Me and my Pandaboard

June 22, 2011

As discussed at last months Ubuntu Developer Summit in the session ‘ARM and other architectures certification program‘, there’s a plan to start certifying ARM hardware, or at least start investigating how we’ll do it. To this end I’ve received on loan a TI OMAP4 Pandaboard from Canonical’s ARM QA team. I’ve actually had it here in the office for quite a few weeks now but for some reason or another I haven’t got around to blogging about it yet!

So, without further adieu – here are a couple of shots of my setup:

I like it because it’s really compact and smacks of geekiness, with all the exposed circuits, yet is really quite easy to use in a lot of ways. The monitor is plugged in via the HDMI port on the right hand side (because of an issue with my monitor I can only get 640×480 out of it, so everything is very squeezed on the screen) and the wireless desktop receiver which handles my mouse and keyboard plugs right in to one of the two full sized USB 2.0 ports. The whole thing is powered by my laptop (even when it’s suspended) via USB-AC 5v connector, also on the right-hand side.

It’s running Natty/Unity 2D installed on the 8GB SDHC card on the left of the board. This means that the whole setup cost (if I had have payed for rather than borrowed it) just under $200. The white labeled chip on the top left hand side of the board is the WiFi/Bluetooth chip and that works *perfectly* out of the box – often picking up a better signal than the laptop sitting right next to it. I also have the option of plugging in my USB headset in the the same USB hub as the wireless receiver (it’s a tight squeeze but it just about fits) and that too works perfectly.

Cons are that I don’t have a USB HDD so Ubuntu is running on flash memory (notoriously bad performance) and that if I decide to power down my laptop but forget the Pandaboard has some task running on it then all is lost 😦 Overall though it’s a really nice piece of equipment and because of all the good work that has been done around it, I could recommend one to anyone with a bit of technical know-how (no ARM experience required!)


  1. Would this support full unity rather than the 2D version? I see on the specs it boasts 1080p and a pretty snappy dual core arm (A9-cortex), I would of thought this would of been ok for the full blown desktop..

  2. I believe it’s supposed to be able to. My monitor seems to refuse to tell the Pandaboard what resolutions it supports so they aren’t selectable through the UI, thus I’m stuck with 640×480. Some people have suggested I could hack the kernel arguments to force the resolution but I haven’t got around to this yet. There’s also some extra setup to get full 3D support working. Best resource is:


  3. I am also facing the issue of fixed 640×480 resolution issue on panda board E2 with Natty on it, connected via HDMI to DVI. Have not figured a workaround yet. Have you?

    • I got some suggestions from the folks on #ubuntu-arm (freenode IRC), but haven’t tried them yet. I will surely post a follow up on my blog if I find a way to overcome this.

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