Before I go any further I want to say this device gets a well deserved 4.5 out of 5 in my rating system which includes speed, reliability, user friendliness, power consumption, and price. While slightly more expensive than a Raspberry Pi3 it is hands down a better PC replacement in my opinion. It would be suitable for a very wide range of devices and certainly exceeded my expectations in every way.
4.5 Out of 5 Asus Tinker Board
Day 2 of my testing the Raspberry Pi sized powerhouse sbc by Asus and so far I’m amazed. My initial thoughts when booting the Debian desktop were that I would be in for a few days of configuration hell, but instead everything worked marvelously well including HD video. Currently there isn’t a version of ordinary Google Chrome on any arm sbc that I am aware of, however the Chromium browser works wonderfully well. This is of course aside from not being able to natively use Netflix or Amazon video, and this is something we “could” workaround. There are widevine and pepper browser additions in synaptic under: web browser contrib (as shown)
Some users of course have opted for Kodi to accomplish this task and that works too for people who don’t simply watch videos on the fly via browser. However this becomes and obstacle for tinkerers who want to do specific projects with the boards that include those services.
As for the wonderful Tinker Board
It can certainly act as a PC for many tasks, the WiFi is strong, the graphics stay clear and crisp and it can run games although you will want to do a bit of tweaking to get things like steam to work on it correctly. I immediately switched the user account and added a Mate desktop environment, I also changed a setting in the lightdm to allow my user account to auto login.
*FlintOS was also investigated and it was okay, it’s really just the browser seemingly and that wasn’t my cup of tea.
How to do those exact things if you want to
On first boot you’ll see linaro is the username as well as the password. Before switching user accounts go ahead and run sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade from the terminal. (It doesn’t matter which one.)
Immediately after that is complete you can run sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment or if you want the full desktop plus the extras it’s sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment-extras.
Obviously at this point you can add libre office, gimp, etc, but to change the greeter you might want to add geany, though by now leafpad is installed. (I prefer geany) – sudo apt-get install geany
To add a user, go to users and groups and select add – then after adding the user change it’s credentials to admin. From there you may after signing in as the admin you created, change the linaro from an admin to a user.
Changing the autologin settings
From terminal: sudo geany /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
What you see in blue is uncommented code, meaning it is in use. Scroll down until you see linaro in blue and back over it. Add your username and select save, (click file and look down the list)
*Caution – do not attempt to use the cinnamon or gnome desktops as they do not work correctly and as a result leave you stranded with no logout section. Even after cntrl, alt, f3. (drops to non graphical mode) If you don’t know how to get back to a default session you will be stuck with a non working desktop vs an lxde session so just don’t do it. Probably the same issue with KDE but I haven’t tried it yet. XFCE4, LXDE, and Mate seem to work as do openbox sessions. That is what I’ve tried and those work fine, trying cinnamon was just bad… very very bad. The same seems true on every sbc I’ve tinkered with so far.
Our intended project is as a mining controller, or possibly something bigger. The specs allow us plenty of room to consider use as media servers, gateway servers, etc. Just a wonderful little device.