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General => Users => Topic started by: phenigma on December 15, 2015, 01:48:09 am

Title: Mini-PCs and Compute Sticks - initial thoughts
Post by: phenigma on December 15, 2015, 01:48:09 am
Hey everyone!

Since these types of devices have been brought up once or twice already, and they are becoming much more prevalent, I wanted to put out a bit of a brain dump here on my initial experiences with these new 'mini-pcs'.  I recently acquired an Intel Compute Stick, Quad Core 1.33Gzh Atom, 1GB RAM, 8GB eMMC (only 5 total after recovery partition and only 1GB free), Ubuntu 1404 LTS 64-bit.  The unit itself is not much larger than a USB stick and includes b/g/n wifi and bluetooth and integrated HDMI connector.

With our newer packages it was easy enough for me (please don't read in to this that it was easy, I'm very adept at this now) to shoe-horn LMCE onto the stick.  Special audio drivers, wifi, bt and more.  The i915 graphics adaptor provides va-api acceleration of many formats and I had no problems playing any video that I wanted to play.  1080P full frame video.  Better support than the rpi/2 for video playback.

We have a bug with 64bit and UI2, they don't like each other.  Compositing is not functioning properly on 64bit installs.  Compositing is required for UI2.  The Compute Stick supports only 64bit Ubuntu (or only 32 bit windows, go figure).  UI1 is the only option if you want to use the onscreen orbiter.  If, like me, you don't use the onscreen orbiter then it is not a problem and provides a nicer Photo Screen Saver.

Audio playback just doesn't work.  There is a bug in the audio driver that shuts down the audio output during low cpu usage, kick the cpu and audio comes back.  This seems like a power management issue to me but I'm only in the beginning stages of even trying to track it down.  In some cases people have reported that this can affect video playback if the cpu usage drops too low but I have not confirmed this myself.

Wifi and Bluetooth both suck beyond belief.  To alleviate the wifi issues I set up and access point just for the compute stick, on separate channels and ssids and all that...  Still drop outs and ping times in the 400ms range.  Ok, so I added an usb ethernet adaptor and.... no improvement.  The wifi kept slowing down and lagging the entire system.  I had to disable the wireless to even get a reasonable network connection.

Don't buy one.  The issues are such that I cannot recommend this device, or any similar device, to anyone for LMCE use at this time.  I have seen a bunch of devices that are similar to the Intel Compute Stick that offer much more promise.  If you find a device with better wireless possibilities, or wired mini-pc, and want to see it as a supported device feel free to dig in (or send me one to work with).  If anyone wants to provide me a device I can see what it will take to get LMCE to work, if at all.  The same goes for ARM devices.

I'm really excited about the prospects of these types of low powered x86 devices, and arm devices, being used as full MDs within the LMCE ecosystem, but they are not fully developed and supported enough at this time. 

Use an RPI2 for low powered MDs.

Title: Re: Mini-PCs and Compute Sticks - initial thoughts
Post by: phenigma on December 16, 2015, 12:44:35 am
I think I've fixed the audio issues I was having on the Compute Stick.  Wow, that didn't take long.  But it does require a bit of manual configuration at the moment so I still cannot recommend it yet.

Title: Re: Mini-PCs and Compute Sticks - initial thoughts
Post by: bluewolf on December 24, 2015, 11:55:48 pm
I like where you are going with this. With almost everything in the home automation industry going to these types of devices, having LMCE to be able to use these devices will help in bringing LMCE up to par with the industry. I am trying out a few IoT devices out such as the RPI2 and other SBCs over the holiday and will see if I can get them working.
Title: Re: Mini-PCs and Compute Sticks - initial thoughts
Post by: Marie.O on December 25, 2015, 03:15:19 pm
Your comment make me snicker.

LMCE on par with the industry. LMCE is capable of doing things that no other system is capable of. Unfortunately, that doesn't help to get LMCE out, as the major stumbling block of LMCE isn't capabilities, but mainly installability and (on the media side) stability and compatibility.

With the advent of rpi2 et al we have the ability to cater for one specific hardware that has a very low pricepoint for people to use easily. That's a major plus.
Title: Re: Mini-PCs and Compute Sticks - initial thoughts
Post by: bluewolf on December 26, 2015, 12:31:16 am
O I know what it can do. I spent 15 years in the home automation business and fell in love with LMCE years ago. But you are right, the inconsistency is what has hurt it, specifically in the media area. I went from the automation industry to the IT industry around 5 years ago. And you are right about the usefulness of devices such as the RPI. I have 5 in the house and 2 of them are being used as servers, and the other 3 are media players. I have another that I will be installing LMCE on to see if I can get it to integrate with the others. I also have some RTI and Elan pieces that I am working with to see if I can get the software on each to talk to LMCE. As I said, I fell in love with the LMCE software years ago; I am in no way doubting the ability of the software.
Title: Re: Mini-PCs and Compute Sticks - initial thoughts
Post by: bluewolf on January 26, 2016, 01:51:50 am
Sorry guys, been having some medical issues that needed to be dealt with before I could dedicate time to this small project of mine. Some neck and nerve issues that hopefully will be done and over with soon. I installed LMCE on a RPI2 and will be hopefully logging in some dedicated time the next few days. I have a few RPI2 as media servers already so I am hoping to control them via LMCE and then see what issue arise from using LMCE from the RPI2 to control media that is on another RPI2. If anyone has done more with the RPI 1 or 2, please do not hesitate to let me know so I can compare some notes.