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CHIP $9 Computer (getchip.com)
373 points by unusximmortalis on June 15, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 215 comments

More like the $15.22 computer with shipping. And said shipping cost is hidden at the third stage of ordering, well after you've given your email (hello dark pattern).

At least the $6.22 shipping cost to my European country is reasonable and the same for two CHIPs (3: $7, 4: $9, 5: $11). I recall it was much higher during the kickstarter (and they worked to reduce it, as it seems on the campaign page).

Edit: PockeCHIP shipping is $11

You can get Orange Pi One for ~$14 with delivery - which looks more powerful


I bought an Orange PI PC a few weeks back. It died after two days and the sellers are being extremely difficult at giving me a refund. I advise against buying from them.

Sellers on aliexpress are more cooperative if you open a dispute rather than just messaging them, because it carries a consequence if mediation doesn't go in their favor. You can open disputes for a while (two weeks ish?) after confirming now too

I bought 50 of them and found only one that was faulty. Didn't bother asking for refund as the whole process probably could cost more than the product itself.

Did you resell them or do a cool project? I love seeing writeups of folks who make arrays of inexpensive ARM boards.

I resold some and kept about 10 of them. Waiting for mainline kernel to be finally working to have some fun setting up Kubernetes cluster. I also created Cassandra cluster just to see if that could be possible. It worked, but performance was terrible.

Then I would recommend hackster.io - they have a section for just Raspberry Pi projects.

I'm going to be posting my own soon using the new Pi Zero w/ camera connector - made my own text message powered camera doorbell.

Generally they know of this and will refund you or send you another replacement without you shipping back anything.

That is the game you play when you buy from China.

I disagree. That's the game you play "buy cheap from China."

Spend a bit more (say, $30) and the quality will greatly surpass expectations.

You know, this is about half the power of a linux machine (not counting HDD) you can get on azure for $13 a month. However, it's a one time purchase... I can see myself buying 10 of these, hooking them up to my MQ, and running a bunch of celery workers with less critical tasks.

I think you're better off buying some old server for the $140. You can get an 8-core Xeon plus 16GB of RAM and a compatible motherboard for about that amount.

The power consumption will eat into your savings if you use that 24/7 however. One of the nice thing about these tiny SBCs is that they run on just a few watts.

You just described why I bought the i5 skywell nuc. Yes it's a little pricey for what you get, but power consumption is low. It's a perfectly adequate lab machine.

I'm very interested, would you have a link?

I don't know if this specific one is a good buy, it's just the first thing that came up when I searched "HP Proliant", but here's an example [0]. Search for the names of servers from the past few years on eBay, and you can find some powerful hardware for cheap. Keep in mind they're typically very loud.

[0] http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Proliant-DL380-G6-8-Core-Server-1...

Furthermore, get a motherboard with a common socket maybe a generation or two behind. Some larger companies have been decommissioning old hardware, so you can get CPUs for a magnitude or two less money than before.

Thanks for that! I've been looking at picking up some old PowerEdge units, and never thought of that!

If you are in a decent metro (or near to one) check out Craigslist. I've seen quad-core Xeon boxen (HP Proliant and Dell Poweredge) for <200USD in my area. If I drive about 2 hours away, the prices are about 30% lower and about twice as many available.

Might also google office or company liquidators in your area. You can often snag IT equipment and servers for fairly cheap from them as well.

Ebay has Dell R5400 rack mount servers for under $100.

2.66 ghz quad core xeon, 16 gb ram.

Not exactly the original poster's specs, but pretty close.

Check out http://www.savemyserver.com/ and look at something like the PowerEdge 2950 III.

I have some "cloud" servers at home DELL C6100 .. Xeon, lots of RAM. I used them as a lab at one point but am now confused what to do with 'em. These days, I am playing with deep learning. Is it reasonable to pick up some cheap GPU to go into these? Any other ideas?

Does your GPU fit that chassis? That is my major concern with that. Beyond that, the major weakness of those chassis is that they eat a bunch of power compared to modern processors. That's why they're being sold off.

Other than that, the default GPGPU picks are either the OG GTX Titan or the 780 Ti since either has the same processor as the Tesla compute cards.

That's really cheap, but it's worth noticing that it doesn't comes with a WiFi NIC and on-board storage.

You can always go with nodemcu with wifi and storage on board. ~$2.5 on aliexpress with shipping

i keep seeing people say that, but i can't find (reputable) seller with price <$3. do you have some links for sellers with that price that you've done business with?

Here's $2.85 with lots of feedback: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/new-Wireless-module-CH340-Nod...

Personally I've bought from this one: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/NodeMcu-Lua-WIFI-development-...

So far tested 3 units and they work without any problem, packaging was also very good.

I don't see any cheaper than those currently, but once you have everything tested, if you want to cut the cost you can always just use esp8266 directly which goes for $1.8

That isn't comparable in any way

I think the ESP8266 supports operating in SDIO mode, it's the descendant of a chip used to add wifi to low-end tablets. So it could be used as a literal replacement for an on-board WiFi module, if SDIO pins are available on the Orange Pi board.

Why not? Most people don't use rpi as a home desktop. These GPIOs are there for a reason and I think that's what people mostly care about unless they are making some magic mirror or other form of a display.

There is a lot more software for Linux boxes than there is for the NodeMCU, for example.

Furthermore, their processing power is orders of magnitude apart, as is RAM and storage. NodeMCU targets embedded, and there are plenty of cases where a rpi is used but a NodeMCU would be more than sufficient. But that doesn't mean that they're equivalent, there are also plenty of use cases where a NodeMCU is horribly underpowered.

The same store has the Orange Pi Lite, which is essentially the same as the One but with wifi instead of ethernet (plus a microphone, ir receiver, and a 2nd usb port). It costs $2.01 more.

They also have the Orange Pi PC Plus, which has both ethernet and wifi, 1GB of RAM instead of 512MB, and an 8GB eMMC. But that's getting up in price to ~$25 shipped.

They say the 5V ⎓ 3A power supply needs to be connected through the Orange Pi One’s DC socket. However, they don’t mention the size of barrel connector¹ (outer diameter & inner diameter) that will actually fit inside the DC socket.

Does anyone here know?


¹ — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coaxial_power_connector

4.0mm/1.7mm barrel plug, centre positive according to http://linux-sunxi.org/Xunlong_Orange_Pi_Plus - I think it's the same on all of the Orange Pi boards.

Oh, nice, thanks for that link and info! As you mentioned, the page even lists the output plug polarity¹ it requires (centre positive)!

EDIT: Just realized that’s the same size barrel connector used for Sony’s PlayStation Portable², PlayStation TV³, etc., and the power supply⁴ those devices come with is 5V ⎓ 2A and have a centre positive polarity, so it seems like they’ll be perfect for use on the Orange Pi One.


