Some Newbie Questions - Media Center Beagle Board

Hi everyone,

I just learned about the Beagle Board and am quite enthusiastic about
it.

I am going to buy the Beagle Board when the RevC is released.

I am planning to use this platform as a media player for my TV.

Now here is the plan.

1) I'll install some linux distro (either angstrom or ubuntu) on my
beagle board.

2) I'll use my old TV (through s-video interface) as the display.

3) I'll hook up my audio system through the audio interface.

4) I'll attach a usb hub and through the hub a mouse (maybe a
keyboard).

5) Here is the tricky part. I would like to connect my external hard
disk to the beagle board ( I am planning to buy a 1 TB either from
Western Digial or Seagate) through the usb hub. Will the distro
successfully identify and use the external hard disk? (With proper
drivers etc.)

Could I use a NTFS formatted drive?

6) Which distro has proper software and codecs for audio and video
playback (mp3's and divx videos with subtitles) ?

Ghost said the following on 09/20/2008 04:26 PM:

I just learned about the Beagle Board and am quite enthusiastic about
it.
  

So are we :slight_smile:

I am planning to use this platform as a media player for my TV.

2) I'll use my old TV (through s-video interface) as the display.
  

Might be good to get s-video native support in the linux-omap kernel.
this is still an ongoing discussion.

3) I'll hook up my audio system through the audio interface.
  

We have a tiny little issue here too.. ALSA SOC support for TWL4030 need
to be stabilized for this.

4) I'll attach a usb hub and through the hub a mouse (maybe a
keyboard).
  

HID class should be a no brainer. just remember to enable the modules.

5) Here is the tricky part. I would like to connect my external hard
disk to the beagle board ( I am planning to buy a 1 TB either from
Western Digial or Seagate) through the usb hub. Will the distro
successfully identify and use the external hard disk? (With proper
drivers etc.)
  

Mass storage devices should again be possible. relevant kernel modules
need to be enabled.

Could I use a NTFS formatted drive?
  

you'd need to enable ntfs support in kernel for that.

Regards,
Nishanth Menon

Ghost said the following on 09/20/2008 04:26 PM:
> I just learned about the Beagle Board and am quite enthusiastic about
> it.
>
So are we :slight_smile:
> I am planning to use this platform as a media player for my TV.
>
> 2) I'll use my old TV (through s-video interface) as the display.
>
Might be good to get s-video native support in the linux-omap kernel.
this is still an ongoing discussion.
> 3) I'll hook up my audio system through the audio interface.
>
We have a tiny little issue here too.. ALSA SOC support for TWL4030 need
to be stabilized for this.
> 4) I'll attach a usb hub and through the hub a mouse (maybe a
> keyboard).
>
HID class should be a no brainer. just remember to enable the modules.
> 5) Here is the tricky part. I would like to connect my external hard
> disk to the beagle board ( I am planning to buy a 1 TB either from
> Western Digial or Seagate) through the usb hub. Will the distro
> successfully identify and use the external hard disk? (With proper
> drivers etc.)
>
Mass storage devices should again be possible. relevant kernel modules
need to be enabled.
> Could I use a NTFS formatted drive?
>
you'd need to enable ntfs support in kernel for that.

ntfs might be a bad choice for this. When I use a NTFS formatted disk to
backup my machine. I found gzip use 100% one core, ntfs driver uses 100%
one core. And ntfs throughput in Linux is also poor, around 7MB/s. Then
switch to a ext3 disk, only gzip uses CPU. My backup goes like 5-6 times
faster. That was in core 2 duo machine though, never tried ntfs on ARM.

Another question on this topic: Are we sure beagle can do 720p without
trouble? (Need help from DSP side?). How about 1080p? What is the color
depth? 5-6-5 16bpp color or true 8-8-8 color?

Thanks?

Guo Tang said the following on 09/20/2008 07:28 PM:

Could I use a NTFS formatted drive?
  

you'd need to enable ntfs support in kernel for that.
    
ntfs might be a bad choice for this. When I use a NTFS formatted disk to
backup my machine. I found gzip use 100% one core, ntfs driver uses 100%
one core. And ntfs throughput in Linux is also poor, around 7MB/s. Then
switch to a ext3 disk, only gzip uses CPU. My backup goes like 5-6 times
faster. That was in core 2 duo machine though, never tried ntfs on ARM.
  

Probably. I personally do not use an external disk. I suspect the
restrictions one could see on a desktop environment might be the same
here. if the rationale for using ntfs disk is to be able to access files
in windows, you may be interested in [1]. Again, this is just the result
of google search - I have not personally used it.

