Firstly, I am really encouraged to see other users taken an interest in non-Intel based SOC devices and trying to employee these devices work as servers, as well as including these devices into existing infrastructures.
I did do some experimenting and did successfully get NS working with the BPI-R1, however due to the state of the ARM version of NS (as of the present time) and the current issues around an official EPEL repository, in the end I decided to use an image of the more matured ARM version of Debian (Bananian – Debian Jessie – kernel ver: 3.4.113-armv7) with this device.
As an existing user of Webmin, I have included the Webmin suite (Webmin, Usermin and the GPL version of Virtualmin) to administrate this device.
I have been able to incorporate a full LAMP stack onto this device (running both Joomla and version 12 of Nextcloud), as well as including Dovecot, OpenVPN, Squid, Postfix and other tools (including Shorewall, hostapd, fail2ban, bmon, tshark, nmap, midnight commender and various other utilities). – At this moment I am having a few teething problems with LDAP but hope to resolve these issues soon.
Also, I am considering adding Collabora Office into this device and incorporating Collabora into NextCloud.
As the ARM version of NS only includes the standard networking modules (ie. the DHCP, DNS and SSH modules), which is great if you want to use this device as a gateway or firewall but is lacking some of the more advanced features that is included within the x86_64 version of NS (E-mail server, openVPN / IPSec, Jabber etc.) but is (as of present time) a bit underwhelming when compared with the x86_64 version of NS.
I did manage to incorporate integrated switching both with CentOS and Debian – my network setup is as follows:-
eth0.101 (LAN / connected to router): static IP (10.0.0.2 / 24)
br0 (bridge): connecting both the 4 ethernet ports (eth0.102) and wireless (WLAN) for public access (using static address: 10.0.1.1 / 24).
DNS / Name Servers on: 10.0.0.1 (router address), 127.0.0.1
DHCP on br0 (range: 10.0.1.50 - 10.0.1.255)
Considering that this device comes with an A20 Cortex-A7 duel core CPU (running at 1Ghz per core) and only 1GB of RAM, this device is running fairly smoothly (obviously, depending on which applications that you may want to have running on this device - you may experience performance issues).
If you are intending to buy this device, due to the heat output and to increase longevity of this device, it would be wise to consider adding a heatsink to the CPU and the ethernet chips (I used a 20x20x5mm aluminium heatsink for the CPU and a 12x12x5mm copper heatsink for the ethenet chipset).
Also I have used a 16GB Sandisk Ultra TF / micro SSD Card (reporting as 14.84 GiB or 1519616 MiB) that contains a boot partition (128 MiB), root partition (11.82 GiB or 12101 MiB) and a swap partition (1.50 GiB or 1536 MiB) – as stated above, there is only 1GB of physical RAM, so adding a swap partition is somewhat useful.
I would suggest that when purchasing a micro SSD card, to be careful and only buy from authorised / trusted vendors, as there are a lot of cheap knock-off / fake cards that claim to be faster then they actually are (caveat emptor ).
I also kept 1.5GiB (1536 MiB) non partitioned at the end of this disk. In theory this empty space should prolong the life of the micro SSD.
As stated within another post (So, what are you working on? - 22 May 17), I have included a case-less SSD SATA drive (128GB - reporting 118GiB or 120831 MiB), which is split into three 40GiB (38911 MiB) partition (home, separate storage and a backup partition), as well as 1GiB (1024 MiB) free space (to maximise longevity of the disk) – The partition structure may change at a later date.
I have also incorporated a EC-Technology B30224 battery (22400mAh) with a converted USB to LiPo cable to act as a sort of UPS device and to make the Banana portable, which gives me approx 2.5 days of battery power when fully charged (whilst this is not the best usage of this style of powerbank, due to the not finding suitable vendors that can supply large 3.7v lithium batteries within the UK and the fact that I had this battery laying about doing nothing – it will do for the moment).
As stated within the other post, I have also brought a SIM800L GSM / GPRS (which I am intending to use to connect to the Internet and therefore freeing up the separate ethernet port, which will be attached to my internal server infrastructure) and a Adafruit PCF8523 real time clock module, which with the battery will make the Banana ultra portable).
I have yet to attached the GSM and RTC modules to the banana, as well as to configure the GPIO interface.
Personally, I am interested with SOC devices with more then 2 ethernet ports (prefer 4 or more ports on the device) and a WiFi interface, I am aware of a newer version the Banana Pi BPI (the R2 model, which includes a MediaTek MT7623N, quad core CPU and 2GB of RAM, as well as a 12V / 2A rounded DC power port).
I would also suggest looking at the ClearFog Pro SOC device ( https://wiki.solid-run.com/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=a38x:carrierboard:docs:sr-a38x-clearfog-pro-datasheet.pdf ).
My only real issue with the Banana BPI device (apart from only having a micro USB that is used as a 5V power input) is that there is a few unnecessary ports (such as the Infrared and OTG USB ports).
Personally I would also like this device not to have a HDMI port (this port is useful for the initial installation of Linux onto the micro SSD but is made redundant due to the usage of SSH and the Webmin interfaces). If necessary, these ports could be removed from the board using a SMD reworking station / hot air gun at a later stage.