Posts Tagged ‘ubuntu’

Ubuntu 16.10 Images Released for Intel Bay Trail and Cherry Trail Processors

October 14th, 2016 15 comments

Canonical formally released Ubuntu 16.10 “Yakkety Yak” yesterday with  a developer preview of Unity 8 including desktop, tablet and phone UX convergence, Hybrid cloud operations with Juju 2.0, Snapd 2.16 with more than 500 snaps, etc..  Ian Morrison (Linuxium) wasted no time, and put together a Ubuntu 16.10 image working on platforms powered by Intel Bay Trail and Cherry Trail processor with modifications to have audio, WiFi and Bluetooth working.


If you want to try Ubuntu 16.04 on your device you can download ubuntu-16.10-desktop-linuxium.iso and prepare a bootable USB flash the usual way with rufus, or other utilities. If you’d like to try an alternative  Ubuntu flavor such as Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, or Ubuntu MATE, Linuxium got you served too, and you’ll find the images on his blog.

Unity 7 is still running by default in Ubuntu 16.04, but if you are curious about Unity 8 convergence desktop/tablet/phone user interface, Canonical uploaded a video showing what you can expect.

You’ll also find more info about Unity 8’s window management, scopes, multimedia scopes, snappy apps and more on Ubuntu Insights.

How to check HTTP Header and Connection Stats from the Command Line

October 3rd, 2016 1 comment

A few days ago, I discussed with somebody whether a file was cached by Cloudflare or not, and this involved getting the HTTP header, and checking for CF-RAY field to see if data is going through one of Cloudflare data centers. This can be done with curl:

In the command above, -s stands for silent so that curl does not show the progress meter, -v stands for verbose to show the header, and -o /dev/null is used to discard the packet load.

You can also use -I option (fetch the HTTP-header only) with curl, which – if all you need is the HTTP header – provides a cleaner output:

I also came across httpstat Python script recently via n0where, doing much of the same thing, except it also adds transfer statistics.
It can be installed by downloading, or better using pip:

Let’s try it with this very blog:

The header is the same as with Curl -I, and for good reason, since httpstat relies on curl, and all curl options (except for -w, -D, -o, -s, -S) can be used with the command line. This script can be useful if you are trying to benchmark and lower TTFB (Time To First Byte), or decrease overall download times from your server.


Gumstix Nodana 96BCE 96Boards Compatible Baseboard Takes Intel Joule Module

October 3rd, 2016 1 comment

96Boards is an initiative from Linaro, an engineering organization focusing on ARM development, to define some hardware and software specifications for development boards. But since 96Boards specifications are open, Gumstix decided to create the first x86 board compliant with 96Boards CE hardware specifications with Nodana 96BCE baseboard powered by Intel Joule Module. For obvious reasons, this will never be an officially supported platform.

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Nodana 96BCE board specifications:

  • SoM – Intel Joule Module based on Intel Atom T5700 or T5500 processor with up to 16GB storage, 4GB RAM.
  • External Storage – 1x micro SD card
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI port
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 3.0 type C port
  • Expansion Headers
    • 96Boards Low Speed connector with I2C, SPI and UART
    • 96Board High Speed connector with MIPI DSI and USB 2.0
  • Power Supply – 8 to 18 V (if it follows 96Boards CE specs)
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm

Gumstix has not provided details about software support yet, but Intel Joule modules support Ostro OS, Ubuntu/Ubuntu Core (Snappy), and  Microsoft Windows 10 IoT Core.

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Nodana 96BCE board will sell for $89 without Intel Joule module, for which the price has not been officially released, but for reference Intel Joule development kit sells for $370. Gumstix is also working on Radium 96BIE 96Boards IoT Edition board for Intel Curie module, that will go on sale for $75 again without Intel’s module. It’s unclear to me how x86 boards may really benefit from 96Boards form factor, since they can’t leverage software work made by Linaro, and the only advantage would be support for the few Mezzanine expansion boards available right now. We’ll have to see how this will all evolve.

Via HackerBoards

Review of Allo Vana Player Linux HiFi Audio System with Max2Play, SqueezeBox and Kodi

October 2nd, 2016 9 comments

Last month I showcased what I called “Allo Sparky Audio Kit” with a DAC board (Piano), an amplifier board (Volt), and usually hard to find  reclocker and capacitance multiplier boards (Kali & CM), all connected to Allo Sparky ARM Linux development board powered by Actions Semi S500 quad core Cortex A9 processor, and running Ubuntu 12.04. In the first post, I just described the boards, and showed how to assemble the kit, but now that I have received the user’s manual, it turns out the kit is actually called “Vana Player” and the provided Ubuntu firmware image runs Max2Play Browser based system that’s also available for Raspberry Pi and ODROID boards.

