Getting Started with Orange Pi PC, Pi 2 and Pi Plus Development Boards

I’ve recently received a kit based on Orange Pi mini 2 development board powered by Allwinner H3 quad core processor, but contrary to most other devices or boards I reviewed, this one what sent to me by one of my reader (thanks Jon!) as for various reasons he did not need to get it shipped to him. Today, I’ll start by showing off the kit I received, before writing a quick start guide showing how to install a Debian, and build your own Linux image. The instructions will work for all Orange Pi Allwinner H3 boards, including Orange Pi 2, Orange Pi Plus, and the recently launched Orange Pi PC, which has been rather popular thanks to its low $15 price tag.

Orange Pi mini 2 Board Kit and CSI Camera

This is what I got in the package…

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

The board with a regulatory compliance and safety information sheet, as well as a 5V/2A power supply, that was bought as part of a kit for $28.90 on Aliexpress. Bear in mind that although Orange Pi boards feature a micro USB OTG port, AFAIK none of them can be power via the micro USB connector, and instead you need to make you have a 5V power adapter with the right barrel size, meaning you can re-use your old smartphone’s charger like you would do with a Raspberry Pi. Shenzhen Xunlong normally offers various kits including power supply and/or acrylic case on their Aliexpress store.

I’ve taken the board out of its anti-static bag, and taken some close up pictures.

Click to Enlarge
Top of Orange Pi Mini 2 Board (Click to Enlarge)
Click to Enlarge
Bottom of Orange Pi Mini 2 Board (Click to Enlarge)

So my board does not include flash, nor a WiFi module (located on the top left corner on the top), which I’ll connect the board via Ethernet, and boot from a micro SD card.

Then I noticed a tiny plastic bag had fallen on my desk… oh!!! a camera…

Orange Pi Camera
Orange Pi Camera

The cable reads SH-2035-IPLAY, and it must the be the $5.90 camera sold on Aliexpress by Xunlong Software, Orange Pi board makers, although the picture differs a bit. So I looked for some documentation about the camera on Orange Pi website, and I found… nothing… Until I looked into the forums, and found somebody managed to make it work after many efforts, as the firmware images were not setup for the camera, and the driver was also missing. I initially intended to try out the camera in this getting started guide, but it will have to be a separate post.

Installing and Setting Up Linux

Orange Pi Allwinner H3 boards support both Android and Ubuntu, but most people buying such development board are likely to prefer running a Linux distribution, and I’ve already tested Android on Allwinner H3 when I reviewed Zidoo X1, so I decided to focus on Linux in this getting started guide. Orange Pi 2 boards and Zidoo X1 are pretty similar hardware platform, and I’ve already installed Orange Pi 2 Lubuntu 14.04 on Zidoo X1 downloaded from Orange Pi Downloads page, and vice versa, Zidoo X1 Android image has also been tested on Orange Pi 2. And in both cases the images run fine, although with some caveats such as WiFi not working with Linux on Zidoo X1.

However, I’ve been recommended to use Linux images released by Loboris forum member instead, so that’s what I’ve done, and among the various Ubuntu, Lubuntu, and Debian images available, I’ve decided to go with Debian 8 Jessie + XFCE image (OrangePI_Jessie_Xfce.img.xz), and you can download the images from Mega or Google Drive. Minimal images without desktop environment for headless operation are also available.

You’ll need a Linux or Windows PC, and a micro SD card to install the Linux image.

These are the steps I followed to install Debian on the micro SD card from a Ubuntu 14.04 computer:

  1. Install dependencies:
  2. Uncompress the firmware:
  3. Locate your micro SD card with lsblk (I used a 16GB Class 10 micro SD card):
  4. Flash the image with dd:

    Note: If you are using Windows, use Win32DiskImager to flash the image to the micro SD card instead of going through the first 4 steps shown above.
  5. Remove the micro SD card, and reinsert it again in your computer, it should automount two partitions in the SD card: linux and BOOT.orange_pi_boot_partition
  6. You’ll want to select the BOOT partitions, where you’ll find the kernel “uImage_OPI-2” for Orange Pi 2 and Pi PC boards, and “uImage_OPI-PLUS” for Orange Pi Plus boards. uImage in the partition was already uImage_OPi-2 for my board, but to be on the safe side, you can copy the kernel image to uImage. Finally, you’ll also need to select one of the scrip.bin file to match the board and resolution you wish to use. This is what I did in a terminal window for my Orange Pi mini 2 board, but you can also use the desktop to do so in Linux or Windows:
  7. Done! The micro SD card is now ready.

