Tribulations with Linux on the Zidoo M6 Rockchip RK3566 mini PC

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After our review of the Zidoo M6 mini PC with Android 11, we installed Linux on the Rockchip device and booted up to a Linux Qt UI built with buildroot. Let’s try to see what we can do with the image, then try Ubuntu from a competing mini PC to see if it can work.

Since there is no package manager to install a screenshot program, I tried using the usual method to take a screenshot of the framebuffer.

It generated an 8MB file which looked good, but the contents were all zeros.

I asked Zidoo for a method to take screenshots in their Linux image, but I was told there were none at the moment… No worries, let’s try some of the apps from the Qt interface starting with the Multivideoplayer:

Video multiplayerIt starts out well with 9 Big Buck Bunny videos playing simultaneously, but it quickly ends up being a photo slideshow because the system can’t keep up. I skipped the camera app because there is no camera connected to the Rockchip RK3566 mini PC, so I just went to the file manager. It is a basic Qt application for browsing files.

Qt File Manager

The qplayer app will play Buck Bunny’s video in full screen. No problem here, it was perfectly smooth.

The Qsetting app takes us to the WiFi, Bluetooth, firmware update, and factory reset options. I tried the WiFi part, but scanning returned no SSID.Linux Qt settings It’s probably early enough for the Linux image, and Zidoo told me that they’ll be releasing the buildroot SDK on Github soon.

Try Ubuntu on Zidoo M6

Since what we can do with the official Linux + Qt image from Zidoo is limited at the moment, I tried installing the Ubuntu 20.04 image for Firefly. ROC-RK3566-PC single board computer because the two hardware are similar.

I first installed Linux Upgrade Tool 1.59 from the Firefly wiki, but also noticed a newer version 1.65 in the 7z firmware file. This will become important later. In the meantime, I could flash the image to the mini PC with no problem.

While the flash in the image was working fine, I couldn’t see the USB device on my Linux PC which meant I had just bricked the mini PC. But since I know Rockchip processors have ROM code to recover, that shouldn’t be a problem. I just had to ask Zidoo for the exact method to enter Maskrom and restore the M6 ​​mini PC to a working state …

Zidoo M6 eMMC D0 & GNDRockchip RK3566 maskrom mode

I was told to shorten eMMC flash D0 pin with GND to enter maskrom mode, and that’s what I did, but struggled to not display anything in the kernel log on my PC . Eventually I realized that I needed to verify that the LED was turning blue to confirm that I had entered maskrom mode.

EMMC D0 Short Rockchip PinBut while I could start the flash process and download the firmware file to the card …

Linux upgrade_tool rk3566… it ended in failure every time:

I have tried connecting the power supply after entering mask ROM mode in case powering the card from my laptop’s USB port is problematic, but to no avail. Finally, I checked the latest version of the upgrade_tool utility on the rockchip_linux Github account, which back then was 1.65, and miracle it all worked!

I was able to recover and restart Linux-Qt on Zidoo M6. It would probably be possible to update the Ubuntu image for Firefly mini PC with Zidoo M6 mini PC device tree file, but I’m not sure why I should torture myself. So I will leave it there for the moment.

Since Zidoo M6 is a board and mini PC targeting business and industrial customers, not home users, Zidoo should be able to provide adequate Linux support to help their customers get their project (s) started. But at least we know that Linux on Rockchip RK3566 / RK3568 may require more work, you can’t just use an image from another card and expect it to boot up, and in most cases it does. It is possible to recover a bricked device from Rockchip by simply pulling the eMMC D0 pin to the ground.


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