This page is a mirror of Tepples' nesdev forum mirror (URL TBD).
Last updated on Oct-18-2019 Download

Building and testing NES games on a Pinebook

Building and testing NES games on a Pinebook
by on (#225919)
Sort of a follow-up to a previous topic about developing on x86-64 without using multiarch:

In this post, Jarhmander wrote:
I cannot test it now because I'm on my puny Pinebook*, maybe this night (EDT).

* It's a nice machine, but certainly not a workhorse. And considering the fact that cc65 is not in this Ubuntu's repo, well I can build it, but only if I have time on my hands. Or cross-compile it, but it's a bit of a pain in its own...

I've had a few Slashdot users suggest a Pinebook laptop computer to me as a substitute for the netbooks that manufacturers discontinued in 2012. Is a Pinebook's ARM CPU slower than the Atom N450 in the netbook that I used from 2010 through 2017? That had no problem building cc65 while, say, I'm in the shower. Or is it more that you don't know how to tell Make "Please install targeting NES only, and don't build or install the standard library for Atari, Apple, Commodore, etc."? Or is the real problem that FCEUX (debugging version) is built only for x86, not for Windows on ARM, and therefore won't run well if at all in Wine on ARM?
Re: Building and testing NES games on a Pinebook
by on (#225926)
It's much faster than the Atom. Here's some GraphicsMagick results from OpenBenchmarking: ... -GRAPHIC21

There weren't many N450 results, and the GraphicsMagick version was older than the Pine64's (and so not merged side by side), but that's a good yardstick anyway.
Re: Building and testing NES games on a Pinebook
by on (#225927)
Don't extrapolate too much. Yes, I can happily build cc65 and time(1) it. From my experience, when it's not running graphic-heavy things, it runs quite OK. Graphically, it suffers from either bad drivers or too old graphic chip set (or both?), so fullscreen youtube videos are choppy a bit, and controls takes years to respond.

Huh, this is what I got for cc65 build time:
make -j4  448.31s user 82.19s system 218% cpu 4:02.40 total

Not bad, I thought it would be longer. I was testing quickly while typing this, expecting to interrupt it (I'll leave in a moment). At the same time, it's wasn't particularly long to build in on a regular machine in the first place, so I'm not sure why I expected a long build time, after all.

Well, if you want a review of the Pinebook in a jiffy: I have the 14" version, and the biggest problem IMHO is the keyboard: due to the way it's built, sometimes some keys don't register, especially Ctrl which is at times a bit annoying. The touchpad isn't terrific neither, but it annoys some people much more than me. 16GB of Flash isn't very big, but hopefully there's not much cruft in the stock OS, plus you can put an SDHC card to augment its capacity, plus the internal storage is eMMC, so it boots quite fast. It's light, noiseless, doesn't produce much heat, last quite long on a charge, maybe 8hrs? (but technically it could get a bit better if the build/OS/drivers were a bit more power-optimized, there's a ~37Wh battery in it). And it's $100 USD. I've paid around $130 CAD, all in all.

It's quite difficult to get it: you can't just go to the site and buy it. Instead, you register to a "Book to Order" queue, and they e-mail you when they build some laptops and you can then buy your laptop with the code they send you. When I got mine, the e-mail took 1-2 months to arrive, and the laptop came 1-2 months later. Some friend I know didn't get an e-mail yet, after more than 6 months of waiting.