You can insert it into your board, and connect the power. After a few seconds you should start seeing the kernel log on the screen, and a little later the login screen.

Orange_PI_Debian_8_LoginType the  user name “orangepi” and the password “orangepi” to login. There’s still one last step to complete the setup. Open a terminal window:

  • If your board has an eMMC, you can install Linux to the internal flash with:

    Now power off the board, remove the micro SD card, and start again to run Linux.
  • If your board has no internal storage, as in my case, you’ll still want to resize the Linux partition to make full use of your SD card capacity with:


The installation is now complete, have fun! The whole process what quite straightforward thanks to clear instructions provided by Loboris.

Running Debian 8 on Orange Pi mini 2

I’ve quickly tested the image. Chromium is pre-installed, and the developer must be from Croatia, since Chromium will start by default. Web browsing is fine, but Adobe flash (libpepperflash) is not installed, Thai language is not supported, and Youtube videos are super slow and unwatchable in Chromium. Having said that, you can use SMPlayer to watch YouTube video perfectly fine… in windowed mode (as shown in the screenshot below), but if you go full screen the system can’t cope. I’ve also tried to play a 1080p H.264 video locally, but it won’t play smoothly at all.  es2gears (installed with apt-get install mesa-utils-extra) runs, but es2_info reports the render is the software rasterizer.

Debian 8 running in Orange Pi mini 2 (Click for Original Size)
Debian 8 running in Orange Pi mini 2 (Click for Original Size)

So the image does not support 2D/3D GPU acceleration nor hardware video decoding, but this was to be expected, and these two are usually time consuming to implement. If you need OpenGLES or hardware video decoding, you’ll need to use Android instead. The language issues and lack of Adobe flash support in Chromium should be easy to fix yourself by installing the needed software package such as libpepperflash. I had no problem accessing Internet using Ethernet, I just connected the cable and was good to go.

Here are some details about the image, as well as its memory and storage usage:

You’ll notice that the CPU frequency is set to 1.5GHz, instead of 1.2GHz in consumer devices like Zidoo X1, so if you plan to run the system at full speed for an extended period of time, e.g. to build the kernel, you may consider adding a heatsink and a fan to the board.

I’ve also connected a USB to TTL debug board to the 3-pin serial console header of the board, and captured the full boot log with minicom:

The boot time to the login window is about 45 seconds with my SD card.

Creating Your Own Linux Image for Orange Pi Allwinner H3 Boards

Loboris did not only provide binary images, but also the scripts to create a full image from scratch. It won’t build the Linux kernel from source however, but you can download the Linux SDK from Orange Pi website if you wish to customize the kernel or build your own drivers.

You can run the scripts to create an image in a Ubuntu or Debian computer, or even Orange Pi board itself.

First, download and extract make_linux.tar.gz from Mega, install some dependencies:

Now you’ll need to edit with you favorite editor:

I’ve only modified the first two sections of the file in order to build a minimal Ubuntu vivid image with CNXSoftPI as the hostname.

Let’s start the build:

It took less than 20 minutes on my machine. If you want to modify the rootfs, you can chroot in linux-vidid directory:

Finally, once you are done, you can create a Ubuntu vivid image with:

This will create <image_name>.img that you can dump to a micro SD card or explained in the first part of this post, as well as <image_name).img.xz that you can distribute.

If you want to go further you may want to checkout Orange Pi Wiki, and checkout what others have done so far on Orange Pi Forums.

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66 Replies to “Getting Started with Orange Pi PC, Pi 2 and Pi Plus Development Boards”

  1. @arete
    I don’t recommend using it as desktop, unless you don’t need to watch videos (offline or online), don’t need Adobe flash support, and don’t need to play 3D games. Adobe flash support can be installed for Chromium but it will be slow.

  2. @natsu
    I can’t find anything about OpenWRT, except that message:

    I’ve also read one guy plans to get Orange Pi PC to port OpenWRT to it, so there might be hope.

    For Android video playback, check Zidoo X1 review:, and the comments with the updated Kodi “ZDMC” apk ->, which fixes many of the issues I found in the review.

  3. It is a nice board, but you may want to use a USB hard disk or SSD with it (or go for the model that supports SATA. Alternately use some fast SD card.

