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TRS-80

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This is an adaptation of something @SteeMan wrote in this post, but we need to refer to it often enough that I thought I would make it into a sticky.

 

Amlogic (S9xx) Android based TV Boxes


1. They are not supported.
2. A single developer (@balbes150) had worked years on getting things to the state they are.
3. As of October 14th, 2020 balbes150 removed support for Amlogic CPUs, so that is the last build that will maybe work on your box.
4. There is a very small number of people on this forum/club that are able to provide any guidance.
5. Most likely no one on this forum/club has ever seen your specific box.
6. Expectations should be set low (i.e. don't expect anything to work) but if you do get the box to boot, get HDMI and wired ethernet to work, you are doing good.
7. You really shouldn't expect things like Wi-Fi, bluetooth, remote control, etc. to work.
8. If you get this working on your box, it will likely only be useful for server type tasks, maybe a little light graphical desktop usage, but certainly not video/multimedia.

 

Other RockChip (rk3399, rk3328, rk3288) and Allwinner (H5, H6) based TV Boxes

 

9. These will continue to be supported within the limits that are possible for the equipment the devs possess.

10. They are (in fact, have always been) CSC which means Community Support only!  In other words, not officially supported by the Armbian project!

 

So, why even have these forums?

 

As a place for people to try and get together and help one another.  At least it is something.

 

Also, there used to be a lot more (better supported) activity here while balbes150 was still releasing his fork of Armbian.

 

What other options do I have?

 

I (@TRS-80) recommend cutting your losses and starting over, and this time around using the list of Armbian Supported Devices as a starting point for researching purchasing some other device.  Taking this approach will result in a much easier time, less hassle, better support, and usually for a much longer period of time (assuming things for your device get mainlined into Linux kernel).

 

Even using that list as a starting point, do your homework.  As any particular device can have some little quirks / gotcha(s).  There are a lot of resources available on the (wider Armbian) forums already, please use them!

 

@SteeMan however takes a different view.  He lay out his arguments in favor of trying anyway (see below) in spite of all the above.

 

If you choose to go that route, at least we can say we warned you now.  ;)

 

Why is situation like this?

 

Source of following quote was Armbian official Twitter, on 2020-12-02 11:23 EST:

 

Quote

[...] TV boxes vendors usually have no interest in contributing to the open sources community but sell cheap crap with poorly put together software and no open source code. Armbian has neither interest nor resources to support this behavior and do reverse engineering.

 

SteeMan also touch on this in his excellent post, below.

 

Now hopefully you at least understand why most people may not wish to spend their own valuable free time to help someone who chose an unsupported box, mostly because it was cheap (and possibly without even doing much research beforehand).  SteeMan (and a few other guys in here like jock and some others) being the rare exceptions who relish a challenge.

 

Good luck!

Edited by TRS-80
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Armbian is a community driven open source project. Do you like to contribute your code?

It should be noted that many of the limitations mentioned above are specific to the Amlogic builds historically created by balbes150.  There is also the good work being done by @jock and others for Rockchip based TV boxes (see the 'CSC Armbian for RKxxx' threads).  And while the general statements about Android TV boxes not being officially supported armbian supported hardware, etc are still true, because these CSC builds are focused on a smaller subset of the TV box world there is likely better support for various hardware like wifi etc.  And as of right now, there are a few more active developers working on those code bases.

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I fully agree with @TRS-80 comments above directing most users towards officially supported SBC hardware options.  However, I do want to add my own personal thoughts on why I choose to continue to use these Android TV boxes with unsupported armbian running on them:

 

1) It is a challenge and therefore a learning opportunity.  I would never have learnt to build my own linux kernels from source if I was still exclusively using x86 hardware.  If you want a challenge you will find it here.

 

2) Price vs specs.  The Android TV boxes are built to be cheap consumer devices.  They are produced in larger quantities which drives down the per unit price.  You will generally not be able to get the same level of hardware for the same price with a standard SBC.  But that cheapness with - no support by the manufacturers and potentially sub-standard components.  If the manufacturers goal is to sell the lowest price box they are likely cutting corners somewhere to make that happen.

 

3) emmc is standard.  TV boxes always come with internal storage while most SBCs do not.  Again from a price/performance standpoint having internal emmc storage vs running off an SD card is a plus.  emmc storage *should* be faster and longer lasting than storage on an sd card.  The caveats here being that this is one of the areas that the manufacturers may cut corners.  For example I have two TX3 mini boxes that are supposed to have 16GB of emmc memory (like the other TX3 mini boxes I have), but they were instead manufactured with cheaper nand memory for which there is no mainline kernel support.  There is no visible difference between the identically packaged boxes that had emmc vs those that came with nand, other than opening the case and looking at the physical chips on the boards.

 

4) cases come standard.  TV boxes always come with cases, whereas for SBCs that is an extra cost.  For my uses having a case is a big improvement vs not having one.  A downside if that these cases are not necessarily well designed to provide adequate cooling.  So depending on your use case, overheating might be a problem.

 

While I own both SBCs and TV boxes, I personally find the TV boxes work best for my needs (running server based software) and I enjoy the challenge of getting them running and keeping them running with the great underlying work that the armbian project is doing to build on top of.

 

I feel that if someone wants to use *unsupported* armbian on TV boxes and has the correct expectations (set your expectations low) and is looking to learn and is up for a challenge these are fun things to work with.  And I look forward to working with you on these forums.

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