¹ — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarity_symbols

² — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_Portable

³ — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_TV

⁴ — http://f.cl.ly/items/3I3N1m0U1E3o3I1q0v19/sony_ps_tv_ac_adap...

Don't DC power jacks come keyed for at least voltage/polarity?

If not -- why‽

They come in various shapes, varying on inner diameter, outer diameter, and length. Smaller connectors may tend to be lower voltage, but that's certainly always true.

There are several standards, and at least some of them specify voltage ranges for particular sizes, but there's no universal standard.

List of plug sizes and their common uses: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coaxial_power_connector#Listin...

I don't have it at hand to measure but it's not something typical. I suggest getting an offer on aliexpress where they include dc barrel to usb cable.

edit: outer diameter 4mm

Thanks for the firsthand confirmation; I appreciate it!

Could always solder on a mini/micro usb header for power. Just pick up 10 from aliexpress while getting your Orange Pi.

Why I only found out about this by accident? I just bought a Rpi3 for 40 usd...

I keep buying then all :) got 2 CHIPs (although I think I only ordered one) one of then was faulty... the other I'm a bit unsatisfied. although I did not managed to have the time to play much with it, I get some noise/static sound coming out of the audio jack as processes are run (I'm typing or running commands in the bash ). Video quality is deplorable... the PIs are still very sturdy and cool machines... worth the pennies.

It was no accident. You are on HN. Then things like this happen. Learn to deal with it! ;-)

I mean, I visit /r/arduino, /r/diy almost daily. I hate missing stuff like this for months.

Orange Pi is Cortex-A7, while this one is Cortex-A8.

Orange Pi is based on a much newer generation of SoC - A7 is newer than A8, and the Orange Pi is also quad core rather than single core and built on a more modern process node. They're not really direct competitors though since they have such different peripheral sets and intended uses - the C.H.I.P can be battery powered and has WiFi, whereas the Orange Pi is more suited to fixed/media applications thanks to its higher power usage, Ethernet, HDMI out, and better video decode hardware.

I think Cortex A7 is faster than A8. Or at least more modern.

Same could be said about literally any product you buy online, actually the same could be said about buying things in B&M stores seen as you can't just teleport there for free you either have to add the two public transport journeys or the gas to drive there…

Nope, since many stores include shipping in the price, or offer free shipping after a minimum order amount.

BTW, I'm criticizing the fact that the shipping cost are not easy to find upfront, not that there are any. I'm even acknowledging that they worked to reduce them.

Well, I just bought the elusive pi zero, as a kit...because that's the only way I can get it, from adafruit a few days ago...around $36 with shipping. The actual shipping was $8.50 and I am just 5 miles from their office.

Do they actually ship from their office though? Or from a warehouse somewhere further away?

I think their warehouse and office is in the same place.

The Adafruit offices are in NYC, right? There are three or four Microcenter stores in the area, and they claim to have "10+" available.

Interesting. I went to Microcenter once and got a tablet for $20 bucks. Nothing fancy though...had Jellybean installed. I will definitely check them out for the pi zero...hope I am not too late to the party.

On their website, you can choose specific stores and get inventory counts for that store. Of course, I'm making the assumption that the numbers are correct-ish. Every one of their stores that I've checked always claims "10+" Pi Zeros in stock.

If the shipping for a computer dominates the cost I wonder if it makes sense to distribute them a different way. Conferences, club meetings, schools, etc? I suppose there's opportunity there for someone.

Perhaps even... brick and mortar.

Unfortunately, that adds another pocket to be paid, thus making slim margined goods unaccessible at traditional brick and mortar.

Yeah, that was a no-go for me (might reconsider since you posted the prices here). It really sucks that many shops still do this. It makes sense sometimes (when you have large inventory with different sizes and thus shipping costs) to not have a shipping section, but not this time. And you can still at least show the shipping right there where I fill out my address.

So you want to know something more than a country (perhaps postal/zip code) before showing me the shipping price? I simply don't bother going further and look for another vendor (would not work here, I know).

Yeah this is exactly what demotivated me from using my CHIP. This is probably my single biggest pet peeve of online shopping, when people hide huge costs in shipping. I am very harsh with negative feedback when this happens. CHIP is definitely guilty of it.

That's my issue with the Raspberry Pi.

It's often advertised as a 35 dollar computer, etc., however when I decided to get one all the recommended partners and distributers were easily selling it for 40-45 minimum, excluding tax and shipping costs.

Are you based in the UK?

It's termed the $35 computer becuase components are purchased in dollars, and so it's the base price without having to take into consideration the daily fluctuations in currencies.

It's manufactured in the UK however (Wales specifically), and so there will be inevitable shipping costs to destinations outside of the UK. This is simply unavoidable, and will depend on factors such as the price of oil.

No, I'm in the US. Shipping costs are definitely understandable.

I just mean that there have been times I've looked for one only to find marked up prices before shipping/other costs.

"before shipping" is "after shipping" if your shopping in US shops though.

I found it to be the case for both US and EU distributors.

It'd just be nice if the costs were described rather than just silently raising the price without explanation.

I just went to element14.com (their official distributer in the US), and the current RPi is showing for $35. Where are you seeing the higher price at?

It wasn't recently, but in the past. Last time I looked was probably in April or so.

Ah, that makes sense -- around that time I noticed that the primary distributors such as Element14 were out of stock, but you could pick one up from a place like Adafruit for $5 - $10 more.

I've bought mine at a brick-and-mortar Microcenter, and I ended up paying less than $35 for it ($35 with a $5-off coupon plus tax). So for RPi at least, the cost is not disguised as shipping.

most people assume you have to pay for shipping, at least with most online retailers. yes, it may cost $15.22 but it is still a $9 computer, the same way that an iPhone might be $599 with $5 shipping they don't call it a $604 iPhone.

this most likely also includes handling costs which in this business is most likely going to be one of the biggest expenses once you've conquered production.

By being/attempting to be the "low cost leader" really brings out the worst people in comments. People who complain about shipping and packaging and the price on other sites and the price of other products, on and on and on. You couldn't pay me to be in such a market I feel bad for those who provide a cheap service or product and then get the worst feedback one could get.

If your tag line is "The World's first $9 computer" I don't think it's totally unreasonable for people to point out that you have to pay more than $9 to get the thing.

Who are these people that aren't aware that taxes, shipping, and duties are a thing?

They must be Amazon Prime members.

> Who are these people that aren't aware that taxes, shipping, and duties are a thing?

Not every international person knows what is usual in the US. For example in Germany prices are always including taxes.

Its in India as well. Usually shipping is free or mentioned separately.

So you don't expect to pay taxes or shipping of something you buy online?

I do, but I expect the shipping and tax to be displayed upfront, before I enter any personal information (aside from address) or sign in/sign up for an account.