    I have never used it for video playback; I don’t think the current kernel supports hardware acceleration.

  4. What kind of applications are best suited for the Orange Pi Flavors, vs boards like the BeagleBoneBlack (Green) or Banana / Raspberry Pi?

  5. On the smplayer test, it is not multithreaded, but VLC is. So mplayer will be stuck at 100pc on one core, but won’t use the second core. Try VLC you will see the difference…

  6. Could you test the IR? Is it supposed to work with any model of infrared remote control or is a particular one required?

  7. how is H3 board’s cpu performance? would love to see how much it can run computation wise with 1GB memory.
    I ordered one and is waiting to experience that, thanks for the post!

  8. @xxiao
    I’ve quickly tested linpack:

    You can also check the Android benchmark @
    Bear in mind than in Orange Pi 2/PC Debian the CPU is @ 1.5GHz max, and in Zidoo X1 Android @ 1.2 GHz max.

  9. @Required
    I’d need to install and configure LIRC in Linux, so I’ll probably skip. Having said that most IR remotes work at 38 Khz, and in the past I’ve worked on many different remotes, and they all worked with the same IR receiver.

    In case you ask for IR remote control to use the board as a media player, it will be easier and possibly cheaper to buy an Allwinner H3 box since you also need to purchase the power adapter ($5), a fast micro SD card ($8?), and possibly the enclosure (a few more dollars). The box can’t be used as a media player in Linux (at least with decent performance, and certainly not at 4K resolution), and you’d need to go with Android.

  10. @ben
    Banana Pi and Orange Pi quad core board should have the same limitations in Linux, and performance in Linux. (I can’t possibly follow all projects daily, so If I’m wrong Raspberry Pi 2 will be better if you plan to use OpenGLES or Video playback in Linux, and ODROID-C1+ is roughly equivalent to Pi for these two (again some people may differ)… For GPIO control, BPi, OPi, and RPi are probably about the same, except RPi will have more add-on boards, and it will be easier since more people are here to help on the forums.

    BeagleBone Black/Green is mostly good for those headless embedded projects where you need more control over I/Os, or lots of I/Os, although some projects do use the HDMI output or LCD display, e.g. CNC machine where BBB is used as a control panel.

  11. @zoobab
    VLC is actually the player I used when I watch movies…

    I’ve installed VLC, and I’m playing Big Buck Bunny 1080p H.264, but all I get is a black screen, and VLC does not complain about a missing codec…

    Edit: So finally I can play the video with mplayer, and it’s much better, but not really watchable in full screen since the framerate is too low. In windowed mode, no problem though.

  12. The big issue with AllWinner based boards is the terrible VPU and GPU Linux driver support isn’t it? This is why the Kodi devs gave up on Linux development for the platform ages ago.

    At one point it looked liked Allwinner could have been the ‘next big thing’ in Kodi – but the Raspberry Pi and AMLogic platforms have so much better support that they have won the crown for ARM-based Linux media player platforms.

  13. @Required

    Modern Linux kernels have IR support built in. This built-in support can handle almost any remote using any protocol. But IR support needs to be turned on in the kernel.

    Hardware for IR support is trivial. Just wire the IR sensor to a pin that will interrupt on both 0/1 and 1/0 transitions from the sensor. Then hook it up in the device tree.

    LIRC is optional. Its only real purpose now is to record the signal from an unknown remote. Once the keys are mapped you can make a kernel IR keymap file and get rid of LIRC. The kernel support works by taking the IR signals, matching them against a keymap, and then turning them into simulated keyboard keys.

    Kernel IR support is not limited to a single remote. You can load in a 100 IR keymaps and they will all work.

  14. @Jon Smirl
    I tested the remote successfully, and that was relatively easy.

    sudo modprobe sunxi-ir-rx
    sudo apt-get install evtest
    sudo evtest /dev/input/event5

    and key presses from a TV box remote are recognized:

    But not from my aircon or TV remote, I assume the codes must be modified in some config files.

  15. @slackstick
    Some Orange Pi boards have been added to Linux 4.2, but I think these are the Allwinner A20 based only. I have not seen work done on Allwinner H3 specifically, but it’s a sun8i platform like A23 so maybe it might boot too.

    You may want to ask on #linux-sunxi IRC channel to check mainline status.

