The Rikomagic MK80 is a TV box with an Allwinner A80 octa-core processor, at least 2GB of RAM and at least 16GB of storage. Normally it ships with Google Android software, and the MK80 is designed to connect to your TV to let you run Android apps and games on a big screen.

But the folks at the UK-based CloudsTo store are selling an MK80 LE (Linux Edition) which runs Ubuntu instead of Android.

It’s available for purchase for £125 (about $184 US).

mk80_03

There’s also an MK80LE Plus model with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It sells for £155 ($229)

The Rikomagic MK80LE features 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 1 USB 3.0 port, 2 USB ports, an SD card slot, and a SATA connector that lets you plug in an external hard drive.

In other words, the hardware is pretty much identical to the Android model I reviewed (and generally liked) last year. What’s different is the software.

The MK80LE runs Ubuntu 14.04 Linux and supports hardware-accelerated video when using the VLC media player. As far as I’m aware this doesn’t mean that all Ubuntu apps can take advantage of the computers PowerVR G6230 graphics, but it does at least mean that you shouldn’t have problems playing HD video.

CloudsTo isn’t the cheapest place to buy ARM-based mini computers. But it’s one of the few stores I’m aware of that sells models that come with a choice of Ubuntu in addition to Android. If you don’t feel like trying to figure out how to install Ubuntu yourself, that might be worth the premium price.

On the other hand if you want a device with fully hardware accelerated graphics you might be better off picking up a mini-computer with an Intel processor rather than an ARM-based chip.

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16 replies on “MK80 Linux Edition is an octa-core Ubuntu mini PC”

  1. Agreed, way too expensive, especially for a “tv box” that isn’t actually a tv box in that it has no sign of a remote control and no sign of boot-TV-ware like Android TV or Kodi. Strange.

    It’s really disappointing how many of these devices are going around that simply miss the boat in one way or another. When are we going to get access to chinese manufacturers directly? It seems like we might as well just specify our own components, maybe email in a 3D printing file of a case design we like, and get it shipped. Would be more satisfying that getting devices built by guessing what we want.

  2. I’m done with ARM when it comes to desktop/notebook PCs. It seems that ARM is a synonym for proprietary which is often not good when it comes to Linux. It’s a pain keeping ARM devices updated if it’s even possible.

    Now that Intel Atoms are getting cheap, provide good performance and open source, there aren’t good reasons to stick with ARM anymore. Even Intel’s Core architecure are starting to get into the ultra low power space although price isn’t really decreasing much.

    1. That’s a strange statement that ARM is less open than Intel. What exactly do you mean?

      1. It’s usually the GPU that doesn’t have proper Open Source drivers available, meaning that getting an ARM PC usually means that getting accelerated graphics for it are a royal pain, if it can be done at all. The drivers are often released in proprietary binary blobs that may or may not work when your kernel is updated, and may or may not be updated.

        The components that make up an Intel machine are usually considerably better supported in Linux, driver-wise.

        1. Usually better supported, but you can still find Atom-based boards that not even Windows has proper GPU drivers for! That’s what made some earlier Atom SOCs usesless for 64-bit Windows even though they supported x64 operation.

          1. what i think is worse, is that most GPUs on ARM-Devices only come with OpenGL ES, what might be enough for most android-software. Desktop-Software (as in Linux-Games) tend to be only build for complete OpenGL, meaning you probably can’t run your favourite desktop-game on arm-devices.

          2. No more true, the PowerVR GPU in this SoC for example support OpenGL 3.x. PowerVR company hired (or try to hire) an opensource Linux dev to better support Open source environnment. I hope this is the sign of an open driver for PowerVR as there is already opensource driver in Mesa3D for snapdragon that reached OpenGL ES 3.X with Mesa 11.0 (after the changelog at time of publication, september 12) :

            * OpenGL ES 3.0 on freedreno (a3xx, a4xx)

            There is a far less mature Broadcom vc4 GPU driver in the tree too, so ARM opensource GPU drivers come step by step.

            Only ARM Mali doesn’t look to have any chance for an opensource solution. The Mali driver doesn’t move a bit for about 3 years now, and the source repository isn’t accessible anymore.

            In few month, there will be Vulkan, an unified version of both OpenGL and OpenGL ES with lot of avantages. It should reach Linux very quickly as it is primarly based on LLVM (well some little change since previous version) and other technologies first developped in Mesa3D/X.org (like DRM, Gallium 3D, LLVM, etc…). ATI made a full API from those things called Mantle, and give it back to Khronos group. Every devices supporting OpenGL ES 3.0 or OpenGL 3.x should support Vulkan. Some Mesa devs said that Vukan for Linux should go out at the time final specification would be released (by the end of the year if everything is fine).

            The problem is, if most games engines already work on this, that’s not the case of applications like Blender or Desktop environments… So wait *at least* one year to have everything work on this new API.

    2. ARM works perfect with Android, that’s a good reason to keep using ARM devices among many others.

      I’m done using Wintel desktops, those belong in the 90s.
      Now if you excuse me I have to go back to enjoy my beloved ARM device.
      Sorry jon!

      1. It actually doesn’t work well with Android. How many 2+ year old ARM device have you updated with the latest Android OS AND have all the hardware work properly.

        1. Actually ARM works very well with Android.

          I buy a new Android phone almost every year and it works fine trough the whole year and I use it everyday.

          Hey Alan if you can’t afford a cheap Android phone after two years then maybe you should find a real job.

          That is all.

          1. You have enough money to make lot of e-wastes, too nice. That’s the bright side of the world linked to closed things. Destroy, incarcerate informations and ressources, and hope people is stupid enough to continue to buy new ewastes only to be up-to-date (well, every phone 2 or 3 years old are powerfull enough for everything they could do).

  3. For the price, $229, again just too expensive for an ARM powered mini PC especially using outdated cores. That Allwinner A80 is still using the old 32-bit Cortex-A15 cores, with non-compliant IEEE-754 FPUs. The minimum nowadays should be Cortex-A53 with ARMv8-A architecture, with full IEEE 754 compliance. Even Bay Trail powered mini PCs would be cheaper and better…

  4. I give them credit for offering this but with Intel Atom being dirt cheap these day, not sure why anyone would pick this up.

    1. buying an Intel baytrail box for linux might seem like a great idea but:

      1. There is currently no Baytrail based box running linux that you can buy off the shelf.
      2. Taking a cheap baytrail based windows box from China and trying to shoehorn linux into it is not straightforward and when you finally do get it installed currently sound over HDMI won’t work and wifi will likely not work either.
      3. The Chinese ARM boxes like the MK80LE and MK902IILE are more attractive to OEM buyers (eg digital signage companies) as when buying in bulk the price is way cheaper than the Intel based devices – remember that price on the Cloudsto website is for just 1pc and includes DHL shipping.

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