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Posts Tagged ‘Linux’

Mediatek Labs Unveils Deca-core Helio X20 Development Board Compliant with 96Boards CE Specifications

June 27th, 2016 24 comments

More and more companies are joining the 96Boards bangwagon, and the latest move by Mediatek Labs will mean their Helio X20 development board, designed in collaboration with ArcherMind, will be the most powerful 96Boards CE edition released so far thanks to its deca-core processor with two Cortex A72 cores, and 8 Cortex A53 cores.

Mediatek_96Boards_Development_BoardMediatek Helio X20 board specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek Helio X20 (MT6797) deca-core processor with two ARM Cortex A72 cores @ 2.3 GHz, four Cortex A53 @ 1.95 GHz, four Cortex A53 @ 1.4 GHz, and  ARM Mali-T880 GPU @ 800 MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3 @ 933 MHz
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC 5.1 flash + micro SD 3.0 (UHS-I) slot
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p @ 30 fps
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS with antenna connector
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port (device only).
  • Expansion:
    • 1x 40 pin low speed expansion connector – UART, SPI, 2x I2C, 12x GPIO, DC power
    • 1x 60 pin high speed expansion connector – 4L-MIPI DSI, USB, 2x I2C, 2L+4LMIPI CSI
    • Analog expansion connector – Headset, Speaker, FM antenna, and more
  • Misc – Power, reset and volume buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth)
  • Power Supply – 8 to 18V DC input
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm

The board currently supports Android 6.0, and for now documentation is available in Chinese on Alpha Star website, with an English translation coming soon. The pre-sales page also mentions a daughterboard, but I could not find further details about it, nor the price of either boards.

More details should eventually surface on Mediatek Labs Helio X20 development board page.

Via Phoronix

$599 Softiron Overdrive 1000 Server is Powered by AMD Opteron A1100 64-bit ARM Processor

June 26th, 2016 14 comments

ARMv8 servers have been around for a year or so, but normally only available to companies, mostly due to their very high price. LeMaker Cello board based on AMD Opteron A1120 quad core SoC have changed that since it’s priced at $299, but I’m not sure it’s shipping right now, and it’s not a complete solution fitted with memory and storage, and lacks an enclosure. The good news is that Softiron has just launched Overdrive 1000 server powered by AMD Opteron A1100 series processor, with 8GB DDR4 RAM, a 1TB drive, and a case.

Softiron_Overdrive_1000Softiron Overdrive 1000 server specifications:

  • SoC – AMD Opteron A1100 series quad core ARM Cortex A57 processor
  • System Memory – 2x RDIMM slots fitted with 8GB DDR4 DRAM and expandable to 64GB
  • Storage – 2x SATA 3.0 connector with one fitted with  a 1TB HDD
  • Connectivity – 1x GBase-T Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Power Supply – ATX power supply; 100~240V @ 50-60Hz
  • Dimensions – 315 x 222 x 76 mm or 463 x 385 x 145 mm (Product page vs product brief info)
  • Weight – 3.65 kg or 5.2 kg

A standard UEFI boot environment is used, and while you could install your distribution of choice, the server is pre-loaded with openSUSE Leap including a standard Linux GNU tool chain, platform device drivers, the Apache web server, MySQL, PHP, Xen, KVM Hypervisor, Docker, and OpenJDK 64-bit ARM.

I could not find much in the way of demo, but you can listen to ARM and Softiron representatives explaining why it’s a good choice…

If you’d like to go ahead, and get one, you can purchase Softiron Overdrive 1000 directly on the company’s website for $599 + shipping. In my case (Asia based), it would cost $87.06 via UPS, which looks not too bad considering the weight…

Via Andrew Wafaa

Review of PocketCHIP Hackable Handheld Linux Computer

June 25th, 2016 12 comments

It’s not that easy to describe PocketC.H.I.P in a couple of words, as it’s so versatile. It’s a Debian based portable Linux computer with a resistive touchscreen and battery, but also a retro gaming console thanks to PICO-8, as well as a hardware development platform for IoT application with expansion header providing access to I/Os including GPIOs, I2C, SPI, UART…, and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Furthermore you can easily dismantle the device, in order to use the CHIP board, based on Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor, for a different project.

