Linux User & Developer, Issue 123

Linux User & Developer, Issue 123This month’s Linux User & Developer contains just a single piece of mine, a review of the quite remarkable CuBox microcomputer – largely thanks to previous pieces for rival magazines and my book the Raspberry Pi User Guide having excluded me from taking part in the cover-splashed Raspberry Pi birthday activities.

The reason I call the CuBox remarkable is due to its size: measuring just 55mm x 55mm and 42mm tall with a weight of 91g, it makes the Raspberry Pi look like a behemoth of a system. It also comes with its own cleverly-designed case and a selection of features that make it clear it is intended for home theatre use: a front-mounted IrDA receiver allows for remote control, while optical audio out provides digital clarity for music. Coupled with a gigabit Ethernet connection and a 3Gb/s eSATA port for external storage, you’ve got a powerful little machine.

Internally, the CuBox reveals its secret: it’s not a single-board computer like the Raspberry Pi at all, relying instead on a mezzanine layout that splits some functionality out into a daughterboard. The presence of a heatsink – well, a bent piece of aluminium thermal-taped to the 800MHz Marvell Armada ARMv7 system-on-chip processor – also comes as a surprise.

But can the CuBox justify its top-end £105 pricing – UPDATE: since the review was written, the price has dropped to £95 – when rival devices like the popular Raspberry Pi and far faster Olimex A13-OLinuXino-WiFi cost so much less? You’ll have to buy the magazine to find out.

Linux User & Developer Issue 123 is available in selected supermarkets and newsagents, digitally via Zinio or direct through the official website.

PC Pro, Issue 221

PC Pro Magazine, Issue 221This month’s PC Pro magazine includes something special for fans of the Raspberry Pi microcomputer: full instructions on how to turn the compact ARM-based system into a fully-functional webserver running Apache and the popular WordPress blogging platform.

Based on a chapter of my book, the Raspberry Pi User Guide, the step-by-step tutorial assumes no prior knowledge of Linux or running a server and requires only that you use the Raspbian operating system – which is recommended by the Raspberry Pi Foundation – or another Debian-based distribution, up to and including Debian itself.

When working on the feature for the book, I was actually surprised with how well Apache – software normally found running on multi-core servers with scads of RAM – ran on the 700MHz, single-core ARM-based system with just 256MB of RAM. While WordPress does slow things down a bit, it’s surprisingly usable – and if you’re lucky enough to have one of the Revision 2 boards, which feature 512MB of memory to the original’s 256MB, the whole thing works pretty well.

For more advanced users, one piece of advice not mentioned in the book or magazine feature is to try out an alternative web server package. While Apache is fully-featured and well-supported, it can be resource intensive – something to avoid on an embedded system. Nginx, by contrast, requires significantly less memory and processing power and can give a Pi web server a much-needed boost. Another trick is to enable Turbo Mode, which overclocks the Pi’s CPU, to increase performance still further – although be careful running at speeds above 900MHz, as SD card corruption is a common occurrence.

PC Pro Issue 221 is available from all good newsagents, digitally via Zinio, Google Play or Apple Newsstand, or via subscription with full details available on the official website.