I’ve received another cool board this week with the Cubieboard development board. As a quick reminder, the Cubieboard is the only proper low cost AllWinner A10 development board available, and comes with 512MB/1GB RAM, 4GB NAND Flash, 10/100 MBit Ethernet, HDMI output, 2x USB Host port, 1x USB OTG port, a microSD socket, a SATA interface, an IR sensor and 2 headers to access extra pins such as GPIOs, I2C, SPI,VGA pins, CVBS pins etc…
The board comes with a SATA cable and a USB cable for power. There’s no power supply so you’ll need you own, either using the USB cable provide, as a standard USB power supply connected to the USB OTG port.
Most of the components are at the top of the board.
But the 2 expansion headers are soldered on the back, as well as the line-in connector, the Ethernet PHY and the 4G NAND flash.
The board is slightly bigger than the Raspberry Pi, but provides much more features, and the 4 mounting holes may also be convenient if you intend to use a casing. The features of the Cubieboard are very similar to the Mele A1000, and it just lacks the casing, remote control and the Wi-Fi module. Composite, VGA & SPDIF outputs are also missing, but those can also be added via the expansion header.
If you prefer unboxing videos, watch haritot video (8 minutes). His kit also includes a transparent casing.
Getting Started with the Cubieboard
First, connect USB keyboard & mouse, an Ethernet cable, an HDMI cable and finally the power supply to boot the board. I used the USB power supply that came with my Raspberry Pi. My board NAND flash came pre-loaded with a CyanogenMod with Android 4.0.4 and Kernel 3.0.42+, so after a few seconds it booted in Android. You then just need to go to Settings->Ethernet to enable Ethernet and get an IP address assuming your LAN has a DHCP server. At this point, you are good to go and do whatever you want with the board in Android.
However, I assume most people actually plan to run Linux on this board. Maxnet’s BerryBoot makes this very easy, and there are 2 methods.
- Within Android – If you have Android running in your Cubieboard, install the APK from http://get.berryboot.com/, and follow the instructions in BerryBoot Android to install Linux in a microSD card.
- From a Windows or Linux PC – See instructions below.
I mainly followed the instructions provided on Cubieboard.org to install Linaro Ubuntu ALIP 12.08 on a microSD card.
- Insert a microSD card to your computer (preferrably 4GB or higher).
- Download “Berryboot-cubieboard-beta1.zip” from http://www.berryterminal.com/doku.php/berryboot_a10 and extract it.
- “Burn” the image in the microSD card
- In Windows
- Download “win32diskimager-binary.zip” from https://launchpad.net/win32-image-writer/+download
- Run Win32DiskImager.exe
- Select “Berryboot-cubieboard-beta1.ddimg” file
- Verify that correct disk drive is selected. This is very important. On my system, Win32DiskImager.exe selects my external USB hard drive by default…
- Write the file to the microSD card
- In Linux
- Open a terminal window, and type:
sudo dd if=Berryboot-cubieboard-beta1.ddimg of=/dev/sdX
where /dev/sdX corresponds to your SD card.
- You’re done.
- In Windows
At this stage, it may tell you a new version is available, and ask you to download it. I did just that, but nothing changed after reboot, and asked me again to download the latest version. So you can safely say “No”.
- Linaro Ubuntu ALIP 2012.08 (268 MB)
- Debian Wheezy Raspbian 2012.09 (430 MB)
- OpenELEC r11791 (71 MB)
- Puppy Linux Alpha (123 MB)
- RaspRazor (624 MB) – Distribution with Qt/Razor 0.4.9 desktop
- Sugar OS (473 MB) – Education OS as used in OLPC Laptop
- LTSP Thinclient Berry Terminal (22 MB) – Thin client OS to connect to LTSP/Edubuntu server
- BerryWebServer (5MB) – Distribution with Lightppd, php 5.3 & SQLite
- Memtester (<1MB) – Program to test the memory
More Information and Technical Support
If you want to use/test the latest kernel and bootloader, you can get the Cubieboard hardware pack from the “nightly” builds at http://dl.linux-sunxi.org/amery/sunxi-3.0/latest/. You need to use sunxi-media-create.sh, and the instructions are the same as for a1x-media-create.sh. If you want to keep your existing rootfs, and just update the U-Boot, the kernel, kernel modules and binary libraries, simply run something like:
./sunxi-media-create.sh /dev/sdX cubieboard_hwpack.tar.xz norootfs
Alternatively, you may also want to build your own kernel (and u-boot) for the Cubieboard, which you can do by following the first steps instructions on sunxi-linux.org.
You can get hardware and software support on Cubieboard Google Group or on #cubieboard IRC channel. However, if you are “playing” around with the kernel or u-boot source code or find bugs, you may prefer to contact sunxi-linux mailing-list which is more geared towards development (most patches go through this list before behind merged).