So when Next Thing asked me if I was interested in reviewing Pocket CHIP, I was pretty excited, but when I received it, I scratched my head as there are so many ways to review the item, and it works out of the box with the firmware pre-loaded inside the internal flash, so a getting starting guide would have been too short: “press the power button, and have fun”. So finally, I decided to take a few pictures of hardware, show most of the features, and then go through the different options in the user’s interface.

PocketC.H.I.P Unboxing

I’ve received the device in a black retail package plus a micro USB to USB cable for charging.

PocketCHIP_PackageThe other side of the package has a quick start guide, including a link to PocketCHIP documentation.

PocketCHIP_Quick_Start_GuideBut if you can’t wait, you can most likely jump to step 2, as the device’s battery already has some charge, at least it was the case for me.

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The QWERTY keyboard is quite standard, except the number keys are on two rows, and the arrow keys are located on the top left corner.  The display is using resistive touch, so can use both your finger or a stylus for better accurate. You’ll go through a short tutorial during the first boot. The top has through holes for the I/Os, and at first, they look to be arranged in an undulated way, but I had no problem inserting headers, so that’s just a visual effect. The hole on the top right is likely use to add a necklace, although you could use it as a huge keyring too 🙂

PocketCHIP_PencilThe two holes on each side on the bottom can be used to keep the display straight with the left hole for pens (I also use an old USB WiFi dongle with antenna), and the right hole for pencils. I also ended up using mine as the stylus for the screen.

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The back of the device has a clear cover revealing CHIP board and the battery (11.1Wh @ 3.7V). You can completely disassemble the unit if you want, but I only pulled out the board with my little green tool. You can watch the video review at the end of this review in case you are unsure how to do.

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The top of the board has the USB port, a 3.5mm audio jack, a micro USB port, a battery connector, a 4GB NAND flash, Realtek RTL8723BS WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE module, AXP209 PMIC, and the expansion headers. The power button is located on the top left. Note that if you want to output to HDMI you’ll need to purchase an extra HDMI adapter. You may also have to reflash the board with a different firmware (TBC).

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The back of the board is protected with a plastic cover tightened with a single screw, and features Allwinner R8 Cortex A8 processor @ 1 GHz, as well as 512MB Samsung DDR3 memory.

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The CHIP board is sold for $9 + reasonable shipping, and should be about twice as fast as the original Raspberry Pi Model B board CPU wise. I wrote a comparison of ultra cheap boards’ features pitting CHIP with Raspberry Pi Zero and Orange Pi One if you want to find more details.

CHIP_Pin_MarkingsI also appreciate the markings written on the side of the headers, which makes life a little easier when wiring, as you don’t need to consult the pinout diagram.

What can you do with PocketC.H.I.P?

So after going through the hardware, I’ll show some of the things you do with the pre-installed firmware. Let’s get started by pressing the power button for one or two seconds. The boot will take a little less than one minute during which you’ll be shown several boot logos, and eventually you’ll be greeted by a short tutorial.

PocketCHIP_Tour

Screen resolution: 480×272

SunVox_Music_PocketCHIP_Tour

You can browse the tour with the left and right arrow key, it’s simply explains you can use the touchscheen with your fingers or a stylus, and the various tings you can do such as playing games, making music. Once we are done with the tour, we get into the main menu with four icons: Terminal, PICO-8 games, Make Music (SunVox), Get Help, Write, and Browse Files.

PocketCHIP_Main_Menu

There are also four icons on the edges of the screen showing battery life and WiFi connectivity, setup and power options.PocketCHIP_Settings

Let’s go inside the setup options since it’s one of the first things you’ll want to do if you plan to access the Internet, as this is where you can connect to your WiFi router, and I had no problem doing so, but note that only 2.4 GHz WiFi is supported, and 5GHz access points won’t be shown. You can also adjust brightness and volume for the audio jack, since there aren’t any speakers.

