Know How for the Orange Pi

The is a palm sized (69 x 48 mm) computer that plugs into your TV and gets an USB keyboard and an USB mouse. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. The community page has some more details.

Because it is so cheap (about 27 EUR ), it is very attractive to use it in all kinds of embedded computer projects. The offer is from, search for Orange Pi Lite SET12, it contains an Orange Pi Lite + Transparent ABS case + power cable + 16 GB class 10 micro SD card.

The Linux software Armbian is also described well.

I will explain here some specific Know How. Please see the picture below for details (click on picture to expand).


The picture shows the Orange Pi Lite (WiFi and Bluetooth version) with the serial port connected to a USB to serial converter.

/!\ The serial data wires RX and TX (or RD and TD) are connected 1:1.

/!\ Please take care to use the 3.3 V version of the serial converter. A 5 V version can damage your Orange Pi.

/!\ If you are using a DVI adapter on your monitor, you will probably see no picture. The fix is explained later.

Orange Pi Lite

Orange Pi Lite is the version with WiFi and Bluetooth, without Ethernet port. A schematic is available.

Armbian software

The Armbian (Debian) software can be downloaded in a Desktop or Server version. Please read the Quick Start page for informations.

/!\ When the software on the micro SD-card is OK, the green LED blinks, or lits steady.

WiFi connect

Because the Orange Pi Lite does not have an Ethernet port, the WiFi connection must be configured via the serial port (115200 Baud 8N1). To make the connection to a computer with a terminal (PUTTY or CoolTerm), you need an USB to serial converter (3.3 V version), as shown in the picture above.

Next insert the programmed micro SD card into the socket of the board and switch on power. In the terminal you will see:

U-Boot SPL 2016.09-armbian (Sep 15 2016 - 07:09:20)
DRAM: 512 MiB
Trying to boot from MMC1

U-Boot 2016.09-armbian (Sep 15 2016 - 07:09:20 +0200) Allwinner Technology

CPU:   Allwinner H3 (SUN8I 1680)
Model: Xunlong Orange Pi Lite
DRAM:  512 MiB
*** Warning - bad CRC, using default environment

In:    serial
Out:   serial
Err:   serial
Net:   No ethernet found.
Hit any key to stop autoboot:  0
switch to partitions #0, OK
mmc0 is current device
Scanning mmc 0:1...
Found U-Boot script /boot/boot.scr
2789 bytes read in 144 ms (18.6 KiB/s)
## Executing script at 43100000
gpio: pin PL10 (gpio 298) value is 1
   Warning: value of pin is still 0
gpio: pin PG11 (gpio 203) value is 1
** File not found /boot/.verbose **
** File not found /boot/.next **
** Unrecognized filesystem type **
** File not found .next **
35912 bytes read in 400 ms (86.9 KiB/s)
3114597 bytes read in 307 ms (9.7 MiB/s)
5025168 bytes read in 455 ms (10.5 MiB/s)
## Loading init Ramdisk from Legacy Image at 43300000 ...
   Image Name:   uInitrd
   Image Type:   ARM Linux RAMDisk Image (gzip compressed)
   Data Size:    3114533 Bytes = 3 MiB
   Load Address: 00000000
   Entry Point:  00000000
   Verifying Checksum ... OK
Using machid 0x1029 from environment

Starting kernel ...

[sun8i_fixup]: From boot, get meminfo:
        Start:  0x40000000
        Size:   512MB
ion_carveout reserve: 160m@0 256m@0 130m@1 200m@1
ion_reserve_select: ion chipid  [0x2004620!
ion_reserve_common: ion reserve: [0x56000000, 0x60000000]!

Debian GNU/Linux 8 orangepilite ttyS0

Next you will be asked for the root password ("1234"), and need to change it to a new one. The you will be asked for a user name with some not so important details, and a user password.

