Clear Linux OS on an Atomic Pi!

I personally purchased an Atomic Pi - a kickstarter funded project that created a maker board based on the Atom CPU. It has a base price of about $35, so it’s a really attractive platform.

I ended up purchasing my kit directly from here:

https://dlidirect.com/products/atomic-pi

I’ve seen some people struggle to install a different OS to this board on various online platforms, so I thought I’d go and write out the exact instructions I used to get Clear Linux OS installed on this board. Of course, I assumed it would be doable since this board uses UEFI to boot and the Atom CPU is listed as compatible (it has AES, sse4_2 and pcmulqdq instructions). But, you never know what trouble you run into.

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I ended up buying the full kit and using the 2.5mm adapter board to hook it up. A USB HUB was needed to allow me to use keyboard, mouse and USB stick all at the same time.

First things first, I downloaded the following ISO image:

https://cdn.download.clearlinux.org/image/clear-29440-live-desktop.iso.xz

then I used unxz and sudo dd if=clear-29440-live-desktop.iso of=/dev/sdb to write it to an empty USB stick. This image is one of the newer live booting ISO images we’ve been making, and crosses fingers should get us to our end goal.

I ended up fidding with the BIOS significantly to even boot from the USB stick. UEFI recognized the stick right away, but it didn’t boot until I had … well done everything possible. I disabled booting from the MMC device. I tried going into the BBS but that never succeeded (I couldn’t find the key for it, even), but even after disabling the MMC it still booted the default OS from the MMC several times (ha!).

In the end, after a few reboots and powerdowns, I tried clicking the BBS button using the mouse one more time, and… it went to the UEFI bootloader on the USB stick. (Talk about irony!). Ah well, that’s exactly what I needed anyway.

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Fast forward 2 minutes and the installer is well underway!

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Power draw while installing is nominal. 10W at the plug with the brick power supply. Seems to hover around 5-6W idle in the desktop. Not low, for sure. We’ll have to look into this at some point.

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You may know minetest - the Open Source blocky game. Runs reasonably well at 20fps or so (even fullscreen). Definitely usable.

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Watching a youtube video - sound using HDMI just worked out of the box.

My goals for this box is to do some embedded experiments - I have the kit with the cameras and I will likely do some visual recognition experiments and seeing if any of the computer-vision bundles can be used for this.

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Additional notes I’ve collected over time:

  • wifi was not working initially, but we’ve since added support for that in our kernels.
  • the camera modules shipped in the full kit are not working without a kernel patch. I’m looking to see if we can land this patch in our kernels or even upstream.

I’m still working on a cool prototype and will post a full blog once that is running. Feel free to ask questions here as well.

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I’ve added the v4l plugin OSS component for the geocam, but we can’t ship the binary configuration blob due to license issues (there is no license known, and no source code available, nor is there a license available for the firmware blobs needed to configure the camera).

The camera works. Unfortunately I can only currently grab the h264 stream and… sigh… for that I need a custom ffmpeg with h264 decode … which clearlinux doesn’t currently have. So unfortunately that still means you need to compile your own ffmpeg of find a static build from somewhere.

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Hi is the Clear Linux download still available?

Yes, always. We don’t remove old images. However, you should just get the latest images at all times instead, especially since we’ve added support for the wifi chip on this device.

Installed it in the internal storage successfully but could not find it in the boot menu always booting from the installer. I guess I have to fiddle some more

There’s no need to keep the installer USB sticlk connected once you’re finished installing to the MMC device - why did you not remove it? The UEFI bios likely boots USB sticks before the onboard disk?

There is a great discussion about this topic here:


Thanks @ahkok!

I actually installed the installer in the sd card since I am having issues in the usb hub (unpowered). I figured I could find the installed clear Linux in the bios boot menu but could not find it. But that’s me being lazy. Im going to remove the sd card and will check again later after work.

will update in your tomorrows time

Like I said and others have posted - getting the system to boot from a different drive can be tricky - you need to navigate the BIOS to make sure the firmware even offers you that option. My advice is to install to the MMC directly and not a microSD card, since that will be slow. You can always reinstall the original OS as well, so there’s no real big risk here. On top of that, once you’re done, the BIOS will by default boot from MMC without problems.

Remember, F7 is the key to get to the boot device selection menu, as well.