If you wonder how I took the screenshot for this review, I ran the following command in the terminal which gives me five second to go to what ever menu:

but eventually I did so in an SSH sessions with:

…and found the pictures inside ~/Pictures directory despite the following error showing each time as gnome is not install:

The company latter told me they used “xfce4-screenshooter” for their screenshots, so it should be a better option.

Anyway, time to play with the command line:

PocketCHIP_Terminal

Some command to see system info first:

So the device runs Debian 8 with recent Linux kernel (4.3), the rootfs partition is 3.6GB with 3.0GB free (after installing a few apps), there’s 496MB RAM available to Linux, and the processor is indeed a single core Cortex A8 processor made by Allwinner.

Linux 4.6 will start to support lsgpio to list all GPIOs, but in the meantime, we can still check this with sysfs:

With Linux 3.4 legacy kernel, all the GPIOs would show after loading gpio-sunxi module, but since we are using a more recent kernel, the instructions have changed, and you need to export the GPIOs you want to use as explained on linux-sunxi wiki.

The other good news is that apt is working fine, so you install most of the program that work on Debian. One of the first thing I did was to install openssh-server, because while typing on the device might be fun, it’s also slow, so I found it more convenient to access it via an SSH session from my main computer with the username / password combination being both “chip” (without quotes). I also found instructions to install doom on Adafruit, so I tried it:

It worked flawlessly, and I tried the game by simply typing doom,… and success!

PocketCHIP_doomYou’ll need to connect headphone or speaker to get audio, and playing the game with the keyboard is not that easy as beside the WASD keys, you also need to the left and right keys placed just above. So it might be better to connect a USB keyboard to the USB port of CHIP board, or re-assign the keys if possible. Apart from that, the games runs perfectly smoothly.

Let’s go back to the main menu to try PICO-8 retro games, and again you’ll go through a short tour explaining how to use the app to play or edit games with your own sprites.

PICO-8_Tour

PICO-8_Tour_CelesteAfter the tour, you’ll be presented by a selection of 4 “favorites” games: Celeste, Frog Home, Hug Arena, and Tower of Archeos, but you have access to many others games too. I tried Celeste, and no problem, except I need to practice more 🙂PICO-8_CelesteThe option to “edit this cart” will bring you to the games code, which you can edit as your wish.

PICO-8_Game_CodeThere’s also PICO-8 terminal to perform various actions such as loading files,  creating directories, and so on.

Next up the Make Music app (SunVox) will also take you through a tour first.

SunVox_Tour

After connecting headphone or speaker, you’ll be able to compose and play music on a MIDI keyboard.PocketCHIP_Sunvox

The application definitely requires a stylus – a pencil will do – especially the top menu options, and even kids’ fingers will be too big.Sunvox_Menu

The four icon in the main menu starts an help section with a scrolling bar. So much to say about this one.PocketCHIP_Help

The “Write” icon is a text edit, which turns out to be Leafpad 0.8.0.1. It could be your text editor to write Python or other languages programs, before running them in the command line.PocketCHIP_Leafpad

Finally the File Browser is the commonly used PCManFM 1.2.3, and allows to copy, delete, move, or create files or directories.

PocketCHIP_File_Manager

So I’ve gone through all options provided on the pre-loaded firmware, so it’s time to turn it off. You can click on the bottom right corner to select Shutdown, Sleep, or Reboot options, as well as “Flash firmware” to reboot into software flashing mode. You can then follow the firmware flashing instructions @ http://pcflash.getchip.com (Chrome browser required).PocketCHIP_Shutdown_OptionsIf you prefer a video review, and I’ve embedded mine below. I checkout the hardware until 3:05, before starting the device, and showing it action.

So overall, PocketC.H.I.P is a fun device to use, and should be particularly interesting for kids, as they can play games, compose music, and learn about Linux, programming and/or hardware hacking with this inexpensive all-in-one device. PocketC.H.I.P is currently available for pre-order for $49 + shipping for a limited time, after which it will sell for $69.