Before starting the kit, you’ll need to connect speakers to Piano DAC board and/or Kali board, as well as a 19.5V power source such as a laptop power supply to connect to the CM board. I connected some USB powered speakers to the headphone jack of Piano board, and one 5 ohm speaker to Volt amplifier board which I had left from a speaker set. You’d normally want to use two speakers for the Volt board, but that will do for testing. I tried four different laptop power supplies, but none of the jack would fit, so finally I change the plug from a Sony Laptop power power supply. Finally I connected an Ethernet cable, and a USB hard drive.

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The user manual recommends to connect the 5V power supply provided with the kit, before turning on the 19V power source, and do the reverse while powering it off (turn 19V off first, then 5V). If your kit includes Kali reclocker board, it’s also very important not to connect 5V to Sparky board, but only to Kali board.

Now that the board is started you can find the IP address with an IP scanner software or your router DHCP list. In my router, the kit is detected as pcm5122:

pcm5122 00-17-F7-01-00-FD 00:57:43

While running arp-scan in my Ubuntu computer looks up the manufacturer (CEM Solutions Pvt) from the MAC address suffix (00:17:f7):

Now that we have the IP address, let’s open a web browser and access Max2Play web interface.

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It’s telling me an update is available, so I went to Settings / Reboot tab, and successfully upgraded it from version 1.0 to version 2.36.

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Two players are installed: Squeezelite working with Logitech Media Server (now Squeezebox Server) and Shairport for Airplay support, with both players set to auto start. You can access the settings for each in Audioplayer tab in the web interface.

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I have not changed anything but you can disable autostart, set advanced options, and enable/disable the Graphics Equalizer.

SqueezeLite will communicate with SqueezeBox Server, which can be configure in the tab of the same name.

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You can also install plugins in that menu such as ShairTunes / ShairTunes2 (Airplay), and Google Music. But again, I have not changed anything in that section.

Vana Player is also powerful enough to act as a video player when connected to a TV via its HDMI port, so you can enjoy both high quality audio and video. That’s what the Kodi/XBMC tab is for, as it will allow you to configure Kodi, for example to decide whether you want to start it automatically.

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This can also work as a headless Kodi installation using Kore Android app, but I’ll get into more details a little later.

The most important part of the interface at first is the Filesystem Mount tab, where you’ll be able to mount network shares (NFS/SAMBA) on other devices, or your USB storage partitions, as well as use Vana Player as a SAMBA server. If you copied your file on the SD card, you don’t need to do anything here.

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Three out of four partitions of my USB hard drive are detected, the only exception being the BTRFS partition, however none of them would mount from the web interface. I could however mount them manually using ssh (username/password: pi/pi):

So I set “Set fixed Mountpoint to prevent directory switching on reboot” and clicked “Save”, but the  “resolve host pcm5122” error still caused  the web interface to believe mounting did not work:

sudo: unable to resolve host pcm5122 [mntent]: line 3 in /etc/fstab is bad [mntent]: line 5 in /etc/fstab is bad [mntent]: line 7 in /etc/fstab is bad [mntent]: line 9 in /etc/fstab is bad [mntent]: line 11 in /etc/fstab is bad; rest of file ignored
Mountpoint NOT added! Please refer to the description below!

So restarted the board, and the NTFS partition was mounted automatically. Restarting the board is not straightforward however, as the Reboot option in “Settings / Reboot” never worked for me. It does restart the board, but never fully boots it. So I turned off 19V power, turned off 5V power, and then back on 5V, and 19V to be able to boot successfully. Maybe some programmable power strip would be useful here.

vana-player-usb-drive-samba-shareI also created “vanaplayer” SAMBA share, and could access from my Ubuntu computer after settings a password for the SAMBA share for user “root” (fixed username).


Finally, you can configure networking for Ethernet or WiFi in WiFi / LAN tab. However, the first time you’ll need to connect Ethernet even if you want to use WiFi through an USB WiFi dongle.

So now we should be ready to play some audio files. To do so, go to SqueezeBox Server tab, and click on “Open Squeezebox Server Webadministration” button, which should open a new video with “Logitech Media Server” (LMS).

