[Freedombox-discuss] Testing ODroid-XU4 Notes
Recently, I bought an ODroid XU4 to test as a FreedomBox. I was
originally going to buy one of the boards from the Parallela project,
but they seem to have wrapped up. 16 or 128 cores might be the wrong
focus for a personal web-server, anyway. Below are my notes on
testing with the ODroid.
All equipment purchased through ODroid's American distributor,
- The [ODroid-XU4] seems sturdy and fast. Really nice hardware.
The hardware isn't completely free, as it seems to be in a similar
situation to the Raspberry Pi's proprietary display driver. You
don't need to use the graphics card during normal operation, but I
believe the binary blob does need to be installed to boot the
- The Ameridroid case is either really fragile or doesn't fit quite
right, I can't tell. It holds together well, but I've added
rubber-bands to make sure it stays together.
- If you plan on developing on the device, instead of just using it
as a FreedomBox, get a [USB UART Cable]. It makes low-level
debugging possible, as HDMI-based debugging is hit-or-miss:
HDMI-to-DVI cables probably won't work, and my HDMI monitor only
displayed lines 2 - 7 of the screen's output in text-mode, instead
of the whole 24 lines. It also cut off the four leftmost columns,
so I only had a screen that went from characters ( (4,2), (80,7)
). Very unhelpful.
[USB UART Cable] http://ameridroid.com/products/usb-uart-module-kit2
We don't have an official FreedomBox image for this hardware, so I
used the  XU3 image (XU3 and XU4 are software compatible:
software for the XU3 will work with the XU4).
3.1 Ubuntu 16.04, 20160708
This is the default image that came from ODroid. Works well but
isn't a Debian image and it's filled with lots of extra stuff I'll
never need, like a desktop. I'm not certain I'm comfortable using
Ubuntu for a simple headless server.
3.2 Debian Jessie, 20160221 Image
Using the 20160221 image and the UART cable, I can't log in. Using
the cable with screen seems to drop characters as I type them,
sometimes. The SSH service doesn't seem to have started, so I can't
remote in either.
There's so much more to this, however. Root login via UART is
disabled, so I need to create a login to use locally, first.
However, given the above text-mode display issues, I had a difficult
time creating the login locally as well. I logged in locally as
root, then ran "adduser" in both the XU4 and my normal laptop,
typing the same answers on both keyboards. Then, I could screen
into the XU4 [screen]. I found out that it wasn't the SSH service
that hadn't started, but eth0 wasn't configured at all. I added the
[standard eth0 stanza], restarted the networking service, and then
immediately upgraded to the latest packages. I like it because the
default image doesn't have many services listening for a connection
My next task is to [reconfigure the HDMI display] and see if I can get
useful monitor output, or upgrade the image from Jessie to testing to
[screen] sudo screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200
[listening] netstat -plunt | cut -c 81- | egrep "^[^A-Z]" | sort -un
[standard eth0 stanza]
[reconfigure the HDMI display]
3.3 ODROID GameStation Turbo 3.1 RC2
Works great for games on a headed system, aside from the fact that
the screen goes black and the system becomes unresponsive to
anything but the Alt+PrntScrn keys every few games. Apparently
that's a problem with the XU3 and XU4 with this image. Doesn't seem
to affect the C1 and C2 though, but I don't have those to test with.
Overall, I'd give this hardware a B. It could be freer and a lot
easier to set up (and would be with a FreedomMaker image), but it
seems quite speedy and powerful for the price.
Hope this is useful,
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