  16. Could anyone provide alternative links for the android images for Orange Pi PC? I got my board today but I cannot download from google drive (no link, just icon?) and baide wants me registered even for slow download.
    Google,mega, onedrive or anything similar would be fine for me.

  17. Any thoughts on the camera install/usage? I’ve been toying around with it and can’t seem to get it to work, so any suggestions you have would be invaluable.


  18. I could kiss you for all of this! The install_to_emmc was INVALUABLE! I’m getting pretty comfortable with linux on development boards eg raspbian on raspberry but the Orange is a beast all its own. The lack of data on the Orange Pi Plus hardware and associated drivers is making me pull my hair out but its a challenge. If I could just get the wifi working…. THANK YOU!!!!

  19. Hi,

    thanks for this super HowTo. Is there some option to get installation from eMMC back to memory card? I need make many changes and installation my own application for ModBUS communication.

    Thanks a lot,


  20. @Jaroslav
    I assume you can simply copy the rootfs in the eMMC back to the SD card rootfs, using something like “sudo cp -a mount_point_emmc mount_point_sdcard”

    Studying install_to_emmc would probably be a good idea to see what it does.

  21. @Jon Smirl
    @jon smirl,
    could you provide an example for hooking up a tsop on an H3 (orange-pi) GPIO pin, only with kernel-support?
    i tried the sunxi-ir driver with my samsung remote on loboris debian-jessi-minimal, but i only coud decode my technics-remote. so it was working, but with the (wrong) remote for me. i found this:

    ” If you look a sunxi-ir.c closely, captured ir pulses are verified against the NEC ir protocol. E.g. have a look at this page and compare with code bits defining time constants like in lines 100-110 or static int ir_code_valid(unsigned long code) following line 419. I have looked at it closely and cannot see how this module (sunxi-ir.ko) would report anything to the lirc user space (or generate any input events) if the NEC protocol is not followed.”

    which led me to think, that i have to jump over the sunix-ir driver and put an 38khz tsop to two GPIO-pins an use a standard way.

    would this work? (loboris kernel-tree is downloadable..)

    thanks for reply, tozett

  22. @cnxsoft
    It should be noted that this is a mirror for ‘loboris’ images. While they are superiour in terms of features (at least compared to Xunlong’s ‘official’ images) they suffer from insanely high overvolting/overclocking settings that need adjustments to script.bin so correct both dvfs (dynamic voltage frequency settings) as well as cooler table (to prevent overclocking). Only reducing cpufreq is *not* sufficient since then H3 is still overvolted and generates a lot of unnecessary heat!



    BTW: Xunlong uses on the new Orange Pi One/Lite a different voltage regulator than on the other H3 based Orange Pi’s and this one can be adjusted between 624MHz @ 1.1V and 1200MHz @ 1.3V — problem solved 🙂

    Maybe it’s worth to explain the whole context in a separate post since most of the Orange Pi users still aren’t aware of the problem at all?

  23. thanks for the effort to cool down the h3. i found it also too hot and i will try your script.
    maybe you clarify the different orange-pi boards, as there is an old A20 board, the usuals H3 boards and you mentioned the new ONE/lite-Board with different voltage regulator.
    maybe everthing will be easy, if you communicate to loboris to update his builds with your settings or an option to choose voltage-settings in his images and leave all (loboris-)images in one place. to keep confusion about the right image down to a minimum..

  24. @tozett
    Orange Pi and Mini are based on A20 and nearly identical to Banana Pi/M1/M1+/Pro. All other currently available Orange Pi are based on the H3. The variants you can buy today use the SY8106A voltage regulator that can adjust CPU Vcore voltage through I2C up to 1.5V (not good — but used in loboris images). The 2 new models use the SY8113B voltage regulator that can adjust voltage between 1.1V and 1.3V. And this will be adjusted through GPIO on the 2 new boards and it seems Xunlong stops to advertise these 2 new boards as being able to run at “up to 1.6Ghz”.

    The already announced Orange Pi 3 will be based on H64 (Cortex-A53, Aarch64) and as far as I know this SoC will be accompanied by the AXP803 PMU. No idea about available clockspeeds and Vcore settings but if it’s the same as with A64 then I would suspect that it will overheat quite easily:

    Regarding a change of loboris dvfs and ‘cooler table’ settings:

  25. I managed to get a version of the Loboris Debian Jessie loaded.


    And it works a treat – WIFI works, ethernet etc. I have Node-Red running on it, Apache etc (it had NGINX, took that off and put apache on as my stuff uses Apache)… all GREAT – except the serial ports ttyS0-3 – Node-Red sees them but refuses to open them. Is there something I need to set up in Jessie itself so that they can be opened?


