Locally-made Linux distro gets an upgrade


You may not know it, but South Africa actually produces two maker-oriented boards offering an alternative to popular names like Arduino. One of those boards, the Blue Penguin, runs its own distro of Linux called “Guinnux”, and it just got an upgrade.

The Blue Penguin and Guinnux is created by local company Keystone Electronic Solutions. Director and co-founder John Eigelaar runs us through the changes between the previous version, Guinnux 4, and Guinnux 5.

  • 4 Used the OPKG Package manager used by Openwrt and OpenEmbedded. 5 is fork of Arch Linux and makes use of the Arch Pacman package manager.
  • 4 had around 200 binary packages. 5 has well over 30 000 packages in the distro.
  • 4 made use of an extremely tedious toolchain and build manager. 5 uses the Arch makepkg framework tailored for Guinnux. The toolchain works out of the box now.
  • 4 gcc 4.4 glibc 2.18. 5 gcc 5.5 glibc 2.23
  • 4 was linux 3.16. 5 uses linux 4.4 LTS.

There’s also been changes to the bootloader and file system so that the board will always try to boot the kernal image in the root instead of the flashed image. This also means that the bootloader has support for any third party SD card image.

There’s also a handful of other changes, but the hardware it runs on remains the same. If you want to learn about that hardware, checkout out our story on it as well as the Cherry Blossom, another homegrown maker board.

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A Blue Penguin Module can be had for R1 500 or R2 500 for a starter kit which includes the expansion board.

It’s good to know that not only is the maker community alive and well in South Africa, but so is the Linux scene.

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