Happy New Year Beaglers!


Here we are, 2014. Expect a big year for Beagle! Unfortunately, I have
to start out with an apology. LinuxGizmos.com recently hopped on the
news that over 100,000 BeagleBone Blacks have now been sold. When they
contacted me to confirm, I blundered a bit by repeating and confirming
what I thought was a fairly broadly shared rumor---that we are looking
to soon shift the Linux distribution that ships in the flash of the
boards from Angstrom to Debian. The blunder wasn't the confirming of
the news, but rather not doing a good job at communicating to the
community about this move better ahead of time. It didn't help that I
was taking off for vacation where my Internet access is spotty at
best. So, I owe you all a big apology, but I hope you are still
excited about the news.

So what's coming?

The big news is a shift to Debian in the on-board flash. You'll still
be able to flash Angstrom if you want to use that and myself and
others in the community will still be rather happy to help you with
Angstrom-related questions, but the feeling is that we'll get a much
broader support base if we have new users encounter Debian first on
the upcoming boards.

The exact date of the switch-over hasn't been determined. Gerald had
most recently given me and everyone involved a deadline of giving him
an image by the end of January, but we are currently bottlenecked by
the updated version of Cloud9 IDE. I have been playing with a beta of
version 3 and I find it to be a huge improvement that will enable us
to provide support for C compilation within the IDE using plug-ins.
The new version also runs on node 0.10, making it much easier to work
with recent Debian builds. Before any switch in production happens,
there will be a fairly complete beta image shared broadly for testing.

How similar will the experience be?

If you aren't a heavy Linux user and just do a few things from the
command-line and use the Cloud9 IDE, the experience will be pretty
similar, but I hope you'll find it somewhat improved. If you are a
more seasoned developer, I probably don't need to answer the question,
because you are already likely to be somewhat experienced with Debian.
All of the key features you expect should be there.

We have a handful of performance goals to try to keep the experience
on-par with Angstrom. One is a boot time target of under 10 seconds.
Using the typical boot strategy for Debian Wheezy without any
significant optimization, Robert Nelson observed that boot time was
more like 30 seconds. By switching over to systemd, as is used by
typical Angstrom builds, boot time dropped to around 16 seconds. We'll
be spending a bit of time trying to improve this between now and the
beta image.

Space on the flash will likely be very similar, due to trying to
provide similar functionality. The builds are currently quite a bit
smaller, but Robert is still adding in items to bring in feature

BoneScript will still be included in the out-of-box experience to help
quickly prove out the various hardware interfaces and help people
learn about wiring up hardware. I've fixed most of the issues with
getting BoneScript onto other distros besides Angstrom and am planning
to soon release version 0.2.4 that already has improved support for
switching pin modes and reading pin states.

The USB flash drive and USB networking features will still be
included, as well as the driver install guide, self-hosted web-based
tutorial and the previously mentioned Cloud9 IDE.

Over time, there will be more promotion of the Userspace Arduino
project that provides an easy-to-learn C API for rapid prototyping of
hardware projects. Of course, the boards will continue to ship with a
C/C++ compiler and build tools, libraries, and a number of
interpreters, such as Python. I'd love to include the Adafruit BBIO
Python library, so I'll be contacting them to see if they'll approve
that. I've also been chatting quite a few times with the Erlang folks,
so that is something that has a good likelihood of being included.

The kernel is likely to be the same one included currently in
Angstrom, the customized 3.8.x kernel. However, if the release slips
enough, there is a reasonable chance we'll be switching over to one of
either the 3.12 or 3.13-rc kernels. A good amount of attention will be
paid to having a good set of drivers and firmware for USB wifi
adapters included as this was a pain point for some people in the

How to contribute?

The script for building the image is currently hosted at
https://github.com/beagleboard/image-builder . Hop on the mailing list
with questions about running the script and send Github pull requests
if you have suggested improvements. Contributing to the kernel
continues to be the same athttps://github.com/beagleboard/kernel . I
am overdue, however, at writing up how to contribute Cape DTS firmware
sources that configure Cape hardware automatically using devicetree.
The new repository for that is at
https://github.com/beagleboard/cape-firmware and it just needs a good
README that describes the details of contributing.

Thanks for all of your support and I'm so very thrilled with all the
amazing things happening in the Beagleverse for 2014!


P.S. Did I miss anything Gerald? Sorry for the total lack of
communication, but Internet access is extremely limited here. I'm
pretty sure I won't be allowed to take vacation again for some time,
and certainly no where that doesn't have reliable service!

This sounds good. It looks like I can to retool my BeagleClass again.

Have you considered including Mathematica on the image? I see it’s going to be included on the Pi[2].


[1] http://www.wolfram.com/raspberry-pi/
[2] http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/5282

"Future Raspbian images will ship with the Wolfram Language and
Mathematica by default; existing users with at least 600MB of free
space on their SD card can install them today by typing:"

So that's 1/3 of the space on eMMC... Kinda wasteful in my mind for a
"generic" for everyone image..


Wow, I hadn’t noticed it was so BIG. Maybe a separate SD image just for Mma could be created that you would insert when you want to run it.

I’ve played with Mma on the Pi and it does work, but it’s rather sluggish at times.


If they push it to a "generic apt repo" (which i doubt), you could
always build that image yourself:


Just add it to the package list:



My idea was to keep all things Mathematica on a separate SD card, even though you’re booting off the eMMC. I’d plug it in when I want to play with it and pop it out when done. Then it wouldn’t eat up valuable eMMC space.


Sounds like a fair approach to me and might even be able to be FAT
formatted. There are public test images if you want to try it out and
give everyone some feedback.

Jason: What does this mean for BeagleBoard XM. Will the XM’s also be shipped with Debian? If so, when?


While this discussion is strictly about the production beaglebone
image going forward.. This same image script also currently supports
the xM and which you can download install on a microSD card today.



Thanks Robert and apologies for the off-topic question.
Shipping boards with a certain image generates a lot of confidence on the completeness and stability of the image. Hence the specific question.


One of the issues with the xM and previous boards, the dsp does not
work on mainline and the sgx graphics doesn't work with kms.. So if
you update that old out of box image you loose both of those features.
No one is working on the dsp for omap3, the maemo guys at nokia where
the last to really touch it and the sgx, well we are always waiting.


That is what I was hinting at with completeness :wink:

Since you didn’t mention < 1GHz speed, I guess that’s solved / almost-solved in debian?

1Ghz operation has been solved since v3.11-rc, although it's still
relies on an external clock framework patch which "might" hit mainline
in v3.14-rc.. (so pure mainline doesn't work)