Then it is time to reboot, in order to login as a user:

orangepilite login: rudi
Password: xxxxx

Linux orangepilite 3.4.112-sun8i #14 SMP PREEMPT Wed Sep 14 20:29:31 CEST 2016 armv7l
  ___                               ____  _   _     _ _
 / _ \ _ __ __ _ _ __   __ _  ___  |  _ \(_) | |   (_) |_ ___
| | | | '__/ _` | '_ \ / _` |/ _ \ | |_) | | | |   | | __/ _ \
| |_| | | | (_| | | | | (_| |  __/ |  __/| | | |___| | ||  __/
 \___/|_|  \__,_|_| |_|\__, |\___| |_|   |_| |_____|_|\__\___|

Welcome to ARMBIAN Debian GNU/Linux 8 (jessie) 3.4.112-sun8i
System load:   1.46             Up time:       32 sec
Memory usage:  24 % of 494Mb    IP:
CPU temp:      20°C
Usage of /:    16% of 15G

# you see, there is not yet an IP number available!

Now it is time to connect to the WiFi router, with the setup. The network manager scans already for available hotspots (router):

$ sudo nmtui  # network manager text user interface
    Set system hostname - orangepilite1  # for example
    Activate a connection
        Wi-Fi         # scan for available hotspots (router)
            FRITZ-7360 - <Activate>  # SSID for example
    Password: xxxx <OK>

# check in the router for the IP address
# for example a Fritz!box
orangepilite1  00:E0:4C:D7:FE:15 WLAN 42 Mbit/s 

Then try a SSH connect for remote control, with a Terminal or PUTTY:

# Try SSH connect:
$ ssh rudi@
  ___                               ____  _   _     _ _       
 / _ \ _ __ __ _ _ __   __ _  ___  |  _ \(_) | |   (_) |_ ___ 
| | | | '__/ _` | '_ \ / _` |/ _ \ | |_) | | | |   | | __/ _ \
| |_| | | | (_| | | | | (_| |  __/ |  __/| | | |___| | ||  __/
 \___/|_|  \__,_|_| |_|\__, |\___| |_|   |_| |_____|_|\__\___|

Welcome to ARMBIAN Debian GNU/Linux 8 (jessie) 3.4.112-sun8i 
System load:   0.00             Up time:       25 min           
Memory usage:  23 % of 494Mb    IP:  
CPU temp:      36°C             
Usage of /:    16% of 15G       

Last login: Thu Sep 15 07:30:19 2016

$ sudo date MMDDhhmmYYYY  # M=Monat, D=Tag, h=Stunde, m=Minute, Y=Jahr

Now it is time to do an software update via internet:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade
$ sudo shutdown -r   # reboot

The following chapters concerning configuration and setup are common for the Orange Pi One/Lite.

Orange Pi One

Orange Pi One is the version with Ethernet port, without WiFi and Bluetooth. A schematic is available.

Armbian software

The Armbian (Debian) software can be downloaded in a Desktop or Server version. Please read the Quick Start page for informations.

/!\ When the software on the micro SD-card is OK, the green LED blinks, or lits steady.

Shared software additions

The following software additions will make it more comfortable to work with the Orange Pi.

Screen resolution HDMI

If you are using a HDMI to DVI adapter you will probably see no picture on your monitor. For changing the resolution on your monitor, and a fix for the DVI Adapter, a tool is provided:

Desktop size: 1024 x 768 # initial setup

$ sudo h3disp
Usage: h3disp [-h/-H] -m [video mode] [-d] [-c [0-2]]


 This is a tool to set the display resolution of your Orange
 Pi by patching script.bin.

 In case you use an HDMI-to-DVI converter please use the -d switch.

 The resolution can be set using the -m switch. The following resolutions
 are currently supported:

    480i        use "-m 480i" or "-m 0"
    576i        use "-m 576i" or "-m 1"
    480p        use "-m 480p" or "-m 2"
    576p        use "-m 576p" or "-m 3"
    720p50      use "-m 720p50" or "-m 4"
    720p60      use "-m 720p60" or "-m 5"
    1080i50     use "-m 1080i50" or "-m 6"
    1080i60     use "-m 1080i60" or "-m 7"
    1080p24     use "-m 1080p24" or "-m 8"
    1080p50     use "-m 1080p50" or "-m 9"
    1080p60     use "-m 1080p60" or "-m 10"
    1080p25     use "-m 1080p25" or "-m 11"
    1080p30     use "-m 1080p30" or "-m 12"
    1080p24_3d  use "-m 1080p24_3d" or "-m 13"
    720p50_3d   use "-m 720p50_3d" or "-m 14"
    720p60_3d   use "-m 720p60_3d" or "-m 15"
    1080p24_3d  use "-m 1080p24_3d" or "-m 23"
    720p50_3d   use "-m 720p50_3d" or "-m 24"
    720p60_3d   use "-m 720p60_3d" or "-m 25"
    1080p25     use "-m 1080p25" or "-m 26"
    1080p30     use "-m 1080p30" or "-m 27"
    4kp30       use "-m 4kp30" or "-m 28"
    4kp25       use "-m 4kp25" or "-m 29"
    800x480     use "-m 800x480" or "-m 31"
    1024x768    use "-m 1024x768" or "-m 32"
    1280x1024   use "-m 1280x1024" or "-m 33"
    1360x768    use "-m 1360x768" or "-m 34"
    1440x900    use "-m 1440x900" or "-m 35"
    1680x1050   use "-m 1680x1050" or "-m 36"

 Two examples:

    'h3disp -m 1080p60 -d' (1920x1080@60Hz DVI)
    'h3disp -m 720i' (1280x720@30Hz HDMI)

 You can also specify the colour-range for your HDMI-display with the -c switch.

 The following values for -c are currently supported:

    0 -- RGB range 16-255 (Default, use "-c 0")
    1 -- RGB range 0-255 (Full range, use "-c 1")
    2 -- RGB range 16-235 (Limited video, "-c 2")

Now trying to patch script.bin with your settings. Successfully finished. Please reboot for changes to take effect

VNC server

Virtual Network Computing (VNC) allows you, to show the monitor screen of a remote computer (VNC Server) on a local computer (VNC Client), also to use your local keyboard and mouse for control of the remote computer. That allows to control a remote computer which does not have its own screen, keyboard and mouse.

First you have to install on the Orange Pi a VNC Server, preferably the tightvncserver:

# update first the software Repository
$ sudo apt-get update

# upgrade packages
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

$ sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

# start server
$ vncserver :1
You will require a password to access your desktops.

Password: raspberr     # max 8 characters, e.g. raspberr
Would you like to enter a view-only password (y/n)? n

New 'X' desktop is raspberrypi:1

Creating default startup script /home/pi/.vnc/xstartup
Starting applications specified in /home/pi/.vnc/xstartup
Log file is /home/pi/.vnc/raspberrypi:1.log

# finish VNC server daemon
$ vncserver -kill :1

For an automatic start of the VNC server, you need a script, see at the links.

# Get the script
$ wget

# copy to the init.d folder
$ sudo cp tightvncserver-init.txt /etc/init.d/tightvncserver

# Check the user name in line 16 and adopt if necessary. At the moment it is set to "pi".
# For safety reasons the user should NOT be named "root".

# Change user and group
$ sudo chown root:root /etc/init.d/tightvncserver

# Adjust the rights (execute)
$ sudo chmod 755 /etc/init.d/tightvncserver 

# Put the script in the "run levels" 
$ sudo update-rc.d tightvncserver defaults

# Manual start
$ sudo /etc/init.d/tightvncserver start

# Manual stop
$ sudo /etc/init.d/tightvncserver stop

# Check, if the process is active
$ ps -Af | grep vnc
pi        5135     1  0 06:42 ?        00:00:05 Xtightvnc :1 -desktop X -auth /home/pi/.Xauthority -geometry 1024x768 -depth 24 -rfbwait 120000 -rfbauth /home/pi/.vnc/passwd -rfbport 5901 -fp /usr/share/fonts/X11/misc/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/Type1/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/75dpi/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/100dpi/ -co /etc/X11/rgb

Unfortunately the clipboard just works in one direction only. The other direction can be enabled with the programm autocutsel on the Orange Pi:

# Install program to synchronise the clipboard
$ sudo apt-get install autocutsel

# enable auto start
# edit ~/.vnc/xstartup
# append at the third line:
autocutsel -fork
xrdb $HOME/.Xresources

# stop the VNC Server
$ sudo /etc/init.d/tightvncserver stop

# start with "autocutsel"
$ sudo /etc/init.d/tightvncserver start

Now you can establish a connection with a VNC client viewer.

