Choosing a Linux Distro for My BeagleBone Black

Hi,
I am not sure if this is the right place to post this but this is the only place that I could find that seemed suitable.
I recently received my BBB, and was able to get it up-and-running without any issues. After using it for a few days with the default OS (Ångström), I have noticed many flaky behaviors. Panels will occasionally disappear or go blank, no help content will load, desktop icons will disappear or refuse to load, etc. I was thinking that I would try updating the OS to the latest version (I have absolutely no idea which version it is running now), but first wanted to find some answers from someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

First, Is any of this behavior normal? I can’t imagine they are, but wanted to make sure.

Second, Would Ångström be the best distro to use? Although I do have some experience with Ubuntu, I am generally more of a Windows person (and don’t have much experience with Linux). Would any of the other available Linux-based OS-es be better for me? I would choose Ubuntu, but from what I have read, It wouldn’t actually be able to use the Ubuntu desktop GUI.

Hoping someone can help me!

Wasabi Fan

The best distro for you is the one that comes the closest to meeting your needs. You may want to give several different ones a try.

http://circuitco.com/support/index.php?title=BeagleBoneBlack#Software_Resources

Gerald

Not only that but you can run multiple distros at once( well not simultaneously obviously ), but say you’re only limited to your imagination within some constraints, You can netboot many different distros. USB boot, or even just use mutiple sd cards with different distros on them. All while leaving Angstrom on the eMMC if you see fit.

If you’re most comfortable with Ubuntu then perhaps Ubuntu would be the best choice for you ? But I would go one step further in saying if you’re familiar with Ubuntu, perhaps Debian would be best for you ? It all depends on what you expect, and how you use your BBB.

After trying multiple distros and desktop environments, I have settled on Debian with LXDE as the best choice (Not because I like LXDE the most, but because it runs fast). After playing around with it, I was wondering if it would be possible to install an LXDE desktop on Angstrom. Although it runs fine on Debian, Angstrom comes preinstalled with some software that is harder or just not practical to install on other ARM distros. Is this possible?

I personally have switched to Arch with all my BeagleBoards. While there
is more of a learning curve you are getting a great Distro that stays
cutting edge, does not overlay layer upon layer, only what is needed to
make it "Arch". It basically forces you to become more familiar with
Linux and the machine you are running it on. You get to control many
configurations distro's like Ubuntu or Debian and Angstrom choose for
you. They also have what they call the AUR(Arch User Repository), which
has user submitted PKGBUILDs(Text files to create an Arch package) for
programs not in the official Arch repos with Arch build tools. Not all
are ARM compatible without a little tweaking but most just need the flag
set to build for ARM and that is it. Bleeding edge Kernel or LTS option,
or easy to roll your own. Has it's own build system as well.

I have enjoyed ArchLinuxARM so much I converted all my laptops and
towers over to Arch as well. Give it a try, but expect to get frustrated
at times, have to research things, and most importantly learn. But
overall it is an amazing OS, with the only time a reinstall is needed is
if you absolutely bork your current install.

There is a good tutorial on setting up your BeagleBone Black with Arch
Linux I had no issues setting up my first card following this
http://www.adminempire.com/how-to-install-arch-linux-on-beaglebone-black-bbb/
Then getting the basics setup here
http://www.adminempire.com/beaglebone-basics-for-arch-linux/

I don’t know about Angstrom, but LXDE works great under Ubuntu 13.04.

" personally have switched to Arch with all my BeagleBoards. While there is more of a learning curve you are getting a great Distro that stays cutting edge, does not overlay layer upon layer, only what is needed to make it “Arch”. It basically forces you to become more familiar with Linux and the machine you are running it on."

Sounds like Debian to me.

Closer to Debian Sid, still different beasts all together, but no where near normal Debian. Rolling Release is only available in sid as far as I know with Debian as well. Also Debian auto configures some services and auto starts some by default. Arch never alters the config from upstream and never starts a service unless you explicitly do. Still though between Sid and Arch it is all about taste and what “base” layer you prefer. I personally prefer OpenBox with Tint2 you can get it even lighter than an LXDE setup.

If you are after the extra speed then Ubuntu would be the one to go for. Heard that Ubuntu is optimised better for the BBB than Debian (eg image size is smaller).

Or go even more lightweight and install Arch Linux ARM on your board. You will have the least bloated system running and you’re get the bonus of a rolling release. Simple how to install: Some basics: If you need cape support it is best to install the linux-am3xx-legacy kernel.

"years" ago maybe.. But debian did their armhf port first, then ubuntu
pulled it in.. So "gcc optimization wise" they are the same..

Regards,

I tried out 4 or 5 different distros after asking this originally and settled on multiple SD cards; one running Ubuntu (headless) and one running Debian (LXDE). I have found Ubuntu to be pretty fast, and I like the familiar parts of Ubuntu that don’t come with Debian. I just had to set up SSH and SCP and it all works really well. I was even able to stream video from a webcam, re-encode it and send the result over the network at 30 fps all while keeping an SSH session to watch the performance. I really just use Debian when I need the GUI.

  • Wasabi Fan

Hi Robert

It seems like you are involved in both Debian and Ubuntu EABI

So witch is best for Beaglebone Black? Pro and cons?

Regards

Jacob Carstens