Friday, 1 April 2016

Nano Pi M1

Oh dear.

well I wanted to like this so much, the little $11 quad core has so much potential, and its really there, but its not ready for public release. The little board is fussy with the SD cards it has, I tried 3 before it booted, and its twin, was just as fussy.
Also when getting it to boot to a gui involves a coin toss you need to worry. Sometimes it goes to a log in screen, and btw Friendly Arm have not listed the login/passwords anywhere I can find them,
and sometimes it will boot to the Rasbian Gui

The console boot won't startx and sometimes even fails to recognize reboot.  Though when it does it tends to then go to the GUI...but not always!!

I can't figure out how to resize the partition, since it fails to resolve the directory path, I really have no clue about Linux so trying to work out login and password info its a mystery t me.

The Gui when it gets there is great, but nothing much works. It did recognize my wifi dongle, but when attempting to enter the pass key the simple act of pressing the OK button to then let it connect...was met just does nothing...this could be due to lack of store space because of the lack of partition space though

What is very exciting is that in a terminal you can run GLMark for ES2 and sure enough there in all its glory is the OpenGL ES test demo, and confirmation that this is a Mali 400 MP GPU

Also, it seems to have its .SO drivers in the lib directory, this could well be the easiest machine to actually get code working on...Now that is the potential

If I can get the passwords for it, there are hints on the site of root/fa and it logs in with those but fails after that.

Wired networking also is a little odd, it need to be plugged in on power up, but that still does not allow networking since the machine does not have a valid mac address
The Wiki here 
Suggested adding a valid Mac address, so I found an old network unit that I no longer used and copied its mac address, but the file is read only and I was unable to save (perhaps another resize issue?) I know Linux protects some important files but I don't know.

I just tried ifconfig after a log in, when it didn't go to the GUI and root/fa worked and ifconfig returned an address which allowed me to make an SSH connection

which VisualGDB was able to use, it returned an error though
/usr/bin/xauth:  error in locking authority file /root/.Xauthority

Which again I assume is due to partition issues....

So for now this machine has to stay in the box, until either I get some help with understanding the Linux needed to make it functional, or the suppliers provide passwords and instructions on how to resize.

Shame....this could be a real cool little Mali machine if only I could get past the assumption the makers have that everyone knows linux!!!!

Using a 4th SD, this time an 8G, the others being 16gb, I tried again and finally able to re size followg these instructions

yeahhhh finally, ok now SSH works, console opens and returns no error, boot is still hit and miss, but I have a full 8G SD working...wifi does at least now save the properties when I click ok, but does not manage to connect.

so a little progress, I will try to get some mali 400 graphic code running this weekend.

Final edit... it does seem that the 16Gb sd's I was using were faulty, which won't have helped things at all. The branded 8Gb in there now seems stable and aside from never being sure if the gui is going to fire up I'm happy with the beast now.
I will re-review this at a later date when I come back to it.


  1. Your blog is very interesting - your history of boards is not unsimilar to mine - (

    The M1 (the password for fa is fa) comes with Debian as an option but fails because the partition size is only 2GB - I have told them that Raspberry Pi now resize the partition automatically - you would think these companies would be keeping an eye out on the competition!! I'm still waiting for FriendlyArm to tell me how to repartition the M1 so I can do a simple update. More on my blog when they come back.

    Still - IF they come back - it's quite a cheap board!! I've not seen the M2 yet. I have the PC-T2 running Debian more or less as a PI user and apart from handling GPIO it works a treat. A real shame again that the companies don't look to the market leader and emulate the facilities they provide. Raspberry Pi for example has varous GPIO packages that make handling GPIO a doddle.

    1. Thanks Peter, FriendlyArm have been very helpful, and I do actually really like this little board a lot, it does still have a few issues, like its aquisition of an IP address can take many minutes, but once it is actually up and running it works perfectly.

      Like many boards though, it does have a very small user base and thats really what is needed to drive its software base. The makers themselves are more interested in the hardware than any software, which they hope the community will provide.
      I gave a few of these M1's to my students to convert their Raspberry Pi projects and they found it quite a fun challenge as I didn't give them the slightly different OpenGLES setups, but with some research they managed fine and the sense of achievment with getting a simple triangle on screen was really rewarding.
      Of course I plan to take that a few steps further with actual games :)

      the T2 and T3's are also very nice indeed, The T3 is especially fast which is awesome to see.
      You can re-partition the M1 using the link on my post above.

  2. I like the M1 - I use them on WIFI (£1.50 WIFI dongles) - connect straight away no problem. M2 I've not had as much luck, T3 way more powerful good for Android but still working on expanding image past 8 Gig. Lots of these companies seem to think that most people have Linux machines and know how to use Linux well. I'm a PC guy and most of my pals and colleagues have Windows 7 or 10 - so when they write and say "just put this in your PC and type "Sudo...."" I get a little frustrated. But yes, as cheaper alternatives to Pi I think they rank among the best - as you'll see in my blog - some of the alternatives are AWFUL. Love to hear of any successes with M1, M2, T3.

  3. Yeah the Linux community is really shamefully unsupportive. I'm also a Windows guy, and consoles, and despite starting out 30odd years ago on MSDos, I have no real interest in Linux, and am quite deliberately not making any attempt to master it. So when I'm told to do...blah...the assumption of prior knowledge which I just don't have leaves me quite lost.
    Its rather sad that the machines are not given much simpler interfaces to allow people to get more about of them. I'm attempting to redress that a little in my book, which may as a side effect result in people bothering to learn more Linux :D...not sure that's really a good thing.

    I just ordered an M3 from FA, I know its basically the same as the T3, but my OCD insists on having the set :D