How to Play Games in Android mini PCs / STBs With a PS3 Bluetooth Controller

Android mini PCs ( HDMI TV dongles) are great to make your TV smart, and you may expect to be able to play Android games on your TV easily. The reality is that the keyboard and mouse, or remote controls used with those devices, are not suitable for games, and most games do not play at all. Of course, OUYA and GameStick projects will take care of this, as well as the recently available Project SHIELD ($349) , but if you already have one of those mini PCs, you may not want to spend the money for another device. Luckily there’s a solution, and with some efforts, you can play many games, but not all, with a PS3 Bluetooth controller connected to your Android mini PC or Set-Top Box. I decided to give it a try by buying “GOIGAME Rechargeable Bluetooth Wireless DoubleShock III Controller for PS3” for $16.60, which […]

How to Flash Firmware to Rockchip RK3188 HDMI TV Sticks

Yesterday, I’ve received MK908 mini PC featuring Rockchip RK3188, and a new firmware is available, so before further testing I’ll flash the firmware to the device basically using the instructions from Geekbuying. This method use standard Rockchip tools, so it should work for any RK3188 devices. But first a little rant. Those instructions only work on Windows operating systems, so if you’re using Linux or Mac, you’re out of luck until you find a Windows PC, or launch Windows in a virtual machine. This method should just be used in case the device can’t boot, or you have serious issue with the device firmware, but it is also used for firmware upgrade for Rockchip mini PCs. This is just wrong. Typical users should not be asked to install software and drivers, press the recovery button, just to upgrade their firmware. The best very way would be OTA updates, but maybe this […]

How to Detect if an ARM ELF Binary is Hard-float (ARMHF) or Soft-float (ARMEL)

If some cases you may want to know if a library or binary built for the ARM architecture is using hard-float (armhf) or soft-float (armel). You can analyze ELF binary using readefl utility, so let’s have a try. First let’s install some armel and armhf files on a computer running Ubuntu by install gcc/g++ toolchain for armel and armhf:

We now have armhf and armel libraries installed in /usr/arm-linux-gnueabihf/lib and /usr/arm-linux-gnueabi/lib respectively. Let’s check the output of readelf filtered with “FP” string for for armel:

and armhf:

Great, so there’s an extra line for armhf (Tag_ABI_VFP_args) that seems to confirm the library is hard-float. With readelf compiled from elftoolchain-0.6.1 (source code), the extra line will be a bit different: “Tag_ABI_VFP_args: AAPCS (VFP variant) AAPCS stands for ARM Architecture Procedure Call Standard. You can read more details on ARM website. There are also two other possible values […]

How to Use Libhybris and Android GPU Libraries with Mer (Linux) on the Cubieboard

You may have heard about libhybris, a library that cleverly loads Android HW adaptations and convert calls from bionic to glibc. One of the greatest achievement of this library is to allow Android GPU drivers to be used with Linux, and is notably used by Canonical, although they did not write it, for Ubuntu 14.04 which will be compatible with any recent Android smartphones or tablets. One way to get started with libhybris is to port a device to Ubuntu Touch, but this may take a while. However, I’ve found a faster and easier way to play with libhybris thanks to Martin Brook (vgrade) who wrote a tutorial on how to use libhybris with Mer on the Cubieboard. Mer is an open source mobile Linux distribution powered by Qt/QML and HTML5, that’s born from the ashes of Meego, and is now used in the upcoming Sailfish OS. You’ll need to […]

How-to Autostart a PC Automatically When Connecting it to the Mains Power

I’ve decided it would be good if I could just hide the computer under the table, as I never use the DVD writer, and I can access USB ports for removable storage or debug board via a USB hub on my table. The only problem is that I would have to go under the table to press the power button each time I want to power on the computer. Feasible, but not very convenient. Every morning, I connect a power strip to the mains supply for my computer, monitor, and related equipment, so it would be good if the computer could just start when I connect it. I found out there’s an option in the BIOS of my main board to do just that. Most other people seem to use that feature to be able to automatically restart their computer after a power failure so that they can access it […]

Undistract-me Sends An Alert For Time-Consuming Commands in Linux

In Linux, some commands executed in the terminal such as make, wget, dd may take a while, so usually you’d just let them run in the background, and do some other work, drink tea, go for nap… while they are running, and come to check from time to time if the command has completed. Sometimes I even forget I run a particular command, and realize it has completed a few hours ago… It’s possible to add some command at the end of your command line, but it can be cumbersome, and you may forget to do it. The best would be automatic alerts for commands that take a long time, and undistract-me just takes care of that by sending an alert for commands that take more than 10 seconds (by default). In Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10, you can install undistract-me as follows:

Undistract-me is part of Ubuntu 13.04 or […]

How to Autostart XBMC in Android

Android is great thanks to its versatility and the ability to install the apps you need. However, if you have an Android set-top box or mini PC connected to your TV, you may just want to use it as a media player running XBMC, and clicking on the XBMC icon each time you start your device is not ideal. Luckily, there’s an easy solution to autostart XBMC or any application in Android: Install AutoStart – No root in your Android device. Run the application and select XBMC as shown below. There’s no need to tick “Show notification at boot-up”, since XBMC will just show in the foreground. Done! Next time you restart your device XBMC will run automatically. I’ve tried it in Tronsmart Prometheus, and it boots to XBMC within 50 seconds. If you want to use another app in Android, simply exit XBMC. Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)Jean-Luc started CNX Software […]

Droid Stick A2 mini PC Recovery with AMLogic’s Hardware Flash Tool

In some circumstances, for example by installing the wrong firmware or doing something wrong by playing god (as a root user), it’s possible to brick your device. This happened to me with one of my Droid Stick A2 mini PCs based on AMLogic AML8726-MX. I changed some files in /system/etc/permissions directory, lost Wi-Fi access, and even  replacing my changes with the backup files would not solve the problem. It also changed some permissions in the system, and it was not possible to restore the firmware the usual way. At the end of last month, dbtablets left a comment with download links to “Amlogic USB Burning tool”, but  I only decided to give it a try today, and after some efforts I was successful. Just make sure you only use this method as last resort, i.e. a standard firmware upgrade does not work, and you’re about to throw your device in […]

ASUS Tinker board 3N