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Q: Support of Banana Pro and future boards; Usability as a server

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Hi all,

I'm going to buy a microcomputer board to use as a private OpenVPN-server and Seafile server running a *stable* open-source Linux-image (could be bananian, raspian) and with a quite low power consumption in idle mode (definitely less than 5W in idle mode as running 24h/7days). Supported open-source HW is strongly appreciated.
Therefore I've been searching for alternatives, one of them is Banana Pro. (Another could be Banana Pi M2 from SinoVoip, but I've some concerns with BPI M2 and even more with BPI M3).

Could you please help me answering some questions:
1a. How good is the current support from LeMaker as well as from its community for Banana Pro?
With support I especially mean ready-made *stable* and *working* open-source Linux-image running out-of-the-box, and without any need to configure kernel, drivers and image, or the need to research how to make the board to run as specified.

1b. How correct/well-working is the information, guidelines, drivers (like wiring-Pi, hardware acceleration), images and so on from LeMaker?
1c. How well is LeMaker working together with its community?

2. How is the commitment from LeMaker as well as from its community to support Banana Pro in the future - with kernel updates, updated drivers, updated images and updates for running images via the package management?

3. Is Banana Pro CPU strong enough to run a private Seafile server and OpenVPN-server, with all traffic getting VPN-encrypted also traffic from Teamspeak, VOIP-Telephone (Linphone) as well as from Seafile, or does it get bogged down by encryption with long keys?
How is it with the latency (time delays, drop outs) using VOIP-Telephone over a OpenVPN running on a Banana Pro?
In several threads in this forum I've read that a NAS is running decent on Banana Pi/Pro. Correct?

4. Are the images for Banana Pro running stable or crashing now and then? What image for Banana Pro would be suitable for such a server mentioned above?

5. Are there plans to produce and support an updated HW for Banana Pro? Also with supported images and drivers !!! When?

Something like Banana Pro, but with a stronger CPU (4 cores or more), 2 GB RAM, Gigabit LAN-port and with a well connected SATA (and not via USB) and with stable HW and one good Linux-image?
I understand that it's of no usage for the customer to have a HW with a great specification, but no working drivers for using it and/or unstable image(s) and/or unstable HW with thermal problems and/or bad support, which actually exists on the market nowadays...    Hence this posting.

I would really appreciate any replies, also with additional suggestions and comments, as it would help me with my decision. Many thanks!

Greetings from Germany,
Waldbeere

igorpec  
Edited by igorpec at Jan 30, 2016 09:02

1-2

A20 based boards are well supported by community - much better than Lemaker can or do. Lemaker will probably dump support for A20 but don't worry about that since community support is here. Actually all Lemaker done to the kernel was adding their wireless adaptor which was later changed to better working from some community member ... They also adapt Rpi.GPIO libs - https://github.com/LeMaker/RPi.GPIO_BP if you need them. They work.

3. Yes and no.  Check here if those limitations can be a deal breaker.

4. For headless usage go for mainline, kernel 4.3 - 4.4. Kernel is stable, I have uptime for months, rebooted only for upgrades.

5. There were rummer but I don't think there will be any hot swap (aka 4 core A20) SoC upgrade. When new board comes out, most work / support become obsolete and we need to start from scratch / some totally crappy kernel.

Get any A20 board if you find it powerful enough and forget about other Bananas. They are all total crap for this job.


Add: stable working alternatives with much better performances but for more money:

1a. The Banana Pro use a A20 SoC, the A20 is now well supported by community, so the kernel update should be no problem because the community.
1b. The general information should be work, and the wiringpi and rpi.gpio for banana pro can work with the same instruction for raspberry pi.
1c. Now the we are focusing on Guitar and Hikey development, but LeMaker still update the OS images and bugs in Banana Pro.

2. Do not worry about the software update because a good support from community.

4. headless usage to use Kernel 4.3 -4.4 will be a good choice because of armbian and bananian. For desktop maybe now still under kernel 3.4 should work better.

5. LeMaker will not update the Banana Pro series. And as you know, the Bananas has too much different source, make confused.

Edited by destroyedlolo at Jan 31, 2016 12:32

As far I know, Sound support is still missing in mainline kernel. Is it corrected ?
(I need it on my basement server even being headless).

For headless usage go for mainline, kernel 4.3 - 4.4. Kernel is stable, I have uptime for months, rebooted only for upgrades.

Same for my with outdated 3.4.103+ kernel.
I used it on an A13's recycled tablet and having also no issue.

LeMaker will not update the Banana Pro series. And as you know, the Bananas has too much different source, make confused.

