Asus Tinker Board

TinkerOS_Debian V1.6 (Beta version) Released

Asus has subsequently released V1.8 (Beta). Read our announcement.

There’s a new release of TinkerOS available to download on Asus’s website. TinkerOS is a Linux distribution for the Asus Tinker Board based on Debian. Not heard of the Asus Tinker Board? Read our two page review.

According to the changelog, the beta release adds the following:

  • Enable NFS_V4_1, NFS_V4_2 and IP_NF_NAT for kernel
  • Preload GPIO libraries in ZIP
  • Enable LED triggers for power, mmc0, and cpu0. (BUG on act recovery LED will be fixed in official version)
  • Install chromium_57.0.2987.98-1_armhf.deb from Debian 9
  • Install h264ify extension for Chromium
  • Add RK Player

The most interesting addition is the RK player. We will test to see how this hardware accelerated media player performs.

I’ve compiled a package list showing all the packages that come supplied with TinkerOS Version 1.6. There’s also a package list after running an update.

Package List – TinkerOS 1.6

Package List – TinkerOS 1.6 after updating

You can download TinkerOS 1.6 (beta) from Asus’s website.

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  • I’ve been using a Tinker board since its US launch, and performance-wise, I really like this board. However, the lack of a community compared to the RPi boards’ community is really showing a poor level of support on Asus’ part. Maybe Asus didn’t think this board would sell… in which case, why did they make it at all? Now that we have it in hand, it’s obvious that Asus didn’t plan very well on the side of software. The “TinkerOS” releases so far are lacking in ways that they shouldn’t be –particularly the lack of hardware accelerated OpenGL/GLES, which makes a night-vs-day difference in how a Linux desktop works.

    It seems obvious as well that with this chipset having been used in so many Android based STBs, that Asus should have compiled an Android release for the Tinker board to be positioned as a reference image. I’ve considered testing a few images made for similar hardware, but so far I’ve put it off because (1) of time to do the work, and (2) I’d rather not spend days or weeks on end trying to work around any discrepancies. I should probably start hammering Asus over this, but I think it would have much more impact if I weren’t the only one making the suggestion that an Android image should be available by default.

    I’ve read that the MiQi board is basically identical to the Tinker Board… how true is that? Can an image made for the MiQi be ran on a Tinker without modification? If not, would it be easier to alter a MiQi image to include what it needs to work right, or would it be easier to just compile an Android image from scratch and work out all of the finer details afterward? It seems to me that the latter would be a much more difficult path. I’ve engineered countless systems, but I’ve yet (in my 35+ years as a tech) to build an OS image from scratch –though, I *have* built out images on one RPi2 and then made a backup of that image to copy and deploy on multiple RPi2 units. I’ve also compiled a lot of things from source over the years, but never an Android distribution… which I feel is going to be quite different from, say, compiling an IRCD.

    What would you suggest, Steve? I don’t mind learning something new… in fact, I look forward to it, but on this matter, I’m at a loss as to where to start.

    • Steve Emms says:

      Thanks for your interesting and thought-provoking comments. I think it’s fair to comment on each point even though you don’t explicitly ask for a response to all.

      I really like the Asus Tinker Board too. It has the ‘grunt’ that I need, unlike any of the Raspberry Pi (RPI) range.

      The ‘lack’ of a community – personally I don’t believe it’s a fair comparison to make between the Asus and the RPI boards’ community. Given that the Raspberry Pi hit the 10 million units last year, it’s not surprising the RPI has a thriving community base. Whereas, the Asus Tinker Board is a fledgling SBC albeit with a huge multi-national company behind it. As I noted in my Tinker Board review, the success or failure largely depends on the resources expended by Asus on the venture.

      The ‘lacking’ TinkerOS releases – I agree this Debian variant needs a lot of polish. There are far too many silly bugs such as Chromium uninstalling as soon as you install software. But Asus are seeking developers’ help to improve the operating system, and this is where their focus should be.

      No Android image – as above, IMO Asus needs to focus their resources on TinkerOS. I seriously hope no one bought the Tinker Board with an expectation that Android will be well supported. And I’m not sure what the position is with Android on the RPI in any event? I’ve no real interest in running Android on the Tinker Board; if anyone wants to get involved in an Android distro, I am sure they will reach out.

      If anyone wants to try a different distro to TinkerOS, there are already others produced by community members:

      Armbian –
      DietPi –
      Yocto – Yocto

      I’m happy if folk send me a list of issues/bugs with TinkerOS. I’ll happily forward a concise list on to Asus.

      My 2p

      • [re: community]
        Don’t get me wrong… I understand the amount of time that it took for the RPi boards to reach where they are today, and I didn’t expect a ready-made community to be there at launch… I suppose my wording could have been more precise.

        What I’m saying is that Asus didn’t even make the effort to setup a forum for development on this board and gave merely a basic support site for it instead, treating it like it’s any other board they’ve developed. That basically sends the message to users of the board that if they want a dev community to spring up around this board, it’ll be completely up to the users to make that happen. It sends the message that Asus has delivered a board that they will only support at the most minimal of levels –which may not be the case at all, it just gives that appearance due to the real lack of… well… really much of anything related to this board. So far, this site has more info on the board that anyplace else, including Asus’ own.

        [re: OS]
        Thanks for the links. I’ll check those out this evening. My board’s image went belly-up last night after a failed install of Mesa to get GL/GLES working. I’ll likely re-image it tonight.

        [Re: Android]
        Really, this board’s chipsets are identical to a great majority of the RKchip based Android boxes that have been released over the past few years, so I suppose I might try my hand at making a build… it’ll be… educational.

        Android on RPi3 has actually been coming along on several fronts –mainly because the work on it is fragmented at the moment across 3 or 4 separate distributions with each one trying to meet a different goal. The most stable so far as been based on Android-TV, though I’m not sure which version… it’s been about 3 months since I last messed around with that distro, and dumped it at the time because of the lack of hardware acceleration.

        It seems really, the biggest problem all of these boards are facing is regarding the source-code for the GPUs. In several cases, the OEMs not releasing that code is what’s holding up development across the board.

        Anyways, thanks again.

        • Steve Emms says:

          It’s a shame that the Android/RPI3 developers don’t collaborate, the time wasted duplicating efforts is a bit of a killer. Then again we see that far too often in software projects.

      • tbelding says:

        As of 4/20/2017, ASUS released a TinkerOS Android package on their download page.

  • Joao Goncalves says:

    Version1.8 released

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