Category Archives: CubieBoard

Moving Linux to Smaller SD Cards

SD cards are pretty cheap these days, but that doesn’t mean we should let our smaller ones go to waste, especially when a system doesn’t fully utilise the space of a larger one that could be more useful elsewhere.

So, what can we do?

Normally, to backup and restore SD cards, I use Win32 Disk Imager.

The main problem of Win32 Disk Imager is that it creates an image file the same size as your SD card, no matter how much of the card is actually being used.  If you’re using a 32GB card with a 4GB partition and the rest is unallocated space it will still create a 32GB image file.

Typically, however, I think most of us will allocate the full size of the SD card to the system.

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Eye-Fi on Linux

My current WiFi situation on Location works for me at the moment.

As I shoot, a couple of seconds after hitting the shutter, the images come up on my iPad screen.  I can immediately see which images have hit their focus and are nice and sharp without unwanted motion blur.

I can get a better overall view of the scene on the iPad so I don’t have to spend hours fixing something in Photoshop that I missed on the tiny LCD on the back of the camera.  I can just see it and fix on set before taking another shot.

As I’m planning to turn the CubieTruck into a portable backup storage device for use on location, I thought “What if I could transmit via WiFi to the Cubie (or Raspberry Pi) instead of the iPad?”

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BitTorrent Sync – Making Your Own Cloud

I’ve been using DropBox for probably about 3 years now, and it’s rather good.  Overall, I’ve been quite impressed.  It’s reliable, fairly quick (bandwidth permitting), and fantastic for delivering work to clients and models.

Delivery of final work to clients and models I’ve shot with has been pretty much my sole reason for using DropBox, and it will probably remain that way, at least for the foreseeable future.

I don’t need masses and masses of space for that, but I’ve still never really been all that keen on the idea of keeping things online in “the cloud” (which is basically just a fancy new term for the same old servers we’ve always had) as a form of file backup.

After recently having had a pretty major crash on one of my machines (motherboard died, taking the processor, RAM and a 2TB hard drive along with it), I’ve rebuilt and started looking into other potential backup solutions.

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Taking a Stab at Cross Compiling

Cross compiling is something I’ve never really had a need to do before.  All of my past Linux machines have been your standard 32Bit or 64Bit x86 based PCs, and have been fast enough that I’ve been able to compile on the machine it’ll be running on.

But, if a 15 hour XBMC compile taught me anything (other than the fact that XBMC doesn’t work fantastically on the CubieBoard), it’s that I need to setup a decent Linux box, and learn to cross compile for ARM based hardware.

I’ve also always wanted to create my own Linux setup from scratch for a long time.  The CubieBoard gives me the opportunity to do this, but it will require some cross compiling to get things started.

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Let’s Try Cubie Web Server

With XBMC on the CubieBoard a bust.  It’s time to go back to my original thought, which is to set it up as a web server.

While I will generally run this without a monitor connected, I have decided to restore from the backup that already has LXDE installed.

Yes, I could set it up without X, and just install it in the event that I actually come around to needing it, but I figured I might as well just have it installed now.  It’s not like there’s a lack of space on an 8GB MicroSD card.

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XBMC on a CubieBoard?

The very first result that Google gave me when trying to find information on running XBMC on the CubieBoard (which is powered by the Allwinner A10), was this link.

This, in clear letters states…

Avoid hardware that uses the Allwinner series of chips (such as the Allwinner A10).  Development is not going well for these devices.”

Yes, “Avoid” really is written in bold.  This does not bode well.

I shall try, none-the-less.  After all, I have my backup img files for when things go horribly wrong.

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Cubian from the beginning…

This is one of those posts that’s purely here for my own reference documenting what I need to do in the event that I need to start all this over from scratch.

This isn’t necessarily the exact order in which I’ve done things this time, as it’s taking me longer to resolve some issues over others, and I’ve reordered things into the process I plan to use in the event that I do need to start over.

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CubieBoard WiFi Made Simple (TP-Link TL-WN725N)

Today I went out and picked up a MicroSD card.  After all of yesterday’s frustrations, I wanted to have more options, and I figured an 8GB card would be more than plenty to store an OS with both XBMC and a web development server.

Chances are, it’ll never actually be getting used as both at the same time.  If I’m watching TV, I’m probably not working on PHP code, and if I’m working on PHP code, I’m probably not interested in watching TV.

I’ve restored the NAND flash back to the latest Android (it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever really want to play with Android, but it’s not doing any harm, and it’ll give me something to do on those rare days when I just get curious), and I’ve installed Cubian (I’m using R7 for the A10) onto an 8GB MicroSD card.

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More CubieBoard Adventures

So, I’m going to identify a couple of initial issues I’ve discovered with the default Linaro/Lubuntu Server image on the CubieBoard, and document how I’m getting around them, mostly for my own personal future reference, just so that if I have to start from scratch again, I have a frame of reference.

So, problems?

  • HDMI Overscan is far too much.  I can’t see the top or bottom couple of lines of the console display, and I’d say there’s probably 4 characters to the left missing (so, presumably about 4 missing on the right, too).
  • It doesn’t detect my WiFi dongle.  I’m using a TP-Link TL-WN725N Version 2 which uses the RTL8188EU chipset.  This was actually detected just fine and worked perfectly in a couple of the Android images I’d tested.  This version of the dongle was so much of a bugger to try to get working on the Pi that I gave up and just used a Netgear dongle instead that was automatically detected.

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Adventures with CubieBoard

Oh boy, what a day.  Where to begin?  Well, how’s about the beginning?  I suppose that’s the usual order of things.

I’d been looking at the various CubieBoards that are available for a little while now, and have had my heart set on a CubieTruck (it satisfies a few hardware needs for something I want to do that I don’t think the Pi will be able to handle without a USB hub, a few extra gadgets & gizmos, a handful of extra USB batteries and a lot of faffing around).

Other than the one specific example mentioned above, the Pi can handle pretty much everything I would need such a device for, but there I was on Boxing Day, minding my own business, when I see an original CubieBoard (the CubieTruck is version 3 of the CubieBoard) for sale on eBay at an absolute steal of a price (even less than the cost of a Raspberry Pi, so how could I not?).

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