Many times the website needs your address to know the shipping, it's quite different sending the thing to an island in the middle of the pacific ocean or to a major US city.

I think it is. Of course there's going to be shipping. Moving things around isn't free.

Yeah this. The top HN comment is a European offended he has to pay $6 to ship from the US. I can't even ship down the block for that kind of money. Its incredible how awful the cheapskates are to deal with.

My dad ran a restaurant when I was a kid in a decent part of town. I remember him being happy and having all these friendships with customers. Due to economic issues he had to re-open in a worse part of town and offer a more fast-food-like menu. Holy hell, every customer was just itching for an argument about, well, everything. Getting extra free stuff, complaining about price, being very rude, etc. It was quite the eye opener. I can re-experience this anytime I dare visit a Walmart (we dont go there anymore).

This is why entrepreneurs and businesspeople always say to not compete on price unless you have to, but instead on service or quality. Price just leads down to a rabbit-hole of misery and ultimately hurts the customer who, for a little more, could get a vastly better experience. In my personal life I make a special effort not to be drawn to the low end as I tend to min-max things. I fight to go a step or two ahead of the lower-end, and every time I fail to do this I usually regret it.

I have had the same experience you had. My mother ran a deli in a middle class neighborhood and she couldn't sell enough $8-10 subs which had higher quality meats so she made a cheaper option with cheaper meats the $5 option which really brought out the worst in people. They would complain how we didn't use the same high quality meats and cheeses and how we would charge extra for adding more then 4 toppings. I did the math and the margins where literally zero, she was running a charity for the community and being berated for it. She sold the place recently and if she gets back in the business she wont be the low cost leader, even though it is the kind of place she wants to run.

I'm an American who is miffed about paying $6 shipping. Shipping is sort of broken these days.

It costs nothing to display shipping costs in the cart, given an address, instead of behind a registration/login wall.

I paid for this device but I am a bit miffed at the shipping cost because I know it costs less to ship it. Look at any of the USPS flat rate offerings, and these are higher than standard postage for such a small device. Anyways it's a cool device so I just accept that they're subsidizing the cost with shipping fees.

I doubt they are subsidizing the cost with shipping fee's. They probably hired out the shipments to an outside company which charges a fee for labor time, as well as packaging. Amazon does it as well as various drop shipment companies I have worked with.

Thanks, this makes sense.

Can't remember whether I've seen this before. A few details after reading through some of the docs:

  * powered by Allwinner R8 (ARM Cortex-A8) with some proprietary bits
  * Debian-based CHIP O/S preinstalled on 4 GB flash
  * one micro USB port for power (supports USB OTG if powered by battery)
  * power connector for battery
  * one USB 2.0 port
  * one TRRS port for audio and composite video
  * built-in WiFi and Bluetooth
  * VGA adapter available for $10
  * HDMI adapter available for $15 (no audio)
  * case available for $2

Beware of Allwinner.

It's not supporting open source community (does not provide OS api for every part of chips) - so either you use their blobs or don't have access to everything hw is able to.

And AFAIK they're heavy GPL violator: https://linux-sunxi.org/GPL_Violations

Next Thing Co is specifically contracting the best company out there to do Linux upstreaming (Free Electrons) of the SoC and board: http://free-electrons.com/blog/free-electrons-chip-nextthing...

I thought they joined the linux foundation?

That's wild. The computer is cheaper than the adapters.

Freebie marketing, a.k.a. razor and blades business model? [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freebie_marketing

No, because clearly the CHIP is usable without adapters, and provides the main functionality.


because on every image on main page (row with three possible use scenarios) it's shown as connected to a display.

This IS freebie marketing.

The bare board has a composite video output.

This is surprisingly common. Mechanical parts (HDMI's tiny pins in a high-precision injection moulded body) are expensive, while it's now very cheap to just stick some chips on a board.

> Mechanical parts (HDMI's tiny pins in a high-precision injection moulded body) are expensive

Not at all. Complete brand-name HDMI connector assembly costs 29 cents in 10K quantity. [1]

[1] http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Amphenol-FCI/10029449-11...

Yeah. But I wonder if this includes the 15 cent royalty for HDMI (http://www.hdmi.org/manufacturer/terms.aspx) or the royalty for HDCP?

No it doesn't

That almost reminds me of Apple.

Anyone know what those proprietary bits are? I remember reading something a while back claiming these were more open than the RaspberryPi, but I can't remember or find the basis for those claims.

In the CHIP's case, I don't know, but AllWinner had a tendency to build drivers into the Linux kernel without providing source and use modified versions of various libraries while claiming to have developed them internally.

The Raspberry Pi machines use a family of Broadcom chips. These include some kind of general-purpose processor built into the GPU (sometimes called the VC4 or VPU). During operation, it runs an RTOS that handles OpenGL ES calls, translating them to QPU instructions. During boot, it's the first thing brought up; it initializes the RAM, loads the next level bootloader, then starts the ARM CPU. There's an open-source video driver that does the OpenGL work (and I think actually supports OpenGL, not just the ES variant). There's work being done on making a bootloader replacement, but it's in the fairly early stages (https://github.com/christinaa/rpi-open-firmware).

Maybe someone who knows about the CHIP itself will chime in with more detail on how it compares.

It's interesting that they distribute the "CHIP Flasher" as a Chrome app. It seems very user friendly but somewhat opaque. And it's a pity there's not much info on the hardware.

Anyway, I've ordered two pieces. They're probably going to gather dust alongside my Raspberry Pis and Arduinos once the initial excitement has worn off. :)

[EDIT] OK there's lots of info on the hardware, just not easy to find on their sales page: https://github.com/NextThingCo/CHIP-Hardware/

I'm in the process of porting libusb to chrome apps via emscripten. Once that's complete, you can port anything using it (SANE, libimobiledevice, etc.) to chrome apps

Made a chrome app myself, for a reason that might seem odd. It fulfills the java promise: write once run everywhere, and access more stuff than java (bluetooth, USB, serial etc.)

surprising as it might sound, not everybody is using Chrome. my parents don't have it, I don't use it, fiancee the same. Firefox all around. because big brother google and no visible advantage over Firefox.

It's easy to get Chromium on any platform. It's harder to say that for Java, or native apps that the author may or may not know how to build and support across OSes.

I'm having a hard time finding a reason why I would buy this over the Raspberry Pi. Like others have said for this to be useful as a general purpose computer you need to buy add-on boards for video. Compare that to the RPi Zero which is $5 bucks and includes an HDMI port. You can easily add a USB ethernet or wifi adapter to the zero for under 4 bucks and have a real $9 computer.

Not to mention the CHIP uses an AllWinner processor which has a record of not playing well with open source and a history of security issues.

The CHIP has much better audio support than the Pi. The Pi does not even have an ADC. The CHIP has a 24 bit ADC. I could see it being used in audio engineer applications where a Pi would not work.

