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Old 27-01-2014, 16:18   #1
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Utilite boat PC

Hi,

I was wondering about getting a Utilite computer and use it as a boat PC (36' sailboat):

Home | Utilite

The advantages of these seem many:
- Low cost
- Great connectivity
- Small and light
- Low power consumption (4-8W)

Planned use.
- Navigation: OpenCPN
- Media playing (music for me; movies dor the kids)
- WWW surfing + getting Grib files
- NMEA mulitplexer

I would then be getting a used 12V 17" monitor, and integrate with NMEA 0183 (from a Raymarine system: MFD + Tridata and AIS) signals.

I also have Globesurf III 3G AP, provding 3G internet access as well as Ethernet connection. I would also attempt gettting the NMEA signals into ethernet via Moxa nport 5150.

I have limited Linux knowledge.

Any views on / experience with the Utilite and its suitability for this?

Thank you,

Eirik
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Old 27-01-2014, 17:10   #2
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Re: Utilite boat PC

I know nothing about Linux either. You could also try an "ATOM" pc if youre a windows user.
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Old 27-01-2014, 21:04   #3
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Re: Utilite boat PC

This box uses a Freescale i.MX6 processor which makes it closer to a tablet than a laptop or desktop. Just because some version of linux can run on this processor chip doesn't mean anything else can, like OpenCPN. The problem is similar to the Microsoft Surface RT not being able to run much more than Windows 8 and Office.

You have to make sure all the software you want to run has been tested on this box and not just some version of linux running on different hardware.

Good luck.

Caveat Emptor
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Old 27-01-2014, 21:59   #4
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Re: Utilite boat PC

Well, although we have no reports of OpenCPN running on this box specifically, it runs pretty well on ARM Linux (unlike Windows RT) MX6 should have more than enough power to make it usable, but it's hard to say how good the graphic chip support is as the specs don't name it.
I would personally sure choose the 2-core version with 2 GB of RAM as a navstation. Anyway, be prepared for some adventure as it's a way less taken before and a lot of software you will want is not packaged for ARM.

Happy pioneering

Pavel
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Old 28-01-2014, 06:17   #5
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Re: Utilite boat PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by nohal View Post
Anyway, be prepared for some adventure...
I think this is the key point. This is very definitely NOT going to be a case where you plug it in, install the software with one click, and everything works.

You are going to have to be prepared to do a lot of ad-hoc adaptation and re-configuration. You may have to manually compile some of the software from the source code. Can you do that? Are you willing to learn?

You say you don't know much about Linux... Well, by the time you're done with getting this machine to run everything that you want (IF you get it to run everything that you want!) you are going to know Linux way better than most casual users out there. You are probably going to have to learn more about Linux than you really want to. This is going to be a project, not just a "plug-n-play."

Are you up for that? If so, press on! If not, step back and think twice.
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Old 29-01-2014, 02:02   #6
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Re: Utilite boat PC

Thanks for feedbacks.

Regarding the hardware, I guess that the main uncertainty is related to the graphics capabilities, According to Utilite, the graphics system is as follows:

"The Utilite video graphics subsystem consists of the following i.MX6 sub-blocks.
VPU: A multi-standard high performance video codec engine supporting encode/decode operations.
3D GPU: Vivante GC2000 / GC880, compliant with OpenGL ES2.0, OpenGL ES1.1 and OpenVG 1.1.
2D GPU: Hardware acceleration of 2D graphics (Bit BLT and Stretch BLT). Based on the Vivante GC320 IP core.
GPUVG: An OpenVG 1.1 Graphics Processing Unit providing hardware acceleration of vector graphics. Based on the Vivante GC355 IP core OpenGL ES 2.0 "

Don't know how this relates to OpenCPN, but it sufficient to run e.g. 1080p movies smoothly.

I have compiled a couple of programs for another Linux box, which was quite straightforward, and I didn't run into any hitches. But the Utilite is not that mainstream, and I guess that I may easily run into unsupported features, hardware, etc., where I may easily be lost

That being said, all the software that I would really need to compile would be OpenCPN (as web browsers and media player would be part of the Ubuntu distribution on the Utilite). Or will I need other software associated with OpenCPN, and hardware?

Thus the challenge would be to get OpenCPN up and running, and then getting the NMEA sentences into and out of OpenCPN, and getting the USB serial ports to work properly (or possibly getting the NMEA over Ethernet/UDP if I can get the Moxa Nport 5150 properly configured).

Now if I have the time, patience and skills for that is really an open question.
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Old 29-01-2014, 17:45   #7
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Re: Utilite boat PC

Just as a follow up:

I installed Oracle VM VirtualBox a Windows 7 PC. Then I installed Lubuntu (latest version) on the VirtualBox. Then I downloaded OpenCPN source code and libraries, and compiled OpenCPN as per instructions. Then I built and installed it.

All works like a charm, OpenCPN runs nicely, loads maps, as well as GRIB files via the plugin.

The only thing I haven't tried is receiving NMEA sentences, as I don't have any gear that can output these (I am unfortunately about 1000 km from the boat).

So far, this seems manageable for me.

As the Utilite computer also runs Ubuntu, will the compliation process and installation of OpenCPN be any different, or will the fact that it runs on an Arm processor introduce new sets of uncertainties?

Thanks,
Eirik
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Old 29-01-2014, 17:51   #8
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Re: Utilite boat PC

Eirik...
It will be the same. The surprise (we really don't know whether good or bad) will come after you start it, especially when you switch to OpenGL. On ARM sure use the latest 3.3 beta code, which has all the architecture related fixes.

Pavel
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Old 02-02-2014, 20:46   #9
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Re: Utilite boat PC

This computer with Ubuntu will work nicely and installing and operating OpenCPN is very easy in Ubuntu. I am not sure about hooking it into your Raymarine GPS, but you can find many simple USB dongles or external receivers that work with Linux.

Won't be too scary.
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