Linux User & Developer, Issue 142

Linux User & Developer Issue 142This month’s Linux User & Developer includes, in addition to my usual four-page news spread, a review of the Cubietruck single-board computer from the creators of the Cubieboard family.

I reviewed the Cubietruck’s predecessor, the lower-cost Cubieboard 2, back in Issue 139. Glancing at the specifications, it’s easy to see they’re related: the same AllWinner A20 dual-core system-on-chip ARMv7 processor is present and correct, although the DDR3 memory has been doubled to 2GB. The general-purpose input-output (GPIO) header is also shifted, moved from the underside location of the Cubieboard 2 to the top side in a more traditional layout, but in doing so its creators have chopped the number of pins from 96 to 54.

The loss of GPIO pins is matched by the addition of extra features not present in the Cubieboard 2: integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity using an on-board chip antenna and a gigabit Ethernet connection. That makes the Cubietruck an interesting device for low-power storage: the system comes bundled with a case that allows a 2.5″ hard drive to be slung under the unit with both 5V power and SATA data passing up to the Cubieboard’s on-board ports via a small cut-out in the PCB. It’s clever, although a slightly bottlenecked network means you won’t get the full gigabit throughput you’d see on a more powerful x86-based server.

The real question with the Cubietruck, however, is whether it’s worth the price. Supplier New IT sells the Cubietruck for £89.95, a £40 premium over its predecessor. While that price does come with the features listed above plus the aforementioned acrylic case and a small, optional, heatsink for the SoC, whether it’s worth the extra will depend on your target application.

To find out my final opinion on the device, plus to read about all the latest news in the world of free, libre and open-source software, open governance and more, pick up a copy of Linux User & Developer Issue 142 at your local newsagent, supermarket, or digitally via Zinio or a similar service. French readers will, as always, see a translation of my news and review appear in Inside Linux Magazine in the coming months.

Linux User & Developer, Issue 112

Linux User & Developer Magazine, Issue 112This month’s Linux User & Developer magazine features my usual group test – this time looking at mind-mapping software – and a review of Synology’s 12-bay NAS box.

Hardware reviews are a very different beast to software: you need to strip the system down, investigate its components, build it back up, install it, test it, benchmark it and build up an informed opinion of precisely how the system works. With something like Synology’s NAS boxes, that’s not too difficult: the company builds its systems to be easy to take apart, and its PR team members are great at getting things back to you when they say they will. With other companies, it’s not so easy…

The group test this month looks at mind-mapping software, a subject close to my heart. When I’m planning large-scale projects, like in-depth features or books, I use mind-mapping software to help lay out the subject matter in a logical manner. There are some real stinkers out there, though, so it’s important to pick the right one to start with – data portability wasn’t at the forefront of anyone’s mind when these packages were being developed!

More details are available over on the Linux User & Developer website.