This is pretty much what sold me on CHIP. With PocketCHIP, my dreams of a handheld Linux computer with audio editing capabilities can finally come true.

Pi Zero is $5 but it doesn't have blue tooth, or Wifi and you're probably going to need a dongle to use an HDMI cable and a dongle to convert the micro USB to a usable real USB. The CHIP is pretty much a cheaper Pi Zero.

This is more of a retro 8-bit game platform. It can be inserted on this hardware: https://getchip.com/pages/pocketchip

Careful that a stock C.H.I.P need to be reflashed in order to work with the PocketChip.

Only problem is the Pi Zero has pretty poor availability.

I think the problem is that it's so cheap it undercuts all the other more expensive models that have higher margins. When you look at adafruit's website for example, they still have plenty of zeros packaged in kits that sell for 30+ dollars but bare zeros have been out of stock for months.

I think the problem is that it's so cheap that the foundation don't want to make many of them. It doesn't actually seem to sell all that fast compared to its bigger brothers from what I can tell, but there's so few of them produced that they sell out rapidly every time they're in stock.

Really ? Under 4 bucks for a MicroUSB wifi dongle - do you have a link ?

Not OP, but:



And converter:


$4.24 all up. Not quite under $4, but pretty damn close.

Why is HDMI adapter worth $15? It's like create a hardware and split expensive parts and sell with low price marketing. It's not $9 computer, It's actually ~$35

Maybe because there are tons of patents on HDMI cables?

    US6932640	Oct 22, 2004	Aug 23, 2005	Yun-Ching Sung	HDMI connector
    US7059914	Feb 20, 2004	Jun 13, 2006	Advanced Connectek, Inc.	HDMI plug connector
    US7192310	May 16, 2006	Mar 20, 2007	Cheng Uei Precision Industry Co., Ltd.	HDMI connector
    US20060148319	Mar 3, 2006	Jul 6, 2006	Advanced Connectek Inc.	HDMI type electrical connector assembly
    US8500489	Jul 15, 2010	Aug 6, 2013	Luxi Electronics Corp.	HDMI locking connectors

I seem to recall Display port is much cheaper in that regard.

Why doesn't everything have DP then?

Legit question, not sarcasm or anything.

probably because the early adapters of high-res in consumer markets (TVs, game consoles) were using HDMI in the first place (PS3 and XBOX 360). Displayport is more prevalent in PC use (not even laptops except macbooks which uses mini-dp).

I'm pretty sure most dell laptops have mini DP. My desktop grapics card also has two mini DP ports which I used with a DP to DVI cable without adapter. (something like https://www.amazon.com/SIIG-DisplayPort-Converter-Cable-CB-D...) You need an active adapter if you want dual link dvi though.

The most recent graphics cards (1080/1070) have 3 DP ports, one HDMI, and one DVI. Also, every laptop I own/use/know of has a mini-DP port too, across roughly 4 brands.

HDMI got their foot in the door first, but I think we'll be seeing more DP stuff in the very near future. The only downside of DP is the cables are usually more expensive.

Same with Lenovo where mini-DP is the standard for Ultrabooks.

Anecdotally, I see far more screens driven by HDMI, be they TVs or computer monitors of some sort. HDMI carries audio. Some DisplayPort versions carry audio. This may be a factor for mass market appeal.

I doubt most products on aliexpress pay royalties, or really give a damn at all about licensing.

What does the cable have to do with it? The HDMI adapter even says "does not come with cable". If you are talking about the connector, they are $0.43 each on digikey.

If the rest of the HDMI adapter board looks anything like the VGA adapter, with just passives and a connector, then they would be making a profit charging only $3 for it, let alone the $15 they are asking.

Based on the BOM at https://github.com/NextThingCo/DIP-HDMI-PCB/blob/master/v1.0..., you've got a Chrontel CH7035B HDMI interface chip, a serial EEPROM (probably used for EDID/HDCP key storage), and a LDO power supply for those chips. That definitely counts for the additional cost.

If you ignore the cable, you still have an annual fee + per-product royalty (though the royalty is like 15 cents for HDMI) to have HDMI + HDCP.

The annual fees are 5-10k for each (even in small volumes), and they may just be trying to make up the cost.

It's not a requirement at all, it has composite video build in that can be used if you need video. You can also just run it headless, I run most of my Pis headless.

Not everyone needs HDMI; I use my Raspberry with composite just fine.

It's not but once they lock you in to there amazing $9 computer what choice do you have?

I was an early Kickstarter backer and got mine right around the beginning of 2016. For me the sweet spot was small size, and WiFi. Note this was before The RPi3 was announced with onboard Wifi. CHIP had an early issue with flash corruption (no surprise there are always some issues with v1 hardware) but seem to have that sorted out with a firmware fix and mine has been running without issue for weeks.

Compared to the original RPi which required an $11 WiFi USB dongle and a powered USB hub this is a lot simpler. I primarily used it as a headless sensor node or wireless/networked LCD display. It's perfect for that and still one of the lower-cost options even after shipping $$.

Their documentation (http://docs.getchip.com/) and forum are actually pretty great. I think this will be a good contender if/ when they reach general availability.

I've been waiting for the PocketCHIP to become reality before ordering anything. It looks like they're planning to ship this month, so it might be time to order.

I love that it includes a game dev kit that includes a music tracker...that's what I want it for. I have an original GameBoy for making music with LSDJ, and it's a lot of fun. But, it is difficult to find good condition GameBoys for anything approaching a reasonable price these days. I'd love to have something a bit more modern with the same basic feel and sound.

The PocketCHIP has the advantage of having a "real" computer inside and a QWERTY keyboard, so if I get bored with four note polyphony, I could run something like SchismTracker or SunVox or whatever. It is in the sweet spot for me for this kind of device, in a way that the Raspberry Pi hasn't been (though the Pi is cool, too).

I backed the KS at the PocketCHIP level. My PocketCHIP arrived Monday, FWIW.

Hey, so did I! I haven't gotten mine yet, but I'm very pleased to hear that they're arriving already. Thanks for commenting!

Sure thing. It took about two weeks to arrive after I received the shipping notification

Is it awesome?

It's a neat toy, but I wouldn't say it's awesome yet

Still waiting for the CHIPs i ordered several months ago :/

Also waiting on mine from a little over 6 months ago (the Black Friday deal). It's supposed to ship sometime this month according to when I purchased it. But really, at $8 (+shipping), I see it as one of those things that if it comes, it comes.

I'm stoked for the PocketCHIP.

Hell yeah, me too. Its the latest in a very cool line of portable Linux machines designed for hackers to have a hell of a lot of fun. I hope that it is successful, and sits alongside other successes such as the Open Pandora (and soon: Pyra) as an example of how to do a portable, open, fun platform based on Linux, away from all the walled gardens and app jails that are prevalent on the other pocketable platforms.