/!\ It may be needed, to append the port numer 5901 to the IP address (Real VNC: Connection refused (61))

VNC and sudo

In the VNC viewer, if you start a program with sudo, you can get an error _tkinter.TclError: couldn't connect to display ":1.0".

The solution is to setup XAUTHORITY, see more about at the links:

$ cd /etc/sudoers.d
# create a new parameter file
$ sudo touch xauthority
# edit file
$ sudo visudo xauthority
# enter the following 5 lines and save to file:
# setup for VNC with sudo
Defaults    env_reset
Defaults    secure_path="/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin"
Defaults    env_keep += "DISPLAY"
Defaults    env_keep += "XAUTHORITY"

# Add these few lines to ~/.bashrc:

if [ -z "$XAUTHORITY" ]; then
    if [ -e $HOME/.Xauthority ]; then
        export XAUTHORITY=$HOME/.Xauthority;

# logout and login again
# Please be care that for entering the password an ENGLISH keyboard is used!
# for password "raspberry" you must type "raspberrz"!

Now it should be possible to start a X-Windows program with sudo.

VNC and Screen Shot

If you like to do a screen shot from your graphic window, type on the command line:

$ scrot -s -d 4

# option "-s" select a window, or a rectangle, with the mouse
# option "-d 4" have a 4 s delay before the screen shot, in order to restore the window
# and read "man scrot"

# result:
$ ls -ls | grep 2014-05-05
   36 -rw-r--r-- 1 pi   pi      33458 Mai  5 14:00 2014-05-05-140020_655x643_scrot.png

Terminal TAB command complete

Unfortunately the function command complete in the terminal with the TAB key does not work in XFCE, see here.

The quick solution is to use CTRL/STRG TAB instead TAB. The better solution is to work at the reason. XFCE has captured the TAB key for the funtion switch_window_key, but I think, the function command complete is more important. So what to do:

Applications Menu->Settings->Settings Manager->Settings Editor xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts
    <Super>Tab -> delete value "switch_window_key"

# to make it work:
$ sudo shutdown -r   # reboot

Often use programs

In XFCE often used programs, like Terminal, File Manager, Texteditor and File Finder are on a low convenience level, to save resources. Because I often work with Ubuntu, I want to have the same often used programs. The installation is easy:

$ sudo apt-get install nautilus gnome-terminal gedit locate eog
# Menu Settings->Preferred Applications
#  Nautilus for file manager
#  Gnome-Terminal for terminal

$ sudo updatedb  # for locate, to immediately index file names

# "tree view" in file manager Nautilus, version 3.14.1
#   Click on folder icon in upper left edge of the window.
#   Select: Preferences->Display->List View-> check mark "Navigate folders in a tree"

# eog = eye of gnome, picture viewer

Samba share

For easier file sharing in the in-house network, I like to have a Samba share installed:

$ sudo apt-get install nautilus-share
$ sudo apt-get install samba

$ sudo adduser $USER sambashare

# edit /etc/samba/smb.conf, add line in global section
    usershare owner only = false

$ sudo service smbd restart
# for adduser to work, reboot:
$ sudo shutdown -r
# test if user was added to group "sambashare"
$ groups
rudi dialout sudo audio video plugdev netdev bluetooth sambashare

# set password for samba, same as user password
$ sudo smbpasswd -a rudi

# create samba share with Nautilus 
   select in Nautilus the folder /home/rudi  # user
   click with right mouse button on the icon
   click on "sharing options"
   in window " Folder sharing" mark "share this folder"
       share name: rudi-orange
       option: mark "Allow others to create and delete files in this folder"
   click on "Create Share"

# change owner for easier access:
$ sudo chown rudi:rudi /var/lib/samba/usershares/rudi-orange

# test if you can connect the share


  1. allwinner-h3-boards-comparison-tables

  2. CPU H3 mini FAQ

  3. Setup of tightvncserver

  4. VNC with sudo

  5. raspberry-pi-rev2-gpio-pinout, JPG

  6. USB cable size matters

  7. Micro USB test jig

List of pages in this category:

-- RudolfReuter 2016-12-23 13:25:42

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