As discussed at last months Ubuntu Developer Summit in the session ‘ARM and other architectures certification program‘, there’s a plan to start certifying ARM hardware, or at least start investigating how we’ll do it. To this end I’ve received on loan a TI OMAP4 Pandaboard from Canonical’s ARM QA team. I’ve actually had it here in the office for quite a few weeks now but for some reason or another I haven’t got around to blogging about it yet!

So, without further adieu – here are a couple of shots of my setup:

I like it because it’s really compact and smacks of geekiness, with all the exposed circuits, yet is really quite easy to use in a lot of ways. The monitor is plugged in via the HDMI port on the right hand side (because of an issue with my monitor I can only get 640×480 out of it, so everything is very squeezed on the screen) and the wireless desktop receiver which handles my mouse and keyboard plugs right in to one of the two full sized USB 2.0 ports. The whole thing is powered by my laptop (even when it’s suspended) via USB-AC 5v connector, also on the right-hand side.

It’s running Natty/Unity 2D installed on the 8GB SDHC card on the left of the board. This means that the whole setup cost (if I had have payed for rather than borrowed it) just under $200. The white labeled chip on the top left hand side of the board is the WiFi/Bluetooth chip and that works *perfectly* out of the box – often picking up a better signal than the laptop sitting right next to it. I also have the option of plugging in my USB headset in the the same USB hub as the wireless receiver (it’s a tight squeeze but it just about fits) and that too works perfectly.

Cons are that I don’t have a USB HDD so Ubuntu is running on flash memory (notoriously bad performance) and that if I decide to power down my laptop but forget the Pandaboard has some task running on it then all is lost :( Overall though it’s a really nice piece of equipment and because of all the good work that has been done around it, I could recommend one to anyone with a bit of technical know-how (no ARM experience required!)


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