There is one thing that bothers me, however. With the Open Pandora, the community has been amazing - and much of that has been because the focus is on developers^3. The online repo of apps for the OpenPandora is a true treasure trove of amazing things (see http://repo.openpandora.org/) - an app store done right, in that you have total freedom to do whatever you want with the platform, but you can also just have the plug 'n play experience of browsing a well-curated and maintained list of apps, which can be installed with a single click - no BOFH'ism required. The Pandora has proven to be a very good balance of free and curated apps. Developers can make money as well, if they choose to, and for the most part the community has been very remunerative towards the key devs pushing the platform forward.

However, this doesn't seem to be a key strategy for the guys behind CHIP, who are a bit behind the ball with setting up a common, community-focused repository for developers to contribute to .. alas, it seems that its going to be a total free-for-all with CHIP development. The best we will have is "at least we can push our own .deb's up on a website somewhere to distribute our software".

I seriously hope that, when the PocketCHIP starts to launch (its trickling out now, will be ramping up towards the end of the month), the NextThing guys will realize that they've got to get on top of this issue before someone else does - it'd be quite feasible, for example, to turn on a "PocketCHIP apps" section of repo.openpandora.org, and if NextThing doesn't do it - someone will. Such is the nature of the Open Handheld community.

As a developer and user, I'd much rather have an 'official' repo, with curated apps and quality control for the end user, than just a free-for-all wild frontier of .deb's being passed around by all and sundry.

Actually, what I'd really like to see happen is the guys behind the OS for the Open Pandora/Pyra consoles work in coordination with the NextThing team, so that maybe - just maybe - all systems could be running the same basic OS core. There really isn't any good reason for this not to happen - its only because of politics and control issues and NIMBY'ism/DRY'ishness that its not on the table at the moment.

> Actually, what I'd really like to see happen is the guys behind the OS for the Open Pandora/Pyra consoles work in coordination with the NextThing team, so that maybe - just maybe - all systems could be running the same basic OS core.

Exactly. I would say now the Pyra will run Debian instead of Angstrom and Chip runs a Debian as well there could be an option of unifying. Angstrom was kind of horrible to work with IMHO; I use my Pandora a lot but from a Debian chroot.

Totally agree with you. Could this be the first stages of seeing a unified Debian system for open Linux mobile systems? That'd be coool.

That would be excellent indeed. And now there is not much reason not to. Mobile systems (and enough embedded as well) have enough storage/memory now to run those systems and Debian has no issue installing .debs on different partitions or drives. Basically the core packages can be on the internal flash drive and others on the SD drive which would've worked fine for the Pandora too.

Wow, if I try to order a Pandora from North America is more than $300. I mean with these money you can buy a decent Chromebook, install Linux on it and any old console simulator you need.

PocketChip on the other hand looks more interesting.

Its true that sticker shock over the Pandora price is to be expected, but there is a lot of other value that most don't see, such as: 10+ hour battery life, the excellent community repo, access to the Pandora devs like no other, games and technologies on the Pandora that aren't yet anywhere else, and so on.

But this is the reality: you can't make a device like this, for such a low price, if you want to keep it open and available to your customers without having to make serious compromises. The Pandora has excellent hardware controls you won't find anywhere else - the nubs are superb - and is an entirely grass-roots effort: designed, manufactured and supported by a rag-tag team of hackers who are doing everything they can to build the ideal device that we all like. The price reflects the economic reality of the circumstances.

And, this is proven again with the Pyra, where the community is self-funding all of the development, manufacturing and support costs - a real true, well-managed startup. Perhaps things will get cheaper when the money is on their side to be able to afford massively larger scales of manufacturing - but remember, there are only going to be 500 Pyra at first. That price helps get the next 500+ Pyra made. This was true for the Pandora too - it wouldn't have been able to survive as long as it has, and evolve into such a cool product, without traditional consumer-level economics of scale being discarded by the community and early adopters. We're paying a fair price for an amazing machine, getting value you will find nowhere else, entirely because the economies of scale are so difficult. If Pyra goes well (When), then there will definitely be opportunities for the price to come way, way down. But for now, those of us who can invest in the product properly, are the ones pushing it forward.

Never forget: Pandora and Pyra have been a real hacker-oriented project, from the very beginning and probably still well into the future. Nobody but us (well, Evildragon&Co.) controls this, and its been kept on the rails as a project so far precisely because the costs have been managed at a scale that is acceptable to those of us who understand what is being built here: the ideal, pocketable, 100% OPEN, Linux workstation platform.

I'd really like to see a palmtop linux machine with Psion 5 style form factor with a similar keyboard... these tiny keys are not great.

I actually prefer the landscape mode with blackberry type keyboard to the wider models in particular because thumb typing while holding it is easier for me than having a wide qwerty in a small form factor.

The chip has been on HN on and off for months. Is there something new happening?

General availability of the Pocketchip dock?

This is amazing. Just need to figure out how I can attach a battery to it and everything in my house will be a computer.


First image shows a battery connector top right.

I'd prefer such product if I can just power it and control it over SSH. I don't really need an actual screen plug, as I would not use a home screen on such a tiny thing: it doesn't make sense.

Although the rasbperry pi zero seems interesting, I don't know if I can plug a minimalist, small and cheap screen on a mini-hdmi. Overall there is no point using a classic screen on such tiny devices.

This seems to compete with the raspberry pi zero, and RPi zero doesn't have wifi.

Documentation for using the CHIP headless: http://docs.getchip.com/chip.html#headless-chip

Yeah. One of the nice things about CHIP is that in theory (mine hasn't shipped yet) you can just plug it into your computer over USB right out the box, open a serial terminal to it and configure it that way, no messing around with SD cards etc. The Pi Zero can't do that because it requires an SD card and also the driver support for USB-OTG is poor and requires manual configuration of device mode.

Not just in theory--that's precisely how I got mine (I KSed it, and got my pair at least two months ago) booted up and configured for the first time. Super easy, in fact--way easier to bootstrap than a RPi (I ordered a RPi 3 some time since).

> I'd prefer such product if I can just power it and control it over SSH.

It would seem like you can, or is there something I'm missing? Is it a concern with how you'd actually do the initial setup?

In fact, this is no problem at all. You can configure CHIP for ssh access, stick it in a panel in the wall somewhere, and just forget about it.

Raspberry Pi Zero has no wifi, no bluetooth and no build in 4GB storage. BUT: it is cheaper at 5$! :-)

thats true but sadly you cannot find pi zero anywhere in stock for 5 bucks, since a while at least.

Well...nowhere online. I've got a MicroCenter nearby. They claim to have a bunch in stock in their store, and I've heard other people claim that they bought theirs there. I've got to imagine that there are other electronics shops in a similar situation.

they're ramping up the availability at the moment, adafruit has them I think http://whereismypizero.com/ - some places only have them as part of a kit admittedly, but I managed to buy one on its own. I'm confident availability is getting easier, and the new version has a camera slot too.

this is what I loved about beaglebone - onboard flash with OS pre-installed with SSH enabled and no setup required.

