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:

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.

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:

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.

Fast forward 2 minutes and the installer is well underway!

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.

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

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.