MIPS Creator C120 development board and Debian 7

Debian 7 Xfce desktop

Back in December 2014 I won a Creator C120 single board computer from Imagination Technologies, a technology outfit based in Hertfordshire (UK).

The Creator C120 is a development board for Linux and Android.

It’s powered by a dual-core MIPS32 CPU (1.2 GHz) and a PowerVR SGX540 GPU. Add to that 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB NAND Flash, two USB ports, an HDMI port up to 2k resolution, a full size SD card slot, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet and WiFi connectivity (with Bluetooth 4) and what you’ve got is a very powerful single-board computer.

All that fits within a space that measures just about 4-inches around and cost just US$65.00. That’s more than the Raspberry Pi, but it also is a little bit more powerful. And I didn’t have to pay for it.

On the OS end, it can run Android 4.4 KitKat and any Linux distribution, but comes preloaded with Debian 7 (Xfce desktop) on the on-board flash memory. Figure 1 shows the unit I received with all the socket adapters that came with. It was shipped from the UK, so they made sure that booting it should not be a hassle.

Creator C120 socket adapters
Figure 1: Creator C120 with all its power socket adapters.

And this shows the unit with the connections in place. At the top end of this image, the full-sized SD card slot is to the right of the two USB ports.

MIPS Creator C120 Debian 7
Figure 2: MIPS Creator C120 with connections in place.

It was connected to a 24-inch display via the HDMI port. The maximum screen resolution (1920 x 1080) was all I could get, but that was not a problem.

Debian 7 Xfce desktop
Figure 3: Debian 7 Xfce desktop on the Creator C120

An output of df -h showed that the on-board storage still had plenty of space.

Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
rootfs          7.4G  732M  6.6G  10% /
ubi0:root       7.4G  732M  6.6G  10% /
tmpfs           100M  704K  100M   1% /run
tmpfs           5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs            10M     0   10M   0% /dev
tmpfs           200M     0  200M   0% /run/shm
ubi0:boot        32M  3.7M   29M  12% /boot

And because of the low memory footprint of Xfce, RAM usage was well below the 1 GB of RAM that came with the unit.

               total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           997        393        603          0          0        175
-/+ buffers/cache:        218        778
Swap:            0          0          0
Total:         997        393        603

I really like the Creator C120, but Xfce is not my kind of desktop environment, and so I’m heading out to buy an SD card. The goal today is to install a Cinnamon edition of another distribution and see how the unit handles it. I should be able to post something later today. Meanwhile, more information about the Creator C120 is available here. You may also visit the manufacturer’s website at http://imgtec.com/.

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