I wanted to share an update on what we've done so far with the eBox 3350.
To begin we've been experimenting with Ubuntu. The eBox 3350 processor (Vortex86MX) is recognized as an i586 meaning that the latest Ubuntu version that is supported is 10.04 LTS (for i386).
All later versions of Ubuntu are optimized for i686 as they make use of the CMOV instruction which is not present on the Vortex86MX and therefore won't work.
We've downloaded Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (LTS stands for Long Term Support which means system and apps will be maintained for a long time) and burned it onto a CD.
Next inserted the SD card (a fast SD card makes a world of difference in performance of the eBox 3350. We're using - and strongly recommend - a Class 10 card. The eBox supports cards up to 32 Gb).
Note that the eBox uses full size SD cards (not MicroSD like the roboard). Make sure you use a full size SD and stay away of MicroSD -> Full SD adapters
We connected all USB peripherals (CD Rom, Keyboard and mouse) and turned it on.
After turning on:
- entered Setup
- chose "Load Failsafe Defaults" (just to ensure everything was going to work smoothly)
- set the CD ROM as the first boot device.
There is a lot of (sometimes conflicting) information spread around DMP websites and a DMP FTP server.
Some of the information you can find for eBox 33XX is actually wrong for the 3350 (it was written with the 3310A
in mind not the 3350MX
The installation process is straightforward. Just boot from CD and follow the installation steps.
There are a couple of recommendations from DMP but essentially what we've done during the Setup process was
- Choose to manually partition the HDD.
- Created a main partition for the OS (with mount point /
) with filesystem ext3
(we first tried ext4 and it didn't work correctly; not sure if ext4 was to blame or the cheap SD card with microSD to SD adapter but further attempts using ext3 worked fine so we stayed with ext3).
- 750Mb were set up for SWAP
All other procedures were essentially following the standard installation routine (setting keyboard layout, locale settings, machine name, ...) and waited for setup to finish.
On first boot, you'll get a fully functional desktop but you won't have Network access
This is because you're using the default kernel of Ubuntu which doesn't include the drivers for the Ethernet port built onto the SoC.
To fix this (and get maximum performance) you need to install a custom kernel from DMP.
This is where we found a lot of conflicting (and confusing) information from DMP until we saw The Light
(FYI Vortex86DX is Roboard; Vortex86MX is eBox 3350 and Vortex86MX+ is eBox 3310MX
, currently the fastest mini PCs from DMP).
This image is part of a more extensive and explanatory document mirrored here http://robosavvy.com/RoboSavvyPages/eBo ... rtList.htm
. It lists all supported Linux installations on each processor and recommended Kernel versions as well as tips for installation and kernel and driver locations
So for Ubuntu 10.04, DMP recommends installing DMP kernel 126.96.36.199 but we can tell you from experience that the file "Linux-image-2.6.30-vortex86mx_1.0_i386.deb (no APM)" WON'T work properly on Ubuntu
10.04 (believe us, we've tried and got into a lot of trouble).
[UPDATE July 14th]
We recommend you install Kernel version 188.8.131.52 released by DMP through the Roboard division:
- The file can downloaded here http://robosavvy.com/RoboSavvyPages/DMP ... 2_i386.zip
We have tested it and it runs well with Ubuntu 10.04. It includes drivers for the HD Audio and LAN and has the added bonus of including the drivers for Webcams.
The kernel comes as a DEB package which is very straightforward to install (see the installation instructions on the document).
We created a mirror folder http://robosavvy.com/RoboSavvyPages/eBo ... 4_Install/
with a distillation and compilation of the very sparse information that exists about Linux installation on eBox. It contains the essential and most up to date information for using the eBox 3350 at the time of writing this post.
The docs in there also explain how to get the VGA drivers for the X Window system working. The drivers seem to be at an early stage though as the version is still 0.0.9.
We haven't gotten as far as installing DMP's VGA drivers for X but the Ubuntu instalaltion seems to work well.
X works fine with the default driver but you do notice the UI is not very fluid.
We've hit a few bumps with our SD card and we believe it's because it is a cheap one and it's a MicroSD with an adaptor to full size SD.
It's never enough to stress this out: the SD card works as the HDD of the eBox; don't go cheap:
get a good quality, high speed SD card (class 6 or 10 (even better) )
that is a full size SD (i.e. stay away from MicroSD to SD adapters
!) as this will impact performance and your overall experience a lot.
Class 10 cards give you about 20 Mb/s but there are even faster SD cards that can do up to 45 Mb/s which are usually employed in HD video cameras (although these are still a bit expensive at the moment).
A good SD card makes a world of difference. The eBox feels much faster and responsive with a good quality, fast SD card.
We'll keep posting as we progress.