Nanonote end of life

Werner Almesberger werner at
Wed Feb 12 12:26:13 EST 2014

Hans Bezemer wrote:
> - The way of "flashing" it was plain awful,

Indeed. Shepherding people through the carbonized rubber reset ritual
was by far the most extensive support issue on #qi-hardware. What's
nice about the SoC is that it has a USB boot at all and doesn't need
JTAG or such. But I'd look into including something like IDBG to take
the pain out of reflashing:

> - I'm not a technical engineer, so I can't say this is BOTH possible, but a 
> host mode would have added to its usability, along with using it as a mass 
> storage device when hanging on USB.

Not having a host port was a constraint coming from case reuse. Not
even having access to the D+/D- signals (so that one could make a DIY
solution) was clearly an oversight.

Modern SoCs should all have OTG so add a Micro USB AB receptacle and
you're good. Maybe even make that two. Make the second a BOM option
if necessary.

> - Wifi is a must. I do this with my Androids all the time, hanging them on 
> Wifi and using them as Samba server. This would also largely defeat the need 
> for "mass storage device".

Yeah, wireless is no longer optional these days. Wifi is still a
shady area and getting an embedded-friendly chip/module to work
may need a bit of work since the ones with an SDIO interface
often don't have Linux drivers.

> - Again, I'm not a technical engineer, but some kind of micro HDMI would have 
> been AWSOME.

Hmm, that would depend on whether the SoC has that. Some do, some
don't. Of course, even the lowly the Ben can still do this:

> - No development system on the Nano itself (like the RasPi).

I never tried to develop locally on the Ben but I'd be surprised
if we didn't have packages for make and gcc. I know we have vi.

> I REALLY didn't like the X-compiler environment.

I think that was another major oversight. While significant effort
was put into maintaining the distribution and to make Debian
packages of most of the host tools, the cross-development
environment fell through the cracks. I don't see a reason why one
couldn't make a Debian (or such) package, though.

> - No "emulator" - I ended up creating one myself. Developers need this stuff!!

Funny, I don't think I ever used an emulator for any embedded
system ;-) I could imagine it would be useful for regression
testing, though.

> - Very, very minor point: more internal memory, both SSD and RAM.
> 32MB and 4GB simply doesn't cut it anymore.

No, LESS Flash ;-) Have a memory card (uSD) and never worry about
the chips on your Nanonote getting old. Also for RAM, it would
probably be more difficult and more expensive to have 32 MB than
a much larger size these days.

> - A decent wordprocessor. I ended up "creating" something that
> worked OK, but 
> something out of the box would be useful.

vi ? :)

> What one shouldn't change:
> - The keyboard works fine, at least for creating pages. Programming is not 
> really feasible, not even short programs.

> - SD card, I never got large SD cards to work, but the small ones were really 
> adding to its usability.

They're great. Huge capacity, easy interface, a dream to source
(you don't even have to do it yourself), and so on. Plus, the
interface can be readily reused for experiments. All you need is
a little UBB ...

> - USB networking, that was just awesome! I use WinSCP to transfer stuff all 
> the time.

You get that for free if you have Linux :)

> - Size, it worked just fine the way it was.

Yup. The form factor is part of what makes the Nanonote special.

- Werner

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