Another question on this topic: Are we sure beagle can do 720p without
trouble? (Need help from DSP side?). How about 1080p? What is the color
depth? 5-6-5 16bpp color or true 8-8-8 color?

I have not personally used beagle DVI support, hence cannot comment,
however, on SDP3430, yes we have 720p image at 24 bit color - without
using DSP - no codecs either.. just a diagnostics test driver - and this
should be the same on beagleboard also. Discussion on 720p in [2]

1080p was not done. there is a big thread of discussion in [3].

Regards,
Nishanth Menon

[1] http://www.fs-driver.org/
[2]
http://groups.google.com/group/beagleboard/browse_thread/thread/fb5b422846e1933d/bfbc01586a021ca3?lnk=gst&q=720p#
[3]
http://groups.google.com/group/beagleboard/browse_thread/thread/cd8647dd1c8096bd/af85dbc29adc98f1?lnk=gst&q=1080p#af85dbc29adc98f1

Now as far as I understand the proble is to have the required drivers
and software on the specific distro.

I guess ntfs will be a problem. But Fat32 will be supported I guess.
Or do I have to use a linux partition like ext3 etc.

I guess I will be able to manage this with your help.

It probably seems that ubuntu or debian are the most suitable distros
for such a project.

Now as far as I understand the proble is to have the required drivers
and software on the specific distro.

I guess ntfs will be a problem. But Fat32 will be supported I guess.
Or do I have to use a linux partition like ext3 etc.

I guess I will be able to manage this with your help.

It probably seems that ubuntu or debian are the most suitable distros
for such a project.

Debian and Ubuntu have exceptionally bad support for multimedia on the
beagleboard. Unless you think one frame per minute is acceptable.

Ghost, at this time, specially with out ti's dsp/video acceleration
drivers ubuntu and debian will not be as fast as the current angstrom
image. (there is also supposedly a video decoding demo running on
angstrom somewhere on youtube)

Angstrom: Compiled with armv7-a (Cortex)

Debian: Compiled with armv4t for 'lenny' (the debian project would
rather support a wide variety of arm devices
arm9's/arm11's/etc/Cortex) (maybe for lenny+1 they will upgrade this
requirement, but only time will tell.)

Mojo Handhelds: (based off Ubuntu) ports compiled with armv5el &
armv6el-vpf, with armv7-a planned for the 8.10 release (gcc 4.3.x is
default in 8.10 so cortex support is available.)

At this time i'm working with andy at mojo to get the beagle's kernel
included in a 'contrib' repo. My end goal is to use this board as a
mythtv frontend, i just really hope ti's video drivers support X-Video
Motion Compensation (XvMC) or intel's latest XvMC+ specifications.
(don't really remember what's it is called at the moment.)

Regards,

>
>
> It probably seems that ubuntu or debian are the most suitable distros
> for such a project.
>

Ghost, at this time, specially with out ti's dsp/video acceleration
drivers ubuntu and debian will not be as fast as the current angstrom
image. (there is also supposedly a video decoding demo running on
angstrom somewhere on youtube)

Angstrom: Compiled with armv7-a (Cortex)

Debian: Compiled with armv4t for 'lenny' (the debian project would
rather support a wide variety of arm devices
arm9's/arm11's/etc/Cortex) (maybe for lenny+1 they will upgrade this
requirement, but only time will tell.)

Mojo Handhelds: (based off Ubuntu) ports compiled with armv5el &
armv6el-vpf, with armv7-a planned for the 8.10 release (gcc 4.3.x is
default in 8.10 so cortex support is available.)

At this time i'm working with andy at mojo to get the beagle's kernel
included in a 'contrib' repo. My end goal is to use this board as a
mythtv frontend, i just really hope ti's video drivers support X-Video
Motion Compensation (XvMC) or intel's latest XvMC+ specifications.
(don't really remember what's it is called at the moment.)

I am sorry if I am a little off topic here. Do we need a X server in order
to use XvMC? Is X Window a big overhead for small system like beagle? I
found mplayer can work directly on frame buffer device without X.

XvMC (1) is an extension to the X window system and this would have to
be enabled by an X11 software driver so Xorg would have to be running.
Kdrive (2) (smaller xorg, but no longer supported) might work too
thou, i've just never been able to get that to load.

Sorry, i don't have resource numbers from running Xorg on beagleboard
using the ubuntu/debian ports..

Mplayer (3) internally supports many different out put devices
including the framebuffer.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Video_Motion_Compensation
2. http://www.pps.jussieu.fr/~jch/software/kdrive.html
2. http://www.mplayerhq.hu/DOCS/HTML/en/video.html

Regards,