Cubietruck: TVHeadend and BitTorrent Sync

As my Raspberry Pi was too slow for some tasks, I needed something faster but still power saving: a Cubietruck or Cubieboard 3 was the solution for me.

The advantage: due to a Dualcore Allwinner A20 Cortex A7 SoC with 1 GHz as well as 2 GB RAM, the Cubietruck system has significantly more power than the Raspberry Pi. For the use with BitTorrent Sync the SATA port is ideal: in my case I connected a Hitachi HDD with one terabyte.

Cubietruck in "case" with 2.5" HDD
Cubietruck in "housing" with 2,5″-HDD

The Cubieboard 3 or Cubietruck is, like all ARM-based Mini-PCs, very frugal in terms of power consumption. Although a 15 Watt power supply is recommended when using a hard disk, the Apple power supply of the iPad 3 with 10 Watt manages to run the system stable.

As operating system I rely on Cubieez Server in the current version 1.5 - the RAM requirement is very low by default, ideal for running additional services.

TVHeadend 3.4 on Cubietruck

TVHeadend 3.4 on Cubietruck
TVHeadend 3.4 on Cubietruck
A problem occurred when installing tvheadend 3.4: the version for Raspberry Pi was not found via apt-get. The "solution": compile it by yourself, instructions are available on the tvheadend project page. Thanks to the available power it runs in a few minutes, I have built a package that is easy to install (without guarantee that it works on every system):

If you want to build tvheadend from the current GIT repository yourself, you only have to do the following steps:

  1. The current status Download from GitHub and unpack
  2. In the directory tvheadend-master ./configure. This will probably fail to find all the possible packages that you will need to install. ./configure until no more packages are missing.
  3. As a last resort. ./ -t debian in the tvheadend directory. This creates a .deb file in the parent directory, which is then saved with dpkg -i tvheadend-*.deb can be installed.

At my last attempt with the current version of 26 May 2015, the package I created had no version number - but that's not a problem so far, it could be executed anyway. That this works on every system is of course not guaranteed.

You can then call up the configuration via the tvheadend default port: http://localhost:9981or replace "localhost" with the IP of the Cubietruck.

Update 01.09.2015: tvheadend 4.0.x released

Already in May 2015 the new tvheadend version with the version number 4.0 was released. Basically the new version works like the previous one - only the transcoding is not yet integrated in all versions and does not work under Mac OS X yet. As before, tvheadend can be used to redistribute a TV signal from a DVB-C, DVB-T or IPTV signal in the network.

After tvheadend is installed, the equipment corresponds to that on the Raspberry Pi. The result: instead of ~90% CPU usage by tvheadend on the (overclocked) Raspberry Pi, tvheadend on the Cubietruck only needs a good 30% CPU power.

BitTorrent Sync on Cubietruck

BitTorrent Sync on Cubietruck
BitTorrent Sync on Cubietruck
The available CPU power can be used to install a BitTorrent Sync node on the Cubietruck. Through the SATA connector, a 2.5-inch hard disk can be installed, the Apple power supply with 10 watts that I use is sufficient for this. For BitTorrent-Sync there are ready-made, though unofficial packages for ARM - so the installation is easy to handle.

After successful installation of BitTorrent Sync can be found under http://ip-adresse-des-cubietruck:8888 call the BitTorrent sync interface and add directories to be synchronized. If you want to access the files from the internet you have to add Owncloud or Seafile.

Conclusion Cubietruck

Although I currently use the possibilities of the Cubietruck (thanks to the HDMI connection and the IR port, a media center could also be built on it), but the Cubietruck is ideal for my needs and my goal of getting a tvheadent and BitTorrent sync server with as little power consumption as possible. Since the operating system is stored on micro SD cards, I'll experiment a little more in the future - and always exchange the "important" SD card for another one once it's set up.

If you are looking for an entry into the world of ARM Mini-PCs and want to Raspberry Pi wants to start will find the right offers here: Buy Raspberry Pi at Amazon. If you want to mount it directly on a Cubietruck, you can get it for 115,- Euro with power supply unit at Amazon:


  1. I'd be interested in that, too. Wants to open a 2x DVB-C server with tvheadend and 2,5″ sata disk. Especially simultaneous recording + streaming would be important to me. Bittorrent or anything else I don't want for the time being, just a pure TV server.

    1. Phew, I'm a bit confused: would have to configure a two DVB-Stick for that. Double streaming was at least possible with a Raspberry Pi, the Cubietruck should be sufficient.

      1. Then I answer myself, in case anyone else finds it interesting:
        I have 2x Sundtek DVB-C adapters on a passive USB hub and 1x cardreader/OSCam on the second USB port of the Cubie. And a 2,5″ SATA hard disk for recording. Everything is fired with a 12,5W power supply ( It works: Recording ARD HD and Pro7 HD simultaneously + streaming from Sat1 HD to the HTPC. But both cores of the Cubie are quite busy: 65% - 90%. I could not observe dropouts neither during the recordings nor during the streams. That's all I need.

        1x DVB-C and Cardreader at the passive hub didn't work, after a few hours OSCam lost the connection to the cardreader and only a Cubieneustart could fix it.

        The switching times are also very good: 1-2sec. Unfortunately Timeshift does not work reliably with TVHeadend, but that's because of the program and not because of the Cubie.

        Conclusion: as a small TVServer the Cubie is definitely usable for my needs!

        1. Great - that sounds exactly like what I would like to realize.
          I'm afraid I'm not over the point
          sudo apt-add-repository

          ...came out. Here I get the error message:
          "apt-add-repository: command not found"

          Then, when I'm...
          apt-get install tvheadend, I get the following error message.
          "unable to locate package tvheadend"

          I would be happy about a tip or would be very interested in how you got tvheadend running.

  2. Hello Falk,

    I would like to test a current version of tvheadend on a CT image with a current kernel.
    But I'm probably a bit too stupid to build the corresponding tvheadend package. Could you again post a short sequence of the commands which were necessary to build the tvheadend 3.4 package? This works great for me at the moment.


    1. I will perhaps tackle this tonight and then update the post accordingly. Actually it's not that complicated, but I haven't done it for a long time - is everything up to date or do I use Netflix most of the time anyway?

    2. So, I have extended the manual - hope this helps you! If there are any questions, I had the biggest trouble to install all packages (each in the -dev-version) tvheadend needs to run it.

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