Chromium OS for SBCs has been released in v0.5 for the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3. The Pine64 appears to be next up, with other hacker SBCs waiting in line.
The “Chromium OS for Single Board Computers” project, which is taking the open source Chromium OS progenitor of Chrome OS, and tuning it for SBCs, released v0.5 for the Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3. This is the first official release for the RPi 3.
Raspberry Pi 3
In late February, the project changed its name from Chromium OS for Raspberry Pi 2 to Chromium OS for SBC, and revealed that it also planned to support SBCs including the RPi 3, RPi Zero, Chip, and Pine64.
So far only the Pi 2 and 3 are supported in the new release, and the RPi 3 support is fairly hobbled. There’s no WiFi, Netflix, or HTML5 video support, so you’re limited to Flash video over Ethernet.
Compared to the previous v0.4.2 release, Chromium OS for SBCs has moved to the Linux 4.2.8-ckt8 kernel, with reduced sized and BFS latency enhancements. The release has added BFQ hierarchical scheduling for better storage performance, while offering improved UX performance, a fixed kiosk mode, and other bug fixes and enhancements.
Chromium OS for SBCs draws upon the same open source codebase that acts as the foundation for Google’s mostly open source Chrome OS found on Chromebook laptops. This week, Google revealed the launch of a new hardware division that will be responsible for Chromebooks, as well as Chromecast and Nexus devices and the OnHub router. The unit, which will be headed up by former Motorola chief Rick Osterloh, will also control Google’s ATAP lab, including Project Ara and the next-generation Google Glass being developed under a new Project Aura.
The Chromium OS for SBCs team hinted that the next SBC to be supported would be the Pine64, noting that Kevin McAleer had joined the team to work specifically on the port. Like the RPi 3, this is a 64-bit, ARMv8 board; however, the initial Chromium OS for SBCs appears to be limited to 32-bit mode for now.
Prospects for other SBCs that may receive support later this year can be found among the list of boards that have been donated to the project. These include the Orange Pi boards, LeMaker’s Guitar and HiKey, FriendlyARM’s Nano Pi boards, and the RoseeApple Pi.
Roseapple Pi reemerges
The Chromium OS for SBCs project also received a Roseapple Pi board. The 85 x 56mm Raspberry Pi imitator was revealed in October by CNXSoft as being based on the same Actions Semi Bubblegum-S500 reference design used on the LemonPi RPi clone. The latter, which funded last July on Indiegogo, finally finished shipping to backers last month after extensive delays.
Roseapple Pi board and details diagram
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The Roseapple runs Linux or Android on the same quad-core Cortex-A9 Actions Semi S500 found on the LemonPi, as well as the Allo Sparky SBC. Other posted specs are almost identical to those of the LemonPi, including a PowerVR SGX544 GPU, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 4GB to 64GB eMMC 4.5, and microSD expansion.
Two more views of the Roseapple Pi
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The Roseapple Pi SBC is further equipped with HDMI 1.4, MIPI-CSI-2, audio, USB 3.0, and two USB 2.0 ports. Other features include a Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin adapter and 10/100 Ethernet. The board draws 5V/700mA power via a micro-USB port.
The Roseapple Pi website’s shopping page points to several Asian distributors, which show pricing around $60, although it’s unclear whether the boards are currently shipping. More details are available at the SBC’s community site at roseapple.org, which links to linux-xapple.org.
More information on Chromium OS for SBCs v0.5 may be found in the Chromium OS for SBCs v0.5 announcement and Chromium RPi 3 v0.5 release notes. Downloads and torrents in 2GB packages for the RPI 2 and RPi 3 may be found here, with 8GB and 16GB releases said to be coming soon.