20 seconds from opening the box to bash$

Would be helpful if they were more transparent about shipping. I'm not going to go through the motions of pre-ordering just to find out what the total costs are.

I bought one for June delivery, hopefully it shows up.

What bums me out is that there is no easy board that I can find of the (get chip, pi zero ilk) that comes with an ethernet port. I know I can get a regular Pi but it's too much for my use case.

On a related note, I've been looking for a low cost smart power plug with ethernet (10/100/1000) without much success. If anyone knows of such a beast, please let me know.

IMO, $80 for something like this https://www.amazon.com/ezOutlet-Internet-IP-Enabled-Android-... is too much

A regular pi has a USB ethernet device, so really you will not lose any speed by using a usb dongle on any sbc.

Speed isn't the issue here. Having an ethernet port is.

Did they really use a banana for scale?

I made a group order for 40 CHIP computers. I was definitely pissed off by the fact that I could only order five of them at the time (but there was no limit on the number of order I could place).

I am looking forward for them to start delivering.

I hope that VAT won't be too high.

Just because I'm nosy, what do you have intended for your 40 CHIPs? Education?

As I said, I made a group order. I gathered orders by many people (mostly friends) and ordered.

Does anyone know if one of the USB slots can act as a client while the other as a host? I can't seem to find any documentation with that level of detail.

edit: looks like one of them can run in OTG mode (i.e client), that's wonderful!

Anyone know what is that vertical scroll shmup on the image above the gaming header?

Looks like Psikyo's Aero Fighters to me. The proportions seem off though, so most likely a PAL console port played on NTSC TV and/or a sub-optimal emulator config we see there :)

Great game and astonishing feat for a $9 computer!

I still can't see a full spec for the soc. Without that, to me, this is uninteresting. Sorry. Perhaps others have different priorities. Having a fully hackable $9 computer would have been a wonderful thing to me.

A big market for these that doesn't seem to be mentioned is the potential for business presentation use: sales, training, basically anything in an office.

Why carry a laptop, when the location you're going to has a projector screen you'll use, and likely has a keyboard (or carry a portable input device), and a power supply. And your files are cached on your favourite cloud.

Make a nice looking case for these, and they're impressive novelties, lighter than the lightest laptop, and probably a bit more stable than driving a projector from a phone.

There's a clever feature in the Optoma Pico Pocket Projectors where you can store presentations inside the projector, or on removable media that the projector can read directly. So you can present from the projector itself without an external device.

Of course, the projector currently doesn't run a general-purpose operating system, so your suggestion is more useful if you need to do something beyond showing slides or video.

I ordered a CHIP over a year ago with the VGA adapter. I think it should be shipping soon. I sort of now wish I had went with the HDMI adapter as I do not have too many VGA systems these days.

I ordered these the day they announced. Not sure if mine have shipped yet. Excited to see them.

I ordered mine in November, when are they actually planning on shipping?

It's a bit frustrating there is no easy way to change the shipping address after the preorder.

Can I start using CHIP without a display? Like ssh access when connected to USB or via Bluetooth?

cstuder already answered this questions below: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11908011

Do they keep costs down because they are using conflict minerals? http://enoughproject.org/special-topics/progress-and-challen...

I ordered one. With tax and shipping to Northern California, it was over $16.

Is it shipping soon ?

where to get time to play with all the toys....

CHIP's $9 pitch is nothing special anymore, with that Rpi device for $5 now, but the PocketCHIP wrapper is still a strong USP. Here is an IoT device where you don't need a soldering iron to actually get basic, useful stuff going.

Impressive hardware, but UGH!, not yet-another-Linux powered computer! If I had the time, I'd port illumos to it myself, but since I don't, Linux on this thing makes it a non-starter for me.

As someone who spent years maintaining Solaris systems, it always amazes me that there are people out there that like Solaris.

Especially in the context of a hobby/experimental system.

I love Solaris (except Oracle Solaris 11, which I really dislike!), and I love illumos and SmartOS even more.

I grew up on Solaris - my first ever UNIX was a Solaris 2.5.1 system on a SPARCStation 20. I've been running Solaris on intel since my first Pentium 90 workstation on Solaris 2.5.1.

Since I know how to build and package software for Solaris, I have everything I could ever want or need on it. It's a comfortable system, and it's elegant, once one fully understands all of its capabilities. And it's extremely reliable and high performance, especially on intel based processors.

For some context, I am forced to work on Linux and I spend my entire working day working on it. Compared to reliability of Solaris and ease of use, I have grown to dislike Linux in the extreme. If you are thinking, "but that is insane, Linux is so great, how is that possible!", remember that I grew up on UNIX, so I have different criteria for what is comfortable and reliable (even in terms of development) than your average Linux user or Linux system administrator does. I dislike the GNU tools and user land (with very few notable exceptions) because I'm used to AT&T System V tools and that is how I expect the tools to behave; GNU tool chain usually frustrates me to no end. Working with Linux frustrates me to no end (I do professional development and system engineering on it).

For example: --some-long-option comes to mind, or lack of proper manual pages ("see the texinfo page"), lack of backwards compatibility support, tar -z (tar is a tape archiver, not a compressor!), and so on, and so on... I miss my ZFS, I miss my mdb, I miss my dbx, I miss my SMF, I miss my fmadm, I miss the simple and effective handling of storage area network logical units, I miss the fiberchannel stack which actually works... I don't have any of those issues on illumos based systems, but it drives the point home:

the last thing I want is yet another Linux based computer. I have enough of that as it is at work - almost 71,000 servers, 49% of them running Linux, and it sucks.

>For example: --some-long-option comes to mind, or lack of proper manual pages ("see the texinfo page"),

What are you even talking about here? man/info works wonderfully, if I want more readable information a terminal sure as hell isn't going to give it to me easier than searching a wiki. And solaris absolutely had problems with documentation on their larger packages.

> lack of backwards compatibility support

Hardly even a real issue if you actually maintain your damn systems more than once every half decade.

>tar -z (tar is a tape archiver, not a compressor!)

... It still is a tape archiver AND a compresser AND a 100 different but completely valid and usable things.

ZFS absolutely is usable.

Why do you enjoy DBX over GDB?

SMF? One would think you would love and embrace systemd.

FibreChannel stack that works? https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/InfiniBand

I can't refute all that you have said here since I am not familiar with all of it. But, have you considered you are just doing it the wrong/difficult way?

