Notes on Lantern firmware development

The last couple of weeks have been quite dramatic with various roadblocks that have hugely delayed Lantern firmware development. Now that most of it has been cleared, I’ll jot down a few notes on Lantern development status.

Lantern will be based on CHIP. This decision is primarily motivated by the cost reduction in favor of improving the quality of the other hardware components. Another factor is the convenience of having built-in battery charge management and fast(er) NAND storage.

Lantern will work similarly to ORxPi and Lighthouse and it ships with the same user interface. Notable difference is the connectivity. Lantern does not have an Ethernet port, so it cannot be connected to a router as Lighthouse and ORxPi could. On the other hand, it has additional connectivity through the microUSB port. Namely, it has USB gadget Ethernet and USB gadget serial. What this means is that you can plug a Lantern into your PC, and it will be recognized as a serial (COM) port as well as a wired network adapter. The COM port allows direct access to the operating system (rxOS) while the network adapter behaves similarly to the wireless access point, allowing you to access the web-based user interface.

The NAND storage provides performance characteristics similar to Lighthouse, so it should be relatively fast during normal operation. Boot times are a bit slower than what we had on Pi3 with a decent SD card, though, because of the way bootloader works. This will probably receive more love in future for a faster boot, but currently it is expected to boot into a fully functional system in about 2 minutes.

The main drawback of using CHIP versus Pi3 is the CPU speed. Lantern will thus probably perform a bit poorly compared to Pi3 in multi-user scenario.

Software-wise, Lantern will have a read-only FTP server in addition to the usual web interface, so bulk-downloading file to your computer should now be possible without using USB sticks.

This is just some stuff off the top of my head. If you have further questions, please post in this thread.

If you already have a CHIP, the firmware build is available here. We will publish flashable firrmware as soon as it’s in a decent enough state for public use.

True but on the upside it only draws 0.25 amp at idle, 0.33 at full tilt, much better than the Pi3 @ 0.3- 0.5

I’d rather have a slow device thats on than a fast one with no power!

It seems to draw closer to 0.4~0.5 under load.

I’d still really like you guys to regularly broadcast HTTrack with instructions how to sync your lantern with your phone.

I did look into forking it specifically for the purpose so it became a zero config ‘lantern app’ you just click to sync with your phone. Too busy to make it happen right now, but a nice little project for someone. Just hardcode the lantern URL…