I'm really sad to hear that (especially as I spent lot of energy to promote this board). I know your troubles with Sinovoip but unlike BananaPI, BananaPRO is YOUR PRODUCT, not shared with anyone else, isn't it ?
The fact the Bananas having a native SATA interface, a good network throughput for a very small energy footprint is really a strong added value vs other solutions.
(The Guitar is a good product, no discussion, but it isn't a competitor in this area as lacking good disk IO).
The last point is Allwinner series is now well supported and documented (thanks to SunXI community), and switching to another CPU family require lot of time and is finally a wast of time for end user projects.

So I hope LeMaker will reconsider this position

igorpec  
Edited by igorpec at Jan 31, 2016 15:07
As far I know, Sound support is still missing in mainline kernel.

Sound is working in mainline 4.4 but it might still be disabled (in DTB) by default. It should work if you compile DEV kernel within my script.
And yes, 3.4.x is also stable ...


Hi all,
LeMaker will not update the Banana Pro series. And as you know, the Bananas has too much different source, make confused.


This means we do not update the Banana Pro hardware upgrade, but we will still update the software. So please do not worry about the software update.

Edited by Waldbeere at Feb 01, 2016 15:10

Hi all,

thank you very much for your replies with information and suggestions. I've read quite a bit using your hints.

@igorpec:
For me a valuable hint regarding VPN is to consider the AES-throughput, especially that the VOIP also is going through the VPN. ("Check here if those limitations can be a deal breaker").
The bottle neck in my VPN using a Banana Pro would probably be the AES-throughput far before the bottle neck of my internet connection. File through put with 20 Mbyte/sec (USB 2.0) would enough for me. More critical to me is a low latency for the VOIP communications.
The HummingBoards could be an alternative, although too pricy for me and it has not any AES accelaration with its i.MX6x SOC based on the ARM Cortex A9.

Here could LeMaker's Hikey be a compelling alternative: With its Kirin 620 SoC with octa core ARM Cortex-A53 64-bit CPU up to 1.2GHz (with weaker cooling up to 1.0 GHz) as it uses the ARMv8-Architecture and also have user-level instructions which implement AES rounds (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AES_instruction_set)

Questions regarding Hikey: (may I post these Hikey questions here in this thread regarding server, or should I open a new thread in Hikey section?)
H1) Does Hikeys Linux-image working well and stable?
H2) Does it the current kernel 3.18.0 uses these "user-level instructions which implement AES rounds"?
H3) Currently the Hikey Debian image uses the kernel 3.18.0. Are there work in progress for the Kernel 4.3.3 (or later)? How is the release planning?
H4) Is there any plans to make an upgraded version of Hikey (or an extension board for it) with 100Mbit-LAN / Gigabit-LAN (GMAC)?
H5a) Can anyone recommed an Ethernet 10/100 Mbit to USB 2.0 (High Speed) adapter which is supported?
H5b) Does any one know if the current kernel 3.18.0 has support for "Realtek RTL8152B"-Chip in the following Ethernet 10/100 Mbit to USB 2.0 (High Speed) adapter?
       amazon ... CSL-Ethernet-external-network-adapter
H6) If it would be easy for someone, to run a openssh ciphers performance benchmark on Hikey as well as Banana Pro? (see links below)
        openssh-ciphers-performance-benchmark-update-2015/
        openssh-ciphers-performance-benchmark/
             To make sure compression is off, use `-o “Compression no”` option:
             dd if=/dev/zero bs=1M count=50 | ssh -o “Compression no” root@127.0.0.1 “cat – >/dev/null”

      
The reason I had discarded Hikey was because it silly lacking of an Ethernet connection (I use no wireless LAN). But an USB-LAN adapter might be a viable solution as my internet connection is also another bottle neck for the VPN-throughput.

How do you regard my assumptions above? Does that make sense? Some other suggestion?
Thank again, I really appreciate that you sharings!

Greetings,
Waldbeere

H1) The linux-image is now has a release version and snapshots version. The release version work well for most function. The snapshots version is built every day and test the bugs or the new features.

H2) The Open-TEE can work on Hikey, which is a security technology.

H3) Now Linaro is developing the kernel 4.4, and the Linaro software RDP will track the lastest upstream kernel.

H4) Only can be achieve from USB2.0 to ethernet.

@tony_zhang
Thank you for the answers and clarifications.
"OP-TEE, open-source security for the mass-market"  sounds interesting, and I suppose that they also will or already do support the AES instruction set of the ARM Cortex-A53 CPU.

I wish you and all Chinese people an happy Spring Festival !

Greetings,
Waldbeere

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