Update on Flint OS RPi v0.2 based on Chromium OS r55

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Hi Everyone,

I wanted to do a quick blog post to help set the scene and explain the work that has gone into v0.2 “Beetle” of Flint OS for Pi.

There have been two streams of work to v0.2; the Kernel upgrade and Chromium upgrade. Our goals were to reach at least Chromium version r53 and to move to the long term support 4.4 kernel, resulting in a vastly upgraded experience for Flint OS on the Pi.

Kernel Upgrade

Our older OS versions were based on the 4.2 kernel which is no longer supported and misses out on many performance and security patches. A core goal of moving to v0.2 was to set a new base for future releases and therefore we wanted to use the latest long term support kernel which happened to be 4.4.

In moving to 4.4 we have benefited from:

  • Regular mainline security patches
  • New options for performance tweaks

Chromium Upgrade

We have been battling upgrading from r49 to a more recent Chromium version and have spent the last few months ticking off a long list of items that could be breaking the upgrade. On Christmas day we had a break through and managed to get r53 of Chromium OS booting. A true Christmas miracle! Since then we have moved to r55 the current stable Chromium OS build which required a few more tweaks but nothing as drastic as with the move to r53.

Moving from r49 to r55 brings almost a year of improvements to the browser and OS, I have highlighted some of the improvements below:

  • Material Design updates
  • 50% reduction in V8 Javascript engine memory usage from r53 to r55
  • Updated Mesa drivers which should result in improved graphics performance
  • Updated Files functionality such as image resizing
  • Additional Kiosk mode functionality
  • Reduced offscreen rendering overhead
  • Site Preloading functionality
  • Loads of security updates!

The changes above should result in a much faster more secure and stable release and we are looking forward to moving to r56 when that hits stable.

We are currently in the bug fixing and tuning stage of v0.2. Performance is currently similar to v0.1.5 but we haven’t had a chance to implement our performance patches yet , these will likely be included in v0.2.1+ releases.

We are hoping to release in the next couple of days once we have fixed a few of the more obvious bugs. This is our biggest release yet and we can’t wait to hear your feedback.

Cheers
Will


11 Comments

Joshua says:

13th January 2017 at 1:49 pm

Is it possible to autolaunch a kiosk app?

Reply

Will says:

13th January 2017 at 4:21 pm

We currently haven’t test Kiosk apps but see it as a great use of the OS and will be looking to test this out and fix any bugs relating to kiosk mode in the future releases

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Chrome user says:

31st January 2017 at 6:12 am

I bought my raspberry pi 3 solely with the intension to run Chromium OS. Due to the discontinued development of Chromium for SBC my rpi3 has been sitting cold. I just randomly found this site a few days ago. Today I powered on my rpi3 for the first time and pleasantly blown away with Flint OS. Like you said it’s still being worked on so for now I’m just happy it even works.

I’d like to request you to contact this two tech casters who can really help more rpi enthusiast find out about Flint OS. I’m feeling very lucky I find it, because I don’t think to many people are aware of the existence of font is.

Please contact Brad linder at http://www.liliputimg.com and Lon seidman via YouTube.

Thanks again for your development

Reply

Will says:

31st January 2017 at 10:14 am

Hey thanks for the message! I will try and reach out to those guys (i use THEIR site and youtube myself 🙂 )

We’re trying to get some more awareness out there now that we have refined the OS to a state we are happy to release in testing form.

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optimistic user says:

1st February 2017 at 12:26 am

This is great, I’m happy to have found this. I wanted to run Chromium OS for my raspberry Pi and this looks very promising. Installed Flint OS and it works very well, I’m pretty happy with the performance.

Two quick questions:

1 – How much of the codebase of Chromium OS has been changed? Is there an independent security review? How do we know this is clean? 🙂 sorry had to ask 🙂

2 – you don’t have to answer this, but I’m curious about your business plan. Will Flint OS always be Free?

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Will says:

2nd February 2017 at 9:29 am

Hey if you’re happy with performance cant wait to see what you think of v0.2.1 . 🙂

In response to your queries
1) That’s a really valid point , right now we are busy enough making it “just work” but having someone validate it could be useful to give users peace of mind. We haven’t made any changes to the chromium OS base in terms of how data is stored or transferred etc the work is mostly around compatibility and “porting” to the raspberry pi platform. I’m sure if you track the traffic coming in and out the device you shouldn’t see anything suspect.
2) Right now we have no plans to ever charge for downloads for Flint OS for Pi for home users , i don’t think its even possible under the Chromium OS licence.

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Optomistic user says:

6th February 2017 at 4:27 pm

It looks like the guest user (which is what I had initially tried) seems to run faster than an existing google user. It seems to download settings, apps, etc. and is much slower than the guest user. Is that common or just my test user?

can’t wait to see the performance updates in the next release.

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Dondre Johnson says:

8th February 2017 at 4:50 pm

Question: When Flint OS x86 comes out, how much memory do we get, and does it depend on the capacity of our flash drives?

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Dondre Johnson says:

8th February 2017 at 4:53 pm

(*This will be for Android apps I download)

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Carlos says:

22nd February 2017 at 9:50 pm

This doesn’t work on raspberry Pi B Rev 2.0

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Alex says:

23rd February 2017 at 1:55 am

I randomly bumped into this under some tech dev and man this is a nice find. I really would like to see this go far.

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