Unpacking (and playing with) the Intel Galileo board: first impressions

Good morning to all you embedded freaks!

Let’s talk a little about Intel Galileo today. Just a “first impression post”… a very light chunk in order to smoothly introduce the argument.

I opened the box some day ago. In the box there is the board and a power cord with ALL possible plugs (so you can use the Galileo everywhere, but ALWAYS with a power socket on the wall! 🙂 ).


Is it an Arduino Uno or a Linux based embedded board? Mhhh…someone told me it’s a hybrid one between the two things.

But after some very basic experience on this board, I am at the moment very doubtful about the right answer.

In order to do the first (baby) steps with the Galileo board you must use the Quick Start Guide from Intel (you can download it from the official website). It’s a good starting point (since it it the -near- only one!).

After this…it’s up to you guys! 😉

Well, anyway, you must always remember three very important things (the first one is the most important, trust me: it’s veryveryvery important):

  1. You must connect the Galileo power plug BEFORE to connect his USB to the host PC (so, you must disconnect the USB from the host PC BEFORE to disconnect the Galileo power plug). It seems that a incorrect connection/disconnection order could break (…burn?) the Galileo hardware. Arghhhh…too dangerous! 🙂
  2. If you don’t boot the board from a Linux image installed on the microSD, any Arduino sketch downloaded using the IDE on the Galileo board, will be lost at the power off. In order to have a “persistent” sketch (wich it will start his execution after the Galileo boot, exactly as on the Arduino UNO) you must boot the Galileo board starting from the microSD, with the devoted Linux distribution installed on (because in this case the downloaded sketch will be saved in a filesystem folder called /sketches).
  3. All advanced functions, the network drivers and protocols (networl support, telnet and ssh in primis) will work only if booting the Galileo board from the microSD.

I think that these three aspects (especially the first one) will be corrected by Intel in the next release (if there will be…).

The last thing I’ve noticed after two hours of play is very interesting: the Intel Galileo doesn’t have a video output (differently from other embedded Linux solutions such as Raspberry PI). My colleague and friend Paolo noticed it after 5 minutes on the web…but it is more skilled than me on embedded hardware! 😀

Ok, I think it isn’t so necessary but it could be funny. One solution (pay attention: now I’m talking with no idea if it is really possibile/feasible, and how great would be the effort to up’n’run this solution!) to have a video output with a graphic environment could be the use of a X remote screen connecting Galileo to a Linux desktop machine…. it could be one really good idea for a case study (I think I will try in the future)!

Another thing. An annoying thing for me, especially to execute portings from Arduino UNO to Intel Galileo. The hard reality of facts is that … String class doens’t work correctly in the modified Arduino IDE from Intel.

Ok, if no one yet revealed to you this secret (I know it’s a “Pulcinella’s secret” -a very well known secret-, as we say in Italy)… I’m proud to do it. 🙂

The use of String class of Arduino IDE is strongly deprecated (by me, but also by some other desperate people -like me- on internet…) because the String operations such as “+” (concatenation) don’t work. So… if you want to print on the serial output of Arduino side some slightly complicated string….I think you should use only combinations of Serial.print and Serial.println functions. Or, you can try to use the old “C” functions dedicated to string manipulation: strcpy, strcmp, sprintf and so on (as usual defined in the file stdio.h). I’ve done a little tour with these functions and they seem to work (also if I think they are really terrible to be used in 2014…) so, good luck guys!

Well, in the next post we’ll go more into concrete spaces (with some code, I know you love it!). So, have no fear (possibly, have a beer)! 😉