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If you are using external USB or network storage for your music, you’ll want to click on Settings on the bottom right corner in order to add your Media Folders, in my case /media/usb1/Music/music, and optionally edit the playlist folder.

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Click on Apply and Close, and then you’ll be able to able play your music, add files to the playlist, and adjust the volume and other settings such as repeat and shuffle from the web interface.

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Audio plays via speakers connected to both Piano DAC board and VOLT amplifier, and the audio quality seemed pretty good considering the speakers I used. I also set the volume in LMS to the maximum, but it was not that loud. Maybe there’s another way to increase the volume, but I did not find it. I also played a FLAC audio file (24-bit/192 KHz) successfully.

Another source of audio can be found in the Radio part of LMS, I managed to do so easily, although one of the radio stations would not start at all. Probably a network issue, as others worked just fine.

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Vana player manual also mention the use of Qobuz plugin, but I did not try since it requires subscription.

The final way to play music using LMS is DLNA/UPnP, and I could confirm the UPnP/DLNA plugin was installed and running on port 5000:

However, for whatever reason, BubbleUPnP nor AirWire apps were able to locate PCM5122 as the media renderer.


I’ll update the post if I manage to make it work.

An another way to use Vana Player is via Kodi Media Center. You’ll need to connect an HDMI display to Sparky board, login using pi / pi credentials, and start Kodi via Max2Play interface. SqueezeLite and Shairport will be stopped, and only restart (if set to autostart) once Kodi is stopped.

If you want to control the player remotely, you’ll need to install Kore app on your smartphone. I started Kodi by going to Max2Ply Interface, selecting Kodi/XBMC tab, and clicking on Start Kodi(video), which will start Kodi 15.0 Isengard on the device.

Now to enable smartphone remote control support, enable Settings → Services → Remote control → Allow programs on other systems to control Kodi and Settings → Services → Webserver → Allow control of Kodi via HTTP to ON to allow you smartphone to send data such as images and summaries to Kodi. Both options were actually already enabled in my system, but I got the error message “remote communication server failed to start” in Kodi, until I manually stopped SqueezeBox Server in Max2Play web interface.The rest of the instructions should work with any other system running Kodi.

Now we can start Kore app, click Next, auto detection will fail, click Next again to setup manual configuration with the IP address and default Kodi settings as shown below.

kodi-kore-remote-controlThen we can go to Files to access the video inside Vana Player and start playing them. Once the video is started it does not rely on the smartphone, except if you want to use Kore remote control to stop the video, fast forward, adjust the volume and so on.

Another way to use Kodi Media Server capabilities is to use a UPnP app such as AirWire or BubbleUPnP, and contrary to my experience with SqueezeBox Server, Kodi(pcm5122) media renderer was probably detected, and I could play a video located on my phone.

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A final way to use the system as explained in the user’s manual is to stream a YouTube video from your smartphone to Vana Player again using UPnP. To do so, start YouTube app, start playing a video, and share it to BubbleUPnP (AirWaire does not support this feature), which will ask to install additional files the first time.

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Once it is complete, you’ll be able to stream and control YouTube videos from your smartphone.

I suddenly had a problem while using UPnP apps however, as I lost all audio. I tried to reboot the system, and use SqueezeBox server, but I still did not have any audio. The screenshoot below shows I can run AlsaMixer and atm7059_link audio card is detected.

alsamixerHowever, if I go to Sound Settings in Ubuntu 12.04, there’s no Output device at all, and Kodi complains /dev/mixer is missing. All boards seem to be OK based on the LEDs, so it must be a software issue, but I have not found a solution yet.

So overall Vana Player is an interesting audio device, but software can be confusing at time, and not always work as expected. I’ve also noted that the network interface may take a long time to be brought up, and sometimes I have restart the device manually to make it work. Some explanation about the many LEDs on the board could be useful to debug potential issue without having to connect the device to a monitor or TV.

Allo website has been updated, and you can now buy all boards on Sparky page. My kit includes Sparky board ($37), Piano DAC board ($27), Piano 2.1 DAC board ($49), VOLT amplifier board ($27), Kali reclocker board ($69),  CM board ($15), and some accessories, but you can also directly buy Vana Player kit for $169, as well as other bundles. If you own a Raspberry Pi 2/3 board, the audio add-on boards should also be compatible.