Manual pages on traditional UNIX systems are extremely detailed and contain lots of good, usable examples, and Solaris / illumos based operating systems really shine in this area. People who grew up on a real UNIX expect to find comprehensive, high quality documentation in the manual pages in a terminal session. This feature was driven hard by enterprise customers and professional system administrators in times when wikis did not exist, and even today the quality of the content in some arbitrary wiki written by someone on the internet when they felt like it is dubious in comparison to manual pages written by people with formal education in engineering and technical writing!

Like I wrote before, on UNIX we have different expectations in different areas than what people are used to and accept as given on Linux. The focus is different on UNIX.

Apropos dbx versus gdb: dbx has a 1,000 page manual, and makes it really easy to step through assembler code while listing the original source. How many pages of documentation does gdb have again? On top of that, gdb doesn't even fully support my OS, I don't think gdb properly supports anything that is not Linux... hmmm, that reminds me an awful lot of Microsoft Windows monoculture.

systemd versus SMF: systemd is a shoddy copy of SMF with a Windows twist, trying to replace every service in the system. Unlike SMF, which is part of the fault management architecture, which is part of self-healing technology, systemd has no such concept, self-healing and a contract filesystem is science fiction for systemd. SMF watches over services, but it doesn't try to replace them; "do one thing, and do it well."

InfiniBand is a different technology than fiberchannel.

To get full GDB documentation you need to use info gdb, the man page states that itself. Man pages are quite limited correct, so they offered a better solution just like what you are looking for... Not sure what the issue is here. The amount of documentation is massive, 2321 lines of text in an easy to browse format...

GDB also works on a large amount of computers. Windows, Linux, netbsd, etc.

>>>However, its use is not strictly limited to the GNU operating system; it is a portable debugger that runs on many Unix-like systems and works for many programming languages, including Ada, C, C++, Objective-C, Free Pascal, Fortran, Java[1] and partially others. [0]

>hmmm, that reminds me an awful lot of Microsoft Windows monoculture.

What? Actually they support windows, which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to say here... I use GDB DAILY on windows (work.) with zero issues.

I'll agree that perhaps systemd doesn't cover all use cases or wants. But calling it a shoddy copy of SMF with a windows twist is disingenuous. I don't care for the for or against systemd arguments but after the initial reaction/learning phase when pulling away from upstart/sysv/init based shit/etc, many of us are actually starting to warm up to systemd. It handles services wonderfully, it handles logs wonderfully, perhaps it's a bit bloated whatever you can always revert to what you want if you decide to spend the time to actually do it.

>InfiniBand is a different technology than fiberchannel.

Fair enough, i'll have to read up more on it than.

You are making quite a lot of generalizations without doing proper research. If you want to be stuck in your "In the old days us Unix people had it right!" mindset than this discussion is pointless. Otherwise I would love to continue butting heads on this.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Debugger

> To get full GDB documentation you need to use info gdb, the man page states that itself. Man pages are quite limited correct,

`info gdb` is completely unacceptable, and an outrage: standard documentation on UNIX are manual pages, not to mention that systems other than GNU/Linux do not use GNU info.

> Man pages are quite limited correct,

Incorrect; manual pages are rendered by the nroff document typesetting system. Entire books have been typeset for printing with nroff. Case in point: the UNIX Text Processing book, the AWK book, the ANSI C book. The system is extremely flexible and very powerful, once one understands what is going on. When you hold the printed versions of these books in your hand, you can see that they are beautifully typeset and rendered. Brought to you by the same programs which render UNIX manual pages when you type `man some_command`!

What you see on the screen (on UNIX, cannot vouch for Linux) when you type `man ls` is an actual professional typesetting system rendering the content for stdout instead of a printing press!

> I don't care for the for or against systemd arguments but after the initial reaction/learning phase when pulling away from upstart/sysv/init based shit/etc, many of us are actually starting to warm up to systemd.

That's because you haven't had the opportunity to enjoy SMF. When you've worked with SMF, systemd looks like a cobbled-together toy. For example, systemd turns ASCII logs into binary format, just like on Windows. This in turn goes against the UNIX philosophy of

Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface. [McIlroy]


> You are making quite a lot of generalizations without doing proper research.

That's is quite ironic, telling that to someone who does professional system engineering and software development on GNU/Linux for a living. I have been doing UNIX and Linux professsionally since 1993, and working with computers in general since 1984, how many years is that? I spend every waking moment of what free time I have researching UNIX and Linux. To tell me that I'm "generalizing without doing proper research" just because I am not succumbing to GNU/Linux group think is what one could call disingenuous.

I'll admit, perhaps I am wrong in the greater picture of things here. But you are also wrong on some points. Particularly man pages being superior to info. troff/nroff markup is needlessly complex compared to Tex. You can also use your vi keys in info as well.. Perhaps you can just boil this down to being comfortable using man pages, but info pages provide more options and usability when it comes to created documentation, that's just a simple fact. If you have trouble quickly finding the information you need when using info, consider reading the info info page ;).

In fact TeX is used/preferred over nroff/others for a huge majority of physics/mathematics academic journals. And quite a bit outside of it. [0 - 3]

I will admit for stuff I already know and understand enough of to be considered proficient with it, man pages can be quicker. For something I just installed and still need to learn info pages provide a much better platform.

You may find the following link enjoyable to skim through. http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/77514/what-is-gnu-in...

> What you see on the screen (on UNIX, cannot vouch for Linux) when you type `man ls` is an actual professional typesetting system rendering the content for stdout instead of a printing press!

Love the enthusiasm but (La)TeX falls into that description as well.

> That's because you haven't had the opportunity to enjoy SMF.

Maybe, I've put it on my list of things to tinker with more. Thanks for the link.

> That's is quite ironic [...] I am not succumbing to GNU/Linux group think is what one could call disingenuous

I don't care about you succumbing to any group think or whatever other word you can come up with. I am trying to show you why it is actually superior in many ways. Just because you are comfortable with nroff absolutely 100% does not make it better. To put it simply, you may be a professional system/software engineer but if you can't keep up with why these systems are considered (and shown to be) better than what you have now than you will just continue to be frustrated/fall behind.

[0] http://www.math.ucla.edu/~tao/submissions.html [1] https://www.overleaf.com/gallery/tagged/academic-journal [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaTeX [3] http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/taoup/html/ch18s03.html


Quoting from the link above:

ADDENDUM: While not strictly relevant to the question, note that man pages are still considered the standard documentation system on free Unix-like systems like those running atop the Linux kernel and also the various BSD flavors. For example, the Debian package templates encourage the addition of a man page for any commands, and also lintian checks for a man page. Texinfo is still not widely used outside the GNU project.

Which I can confirm and concur with. Long story short, I would forget GNU info, because it is an invention not suitable to the task at hand, which is efficient and fast lookup of information in a reference manual.

LaTeX is a great typesetting system, just not for manual pages. It is frustrating in the extreme having to wade through a GNU info "page" like one does through a web browser when one is in a datacenter trying to solve a priority 1 incident.

