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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beagle Board Carputer

In case you haven't heard, Texas Instruments and Digi-Key have come together to create an amazing product called the Beagle Board.

What's so amazing you ask?

For a mere 150 dollars, you can get an entire computer. Albeit you have to do a lot of work to get it up and running.

Carputer systems are not a very popular mod for obvious reasons. You have to rig up a power supply, have a touch screen or voice activated interface, run the sound to your speakers, etc etc.

However, I am going to take on this challenge. Well, I'm going to wait until spring, but then I'm talking on this challenge.

Probably the most important thing I need to decide is what operating system I'm going to run on it. It can't be a conventional operating system because of the ARM architecture. That does leave me with a few things though. I could go with Windows CE (yeah right) or Android (a good possibility) or I could build it my self from Gentoo or Debian (Gentoo has a much better chance).

What I'm really hoping for is an Arch Linux port to ARM by the time I start my project. Some progress has been made over at Arch Mobile but it looks like the project may have died.

Oh well, I guess I can live with Gentoo or Android if I have to.

So let's over the two most likely options, here are some Pros and Cons:


I'll be able to build it how I want.
It'll be highly optimized and incredibly fast and compact.
Incredible documentation.

I've done a Gentoo install in a VirtualBox. It takes forever... I can't imagine how long it'll take on an ARM processor


Already set up.
Probably easy to install.

Can't use Google apps (you have to have a license) this includes the app store.
Not sure how I'd compile programs on to it.
I don't think the interface would be that great as a carputer.

Ah well, I got plenty of time to come up with a solution.


  1. Gentoo supports cross-compilation and there are projects to provide pre-built BeagleBoard/ARMv7 binaries, so it doesn't have to take a long time.

  2. Wow I feel stupid. I didn't even think about cross compiling...

    And I wasn't aware of the binaries either...

    Hmm, guess I should do just a little bit more research before complaining shouldn't I?

  3. Also, Digi-Key is just a supplier of the BeagleBoard. TI employees developed the board to spur learning about the OMAP platforms within the developer and learning institution communities. TI does not offer any support for the board... Also, it sounds like the Carputer project is a knock-off of a couple other BB projects.

  4. Hi,
    Just a few notes:
    - if you want to get good results fast I recommend Angstrom linux. It probably has everything you need, and has a version tailored for the BB.
    - if you take gentoo, there's a port of it for OMAP3 devices. It's still in development, but works fine. I use it on my BeagleBoard, and have a full gnome desktop. The guys provide install images and binary packages, so you don't have to compile at all (with some restrictions of course).

  5. @Larry
    It probably is, I was just looking for a low power solution for my carputer needs. My best friend uses an atom bored and his dad uses a Mac Mini. Plus, from what I've read, touch screen support is well on its way.

    Hey thanks a lot! I'll make sure I look into it!