Forlinx i.MX6UL Linux Single Board Computer Supports ESAM Embedded Security Control Module

June 23rd, 2016 3 comments

Forlinx Embedded has introduced i.MX6UL single board computer (SBC) based on NXP i.MX 6Ultralite Cortex A7 processor with 512 MB RAM, 8GB storage, that includes two Ethernet interface, an LCD interface, a CAN bus, as well as ESAM (Embedded System Access Module) support via either a SIM card like slot, or a 8-pin DIP chip compatible with ISO7816 standard, and typically used in the financial, telecommunications, transportation sectors for authentication and secure data transfer.

Forlinx_iMX6UL_SBCForlinx I.MX6UL board specifications:

  • System-on-module:
    • SoC – NXP i.MX 6Ultralite ARM Cortex A7 processor @ up to 528 MHz with 2D graphics GPU
    • System Memory – 512 MB LvDDR3 memory
    • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (but hardware manual says 1GB eMMC flash, but also mentioned MTFC8GACAAAM-1M WT so it must 8GB after all…)
    • 2x 80-pin board to board connectors with signals for 2x CAN bus, 2x USB device, 2x SDIO, 2x 10/100M Ethernet, 24-bit RGB, 4x I2C, 3x “AUDIO” (I2S?), 4x SPI, 1x QSPI, 8x UART/irDA, JTAG, 8x PWM, parallel camera I/F, 10-ch ADC, 1x S/PDIF, 8×8 keypad ports, and 2x ISO7816-3 interface (for ESAM)
    • Voltage – 5V
    • Dimension – 50 x 40 mm
  • iMX6UL baseboard
    • Storage – SD card slot
    • Connectivity – 2x 10/100M Ethernet (RJ45), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth (Realtek RTL8723BU) with two SMA antenna connectors
    • Audio – 3.5mm earphone jack, 3.5 microphone jack, 2x speaker headers, on-board microphone
    • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
    • Display – 24-bit RGB LCD header
    • Camera – Header with CSI signals
    • Expansion
      • I2c header, UART1, 2 & 3 headers
      • SDIO header
      • PWM for LCD backlight
      • 4x ADC for resistive touch
    • Debugging – JTAG header, DB9 console header
    • Misc – 4x LEDs, power button, boot configuration jumpers, reset button, RTC and battery
    • Security – ESAM sim card holder or 8-pin DIP chip.
    • Power Supply – 5V
    • Dimensions – 190 x 130 mm

The board runs Linux 3.14.38 with Qt, and is also said to support 3G via ZTE MD210 USB dongle, and GPS via one of the serial ports. Since the product page documentation is rather poor, as even the specs are clearly incomplete (e.g. no mention of ESAM), I asked more information to the company, and they provide both hardware manual and Linux user guide, both of which are in English. Sadly, even the information in those document is incomplete, as for example there are not details about software configuration for ESAM and GPS. Once of the document recommends to access more documentation on WITECH BBS, but it appears to be only in Chinese.

The board and module were launched in March, so they should be shipping now. Pricing is not available publicly.

WeTek Hub TV Box Unboxing and Teardown

June 21st, 2016 15 comments

WeTek Hub is the latest TV box by WeTek running Android 5.1 or OpenELEC, with support for Widewine Level 1 allowing Netflix HD in Android as well as Microsoft Playready DRM, and featuring Amlogic S905-H Rev. C processor that fixes video playback issues on some 4K H.265 DVB streams, and includes Dolby and DTS licenses. The company has now sent me a unit for review, and I’ll check the hardware first before reviewing the TV box in a separate post.

WeTek Hub Unboxing

The device comes in a blue and black retail package showing some of the key features including  WiFi, Dolby, DTS, HDMI, and Bluetooth support.