  26. Does it use cmdline.txt like on my Raspberry ?

    I ask because I would want to have multiple /boot partitions and /root on a USB Hardrive(s)

    Also has anyone stress tested it at 1.5Ghz for long periods ?

  27. Thanks, nice and straight guide. Does someone know how can I test if the SPI interface is enabled? Or, enable it?
    Thanks again

    Giuseppe, Italy

  28. @Giuseppe CPNF
    Supported by Armbian on any H3 SBC starting with version 5.04 (when you use other OS images you might need to tweak script.bin for your board). All necessary hints available through a simple web search for ‘MFRC522-python’

  29. I am currently looking for a development board for my project. Your review looks interesting.
    Orange Pi mini 2 looks nice, it is a pity you do not test it on Android, because that is what I am interested in the most. By the way, why does it use Croatian language? It does not say anything about Croatia on its page on Ali Express. I have found a few reviews on the web and they say the camera is horrible. That is a pity because I wanted to run Android with a camera app for my project.
    I would also like to see how much the board can run, It is a pity you do not provide the info.

  30. hello, do anyone knows how to turn off verbose on the orange pi

    wheres the argument file? and what are the correct parameters?

    i got a boot logo displayed correctly, i want to shut off verbose tho….

    please help, i need that to release my final definitive image for the pi (xenial)

  31. really.

    tkraiser, at first i wanted to email YOU directly for help.

    now i understand that you have better things to do, thanks.

    but if you know the answer, would be fine to answer because nobody has that answer…. theres no grub or anything usually i was doing that there.

    thanks 😛

  32. parameters in uEnv.txt seems to be ignored, is that a loboris kernel specific issue, like it has been compiled to always show output????

  33. JP, relax man… tkaiser is a real @ssh0le… that is his normal behavior… just like at Armbian forum… maybe the problem is his wife or man, who isn’t making he happy… lol

  34. @cnxsoft, do you know if the loboris project still under development or maintance? The last image was too outdated… 🙁

  35. First, excellent review. I bought 2e version, had lots of problems,, returned it, and got a 2 plus version, with data etc. My goal is to do 3d printing on my cr10. I have pi3 and asus(somewhat better than pi3) both are solid, not flaky. Orange pi experience, bad! So zeroshell on Emmc great then all down hill. I have loaded a number of different distro from many source, As soon as any significant activity on desk top, particularly graphics then flaky, and crash. So far two things seem obvious from test etc. Wi-Fi is big bottleneck use Ethernet! Second issue is 5v power! This is both a source and a on board distribution problem, First, with scope, the voltage, with no activity was 5.2 volts and average current about .7 amps (700 ma) So 2A source should be fine, you would think!! NO! when you start to surf, and depending on graphics voltage drops to 4.6v very briefly, and sometimes lockup! So I got a 3A rated source, actually two different designs, significantly better, but not enough. So, I went to 20A bench supply lots better, but if you measure actual voltage ON BOARD @ pins 4 and 6 the dip still occurs! A 220 mfd capacitor helps but still flakey occasionally. I suspect some of the on board traces/tracks are two narrow! Hardware not ready for prime time, or at least in a desktop situation, My experience PI3 & Asus TinkerPi, with TinkerPi having the edge. All other feedback appreciated

  36. @Richard1937
    Your problem with power supply may also be related to your power cable’s internal resistance. That article focuses on micro USB , but it may also be related.

    I’ve test loboris images in the quick started guide, but now you’d better go with Armbian firmware, which may also help with some of your stability problems due to better handling of DVFS.

  37. @Richard1937
    Easy solution: the cable you use between your PSU and the board is utter crap (wires too tiny) and needs to be replaced. We have an own subforum for this since insufficient powering (and SD card crappiness) is reason N° 1 why things are failing:

    Rule of thumb: As soon as an USB connector is at a power cable problems are very likely. Next time order the 5V/3A PSU from Xunlong and all your problems are gone. Or replace your crappy cable responsible for the voltage drops

  38. i have an orangepi mini for a lyrics monitor and cannot add a flash drive it shows it on the device manager (the specified directory/media not valid) and it does not see the footswitch

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