I have spent a lot of time trying to get things working in the Asus Tinkerboard. Most, if not all, have been a dismal failure. This is not because of the board is crap, the hardware is actually awesome. The failure is down to the software, it is crap. The debian operating systems which ASUS have trotted out are unstable and can not run software lesser boards can.
I have ‘rage dumped’ the Tinker Board in the drawer of stuff several times. However the potential of the hardware has me seeking it out again and searching the internet for some sort of community to help.
In essence all I want it to do right now, is to run a NAS similar to my Nasberry Pi. My Nasberry Pi has been running several programs happily for months. Can I just get the Tinker Board to do something as simple as that?
Yes I can!!
After doing some more searches and some searches on top of searches I found the Armbian project. This is home to a collection of clever people who develop Linux operating systems for ARM development boards. Which the Tinker Board is. The versions are based on Debian Jessie or Ubuntu Xenial. They are also all nicely arranged by chipset or boards and they have a section just for Tinker Boards.
For the little old TB they have two OS’es ready for download, one is a desktop and the other is server, both are UBUNTU!!!! Reading through the forum there has been quite a involved process in getting it working on the board, but there it is ready to be used.
I downloaded the server version and wrote it to the SD card in the usual way. In fact I downloaded the desktop one and wrote that to another card, but I managed to drop the card down the side of my sofa where it disappeared.
First boot took several minutes whilst expanded into the full capacity of the SD card, then some other bits and bobs. You will remember that I like to run by boards headless and that was still the plan. The entry “Tinkerboard” appeared on my network and logging in via SSH (using Putty) was simple. The login user is root and password is 1234, Armbian forces you to change everything from first logon. The logon screen was also pretty cool, straightaway giving me a wealth of information about the hardware.
There is also a clue to a configuration utility similar to the Raspberry Pi. The utility can also install some 3rd party packages like Samba, Syncthings, Lamp etc. So far I am quite impressed. I installed Samba
I installed Tightvnc and loaded a remote desktop top. All with zero problems. No missing fonts.
The desktop was a little bland but this is going to be a server so no great worries there. I could see other computers on the network with TinkerOS I could not. I set up Webmin and for a laugh I installed BOINC.
The problems I had with BOINC using TinkerOS were annoying. I could get it working but not enjoy the benefit of the GUI. Under Armbian I installed no problems and the GUI worked fine. I could connect to projects like SETI@HOME and it all worked brilliantly.
So ASUS has been busy churning out broken Debian based operating systems and group of enthusiasts are already well ahead. They are making more of the hardware and the board itself is much more usable. I am looking forward to seeing what else I can get running on the Tinker Board with this version of Ubuntu.
The link to the Armbian Project is here.