome not using GPUs just by sheer brute force of its viewership.

GPUs are cheaper (1)

mangu (126918) | about a year ago | (#42463933)

You'll probably get much more bang for the buck, for the watts, and for the physical space, if you use GPUs.

There are video cards with 4000 processing cores available for under $400, look for HD7970x2. That is $0.10 for each core. No way a cluster of small computers will beat that.

Re:GPUs are cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42464811)

I agree for the most part except it depends on the coding/drivers how well one technique will work VS the other, so with CUDA cores you get a lot of bang because Nvidia has been purposely working on it, a 4 GPU CUDA machine makes for an awesome number cruncher, it's also past my price point.

Re:Render farms (2)

jbeaupre (752124) | about a year ago | (#42465035)

I'm waiting for these SoCs to be packaged a dozen at a time on a DIMM-style board. Slap a hand full of these on a motherboard for flexible expansion.

There's minimal demand for this. It's just my prediction of how computers might evolve as power and price drop to levels that make adding computing power as simple as adding RAM.

Re:Render farms (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42465561)

Why wait? See if you can come up with a rendering solution that's effective but cheap and market it, there is more demand than you might think.

Too expensive and no real market. (0)

andy_spoo (2653245) | about a year ago | (#42462937)

So its 100 dollars. Thats not cheap anymore. The Raspbery Pi has less memory and a slower processor and can play 1080p just fine, but your making a deal of the fact this will play HD. Theres a bunch of quad core tablets on the way with obviously the extra cost to the manufacturer of a touch screen etc, for around 100 dollars. And as discussed in orher threads, Ubuntu has become malware or even spyware. So what market is this going for exactly.

Re:Too expensive and no real market. (1)

hattig (47930) | about a year ago | (#42464379)

The RPi is based around a video SoC, the CPU is really a microcontroller to drive the video capabilities - hence it can do 1080p easily, even though it's a 700MHz ARM11.

However these other SoCs are far more general purpose, and are more balanced towards the CPUs. The video decode can probably do more than 1080p to be honest, even the A10 can do 2160p allegedly!

a new connection format (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42463053)

What these stick PCs need is a new connector that carrys full HD, 7.1 audio, power to the stick, mouse, keyboard, and remote control commands. Then TVs could include this format, you plug in your CPU stick and viola... your TV can run anything you want. Anyone could write their own TV OS or whatever. Ok kickstarter, kickstart this.

Re:a new connection format (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463169)

And I want a pony. Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills up first.

Re:a new connection format (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#42463685)

You can already do this with low profile machines and have been able to do so for quite a long time already. The idea of extending that to a PC on a stick is not really that far of a stretch really.

The main problem is that your USB ports will take up more volume that what's taken up by one of these thumb PCs.

Re:a new connection format (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42464589)

That's my point. It should have a single connector that the Stick PC plugs into and then you're done with it. The TV would have its own controls, and maybe USB hub. The TVs remote could have buttons that affect the PC via USB... etc... Monitor/HID/Audio should be in the TV realm and then whatever processing power you want to plug in should be your own. Apple TV sucks? unplug it, plug in Google TV... dont like that? Go with a media portal stick. Etc...

Re:a new connection format (2)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#42463311)

Nah, having used one of these you just plug it into HDMI and USB for power (both are on the back of most TV/displays today) and use Bluetooth for keyboard/mouse and WiFi for networking. We got a couple to use as the drivers for a digital signage project, plug it into the back of any tv and turn it into a digital sign that you can update over the web. The things we found missing for that application were GPS for inventory management and cellular for updates at sites that lack WiFi coverage. We could have used a USB cellular card but that kind of defeats the elegance of a stick computer with two cables.

Re:a new connection format (1)

stickystyle (799509) | about a year ago | (#42463333)

Well, it's my understanding that MHL (on the newer Android phones) already has specs for all of that.

