To be perfectly honest, when I made this video, I had not even powered up an Edison. I feel weird promoting something that I have not played with, but that’s the way business goes sometimes, I suppose.
A week later, I was able to get my hands on a working Edison unit. Flying home from Maker Faire, New York, I decided to pull out my laptop and the Edison to see what I could do – unassisted by the Internet (Well, OK, the night before I downloaded the drivers and firmware update from Intel’s site). As an aside, I’m always surprised no one freaks out whenever I pull out an Arduino to work on in the middle of a flight…
To my surprise, the Edison worked with little effort right out of the box. To program it with Arduino, you need to download Intel’s Edison driver suite (assuming you’re on Windows) and a modified version of the Arduino 1.5 software. However, if you want to terminal into Linux running on the Edison (yes, Linux is running on the Edison right out of the box), then you just need a terminal software (and FTDI drivers). Luckily, I already had the last two on my Windows laptop.
If you plug in 2 USB cables to the 2 available ports on the Edison mini breakout board, it will power up and give you a serial terminal into Linux. It’s that simple. I used PuTTY to give me a console, and was browsing the internal file system in no time. I noticed that gcc and Python 2.7 were loaded by default, so I whipped up quick “Hello World” programs in C and Python. No troubles there.
Out of the box, I was pretty pleased with what the Edison could do, even if it was pretty basic Linux.
- Tiny footprint
- Low power
- WiFi and Bluetooth included
- Linux worked out of the box
- C compiler and Python included
- The Yocto Project is an established project for creating your own embedded Linux
- The Hirose connector is a pain. You NEED some kind of baseboard to work with the Edison.
- No video out (see this for my cohort’s thoughts on the video issue)
- 1.8V logic. You will have to convert it to 3.3V or 5V in almost all cases.
- The Yocto Project is not exactly beginner friendly
- There is no package manager (yet). You’ll be compiling libraries manually for now, which is not fun.
Despite my gripes, the Edison looks like a promising
toy highly sophisticated computing module. I’ve heard that a package manager is in the works and even better, we might be getting a port of Debian Linux for it (Hooray! I’m most familiar with Debian). I’m excited to see what people will make with it.