FriendlyARM Introduces NanoPi NEO AIR Board with WiFi & BLE, Camera Interface and 8GB Storage for $17.99

September 28th, 2016 31 comments

FriendlyARM launched NanoPi NEO board with Allwinner H3 processor, Ethernet, and USB ports for $7.99 to $9.99 in July, and the company is back with a new board with the same form factor and processor, by trading Ethernet for WiFi, dropping one USB 2.0 port for a DVP camera interface, and adding an 8GB eMMC flash.

nanopi-neo-airNanoPi NEO AIR specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.2 GHz with an ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU up to 600 MHz
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC Flash (Samsung) + micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 LE (via Ampak AP6212 module) with IPEX antenna connector
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port, 2x USB via headers
  • Camera – 1x DVP camera interface with optional 5MP CAM500B camera
  • Expansion headers
    • 24-pin header with I2C, 2x UART, SPI, PWM, and power signals
    • 12-pin header with 2x USB, IR pin, SPDIF, and I2S
  • Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console (unpopulated)
  • Misc – Power and status LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port or VDD pin on serial header
  • Dimensions – 40 x 40 mm
  • Weight – 7.5 grams without headers; 9.7 grams with headers

The company provides an Ubuntu Core + Qt firmware image, which will most likely be pre-loaded in the eMMC flash on the board when shipping. More details about hardware and software can be found on the Wiki (English translation in progress).

nanopi-neo-air-cameraAs mentioned in the specifications, FriendlyARM will also offer an optional 5 megapixel “CAM500B” camera board that can be connected to the DVP interface of the board. The Wiki shows instructions to stream the video to a web page using mjpg-streamer.

armbian has also been working on supporting the board, but I’m unclear about the status right now. I’m sure you’ll soon find out by reading the comments’ section of this post.

NanoPi NEO AIR can be purchased for $17.99 with 3 headers, but you may consider adding the heatsink for $2.97, and a 3dB WiFi antenna for $3.99. I could not find CAM500B camera module, but for reference CAM500A camera module (possibly not compatible) is sold for $19.99.

Orange Pi Zero and Orange Pi i96 96Boards IoT Edition Boards Coming Soon

September 27th, 2016 17 comments

Shenzhen Xunlong Orange Pi boards are relatively popular thanks to their low price, and support on communities such as Armbian, but two new upcoming Orange Pi boards might make the company even more relevant in the development board space. First, the company is nearing completion of the tiny, and hopefully ultra cheap, Orange Pi Zero board with Allwinner H2+ processor, and Linaro has announced that an Orange Pi i96 boards compliant with 96Board IoT specifications is also coming soon.

Orange Pi Zero

The board has not been released, but some pictures have been uploaded to Armbian forums.


Orange Pi Zero looks quite similar to NanoPi NEO board but with different processor, a slightly larger form factor, and both Ethernet and wireless connectivity. We don;t have other information for now, but it still possible to get most of Orange Pi Zero specifications from the photos:

  • SoC – Allwinner H2(+) quad core Cortex A7 processor with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3-1866 (Samsung K4B2G1646F-BFMA)
  • Storage – micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet + wireless connectivity with u.FL antenna connector (likely WiFi)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion headers – 26-pin header +13-pin header
  • Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console
  • Misc – 2x LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or 5V pin on 4-pin header (TBC)
  • Dimensions – 46 x 46 mm (TBC); NanoPi NEO size: 40mm x 40mm)

allwinner-h2-plus-boardThat’s all we know at this time. Orange Pi Zero was previously touted as a $5.90 board (shipping not included), but I’d be really surprised if they could sell it that cheap considering there’s both Ethernet and WiFi (or another wireless interface) on-board.

Orange Pi i96

Shenzhen Xunlong is very good at making – in my experience reliable – hardware at a cheap price, but if you’ve ever tried one of their firmware images, you may have come across issues, which is why communities like Linux-sunxi and armbian are so important for software support. 96Boards platforms are supposed to have one of the best and up-to-date software support, as Linaro have some engineers working full time on the project, however in a world of $35 or less development boards, the price of 96Boards compliant development boards even below $100 has not been competitive enough or the new standard to take-off.

So I’m hopeful that Orange Pi i96 board will bring the best of both world, with a low price associated with Orange Pi boards, and software support and documentation from Linaro/96Boards.

