Review of BPI-M2+

(Charles) #1

For fulfillment of the terms of the giveaway Banana Pi BPI-M2+ Sample Giveaway Apply Here

Cross-posted to Scuttlebutt:

I wanted to use the BPI instead of a Raspberry Pi (RPI) because I believed that the RPI required running non-free code, and so by using the BPI I would be more free and supporting freedom. I bought a pi-top on ebay as that was the cheapest I could find one. It included an RPI v3. This system worked. I attempted to use the BPI with the pi-top enclosure instead of the RPI, as I had planned. But I could not get the video output working correctly. The BPI, with the Linux distributions that I tried on it, could output only a few resolutions, such as 1280x720. But the pi-top display only supported a single resolution, 1366x768, which the BPI kernel did not. The closest I got was that some of the screen was clipped, and all pixels were tinted purple, IIRC. I read that it was possible to make it support other resolutions by building your own kernel and replacing one of the pre-set resolutions in a file in the kernel source. I felt like this would be too difficult, and so I stuck with the RPI which worked just by setting some lines in the boot config file. I put the BPI to use as a home server. I set up SSB on it and used it as a pub briefly. I learned about FairCoin which needed people to run CVNs (certified validator nodes) for their network. I applied to operate a CVN, was accepted, and hosted the faircoin node on the BPI. After some travel, I had issues with updating faircoind, due to memory limitations. It was too much a burden also to remain in contact with the other operators and administrators. They used Telegram and this was a strain on my resources on my RPI/pi-top. Eventually the RPI stopped recognizing USB devices. The BPI has similar specs to the RPI3. Some differences are that it has an external antenna u.FL connector for wifi, an IR port, a power button, uboot button and some other button, and onboard 8GB of eMMC that it can boot from as an alternative to the microSD card slot. The M2+ does not have any audio ports. It has a DC power port but I don’t have a cable for that, so I have been using the micro-USB port for power. There are two USB ports. There is also a camera port, which I have not used. There is ethernet and GPIO or something. I was not able to get the SPI working with the pi-top hub board for accessing the pi-top battery and display brightness control. The

Running the BPI-M2+ can be difficult. Many times I found it would hang during boot, or even after. Maybe it is a power issue where I should be using the DC-in port instead of the micro-USB, for a better-regulated power supply. Or maybe it is a magical spell because I did not yet write this review that I promised. Anyway, I am writing the review now. I installed Sinovoip’s latest Ubuntu image on a microSD card and the internal flash, but it stopped working.

I have a USB serial converter so I can try to debug the boot process. But I haven’t got that working yet.

The device is now stowed safely awaiting future exploration.

(Ethan) #2

“The promotion will run for 30 days until 2016-6-25