Which card choose to deploy an educational open source OS in schools ?
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http://primtux.fr/ is a debian configuration for french schools. I'm trying to participate to make a dynamic in order to deploy PrimTux on open hardware nano computer in schools, to support makers activities for 6 years old to 10 years old (3D printing, Snap!, OpenScad, arduino IDE...).


Choosing the right card is a big problem for a newbie as me. I have benchmarked some cards https://mutualiser-les-comparatifs.les-cercles-vertueux.org/comparatif-des-nano-ordinateurs-monocarte and choose the orange win pi + to try.


However I had some problems to use it with old vga screen (and in schools, there is a lot of old vga screen) cf. https://github.com/avafinger/opi-win-a64-firmware/issues/1#issuecomment-321518096 . I would ask support to make possible to use this version https://www.armbian.com/orange-pi-win/

but when you read...

....it seems that it's not a good choice for the moment, it seems that there is too much things that are not working nice now.

So it seems better to choose an other card. Here are the needs :

- "high degree" of open hardware (There is already a PrimTux Rasbian working very well on RPi, but the goal of the project is to make an open source & open hardware solution for schools) ;

- working fine on a lot of old screen, with connectors if needed (ie :HDMI to VGA, to use for example on 1024x768 60Hz) ;

- low cost ;

- easy to use armbian or yoctoproject (or other open source solution) to make a custom version for PrimTux.fr ;

- nice use of 3D application (OpenScad, blender, and Tuxkart if possible) so it seems that this card need a powerfull processor, a good GPU, 1 or 2Go of RAM, and that the GPU is well supported by open source OS ;

- 3 or much better, 4 USB port (to use USB mouse, USB keyboard, USB sound and 1 USB to upload code on arduino and others cards) ;

- all (or a lot of) device works fine (wifi, bluetooth, cameras...).


Have you got some cards or tips to help to choose a card for this project ?


I particularly appreciate Olimex because of their open source and open hardware strategy. However I have seen on the armbian stable download page that there isn't Mali drivers and no hardware accelerated video decoding, i think that could be a problem for children activities based on 3D - openscad or video (but I'm not sure, I'm newbie).


Thanks for your help and attention,



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Hmm your 'wishlist' isn't that small. ;) To my knowledge there's no 'modern' SBC with open source GPU drivers. I think, you have to live with it. Most of these boards have a Mali GPU, so legacy instead of mainline seems to be a better choice for your use case. 
My personal favourite would be the Orange Pi PC Plus for these reasons:

  • You get it for ~35$ with a case and barrel plug powersource (3 Amp @ 5V). It have 3 native USB plus the otg micro USB. So you solve two problems at once.  Firstly you can be sure that no one uses a not appropriate micro usb cable for mobile phone charger to power this board and you have the otg still available if you need it somehow.
  • armbian runs smoothly on it to my knowledge there's no big issue with this board. Maybe someone like @martinayotte can give you more insights cause he owns more than one.
  • I don't know how good it is with your 3D stuff cause mine run as a headless server and I never tried it (don't have any HDMI monitor free to test these things :P).  Maybe you have to buy one first for evaluation before you decide if it's a good board for these stuff or look at google if somebody did these.
  • There's a connection for cameras and there are cameras available on their aliexpress online store (~6$).
  • There's an onboard 'sound card', if you don't do really fancy stuff this one should work, so you don't need any USB sound cards (to be honest, I never tested mine).
  • 8GB onboard eMMC, so you don't have to buy a reliable SD-Card for each board. Buy one for each class, with everything installed and configured, run nand-sata-install before give the SBC to the kids and let them play with it. If they damage something on software side, you can simply insert your "back up" SD-Card and re-run nand-sata-install again and they can start do brick it again. :P 
  • Most of these arduinos and other small 'thingies' can be programmed via serial. There's one on your pin header so you would save one USB. 
  • IR receiver and microphone on board. So two more things to play around for the kids. :P 
  • As you can read in various threads here, all these cheap SBC haven't that an exciting wifi performance. To my knowledge the wifi chip on the OPI plus PC isn't the worst one soldered on such a board. 
Ucino likes this

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4 minutes ago, chwe said:

Maybe someone like @martinayotte can give you more insights cause he owns more than one

Yes, The OPiPC+ is one of my favorite, one of the reason is price/feature ratio, having eMMC is really nice.

I'm also using those in my daily job.

But, all my boards are headless, so I can't give hint about 3D stuff.



Ucino and manuti like this

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Thanks a lot for your replies @chwe and @martinayoote !

I'm sorry to haven't replied before, i didn't configured well the emails notifcations.

It seems that the OPiPC+ is effectively very interesting for the use case, the price, the USB ports, the included 8eMMc, IR and mic, the kid could have a lot of fun with this card :)

 Thanks a lot for the tip's of nand-sata-install , it's very useful :)



Most of these boards have a Mali GPU, so legacy instead of mainline seems to be a better choice for your use case.


Oh so MaliGPU is supported by legacy ?

Legacy is the stable (default) version and mainline the nightly version that we can found here for OPiPC+ https://dl.armbian.com/orangepipcplus/ ? (i'm certainly wrong :) but didn't found information on the web)


I'm however a little afraid by the known issues of legacy https://www.armbian.com/orange-pi-pc-plus/ about the resolution support : (HDMI output (if exists) supports only limited number of predefined resolutions). As the goal is to deploy it in schools that could have a lot of different resolution screen, and as this was the reason why I can't go more away with the Orange Pi WIn+, I maybe will try to study other possibilities.


If I understand i have to choose between the support of Mali and the support of the screens resolution...


Buy or not buy this OpiPC+... hmmm I'm interested...

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I have received it. It works for screen with HDMI to VGA adaptator on 1024x768 60Hz, that's very cool :)

I will continue the tests, I have some problems for other things (wifi, bluetooth...).

manuti likes this

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