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Source – Linaro Connect US 2016 Welcome Keynote (via Nanik) – Click to Enlarge

The board won’t be based on any Allwinner processors however, but instead feature an RDA Micro Cortex-A5 processor (possibly RDA8810PL) with 2Gbit (256 MB) on-chip RAM, 4Gbit (512 MB) on-chip NAND flash, a micro SD card, two USB 2.0 ports, a CSI camera connector, and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity. The board will run Ubuntu, and like the recently announced BLE Carbon will be compliant with 96Boards IoT Edition “standard” specs, except it will use “Cortex-A profile and 1.8V I/Os” variation of the standard. The price will be less than $10 🙂

Parrot S.L.A.M Dunk is a Ubuntu & ROS Computer with 3D Depth Cameras for Drones & Robots

September 26th, 2016 No comments

Parrot and Canonical have partnered to develop the Parrot S.L.A.M.dunk development kit for the design of applications for autonomous navigation, obstacle avoidance, indoor navigation and 3D mapping for drones and robots, and running both Ubuntu 14.04 and ROS operating systems. The name of the kit is derived from its “Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm” (S.L.A.M) allowing for location without GPS signal.


Parrot S.L.A.M Dunk preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor
  • Camera – Fish-eye stereo camera with a 1500×1500 resolution at 60fps
  • Sensors – Inertial-measurement unit (IMU), ultrasound sensor up to 15 meters range, magnetometer, barometer
  • Video Output – micro HDMI
  • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0/2.0 port
  • Weight – 140 grams

Parrot S.L.A.M dunk can be fitted various drones and robotic platforms such as quadcopters and fixed-wings, rolling robots and articulated arms using mounting kits. The computer module is then connected to the host platform via a 3.5mm jack cable and a USB cable in order to send and receive commands and data.

parrot-slam-dunk-drone-3d-depthThis morning I wrote about SoftKinetic 3D sensing camera based on time-of-flight technology, but Parrot S.L.A.M Dunk is based on more commonly used stereo vision cameras. The micro HDMI allows developers to connect the computer to a monitor in order to develop their application for Ubuntu and ROS.

Parrot S.L.A.M Dunk will be available in Q4 2016 at an undisclosed price. More information should eventually be found in Parrot Developer website.

Marvell ESPRESSOBin Board with Gigabit Ethernet, SATA, mini PCIe, and USB 3.0 To Launch for $39 and Up (Crowdfunding)

September 23rd, 2016 40 comments

I can often read people hoping for an inexpensive community board for network, storage and connectivity applications with high speed interface like SATA, multiple Gigabit Ethernet port, USB 3.0 and/or mini PCIe, and that’s exactly what Globalscale Technologies is about to offer with their Marvell ARMADA 3700 based ESPRESSOBin development board to go for $39 and up via Kickstarter.

espressobinMarvell ESPRESSOBin board specifications:

  • SoC – Marvell Armada 3700LP (88F3720) dual core ARM Cortex A53 processor up to 1.2GHz
  • System Memory – 512MB DDR3 or optional 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 1x SATA interface, 1x micro SD card slot with footprint for an optional 4GB EMMC
  • Network Connectivity
    • 1x Topaz Networking Switch
    • 2x GbE Ethernet LAN
    • 1x  Ethernet WAN
    • 1x MiniPCIe slot for Wireless/BLE periphereals
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x micro USB port
  • Expansion – 2x 46-pin GPIO headers for accessories and shields with I2C, GPIOs, PWM, UART, SPI, MMC, etc…
  • Misc – Reset button, JTAG interface
  • Power Supply – 12V DC jack or 5V via micro USB port
  • Power Consumption – Less than 1W thermal dissipation at 1 GHz

Marvell ARMADA 3700 Block Diagram

The board will run mainline Linux & U-boot, and the company will release Ubuntu, ArchLinux ARM, Debian, and OpenWrt firmware, with support for the Yocto Project as well. Some documentation and source code can be found on the Wiki in Github.

Typical applications include NAS, video camera monitor, plex media server, IoT gateway with wireless module and/or dongle with Zigbee, Bluetooth, , Zwave…. The board was first showcased at Computex 2016.

ESPRESSOBin will be launched on Kickstarter in the next few days. Keep in mind that the page is still in draft mode, so information is subject to change, but based on the details currently available, they plan to raise at least $25,000, and a $39 early bird pledge will be asked for the first boards (with 512MB RAM), with the price going up to $49 after (with 1GB RAM). There’s also a model with a wireless module and 12V power supply for $69, and “cluster” rewards with multiple boards. Delivery is scheduled for December 2016 for early bird rewards, and February 2017 for others. If you are interested in the board, and want to make sure you don’t miss out on the early bird pledge, you can register to be notified when the project launched in the KS page.

Thanks to Ray for the tip.