MeLE PCG35 Apo Apollo Lake Mini PC Review – Part 3: Ubuntu 17.10

I completed the review of MeLE PCG35 Apo with Windows 10 Home a few days ago, and as promised, I’ve now installed the freshly released Ubuntu 17.10 in the Intel Celeron J3455 “Apollo Lake” mini PC. I’ll start by shortly explaining the step to install Ubuntu 17.10 in the M.2 slot, although you could also install it to the internal eMMC flash replacing Windows 10, then show what works and what does, and finally include a video reproducing the tests I usually do in Windows 10. How to Install Linux in MeLE PCG35 Apo This partially follows the procedure I used to run (not install) Ubuntu 16.04 on MeLE PCG03 Apo mini PC. First you’ll need to download the ISO of your choice (ubuntu-17.10-desktop-am64.iso in my case), and prepare a bootable USB flash drive with the software of your choice be it Rufus, Startup Disk Creator or others. I did […]

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro Mini PC Review – Part 2: Windows 10 Pro

MINIX launched NEO Z83-4 Cherry Trail mini PC last year, but the company has now launched NEO Z83-4 Pro, an updated version with a slightly faster Atom X5-Z8350 processor, Windows 10 Pro (instead of Home), and a a VESA mount kit. I’ve already checked the hardware in the first part of the review, so today I’ll report my experience with Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 Home vs Windows 10 Pro My main computer runs Ubuntu 16.04, and I’m only using Windows 10 during reviews… But so far all other mini PCs I tried came with Windows 10 Home, and NEO Z83-4 Pro is my first Windows 10 Pro computer. So I had to educate myself, and Microsoft website has a comparison between the two versions of Windows 10. Windows 10 Pro supports all features of Windows 10 Home, plus the following: Security Windows Information Protection – Formerly Enterprise Data Protection […]

WebAssembly is a Cross-Platform, Cross-Browser Solution for High Performance Code in Web Browsers

Most code running in a web browser runs much slower than native code (C/C++/ assembly), and it’s fine for many applications, but some others requiring higher performance like software video decoding would have to relies on native code, initially provided via browser plugins, but then Google introduced PNaCL (Portable Native Client) allowing to run native code on multiple targets (ARM, Intel, etc..) but in Chrome browser only, and now one of Chrome developers has explained that the community has moved to WebAssembly. WebAssembly works just as well as PNaCl, and is already natively supported by Chrome and Firefox, with support added to preview versions of Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari browsers.Since it works just as well as PNaCL, and adoption of the later is low enough, Google decided to drop support for PNaCl in the Chrome browser in Q1 2018, except inside Chrome Apps and Extensions. To get a feel […]

Headless Mode to be Supported in Chrome and Firefox Browsers

Good news! You can now use Chrome browser without display… Wait… What? While most users want to actually see the page they load in a web browser, some may want to run their browser in a server without display. Headless mode in web browsers can be used for automated testing requiring loading web pages, extracting metadata, generating bitmaps from page contents, etc… It’s been possible to do so in the past using Xvfb to emulate a framebuffer tricking the browsers to believe there was a display in Linux. But now headless mode is build-in right into browsers, so you don’t need X server running at all, and beside Linux, it will also work in Windows, and Mac OS. You can launch headless mode in Chrome 59 (currently in dev channel) as follows:

You may want to add –disable gpu option to remove an error message. Then go to http://localhost:9222, […]

How to Resolve Slow Boot Times in Ubuntu 16.04

I’ve recently upgraded my machine from Ubuntu 14.04.4 to Ubuntu 16.04.1, but while my computer used to boot in about 40 seconds, after the upgrade boot times increased considerably to 2 to 3 minutes. The first easy check was to look at dmesg:

There’s a bit 87 seconds gap between checking for the floppy, and VirtualBox drivers loading. So there’s definitely an issue here, but the log does not exactly give a clear queue. I’ve read you could use systemd-analyze to find which process(es) may be slowing down your computer at boot time:

Two processes are taking close to 8 seconds, but those 16 seconds still do not explain why it takes 2 minutes more to boot…Eventually, I realized systemd-analyze has a few more tricks up its sleeves:

The first command shows there’s no problem with the kernel itself, and something is slow in user space. The […]

Improve YouTube Video Playback on Low Power Intel mini PCs by Disabling VP9 Support in Chrome or Firefox

I’ve been reviewing several Intel Bay Trail, Cherry Trail, and Braswell mini PCs in the last year or so, and I always end up recommending Microsoft Edge browser over Firefox or Chrome for people wanting to watch YouTube videos, as the last two browsers always drop many frames with the video stuttering regularly. However I noticed that while Edge is playing  MP4/AVC (H.264) video, the other two browser would normally stream WebM/VP9 videos, and it could be the cause of the problem as H.264 can be hardware accelerated, but VP9 not, and the low power processor might not quite powerful enough to handle 1080p VP9 video decoding smoothly. So I investigated the issues with Vorke V1 mini PC powered by an Intel Celeron J3160 processor (6W TDP) with the three browsers by first checking enabled codecs in YouTube HTML5 page. Microsoft Edge has both VP8 and VP9 disabled When I […]

MINIX NGC-1 Review and Benchmarks with Windows 10 Home

MINIX NGC-1 mini PC is powered by an Intel Celeron N3150 quad core “Braswell” processor with 4GB RAM and a 128GB M.2SSD, and pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home. While the product aims to provide a convenient alternative to Intel NUC kits, as everything is pre-assembled and pre-installed, I’ll also compare the experience to Bay Trail and Cherry Trail mini PCs such as MeLE PCG03 or Tronsmart Ara X5. I’ve already provided NGC-1 specifications and some pictures, so today, I’ll test the capabilities of the device, and run some benchmarks in the review. MINIX NGC-1 Setup Once you’ve connected a USB keyboard and mouse, and the power supply, you are ready to start. Press the power button, the blue power will lit on the front of the device, and you’ll hear a beep and the very first time system will boot to Windows 10 setup screen where you’ll be asked to […]

Review of Light Biz OS Operating System for Desktop Use (Writing a Blog Post)

This is take 2 of using an Android mini PC as a desktop PC, as I’m currently writing this post from GeekBox TV box with Rockchip’s Light Biz OS, an operating systems based on Android 5.1 with some optimizations for desktop use. I’ve already installed various productivity apps such as Gimp and Microsoft Excel, and at first this was a problem sinc Light Biz OS “internal storage” partition was too small to install some programs, so I had to resize the “userdata” partition to 6GB to make it usable. I normally blog with Firefox in Ubuntu 14.04, so right now, I’m writing with Firefox for Android, and not WordPress Android app, which would have been another option. One of the first challenge was to create links, and I could copy links with a long click providing access to copy tools in Firefox, and copy the links with Ctrl+V in Firefox. […]