WeTek_Hub_PackageThe QR Code on the package redirects to http://www.wetek.com/qr/201603, which just looks like WeTek main page. The top cover of the package can slide to reveal more small boxes with the device and accessories.
WeTek_Hub_Packages

The device ships with a basic IR remote control taking two AAA batteries, a 5V/2A with US, UK, and EU plug adapters, an HDMI cable, an IR extension cable with 3M sticker, a 3.5mm jack to serial cable for developers or debugging your device, a WiFi antenna, as well as a user manual including an “emergency” clip to re-flash the firmware if needed.

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The tiny device has the antenna connector, micro SD slot, UART and IR extension hacks, as well as a USB port on one side, and the DC jack, Gigabit Ethernet and an HDMI 2.0 port on the rear.

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WeTek Hub is really a small device, and to show just how small it is I took a photo with a Raspberry Pi 2 board. The IR extension cable would also allow you to completely hide the device in your cabinet.

WeTek_Hub_Vs_Raspberry_Pi

WeTek Hub Teardown

The bottom of the case has a sticker with a MAC Address starting with E8:18:63:50, which looks up to WeTek Electronics Ltd, as well as a hole giving access to a yellow button for firmware recovery, among plenty of smaller ventilation holes.

WeTek_Hub_Mac_Address

I had to take out the rubber feet, and loosen four screws to access the bottom of the board with the micro SD card slot, and a 8GB Samsung KLM8G1WEPD-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash with 130 MB/s read speed, 7 MB/s write speed, and  5000/600 random R/W IOPS.

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The board is then fairly easy to lift, and we can see the company used an heatsink with thermal paste on the Amlogic processor and two RAM chips (1GB in total), with the heatsink then in contact with a thermal pad glued to a metal plate on top of the case.  Hopefully, this thermal design will be good enough to keep the performance at a good level even under high loads.

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A close on the board shows AP6335 module has been used for 802.11ac WiFi (433 Mbps) and Bluetooth 4.0, and Realtek RTL8211F + Pulse H5009NL for Gigabit Ethernet.

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The board is called WeTek Cube VL1, so maybe the company had the idea to launch a cube instead in the earlier stage of development, before deciding on a smaller form factor. You’ll also notice an IR receiver is soldered on the board, so you don’t have to use the IR extension cable if you don’t want to.

That’s all for today. The full review may take a while, as I have received several devices in a short time frame. WeTek Hub can be pre-ordered WeTek Hub, with shipping scheduled for July.

ARMv8 64-bit Processors To Replace Intel Xeon and SPARC64 Processors in Some Supercomputers

June 21st, 2016 5 comments

There’s been some news recently about Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer which nows top the list of the 500 fastest super computers with 93 PFLOPS achieved with Linpack, and is comprised of 40,960 Sunway SW26010 260 core “ShenWei” processors designed in China. But another interesting development is that ARMv8 are also slowly coming to supercomputers, starting with TianHe-2 super computer which is currently using Intel Xeon & Xeon Phi processors and second in the list, but according to a report on Vrworld, the US government decided to block US companies’ sales (i.e. Intel and AMD) to China as they were not at the top anymore, and also blocked Chinese investments into Intel and AMD, so the Chinese government decided to do it on their own, and are currently adding Phytium Mars 64-core 64-bit ARM processors to expand TianHe-2 processing power. Once the upgrade is complete Tianhe-2 should have 32,000 Xeons (as currently), 32,000 ShenWei processor, and 96,000 Phytium accelerator cards delivering up to 300 PFLOPS.

Japan K-Computer with Sparc 64 Processor

Japan K-Computer with SPARC64 Processors

One other report on The Register explains that the next generation of K-Computer, currently using Fujitsu SPARC64 processor, will instead feature Fujitsu ARMv8 processors in Post-K super computer in 2020 delivering up to 1000 PFLOPS (or 1 Exa FLOPS).  Details are sparse right now, but we do know Fujissu “has optimized the processor’s design to accelerate math, and squeeze the most of the die caches, hardware prefetcher and its Tofu interconnect”.

Post-K_ARM_Supercomputer

More details will likely be offered during “Towards Extreme-Scale Weather/Climate Simulation: The Post K Supercomputer & Our Challenges” presentation at ISC 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany later today.

