Piero V.

Alpine Linux on the Orange Pi Zero


A few years ago, I bought an Orange Pi Zero to run a Telegram bot I use to open and close my garage door.

It worked very well for several years. Then, when Debian bookworm became stable, I decided to reinstall the system, and the trouble began.

After more than one month of frequent crashes, I first tried to upgrade the kernel. However, apt was unusable, and the system reinstallation was my only choice. So, I decided to also check other distributions out.

First, I tried with OpenWrt. It was a good setup, except I could not use GPIO through /dev/mem. This was a big problem because memory-GPIO is more versatile and performant.

So, I decided to also try Alpine Linux. Before this adventure, I had used this distribution only for containers, but I felt this could also be a case in which it can shine. But the effort it took me to get it working as I wanted reminded me of the old days 😅️. It also made me appreciate how easy setting up Debian is these days. … [Leggi il resto]

OpenWrt on the Orange Pi Zero

A couple of months ago, Debian bookworm became stable and I decided to upgrade my Orange Pi Zero. I wanted to re-install the system with the smallest amount of physical access and that made the whole process tiresome and longer.

The new system did not work well. It often crashed, and I continuously had to reset the system by power cycling it. As stated in my previous article, physical access to that system is not easy, which made the problem even less bearable.

After one of the crashes, I managed to get some logs, and I saw they mentioned a “kernel bug”. However, I believe high temperatures were to blame, as July was very hot here. Anyway, I had a little hope that installing a more recent kernel could solve my problem, so I tried to run apt upgrade, which gave me this output:

Preparing to unpack .../base-files_12.4+deb12u1_armhf.deb ...
Unpacking base-files (12.4+deb12u1) over (12.4) ...
dpkg: error processing archive /var/cache/apt/archives/base-files_12.4+deb12u1_armhf.deb (--unpack):
 unable to stat '.' (which was about to be installed): Value too large for defined data type
Errors were encountered while processing:
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

I do not have a minimal clue about what this means. It might be related to the Orange Pi being 32-bit and me having created its system from a 64-bit system. But the error is so generic that I struggled to find its cause. … [Leggi il resto]

A small journey with my Orange Pi Zero

A couple of weeks ago, Debian Bookworm became stable. I have a few devices running stable, including an Orange Pi Zero I use to open and close my garage door with a Telegram bot.

So, I SSH’ed in it, and ran the following commands:

apt update
apt upgrade
apt dist-upgrade

Without even changing my /etc/apt/sources.list because I already keep stable instead of the codename 😎️.

End of the story, just like any other major Debian update there in the last 6 years… Or is it?

I just wanted a new kernel…

Many boot files were dated June 2017, so the system probably started as Debian Stretch. And actually, it was an Armbian installation (which uses the official Debian repos, contrarily to Raspbian, plus a custom repository for a few additional packages).

The Linux kernel was one of these custom packages, and its version was 4.11.3, released on May 25, 2017, so quite old. I wanted a more recent kernel with security vulnerabilities fixed and all the other improvements.

Debian supports a configuration they call ARMMP (ARM multiplatform). With a single kernel and DeviceTree, it targets many different devices, and the Orange Pi is one of them. So, I tried to install Debian’s official kernel instead of the one I was using… and for the first time in 6 years, I screwed up to the point I needed to remove the thumb drive I use as storage on that system. It was somehow annoying because the board is in an electrical box, and there were several things I needed to move to get to it. I tried to troubleshoot it for an entire evening without success. Eventually, I went back to the old kernel, closed the box, and moved everything again. … [Leggi il resto]

Orange Pi Zero e boot USB

Di recente ho comprato una Orange Pi Zero, versione da 512MB di RAM e flash NOR saldata.

Il mio obiettivo è rendere domotico il basculante del garage, ovvero permetterne l’apertura tramite un bot Telegram. Negli anni ho visto persone far svolgere funzioni simili ad Arduino o a schede di sviluppo simili, però sono troppo poco potenti per gestire un bot Telegram, e comunque una Orange Pi Zero, con tanto di spese di spedizione, è più economica di un Arduno ufficiale.

La scelta della versione più potente è dovuta principalmente al fatto che dopo l’esperienza che ho avuto con la Raspberry, preferisco evitare le micro SD. Tuttavia ne serve comunque una per un unico boot. L’alternativa è avere un programmatore di flash NOR, che penso sia molto più difficile da avere già in casa.

Oltre alla scheda micro SD, sarà necessario procurarsi una versione con kernel mainline di Armbian. Potete scegliere indipendentemente Debian (disponibile scegliendo other options) o Ubuntu. Le versioni con il legacy kernel non vanno bene perché non rilevano la flash. … [Leggi il resto]