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Status of Armbian on TV Boxes - Please Read First


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Welcome to the world of Armbian on TV Boxes!


TV Boxes are not officially supported by the Armbian project.  This "TV Box" sub forum is for users interested in experimenting with Armbian on TV Boxes.


Overall you will be best served if you set your expectations low as to what you might be able to accomplish with your TV Box and Armbian.  Specifically you should think of your TV Box as a potential linux server - *not* as a desktop replacement.


Feel free to post and ask questions in the TV Box forums if you are interested.  But realize this is a peer-to-peer forum so you may or may not get an answer.  Don't expect or demand support as there are only a handful of people that participate in these forums and they are all donating their time.


Search is your friend.  There is a lot of historic information stored on this site.  Your question has likely already been asked previously.  However, a lot has changed over time and therefore be prepared for a lot of the information you find by searching the forums to be outdated and in some cases just plain wrong.  Even though that may be the case, please search the forums first before posting a question.  It shows you are willing to invest the time to do your part and makes those of us who volunteer our time to answering questions more likely to want to help you.



Amlogic (S9xx) based TV Boxes

1. There is a community build for Amlogic based s9xx TV Boxes - The key being community - so please contribute to make improvements
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 active build from him

4. 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.
5. You really shouldn't expect things like Wi-Fi, bluetooth, remote control, etc. to work.
6. There is a very small number of people on this forum/club that are able to provide any guidance.
7. Most likely no one on this forum owns your specific box and therefore generally can only provide vague guideance.
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 do not expect video playback, etc.


RockChip (rk3399, rk3328, rk3288, rk3228, etc) based TV Boxes

These are probably the best supported TV boxes currently.  They have the most active developers.  Feel free to post in the Rockchip TV Box sub forums your questions.


Allwinner (H6, H616, H313) based TV Boxes

There is no ongoing effort to support Allwinner based boxes.  Occasionally a developer will respond to a question, but in general if this is what you have, you will be expected to do a lot of work on your own, so you better be comfortable doing development for these type of boards.  You aren't likely to find anything that you can just install and have work.


Other Comments

The official recommendation from the Armbian project would be to not use TV Boxes and use officially supported SBCs. Taking this approach will likely result in an easier time, less hassle, better support and likely a more fully functioning device.


There are reasons you may choose to want to use unsupported Armbian on TV boxes, for example here are some of my ( @SteeMan ) reasons:


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 comes 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 more durable 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.


5) 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.


If you have the correct expectations (set your expectations low) are looking to learn and are 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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