Rikomagic MK902 LE is an ARM-based Linux PC

The folks at UK-based Cloudsto have added a new device to their range of small, ARM-based Linux computers.

The Rikomagic MK902 LE is a small box with a Rockchip quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and up to 16GB of storage. It ships with Ubuntu Linux, and it’s available from the Cloudsto shop for £94.99 and up, or about $159.

Or you can pick up an Android version of the MK902 and install Ubuntu yourself. Android models are available from Geekbuying or AliExpress for around $105 and up.

MK902 LE

The MK902 features a Rockchip RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor, 8GB or 16GB of storage, a microSD card slot, HDMI output, 4 full-sized USB ports, 802.11n WiFi, 10/100 Ethernet, and a microSD card slot.

I’ve got an Android model sitting on my desk for testing, and while I still need to spend a little more time with it, the device seems pretty fast and versatile.

The MK902 LE comes preloaded with PicUntu 4.5, a custom version of Ubuntu 13.04 designed to run on devices with Rockchip processors. You can install it on a number of TV boxes, TV sticks, or tablets yourself — but part of the appeal of buying an LE edition device is that you don’t need to install the software yourself.

mk902

In my experience, basic Ubuntu apps including web browsers and even graphics or audio editing apps work pretty well on devices with RK3188 chips. But there’s no support for hardware-accelerated graphics or video which makes gaming and video playback difficult — if you’re looking for a multimedia device, you’re probably better off sticking with the Android version of the MK902.

  • Simeon Vincent

    Are the ports on the Linux box USB 2 or USB 3?

  • Darren Enns

    I wonder if the upcoming Asus Chromebox ($180) will be a better deal? Of course, that assumes that it will be possible to run a Linux distro on it…

    • Jason

      The Acer C720 with Intel Haswell has an option to enable a legacy BIOS after enabling developer mode. After that, installing a Linux distro is the same as any other notebook. I hope the upcoming Intel based Chromeboxes has this as well. Chrome OS is still not for me.

      • Guest

        Could you please share some links to tutorials on how to do this? I thought you were limited to installing only Chrubuntu and Crouton on the Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

      • Darren Enns

        I was wondering the same thing, and did a bit of research this morning. Take this with a grain of salt, since this is a bit fuzzy to me:

        Crouton: Currently versions of Debian or Ubuntu only. Author desires to only support distros that have both x86 and ARM support. I would very much hope that this rule would be relaxed a bit. At least one person is forking Crouton to support their own favorite distro.

        ChrUbuntu: Used to be just Ubuntu, but now apparently *any* distro with a bootable ISO (?) according to this:

        http://chromeos-cr48.blogspot.ca/2013/10/chrubuntu-for-new-chromebooks-now-with.html

        “Pro Tip: don’t like Ubuntu or any of it’s variants? You can stop now and plug a ready to go Linux USB Boot disk for Fedora, Debian, Mint
        or pretty much any other distro in the drive. Then hit CTRL+L to
        initiate the legacy boot. Format and install the OS to the /dev/sda7
        partition and make sure GRUB is installed to /dev/sda and you should be
        good to go!”

        Personally, I would wish for LMDE on Crouton, but maybe ChrUbuntu is the only option for that right now (?). Another issue last of space on the SSD — and that running on an SD card is very slow. What about running Linux off of a external USB drive? I cannot find info on that possibility…

  • Vostok123

    Linux distribution + ARM = 0 games, 0 apps.

    Kick this out and put Android.

    Report-me.

    • John Moosmiller

      Not sure how you read this as a gaming box… Not sold as one for sure.

    • Popolon

      Totally false, most application runs on Linux/ARM, only pure OpenGL (not OpenGL ES) application don’t works, but should change with new ARM GPU generation, that start to manage desktop version of OpenGL and some games, as you speak about games make port to OpenGL ES (for android + linux/ARM version)

  • Arrdee

    What comes in the box? Cables (like the wacky Chinese “A/V port” octopus cable it appears to support)? Keyboard and mouse? Power supply?

    • Popolon

      Any usb devices works just fine on Linux/ARM since long time (I even managed to use my DSLR and wacom tablet, just have to “plug’n’play”…

  • werewolfc

    Why should i buy this Android POS (with very good looking hardware)?
    The specs are looking good, but the lack o Linux hardware accelerated graphic drivers spoils all the fun.
    When will the SOC manufacture understand that Android is NOT a OS for the PC like devices? We (me and the others like myself) need a fully capable OS like Linux

  • Stefan

    Similar small ARM systems have been available for a while but until there open source drivers are available for hardware accelerated graphics this is not useful.

  • Scimitar

    I don’t get this sort of device anymore. Why wouldn’t you buy a bay trail based device, run Linux plus android with muli boot.

  • Ed

    I like my Odroid U3 from hardkernel. Board, 16GB emmc storage, case, and power supply for $132 US shipped via FedEx from South Korea.

    I tried their Xubuntu 13.10 image, but XBMC was not great. Tried one of the community Debian Jessie images with XBMC and love it. As long as your monitor is set to 1280x720p, XBMC will play 720p and 1080p content extremely well and very watchable. The community has an Android “Pocket Rocket” image that plays XBMC with monitor set to 1080p perfectly.

    Point is, you can get an Arm quad core 1.7GHz CPU with 2GB Ram, 3 usb ports, ethernet, microHDMI, and 16GB emmc storage for $132 shipped with the above items. Less if you just use your own class 10 microSD card to boot from (but that is slower).

    The little box feels just like a desktop PC running flash in Chromium, surfing the web, or playing media on XBMC.

    • werewolfc

      Does Xubuntu 13.10 comes with Hw accelerated graphics drivers? Since U3 has a Samsung SOC i was expecting to play flawless 1080p… but from your post.. i gues it doesn’t :(
      I hope the guys from Wandboard (another great looking iMX6 Freecale ARM board) would make LinuX hw accelerated drivers work(hopefully) because it a shame to have such an powerfull SOC and run Droid.

      About the price: don’t forget that, in other parts of the world, people still have to pay extra taxes: VAT + customs taxes.
      In Europe, let’s say for U3 Community edition (60$), i’ll have to pay 24%VAT+another 10…15$ customs tax.(transport fee not included)

      • Ed

        I don’t know if they claim HW acceleration with Xubuntu 13.10, but I do know they have been having issues getting XBMC specifically to play 1080p flawlessly on a 1080p res monitor under Linux on ARM.

        Debian Jessie does do 720p and 1080p on a 720p res monitor though, and does it quite well. I do wish it was as flawless as their Android build. The Android build uses the same XBMC apk from XBMC.org. Hardkernel has to build and compile their own XBMC for Linux on this ARM board (that’s where the problem is). They don’t have experience the XBMC team does. I wish XBMC.org would port their android version to a generic ARM Linux build with some HW acceleration built in.

        Since XBMC.org has a build for Android and the Raspberry Pi, I would hope they would come out with something for Linux on ARM since Linux on ARM is becoming more popular.

        I forgot about VAT and customs in other countries.

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