Monday, October 3, 2016

Odroid-c2 assembly

It is time to assemble the odroid-c2!
The assembly requires :
- attachment of the eMMC card on the Board
- put the Board inside the case
- secure the case with 2 very small screws (screwdriver not included!)
The parts are :

The first thing was to attach the eMMC card on the board.

It had a strange feeling that I might break it!
But in the end, I realized that the eMMC cards does a click and snaps into place!

Next up, was to put the board inside the case.

The board fits exactly inside the case.
The case closes with three clips (that feel that they will break when trying to open it!).
And also it requires 2 very small screws to secure the board inside it.
The board is very protected inside the case. The board did not move at all when I tried shaking the case!
You can see what the odroid-c2 looks assembled:

Isn't that a beauty?

Using the eMMC card yields higher speeds at the expense of more difficult disassembly in case one needs to extract the card.
Using a microSD card, although lower performance, one can extract the card without opening the case. You can see there is an opening on the case for the microSD card :

I wish that on the "c3" (if there ever is one!), there will be an opening for eMMC too!!!

Odroid-c2 eMMC card backup - burn image - restore (Part 1)

As a seasoned administrator, the first thing I did was BACKUP!
A backup of the eMMC card to an image file using my laptop and a microSD-to-USB adapter that I own.
I wanted to be sure that I could revert back to the initial image in a blink of an eye in case of OS/file corruption!

To make this work, I used the eMMC with it's eMMC-to-microSD adapter, and my own microSD-to-USB adapter.

So I attached the odroid's eMMC card to its eMMC-to-microSD adapter.
Then I attached that to my microSD-to-USB adapter.
And finally jacked it up in my laptop!
And it worked!

It IS a monstrosity! But it works!!!

The free backup programs that I used are :
- "AOMEI Backupper Standard" and
- "Active Disk Image"
Both programs take disk-to-image backups that include the boot sector.
Furthermore both programs can execute image-to-disk restore from a pre-existing backup.
I took 2 backups, because I had problems in the past with a backup file that was restored and could not be booted!
When both of the backups were complete, I felt safe!

Each backup took about 5 minutes each (running at 17MB/s read speed).
I expected a higher speed. I don't know if there was a bottleneck somewhere.
I 'll do a disk benchmark in the future. No doubt about that!

This post will be continued with instructions to burn an ubuntu minimal image (and maybe an LibreELEC image), as well as instructions about restoring an pre-existing backup.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Odroid-c2 unboxing

The odroid-c2 has arrived!
Ιt took only 10 days!!!
Well done hardkernel!
Well done EMS!
Well done elta-courier!

It arrived inside a small package with the odroid logo on it! Nice!

The back side of the package had the "cu(r)stoms declaration", which probably helped ease its way out of customs office without custom fees!

The package has a rubik-cube feel!
Like, it's impossible to open without tearing it apart!
I mean it!
If you are not the one that packed it, you cannot open it!!!
You can only take a knife and start cutting it up!
Which is what I did!

The odroid board was smaller than I imagined it, but it feels very robust.
A really small form factor server wanna-be!

And the up side of the board :

The case also feels well manufactured, and the board fits seamlessly.
I like the feel that all the parts were made to work with each other.

The package also contained :
- the power adapter (EU style!) with 1.5m cord. Very thoughtful!
- the WiFi chip and antenna (all fit inside a usb stick!)
- the IR remote control, which feels very slick! It takes 2xAAA batteries (not included).
- the eMMC card with the microSD adaptor for read/write

Next up:
Odroid-c2 assembly
Odroid-c2 backup eMMC card

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Ordering my C2 odroid!

This is the first post in a blog series about my adventures with the odroid (raspberry-like) machine C2. I am planning to dual purpose it as :
- a home media player and
- a server with ssh-apache-tomcat-mysql/postgresql etc
and I am planning on documenting each step of the way!

The background
For many years I have been trying to find a suitable mini server to host my java server pet projects. A server that would be able to run apache + tomcat + postgresql/mysql with ease.
A few years back, I started with turning my desktop PC into a part time server, that run 24/7 and was a server when I was away and a PC when I was at home!
Then I setup an old PC (20GB disk, 1 GB RAM, AMD Athlon 1GHz) as a linux server but it was frightfully noisy and extremely slow. It did not last long!
I was always on the lookout for a new desktop PC configuration but I could not land one that I could be satisfied with, with less than 300 Euros. I needed at least 2GB of RAM, a respectable 2-4 core processor, a good hard disk (if not an ssd) and probably a wireless connection too (so that it can be placed in whichever place inside the house).
It has been more than a year now that I have been exploring a pure cloud solution, but this is a rather expensive solution, as I would have to pay at least 135 Euros/year for a server that would seem to barely satisfy my needs (80 GB disk, 1GB RAM, 3 vCores).
I had been looking at raspberry, but its 1GB of memory made me very reluctant.

The discovery
When I found out that odroid featured 2GB of RAM, I fell in love with it! And I started exploring odroids ever since. From the first moment, C2 stood out for me. It was a 2GB model, compared to C1+ and C0 that features only 1 GB. And it has 4 cores, which are more than enough, compared to the 8-cored XU-4. And its price was fantastic! 40USD!!! It was love at first sight!

Odroid C2 board
Odroid C2 board. Isn't this a beauty?

Then there were the accessories. Odroid's philosophy is that you select the board (which has 4 USB slots!) and then you can extend it the way you like it. It has accessories for wi-fi, gps, weather, IR receiver, touch screen etc. You can transform your odroid from anything ranging from a headless server, to a media player, or even a weather machine!

The first thing I knew that I needed was a casing! I quickly picked up the clear casing!
But the rest of the accessories did not ring any bells! Did I need any of them? I started exploring some of the accessories, and I discovered that I could have either a Linux based or an Android base odroid machine! How cool was that?

The accessories
What cleared my mind regarding the accessories was the device's manual. Not the C2's manual! No such manual! But the C1's manual! Since C1 is very similar to the C2.
Then I came to realize that I needed at least the following for a server setup:
- A casing
The casings. I chose the clear one!

- A power plug!
The power plug (EU style!)

- An eMMC flash card for the OS (which is 3-4 times faster than a microSD). The packet also includes the eMMC reader so that one can be able to burn a new OS from a PC (like swithcing from Linux to android or even armbian!). Since I like snappy mahines, I could not compromise with a microSD's performance so I quickly chose the eMMC card.
8GB eMMC Module C2 Linux Black

eMMC Module Reader

Since I am planning to dual-purpose my odroid. A server  and a media player, so I also picked up the following accessories for the media player setup :
- A USB wifi module (4) with IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n WLAN module with on-board 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Dual band antenna. So that odroid can be placed in the living room.
USB wifi module

- And of course no media player can be as respectable without an IR remote control!
IR Remote control

Instead of a conclusion
And the grand total was 108USD !!! I checked out my order and payed with my paypal. 
They will be posting it within 7 days and the delivery will take another 7 days. I am expecting it at the end of the month.
I can't wait to get it delivered and unwrap it!
Follow my adventures at the next part of the series :
Until then you can browse through C2 features, prices and accessories here.
One can find the odroid C1's manual here.

8/9/2016 follow up :
I got an email today that my odroid is received by EMS. HardKernel is very quick! I am expecting the delivery in about 7 days! I 'll keep you posted!

9/9/2016 follow up :
EMS tracking system shows even the flight number! I found the flight in !!! How cool is that !!!

15/9/2016 follow up :
It arrived today! 
It only took 10 days!
That was fast!

Next up :
Odroid-c2 unboxing
Odroid-c2 assembly