[Freedombox-discuss] Help getting hardware in EU
jonas at jones.dk
Sun Feb 4 13:24:13 UTC 2018
Quoting Kruffalon (2018-02-03 12:04:19)
> I've been following the development of freedombox for a few years and
> now I want to get started using one.
> I understand I'm not the target audience for fbx just yet, but I
> really want to give it a try as I think it's an amazing project and
> I'm fairly intimidated by purchasing hardware since I don't have the
> knowledge (or confidence) to get it right or the money to make big
> So I'm asking you for help to order a set of hardware (including all
> the necessary cables, a box and a libre wifi-thingy) from one provider
> within the EU to just assemble and then I can get started.
> I think olimex.com looks good but if you have other suggestions I'm up
> for that.
> I've been looking at the A20-OLinuXino-Lime2 and -MICRO (I don't
> understand what's different in the two models) since they seem to be
> the most libre options and very cheap too.
In my opinion the A20-OLinuXino-Lime2 is the best choice for Freedombox
currently - outside of the EU as well.
Both LIME2 and MICRO supports externally connected SATA disk, but only
the MICRO has the option of a casing with space inside for a disk (but
see "Storage" below why I recommend *against* that).
The MICRO board is an older design targeted more for tinker people as it
has more connectors, e.g. VGA and audio. Beware that default Debian
install sends console output to serial port - redirecting to VGA or HDMI
requires tinkering with the system setup (I don't know if the "official"
Freedombox images custom-applies such tinkering already, as I generate
images with Boxer - some of my images are at https://box.redpill.dk/ ).
I generally recommend the original A20-OLinuXino-LIME2 variant. You
might consider the -e4GB variant - but again beware that may involve a
bit of tinkering to make use of the eMMC storage. (I intend to make
Boxer-based images for the -e4GB variant soon - my board should arrive
within a week).
Do *not* waste money on -n4GB or -n8GB variants: NAND storage is not
supported in mainline bootloader or Linux kernel, and even if/when it
becomes supported that (like eMMC above) requires a bit of tinkering to
make use of.
I recommend to *not* buy SDcards at Olimex. I instead buy from a
general online computer shop, and follow the recommendations from
Armbian for which SD cards are currently of best quality:
If curious, here are some details on the work leading to Armbian's
Personally I prefer (for systems where SDcard is not adequate) to use a
separately cased and powered external harddisk, as I then limit the
heating of the board and in case system freezes there is slight chance
that buffers internally to the disk gets flushed properly (and it allows
me to use 3.5" disks that I have lying around anyway, which I also -
possibly wrongly - imagine is more sturdy compared to 2.5" disks).
If you want to use an external harddisk and have it powered from the
box, then make sure to use one that starts gently without an initial
power spike. Simple way is to buy the disk sold at Olimex - I prefer
however to shop disks at bigger online shops with more options. For
conventional rotational disks you likely want to look for the "green"
variants which rotates slower (also having the likely benefit of making
a lower pitch more tolerable sound when they get older).
You can feed power through USB, but that is *not* recommended, since the
board can draw more power than defined in USB 2.0 spec (and you
therefore need to rely on your power supply violating the spec).
If you don't have a pile of old 5V power supplies piled up at home
already, then I suggest buy one of those sold by Olimex:
If you want to use an external harddrive, then you need a SATA cable.
Beware that it is regular SATA (not eSATA which is officially what
should be offered for out-of-the-box scenarios). Personally I use
separately boxed harddisk and a special SATA-to-eSATA cable (bought from
different supplier than Olimex).
If you want to use an external harddrive with power supplied from the
board, then you will want to buy the special SATA+power cable from
Olimex (but see "Storage" above for why I avoid such setup):
For regular use of Freedombox you need no special cables. If however
you want to be able to get console access in case the system misbehaves,
you should buy the special serial cable at Olimex (or tinker with
creating such cable e.g. from a scrap Nokia data cable):
You might consider buy a battery at Olimex. It should be supported with
no custom tinkering (I have a battery lying around but haven't played
with it yet).
For LIME2 your choice is only which color :-)
For MICRO cases exist with and without extra space for a harddrive (but
see "Storage" above why I recommend *against* that).
I recommend *against* buying wifi equipment at Olimex: They are not
specifically tested for FSF RYF compliance (i.e. work reasonably with
soldered-on firmware, without loading firmware at runtime). Try one of
the RYF compliant online shops, or maybe try save a few bucks (but with
higher risk of failing) by shopping similar devices at general online
* Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
* Tlf.: +45 40843136 Website: http://dr.jones.dk/
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