Re:a new connection format (2)

CyberKnet (184349) | about a year ago | (#42463381)

You're proposing to plug the mouse and keyboard into the TV .... instead of the stick? It sounds like you want to have the TV act as a KVM switch, which seems a bit odd unless you plan on having multiple sticks installed... I'm guessing you're in the very far minority that would want that.

Aside from that, TVs really do need a new connector. HDMI already supports full HD, 7.1 audio, ethernet, and CEC. There's enough there to let the stick control the TV, and get network service from the TV.

The power want is pretty reasonable in the general case, and I've wondered about it in the past... but do take a closer look at this stick in particular. It wants power from a 5V micro-usb. If your TV has a USB port for firmware updates, it can probably already power the thing. For TV's manufactured in the last 5 years, the odds are pretty likely.


Re:a new connection format (1)

needsomemoola (966634) | about a year ago | (#42464099)

Screw the keyboard and mouse. Someone needs to take this and integrate it with LeapMotion's motion control sensor. Mount it to your coffee table or put it on your couch and just control the TV with your hands. That's a bit of work, and the controller hasn't shipped yet.... Small set back. Maybe an app for your phone or tablet even would be far better than a keyboard or mouse for a TV interface.

Even cooler would be to (in addition to an app or motion controller) add voice control, maybe something that integrates with Google's Knowledge Graph tech.

Maybe combine the functionality of the two. The problem with voice control is if it's active, you don't want it to respond to everything you say in your living room. Maybe you could have a hand gesture that the leap sensor recognizes where Google's KG starts listening. You could just wave your hand, say "play Fringe" and have the latest episode start playing.

Oh the possibilities. I can't wait for the future.

Re:a new connection format (1)

CyberKnet (184349) | about a year ago | (#42464157)

Aside from that, TVs really do NOT need a new connector.


Epic fail completely changes post intent.

Re:a new connection format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463699)

Newer HDMI does power, 1.3c has 36.86Mbit of audio, and bi-directional remote control command support via CEC. It has USB for mouse and keyboard. It should do everything you want already.

Re:a new connection format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463721)

I for one don't want viola's or other instruments popping out of my TV.

Re:a new connection format (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year ago | (#42465653)

Any new connection standard that's limited to the paltry "full HD" resolution should be aborted before it sees the light of day. It's okay for movies, but not for computing displays.

Re:a new connection format (1)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | about a year ago | (#42467955)

I've been doing this for years. My TV is a 30" Planar touchscreen monitor. Plug it into the HDMI port on my laptop: Instant touch screen home theater system. Plug it into my Galaxy S3: Instant giant Android tablet. Plug it into my Roku: Instant Netflix box. I predict that eventually televisions and monitors will merge into a single appliance because there's really no point in having a TV with its own internal logic components that will be outdated in a year. Oh yes, Sony and other manufacturers are fighting the good fight. They LOVE to make people replace their televisions every year or to so they can watch TV in the newest format. But they will lose that battle.

Re:a new connection format (1)

n7ytd (230708) | about a year ago | (#42469465)

What these stick PCs need is a new connector that carrys full HD, 7.1 audio, power to the stick, mouse, keyboard, and remote control commands. Then TVs could include this format, you plug in your CPU stick and viola... your TV can run anything you want. Anyone could write their own TV OS or whatever. Ok kickstarter, kickstart this.

How about an HDMI connector with Ethernet? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI#Version_1.4 [wikipedia.org]. The connector is the easy part.

I dont... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463209)

see any point to spending that much money for it. I could get two Pi model B's for that price..

Similar to Android TV dongles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463257)

What's different between this and the numerous Android TV dongles? Like this $40 unit from same company?

No One Cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463303)

Ubuntu is destroying the Linux ecosystem.

Also Quad-Core but for $89 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463363)


and comes with an Ethernet poty.

xbmc and hardware acceleration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463401)

There are many of this so called sticks pc's, minipc's or whatever. But none of them have full support (for now) for hardware accelerated drivers.

