Linux 5.6 Can Boot The Original Amazon Echo, But It's Not Really Practical
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 9 February 2020 at 04:46 AM EST. 20 Comments
LINUX KERNEL --
As first to write about yesterday, Linux 5.6 Arm platform changes now support the original Amazon Echo. While this allows the first-generation Amazon Echo to run with a mainline Linux kernel and is exciting for hobbyists, it's not really practical at this stage or even in the long-run.

Amazon Echo devices are already Linux-powered albeit running on Amazon's own modified Linux kernel. With Linux 5.6, however, the original first-generation Amazon Echo is now supported as the necessary DT changes have been made. This support was made by an independent contributor and not Amazon engineers themselves.

One of the important elements not yet supported by the mainline kernel, however, is the microphone array on the Amazon Echo... Without microphone support, any modified Echo can't serve as a voice control device yet. There is microphone support being worked on, but not yet ready for mainline.

Obviously, getting Linux booting on the Amazon Echo itself doesn't help in being able to run Amazon's user-space software or having an open-source alternative as robust for voice control as Alexa.

Running Linux on the Echo from a hardware perspective isn't all that exciting: it's just an OMAP3 SoC, 256MB DRAM, and MMC storage. If you want to build your own Linux smart speaker, you are better off building your own with a re-purposed Raspberry Pi or any number of the open SBCs that will afford you more opportunities.

Getting physical access to be able to modify the Echo is also not trivial. Should you be up for the task, over on F-Secure.com is a guide on their earlier research.

This mainlining work for the Linux 5.6 kernel just concerns the original Amazon Echo and not any newer generations.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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