LaTeX is a sucessor of TeX, which was designed with the goal of writing academic research papers, with a specific focus on mathematics research, not writing reference documentation; it is great for what it is designed to do, however it was not designed to be an online reference manual system, and it shows in the browser-like nature of the GNU info usage paradigm.

Manual pages have a certain structure, which, when one understands it, makes them extremely efficient at locating the information:


shows me the valid forms of using the command in question, in one to three concise lines.


lists all the available options which might not be present in the examples, but which I might need.


the most important part of a manual page; on GNU/Linux, this part is usually non-existent, but on UNIX, the EXAMPLES is almost always there, and it almost always contains several detailed treatises on how to use the command, system call, or a library in question. After SYNOPSIS, this is the first part I jump to with the "/" character (forward search in less(1)), and often contains enough information for me to start using the program in question and be productive immediately.


If I cannot remember exactly which command I am looking for, but I know commands related to it, just by calling up the manual page of the related command, I can look in the SEE ALSO section and find the manual for the command I could not remember.


provides which files are affected. This information is vital when knowing which files to inspect, monitor, or modify.


Sometimes, I just need to know which package a file or a command belongs to, whether it is multithreading-safe ("MT safe"), or whether the interface I am about to use is stable, uncommitted, deprecated, or external; AVAILABILITY section will tell me that. This section also does not exist on GNU/Linux, where it is science fiction for the developer to have even thought about forward and backward compatibility; often times, the Linux developers are so undisciplined that they do not even deliver built in documentation, and the manual page is written by someone else as a placeholder, and AVAILABILITY section won't exist in it, because the third party that wrote the manual page cannot know that. For example, Debian GNU/Linux often has such manual pages. That is unthinkable and intolerable on UNIX!

By convention, all the manual pages on UNIX contain these (and additional) sections. The order of locating pertinent information in a manual page, then, becomes as follows:







With the order of scanning listed above, I often locate the pertinent information within five seconds, up to 35 seconds maximum (we timed it, ten runs, did the average, mean, and median, and corrected for standard deviation).

GNU info on the other hand, I'm stuck in trying to navigate "topics" as if I were in a web browser. The navigation is haphazard because everybody has their own idea of what the documentation to their program should look like, something that is well defined and uniform in the manual pages.

When you are troubleshooting a problem or need to scan through large amount of documentation quickly and efficiently, if you understand the structure (1 - user commands, 1M (or 8 on BSD and GNU/Linux) - system administration commands, 2 - system calls, 3C - standard C library, 3LIB - libraries, 4 (or 5 on GNU/Linux) - file formats, 5 - standards and macros, 6 - games, 7 - special files, 7D - device drivers, 9 - device driver interfaces), searching through the correct manual page becomes even faster, like a search on steroids, or with a twin turbo and a supercharger combined.

None of that structure is present in a GNU info manual; there, as is usual with GNU/Linux, it's a "free for all".

Any software I write is delivered with a manual page strictly following norms described above, because on UNIX, that is what we do, and it would be shameful and unprofessional not to do it (shoddy product), even if what one writes is freeware, in one's spare time. It's completely unacceptable and unthinkable to deliver a piece of software without a manual page. We have completely different quality standards and expectations of software on UNIX, even for free and gratis software.

This book, sometimes available in printed form and as a free PDF, explains how to use the nroff typesetting system:


the book is gratis to download, as it has been out of print for several decades, but it is invaluable when learning how to typeset documents with nroff(1), including manual pages.

> tar -z (tar is a tape archiver, not a compressor!)

Did you not want -z to exist at all (so you would pipe through gzip separately), or not want it to be a magical default?

GNU changed the -z handling at some point in the last decade (so that it autodetects whether input is compressed upon extraction and decompresses it without being told to), so now tar -xzf foo.tar.gz and tar -xf foo.tar.gz both work, where previously the second one would have failed because tar wouldn't have tried to decompress. Is that change what you're bothered by (it's pretty counterintuitive to me!), or did you just not want compression built into tar at all?

GNU tar now includes flag-based support for -j (bzip2), -J (xz), --lzip, --lzma, --lzop, -z (gzip), and -Z (compress).

I do not want -z at all, ever; -z has no business in a tape archiver, as it goes against the core UNIX philosophy of "do one thing, and do it well" [McIlroy].

Implementing UNIX tools inside of other UNIX tools is not how UNIX works; that might be acceptable on Windows, but it sucks on UNIX.

For example,

  xz -dvc archive.tar.xz | tar xf -
works everywhere as is, including Linux, while

  tar xzf archive.tar.xz
will not work on systems which do not use GNU tar or where GNU tar is not linked with libz, libarchive and liblzma.

GNU way is broken, because it is the Windows way, and Windows is busted.

Another example might be "sort -u" (because you can get the same result from "sort | uniq"). There seems to have been a pattern where people decided that if "foo | bar" (or "bar | foo") is a common enough idiom, they could or should create "foo -b" to mimic it.

Except that `sort -u` enables an optimization for dealing with a large number of duplicate lines.

How would Illumos be better? I don't have any experience with it (although I've got some with Solaris/SunOS itself), and I'm curious.

I'd assume that Linux would have a lot more software available to it, as well as more maturity to its ARM ports.

illumos has the fault management architecture, SMF, and ZFS.

I'm not interested in running this computer as a desktop, but as a UNIX server which I can carry in my pocket.

As for software, the package library of illumos based systems can stand shoulder to shoulder with Debian based ones:


Linux on these types of devices is not interesting to me, as every such device comes with it. It's neither different nor original.

> Linux on these types of devices is not interesting to me, as every such device comes with it. It's neither different nor original.

Being neither different nor original seems like a plus, when it comes to servers. Having a predictable, internally-consistent standard system would be best. Easier management, easier configuration, predictable behavior between machines, and all that. Of course, the opinion of which system it would be better to standardize on would be a matter of opinion.

Also, I think anyone trying to run any sort of serious server on a CHIP is using a nailfile where a screwdriver would be better-suited.

If it makes you any happier, ZFS is doable on a Linux-based SBC. I found a fair amount of documentation of it being done on the first generation of Raspberry Pi.

Yes, but to me having a consistent server means having an illumos based server, because that guarantees SVR4, XPG4, SuS and POSIX behavior, as well as that my applications will JustWork(SM), and that my data integrity will be guaranteed.

I can't use ZFS on Linux because the place where I work doesn't allow it, as they are scared of having to support it (and they don't know how), and they're scared of redhat denying them support. On top of that, why would I use ZFS on Linux when I can have the real deal on any illumos or FreeBSD derivative (assuming they would let me)? Again, zero interest in running Linux. I like sleeping through my nights instead of sitting in a priority 1 crisis bridge having a bunch of managers yelling at me, and all because of having problems on Linux I wouldn't be having if I were running SmartOS.

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