The first of them that has open drivers and support for XBMC is going to sell millions. What I don't understand is why manufacturers do not see it yet.

xbmc and hardware acceleration (1)

kinocho (978177) | about a year ago | (#42463471)

There are many of this so called sticks pc's, minipc's or whatever. But none of them have full support (for now) for hardware accelerated drivers. The first of them that has open drivers and support for XBMC is going to sell millions. What I don't understand is why manufacturers do not see it yet. (replied to myself 'cos I was not logged in...)

Re:xbmc and hardware acceleration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42463751)

AMlogic (m1, m3, m6) Android mini PC's do have hardware assisted playback at the moment for XBMC.
There are tons of those on the market already, while development is done by Pivos.

Re:xbmc and hardware acceleration (1)

kinocho (978177) | about a year ago | (#42464489)

They may be working on it, but right now not only xbmc does not have hd acces on them, it doesn't even boot...

So no. There aren't.

Re:xbmc and hardware acceleration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42464639)

Well, I've been watching HD content on it for the last 2 months on it now (720p/1080p H264) without major issues.
XBMC has some issues left (mostly sync related), but to call it 'not even booting' is just not true.

Clone forum

Re:xbmc and hardware acceleration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42467159)

You really are a cretin. These sticks are designed for Android (which is Linux derived), and in Android mode have a complete API that allows third-party apps to use the video hardware-acceleration functions.

The lack of hardware-acceleration in hacked versions of Linux that are loaded onto a rooted stick is entirely an issue of politics. Open-source morons will not play ball with SoC manufactures that wish to provide closed-source video drivers, as are used on all Apple and Microsoft computers. As a consequence, video-decoding is done in software- a real problem for video content created in H264 AVC (the usual video codec). However, for HD video created in H264 ASP, a modern 2-core ARM A8/A9 is certainly fast enough to decode 720P streams.

When the quad-core A15 ARM parts arrive later this year, software solutions (at the cost of high power usage) will successfully decode even 1080P encoded in H264 AVC.

Anyway, Google needs to drop ChromeOS, create a standard windowsXP like shell for Android, and start to push Android OS as a universal solution (including the desktop), so this nonsense about using versions of Linux that refuse to support proper drivers can die once and for all.

Elimination of clutter? (4, Funny)

asylumx (881307) | about a year ago | (#42463871)

What a great idea! Let's get rid of the machine and JUST have a nest of cables!

Re:Elimination of clutter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42465617)

Hell let's get rid of the HOUSE and just have a NEST of cables :D

When will it run a real OS? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42464153)

Like Mint.

Usage Scenarios, Retardation of Linux Community (4, Insightful)

ilikenwf (1139495) | about a year ago | (#42465867)

Were it me, I'd want one for a media center on the TV, running Android for the native Netflix support and XBMC, and then I would keep the other in my backpack or pocket or something for a go-anywhere backup machine. That said, it would have Debian or Archlinux arm installed, since Ubuntu is a steaming pile.

I really wish that bloggers and promoters would stop saying something "runs Ubuntu" without regard to other Linux distros. No device is exclusive to Ubuntu. If it runs a Linux kernel, it can run any Linux distro compiled for it's given architecture. This blind devotion to Canonical's sub-par distro is why we have so many retards clogging up Slashdot, various mailing lists, and forums with stupid questions beginning with "my Ubuntu is broken," or "Help me fix my Ubuntu." These people think Ubuntu is the end-all, be-all Linux without having tried anything else.

These ignorant people need mentors and education so that they can grow and evolve, trying other distros, and maybe even go back and improve Ubuntu to make it a bit less of an abortion than it is now. If you're a Linux vet, you've already gone through that circle, and need to pay it forward by helping educate the n00bs so that we don't get so many retarded questions - or over simplified crap - from Ubuntu and it's users.

