Ben Nanonote

Last week I got a new present, my second Copyleft Hardware device: the Ben Nanonote. Meaning a lot of fiddling just like my Neo FreeRunner.
Both the hardware and the software are great for what it’s supposed to be doing: light applications.

Below is my experience with the Ben Nanonote.

Updating the software image

This is done using a Linux system, first you’ll need to install the xburst-tools:

$ sudo apt-get install xburst-tools

Download the update script and make it executable:

$ wget
$ chmod +x

Boot the Ben Nanonote into USB BOOT mode, you can detect this by executing:

$ lsusb

If the device is present in the list (there are no physical indicators that you’re in USB BOOT mode) run the script:

$ sudo ./

When it’s done, it should restart and boot into graphical mode.

Ethernet over USB


Plug in the Ben Nanonote and execute the following:

$ ifconfig usb0

Making sure it has the given IP address:

$ ifconfig usb0 | grep inet

If everything went ok, it should have the IP address and you can ping to check for a connection:

$ ping

Mac OS X

You’ll need to turn on Internet Sharing:

System Preferences → Sharing → Internet Sharing

You can ping to the device now:

$ ping

Installing software

First you’ll need to change the root password on the Ben Nanonote:

$ passwd

Enter your new root password so you can SSH to it and install software.

I found an excellent blogpost written by Ernest Kugel describing on how to do that.

I decided to install MPD, MPDAS and NCMPC, because I’m a MPD-addict and I would like to scrobble my listens to

$ opkg install mpd-mini
$ opkg install mpdas
$ opkg install ncmpc

Setting up MPD

Creating the files and folders needed by MPD:

$ cd ~
$ mkdir music
$ mkdir .mpd
$ cd .mpd/
$ touch database log state
$ mkdir playlists

It would be convenient to have the MicroSD showing up after booting and having it mounted automatically so it can be used by MPD:

$ mount /dev/mmcblk0p1   /sdcard

Look under /mnt/ for the actual name of the MicroSD card, it’s always mmcblk0p[NUMBER] and you can set any other name for your card if you wish.

The next step is to make a symlink to the music directory so MPD can have access to it:

$ ln -s /mnt/mmcblk0p1/ /root/music

The configuration file lives in /etc/ for MPD:

$ vim /etc/mpd.conf

This is what my configuration looks like:

# Files and settings
music_directory        "~/music"
playlist_directory     "~/.mpd/playlists"
db_file                "~/.mpd/database"
log_file               "~/.mpd/log"
pid_file               "~/.mpd/pid"
follow_inside_symlinks "yes"

# Audio Output
audio_output {
    type               "oss"
    name               "My OSS Device"
    driver             "oss"
    mixer_type         "software"
    mixer_control      "pcm"

Note: Change the volume on the Ben Nanonote first before you start playing music, since it’s extremely loud!

Settings → Gmenu2X → Global Volume: 1

When you change the volume in NCMPC, it should be noted that it takes a few seconds for the volume to increase or decrease.

Setting up MPDAS

When MPDAS is unable to connect to the internet to submit your scrobbles, it can store your listened songs from MPD into it’s cache file

$ touch ~/.mpdascache

The configuration file lives in /etc/ for MPDAS:

$ vim /etc/mpdasrc

This is what my configuration looks like:

username = [USERNAME]
# create md5 password:
# echo -n password | md5sum
password = [MD5 HASH OF PASSWORD]
debug = 0

And you’re good to go.

Watching movies

Although the screen is a little small, you can play videos with Mplayer. I have watched a movie of 2 hours on a full charge with full brightness on. The battery is almost drained afterwards. Pretty neat!

You convert videos with the commandline program ffmpeg2theora, the installation steps are below. After it’s installed, run the following command:

$ ffmpeg2theora YOURVIDEO -channels 2 --samplerate 44100 
\-x 320 -y 240 --speedelvel 0 -o OUTPUT.OGV

Mac OS X

Download ffmpeg2theora so you can convert videos.


And for Linux:

$ sudo apt-get install ffmpeg2theora