Thanks to Sanders and Nicolas.

Categories: Linux, Processors Tags: arm, armv8, Linux, server

Partaker B4 Intel Celeron N3150 Barebone mini PC Sells for $131

June 20th, 2016 2 comments

This week-end I received Vorke V1 mini PC powered by Intel Celeron J3160 processor, and with upgradable memory, storage and WiFi as explaining in the first part of the review, and with a $160 price tag after coupon I found it to be pretty good value (Normal price is $200). But still, one person commented that it was too expensive, while another mentioned that some people may prefer to buy extra components such as SO-DIMM RAM, mSATA SSD, and wireless modules locally in order to benefit from a local warranty. So I went on aliexpress to find barebone mini PCs based on Intel Celeron J3160 processor, and I had no luck probably because the processor is relatively recent, so I refocused my search on Intel Celeron N3150 processor which has roughly the same performance, and the one of the cheapest options I could find was Partaker B4 mini PC selling for $131.49 in barebone configure with shipping by DHL.

Partaker_B4Inctel Partaker B4 barebone specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3150 quad core processor @ 1.6/2.08 GHz with Intel HD graphics GPU @ 320/640MHz – 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 1x (or 2x?) SO-DIMM slot for up to 8GB RAM
  • Storage – 1x mSATA 3.0 connector for SSD. 1x SATA 3.0 connector for HDD
  • Video Output – HDMI and VGA
  • Audio Output – HDMI, 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks; ALC662 chip
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (150 Mbps) with two external WiFi antennas.
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 4x USB 3.0 ports
  • Misc – Power button & LED
  • Power Supply – 12V/3A to 6A
  • Dimensions – 16 x 12 x 4 cm
  • Weight – 2.5 kg ???

Partaker_B4_4x_USB_3.0_mini_PCThe system is said to be fanless. Sadly Inctel, the company behind the product, did not feel it necessary to post image of the motherboard in Aliexpress or the product page. I could only find the picture below on a Russian blog for the Core i3 version of Partaker B4.

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You’ll need to add your own storage and memory, as well as install your favorite operating system, to get a working system. The Aliexpress page have memory and storage options too, and if you add 4GB RAM and 64GB SSD, the price becomes $193.64, or quite close to the standard price for Vorke V1, minus an 802.11ac module and a Windows 10 license, but with more USB 3.0 ports. I have tried to find sellers of Partaker B4 mini PC with China post airmail to get a cheaper price, but all seem to be using DHL or Fedex.

BusyBotNet is a Fork of Busybox with Security Tools

June 20th, 2016 1 comment

Busybox provides a lightweight version of common command line utilities normally found on “big” Linux into a single binary, in order to bring them to embedded systems with limited memory and storage. As more and more embedded systems are now connected to the Internet, or as they are called nowadays the Internet of Things nodes, adding security tools, such as cryptographic utilities, could prove useful for administrators of such system, and so BusyBotNet project wsa born out of a fork of Busybox.

BusyBotNetSome of the tools implemented include:

  • fenc to encrypt stuff with salsa algo
  • tsh. needs work, backdoor shell aes enc
  • rathole backdoor shell, blowfish enc
  • ssyn2 ddos tool
  • sudp udp ddos tool
  • jshon sh wrapper for json
  • hydra
  • prism userspace icmp triggered reverse shell backdoor

You can access the source code and instructions on busyboxnet github repo.

I’ve quickly tried it in my AMD x86 computer running Ubuntu 14.04 using BusyBotNet default settings:

You could run make menuconfig to add or remove the tools as needed.

The resulting binary was 3.1MB large, and compiled with the defined functions:

The promised tools are indeed installed:

Loading this version of busybox in shipping products could seriously backfire if your device is hacked, so I guess some of the tools would have to be disabled, or/and  only be used for internal testing.

Via n0where

Categories: Linux, Testing Tags: busybox, IoT, Linux, open source, security