Re:Usage Scenarios, Retardation of Linux Community (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42469453)

I have the exact opposite opinion. With Ubuntu, you have one combination of APIs, just like with Windows or OS X. Developers aren't out to play legos with compilers and angry end users. They want to write their shit once, and run it everywhere with no problem, even if it eats up five times the cpu and ram to do it. They're lazy bastards. If you give them a choice between Ubuntu and a hodgepodge of different X11, linux, gnu userland, gui toolkit, and other software versions, they'll probably just go with 'fuck your platform' on all counts. Many apps don't even run natively on OS X and it has ten times our market. I want apps. I want them good, stable, and I want them on Ubuntu LTS releases.

Re:Usage Scenarios, Retardation of Linux Community (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42469555)

But, but, there are so many retards and only one of me!

Re:Usage Scenarios, Retardation of Linux Community (1)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#42471867)

Just run Debian under chroot on Android, that way you only need to maintain one image and you can use it for both purposes. The only downside is X is a little lacking running that way so Linux GUI tools aren't it's forte.

Re:Usage Scenarios, Retardation of Linux Community (1)

markdavis (642305) | about a year ago | (#42472397)

+1 I could not agree more. I wanted to barf when I saw this article and comment:

"Gosh, I just wish it would run Linux instead of Ubuntu"

Re:Usage Scenarios, Retardation of Linux Community (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42476045)

What's the basis of your rant? That the developers at the factory should have chosen Debian or Arch Linux because you don't like Ubuntu? Or is it because the device runs Android and therefore a Linux kernel so you believe you can install any Linux distro you like?

The current "stick PC" community seem to have a majority preference for Ubuntu, but thats accepted as a priority rather than exclusivity. And to install a Linux distro on a stick PC you need to write your bootloader, compile your kernel and build your rootfs. We are talking SOCs and GPUs covered by commercial agreements restricting the disclosure of proprietary source for drivers etc. We are talking about loading kernel images into memory to boot them at locations that are not documented. This isn't simply installing a Linux distro but about building one.

Up to now, the community has had to reverse engineer, search for compatible sources, rely on collective knowledge and expertise. The news in this article is all about how there will be official support for a Linux distro on this stick PC. But don't worry, you still have time to buy one of these sticks and shows us how it is done.

won't touch with a barge-pole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42468779)

Freescale's Linux support is a mess and looks to be getting worse, leaving anyone that want's to do anything useful with the iMX chips wasting a lot of bandwidth on the headwall interface.

For iMX51 and iMX53 they forked uBoot at around 2009, and took the kernel at about linux-2.6.35, then piled loads of stuff in - a lot of which isn't very pretty. Little of the changes made it into mainline, and those branches are now stagnant, though support the most of their hardware. Freescale also tried public git trees, but they weren't well maintained and just added to the noise. Linaro then came with great promise but (for Freescale) seems to have died, getting upto a 3.2 kernel, but still lacking basic things like USB and video support as well as power management and clock scaling. Since the end of 2011 there's been few signs of life from the Freescale Linaro landing team, though some of the stuff did make it back into the mainline kernel. During the same period their online communities changed from simple forums, to an iMX dedicated site and then again into something a bit flashier.

In part I think the struggle for Freescale is that the Linux mainline moves very quickly, but isn't ready to support all the advanced features these chips need (the clock trees on these chips are insanely complex and only recently has the kernel infrastructure got near to catching up, as well as there being crazy power domains and external regulators to throw into the mix). Additionally changes aren't accepted back without lots of chest beating and chin stroking, both of which take critical time. In some ways it's no wonder the arch code for ARM has exploded in duplicity since some of the sub-systems these chips need don't exist, and won't do for a long time.

On the other side Freescale seem incapable of making two chips similar, and even things like Ethernet peripherals have ever changing register sets and minor 'features' which create a plethora of driver variants if care is not taken. Additionally a lot of the peripherals are insanely complex and poorly documented (e.g. the micro-coded SDMA engine, which while being able to do almost anything, comes without the tools that would be needed to make and debug a small efficient linear DMA).

Apart from some big companies who probably got direct support from Freescale, I think all of this amounts to a very poor hobbyist platform, despite seemingly good intentions from Freescale. It's instead much better to stick with something already common and with a great community like the R-Pi.

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