Testing the CubieTruck/CubieBoard3 in everyday use


Armbian is a Linux distribution for ARM processors. It has been specially prepared for the CubieBoard with the Sunxi processor and runs as a complete system with a custom Xfce desktop. It is slim, stable, mature, and fully ready to use.

Alternatives include Cubian [7] and Debian ARM [8]. I did not choose Cubian as a test candidate because none of the images described were available via Bittorrent, and Debian ARM is typically the choice for those who want to put a system together by themselves. Armbian was the right choice in this case, because I wanted to compare a Rasp Pi running Raspbian with the CubieTruck.

The first step is to download the image from the project website [9]. I used the "Vanilla" image, which comes in the form of a 7z archive that has been compressed with the 7-Zip utility. You need a suitable program to decompress the archive (Listing 1). Under Debian GNU/Linux, you need to install two packages: p7zip [10] and p7zip-full [11]. Under Windows, the best software to use is the official 7-Zip file archiver [12].

Listing 1

Extracting Armbian

$ 7z e Armbian_5.10_Cubietruck_Debian_jessie_4.5.2_desktop.7z
Extracting  armbian.txt
Extracting  Armbian_5.10_Cubietruck_Debian_jessie_4.5.2_desktop.raw.asc
Extracting  Armbian_5.10_Cubietruck_Debian_jessie_4.5.2_desktop.raw
Everything is Ok


After decompressing the archive, you should burn the image file to the microSD card. The dd tool in Linux sends the file quickly (with the appropriate byte size option) to the data storage device (Listing 2). You should make sure when loading the memory card that the target data storage device (e.g., /dev/sdd here) has not yet been mounted. Additionally, you should adapt the device ID to your system. Next, send a sync command so the system completely transfers all caches to the data storage device.

Listing 2

Burn Armbian to SD Card

# dd if=Armbian*.raw of=/dev/<sdd> bs=1M
2337+0 records in
2337+0 records out
2450522112 bytes (2.5 GB) copied, 123.436 s, 19.9 MB/s
# sync

To boot the board with the prepared SD card, insert the card into the appropriate slot on the CubieTruck and then power it up. The first run through generates the necessary system information and therefore functions as an initialization process, so you should count on this process lasting from three to five minutes. The exact amount of time it takes will depend on the performance class of the memory card you are using.

Buy Raspberry Pi Geek

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Power to You

    Small-board computers (SBCs) are getting more and more powerful. The Raspberry Pi 3 (RPi3), which just came out in February of this year, is a case in point. This latest in the Rasp Pi line now has four cores running at 1200MHz with 1GB of RAM and on-board WiFi and Bluetooth. If you need even more power in a small computer, however, you are not left wanting. In this issue, we look at three SBCs with more cores, more memory, more ports, and more possibilities.

  • TFT touchscreens for the Raspberry Pi

    Typically, the Rasp Pi transfers video data via HDMI to a TV or screen. For mobile access, you can connect the tiny computer to a similarly small touchscreen instead.

  • Testing the NanoPi NEO and the NanoPi 2 Fire

    The number of ARM-based small computers is growing on a daily basis. FriendlyARM introduced the NanoPi NEO, a computer that is even smaller than the Pi Zero and just as inexpensive. We take a look at the NEO and its brother, the NanoPi 2 Fire.

  • Multi-installer NOOBS for the Raspberry Pi

    The NOOBS boot manager helps beginners try out Raspberry Pi operating systems. It also lets advanced users dig into the structure of the systems and adapt them as they like.

  • Intel NUC: An alternative to the Raspberry Pi?

    Nanocomputers don't just come with ARM processors; they also come with classic x86 CPUs, and the best known of these are the boards from the Intel NUC series. We look at how these computers compare with the Raspberry Pi.