We’re delighted to announce that after several months of work, a Debian 8 release candidate is finally ready for the Creator Ci20 microcomputer.

Shipping of the new Creator Ci20 boards will also begin next week for customers who’ve pre-ordered the board from our online stores in Europe and North America.

Introducing Debian 8 for Ci20

Debian 8 for Ci20 is based on a stable version of the Linux 3.18 kernel for MIPS CPUs. Included in this new release are major driver updates to the PowerVR graphics and Wi-Fi firmware, along with changes to the NAND memory driver which will improve overall system speed and stability. Additionally, the Linux kernel and several drivers are installed as Debian packages for easier future upgrades.

Creator Ci20 - Debian 8 (3)Chrome B.S.U. and the Iceweasel web browser running side by side in Debian 8

Further improvements include adapting to the monitor resolution at boot, a DRM-based PowerVR SGX driver that enables applications to use the X window manager, increases in Ethernet download speeds (from 30Mbps to 70Mbps), and some file-system optimizations to speed up boot time.

Creator Ci20 - Debian 8 (1)The pre-bundled PowerVR graphics demos running in window-mode

Owners of the new square-shaped Creator Ci20 boards will also have access to PC-style indicator LEDs that show CPU and flash I/O activity.

We are still working hard to fix two known issues: implementing video hardware acceleration support for media players (e.g. MPlayer) and audio recording.

To get the new version of Debian up and running on your Creator Ci20, simply download the latest image from our eLinux page and follow the steps described here. Since this release changes the NAND flash partition layout, please remember to back up your user data before upgrading to Debian 8 to prevent data loss.

Finally, we recommend you read the release notes carefully as they contain important information about the new release; don’t hesitate to also use our forum if you want to ask any questions. For more information on what’s new in Debian 8, check out this page on the official Debian Project website.

Additional improvements to Android 4.4

Earlier in June, Creator Ci20 received another update, this time for Android. Android 4.4.2 brought along important fixes, including support for USB storage and external cameras. In addition, we significantly decreased boot-up time and solved some memory leaks in the Ethernet settings menu. Previous updates also expanded on the existing audio features, along with some improvements to the Linux kernel.

Moreover, the engineering team is finalizing an Android 5.0 release that will be released imminently.

Make sure you also follow us on social media (@ImaginationPR, @ImaginationTech, @MIPSdev) for the latest Creator-related news and announcements from Imagination.


  • Guillaume GASNIER

    It seems that some improvements have been done of the GLES driver, great !!
    But, I got devices with SGX IP that don’t have any more updates.
    How could it be possible to have some ?


    • Hi Guillaume,

      We directly manage software updates for our Creator Ci20 board, including the PowerVR SGX driver.

      However, for third party dev boards, you would need to contact the manufacturer and ask them about updates and driver availability since we don’t/can’t handle driver integration for platforms that are not under our control.


      • Guillaume GASNIER

        Thanks Alex for your answer.

        I give more details:
        For TI platforms for example, the SGX530 found in the DM3730 got unsupported features and without open source driver, I will not possible to correct and add features to the platform based on the SoC. The same problem is present with the OMAP 5432 used by the community based device Pyra (more information: http://pyra-handheld.com/specs.html)

        Is there something coming for the Open Source community regarding the SGX IP and support on all the SoC with this IP ?


        • There have been some discussions on various forums about what we can do better to support the Linux community. Unfortunately for some boards, Linux kernel development is completely out of our control. We try to maintain the PowerVR driver in line with the latest kernel releases but the integration work is done by the board manufacturer, not us.

          The multimedia pipeline includes other components including display and video that might not be related PowerVR. This is why it’s impossible for us to support products that were not designed or manufactured by Imagination. The third party boards you’ve mentioned are in this category.


  • mzs_47

    Does this board work with FreeBSD or any other BSDs?
    Having FreeBSD would be nice as it has nice choice of packages for its users.

  • Sykobee

    Any plans for a quad-core “C140” board with Rogue graphics by next year?

  • valerij

    It is good that the new version of one of the enormously numerous linux distributions supports now CI20 mini-pc. But still, despite of these ‘goodies’, there are some considerably annoying difficulties out there, which interested people keep expirience, namely – the article inspiringly proclaims that the european customers finally, next week, will begin getting their preordered boards shipped. but the truth is that this will be able to get only those europeans whose countries are EU members. EU != Europe. And me, for example, living in Ukraine, Europe too, poor one but still Europe, I am waitnig for that “soon” promissed from the beginning of this year. And nothing is progressing in this respect. I already have lost any hope to be able to buy this board. So, this debian 8 on ci20 announcement looks for me as nothing more than a sneer. It’s strange that some enthusiastic company is able to get their boards shippable across the globe, but Imagination – a corporation, well known one, with balls, as it’s to say, – isn’t. it looks like you guys do not take this Mips stuff seriosly inside. at least – this creator thing. You even do not deliver to Japan! (but funny enough – do to the New Zealand!). Well, Imagination, get your board globally available please! It will be much more enjoyable than yet another new linux on the board.

  • Michel Catudal

    I prefer Gentoo to Debian, will it be possible to use the same kernel with Gentoo and have working GPU? I see that the Gentoo available is a bit old so I plan on creating my own. I plan on using a 32G or 64G SD device.

  • Stefan Tabbert

    Hi you say driver is included. Is the source for other Debian included to rebuild? I have an banana m2 a31s with powervr sgx544

    • Hi Stefan,

      Our team worked hard to create a driver for this particular board since we have control over the hardware. For third party boards, I’m afraid the supplier is directly responsible for making sure the latest driver is integrated with the OS the device ships with.

      The manufacturers can contact us through the semiconductor supplier and request a reference DDK for the particular PowerVR GPU inside their product. They can then do the same work we did for that specific board.

      Hope this helps!