If you are reading this you've probably discovered that there are a few things about
the Orange Pi series of boards that can be frustrating. I know I have been..
I purchased an Orange Pi PC and two Orange Pi Ones anticipating Pi bliss at a
fraction of the cost of the Raspberry equivalent. I tried, and tried hard, to
load distro after distro of various linux flavors onto micro SD cards with many
a blank screen or an aborted boot attempt.. Orange Pi site distros,
laboris distros, Armbian distros.. nothing seemed to make a difference.
Reading about power supply issues, ornery boot processes, and overscan issues
I was really beginning to think this was money poorly spent, after all the boards
weren't much use as intert bricks.. too small and light to make for a decent paper
weight or door stop.. no practical use at all.. perhaps I could crush them with
a lump hammer to derive some satisfaction for fruitless hours spent trying to get
these things to work..
Then it dawned on me.. perhaps there was something to the advice I was seeing
on the forum.. Out of curiosity I tried a decent USB-lithium battery pack instead
of the little 5v wall wart I was using to power my Orange Pi PC and low and behold
the thing booted reliably. Go figure.. all this time I was blaming the board when
it was really the #$!#!@ underpowered wall-wart causing the issue.. try the OPI-One..
same deal, it booted.. try the next One.. same deal, it booted happily.
I then measured the current draw during the boot process and found that the Quad
core board was actually a hungry little bugger.. peaking out at almost 600ma
at one point in the boot process with no accessories attached.. before settling
down to around 240ma at an idle. Lesson learned: Don't cheap out on your
power supply for these boards... and you've made it over the first hurdle.
Next hurdle.. the damn video is overscanning my LG HDMI monitor.. no adjustment
on the monitor to scale the desktop image to fit the screen size, and no easy boot
config file like RPi to turn underscanning on in the linux OS. This means I can't
see the menus at the top of the screen.. I didn't have this issue with the RPi..
but hey the RPi cost more, has a user base of 6 million users and a dedicated, paid
software development team with 4 years under its belt.
Put it in perspective.. OPI is a smaller community and it takes time to develop
code and work out the kinks in a product.. so a bit of patience is in order.
Thank you to the Armbian developers and testers, your efforts are appreciated.
So what to do about the overscan issue.. well I happened to have an HDMI to VGA
adapter with a 3.5mm audio jack output on the side.. so I added it into the mix,
and lo and behold the overscan issue was dimished a great deal..not perfect,
but much more usable desktop real estate.
Then I tried the MPV media player with Armbian distro to play canned mp4 videos
and was favorably impressed with the play quality with the built in Mali hardware
graphics acceleration.. easily as good as the RPi and Omxplayer.. perhaps even
with better controls in the MPV media player app.. score one for OPI..
things were looking up.. this was along way from the inert brick I owned earlier in the day.
So what about the overscan issue.. yes it is annoying, but perhaps over time there will
be a software fix developed to make it go away.. patience.
What else to do in the mean time?
Well it is likely that the OPI in you life is not the only computer you have at
your disposal.. so why not VNC into your OPI..? You can set the X-window defaults
to a reasonable screen size.. and have your OPI desktop arrive in a window on
your other computer..
Googling RPi VNC I found xtightvncviewer and xtightvncserver install instructions..
I installed, and went with a desktop size of 1280x600 for a comfortable fitting window
on my RPI desktop.. and soon had a serviceable non-overscanned OPI remote desktop
from my RPI.. hooray!
No hardware accelerated video through the VNC session.. but a decent desktop experience
for most other pursuits.
Lesson learned.. OPI software is in it's infancy, and with time and effort spent,
and some temporary workarounds.. it will find many uses.
If you want closer to perfection out of the box than what OPI has to offer? Pay more and benefit from a
more developed product.. however, if you want to work the line a bit - between cost and functionality -
perhaps you have more time than money available at the moment - don't dispair at your purchase..
persist a while before you opt for the lump hammer option.. and you may get what you need out of
the RPi's clone-family with a bit of effort spent.. Good Luck.