Linaro Releases the First (Alpha) Version of the 96Boards Reference Software Platform

Orange Pi Development Boards

Linaro’s 96Boards initiative was launched at the beginning of the year with Hikey board, and beside the hardware specifications, 96Boards also has some software requirements that include support for “bootloader (open source), accelerated graphics support (binary or open source), a Linux kernel buildable from source code based from mainline, or the latest Google-supported Android kernel version, or the last two LTS kernels, and one of more of the following operating systems: Android, Debian/Ubuntu, Fedora/Red Hat, or an OpenEmbedded/Yocto build of a Linux distribution”.

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In order to achieve this goal, Linaro introduced the Reference Software Platform for 96Boards, and they’ve now pushed the first Alpha release for Hikey and DragonBoard 410c boards. The release includes a bootloader, the Linux kernel, Debian and AOSP with firmware, source code, and documentation.

Some highlights of the Reference Software Platform 15.10 Alpha release include:

  • CE Debian RPB (Reference Platform Build)
    • Debian 8.2 “Jessie”
    • Linux 4.3 kernel with additional patches
    • OpenJDK 8 included by default
    • 96Boards artworks and default settings
  • CE AOSP RPB (Hikey board only)
    • AOSP Android Marshmallow 6.0
    • Linux 3.18 based kernel

CE refers to the consumer edition of 96Boards specifications, as there’s also an Enterprise Edition (EE), which is not covered by this release.

You can find documentation, including how to build your own image on 96Boards Wiki on Gihub. You can interact with 96Boards community on the forums, the bug tracker, or #96boards on IRC.

If you want to find out more of the Software Reference Lead Project, you can watch the Linaro Connect presentation below (~42 minutes), and/or download the slides.

The next release is planned for December 2015 (15.12 release), and should include:

  • Have both boards using a single kernel tree/branch and a single kernel binary
  • Better understanding about the upstream gaps
  • Adding support for CE AOSP for Dragonboard410c (with freedreno)
  • Adding support for CE OE/Yocto
  • Enterprise Edition

The Enterprise Edition will likely run on AMD Opteron A1100 96Boards.

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The Cageybee
The Cageybee

Kinda had high hopes for the 96boards project, but, as it stands it’s the one board project.
Only the Dragonboard is actually available and it’s expensive.
The HIKey board was announce back in February and is still not with us but due to ship in December.


This goes in the right direction, but seemingly very slow: Linaro suggested in summer 2015, by the end of the year, there would at least 10 boards available… And it is still impossible to judge, how good the support (trouble shooting on daily basis, longterm updates) will be.

The Cageybee
The Cageybee

Not sure why I thought it was expensive. I must have been thinking about the intrinsyc dragonboards.


So far they have yet to publish a board that’s actually compliant with their own specifications.
Both db410c and HiKey fall flat.
Luckily they are aware of this
How this will pan out, I don’t know.


75$ is ok, if you live everywhere else except EU. Probablly, shipping fee included, for EU will be around 100Euros, which is quite expesive.
Hope that Linaro will start produceing in bulk large quantities = smaller prices. The RPI model is the best if you want to gain momentum and create an user base and a strong community around your product.

I’m thinking aquiring an Odroid C1+ for replacing my dedicated Media player.


> Hope that Linaro will start produceing in bulk large quantities = smaller prices.

Linaro will never start producing boards (I’d love it too, but who will pay for that?). Each board is produced by specific, independent hardware vendors. Not even SoC vendors – producing (mass-market) boards for their SoCs is not their business either. Dragonboard is produced by Arrow, HiKey – by Lemaker. Looking for someone to blame on availability delays? Now you know whom.

But mind that producing a board for a fresh, modern SoC isn’t the same as producing board for RPi, which had old SoC even when it just started. It took RPi foundation 2 years to make a board with non-obsolete (Cortex-A) SoC, and it’s still old. So, no wonders that latest 64-bit tech takes some time to polish (early boards are in circulation since beginning of the year, and many people agreed they required some polishing before gotten into hands of innocent).


@cnxsoft We can design a model with 96Boards. If Qualcomm and Linaro can support the project with 410c soc. The unit price can be 49usd.