Linux Format

Visit the dark side...

...because Windows people can also bake cookies.


While readers of Linux Format might baulk at the idea of running Windows on their single-board computer, installing big R’s operating system is an option everybody seriously interested in process computing must always keep at the back of their mind (while clipping a clothes peg firmly on their nose).

Two reasons for running Windows stand out. First of all, if the rest of the client code is mostly Windows-based, deploying Windows on the last mile (aka the process computer) can greatly reduce the amount of logical coupling found in the system. This, obviously, leads to an easier-to-maintain code base.

Secondly, many process computer control applicatio­ns are only available for Windows – should this be the case, running Wine and an emulation layer does not usually lead to good results.

Sadly, the situation has recently become more complex as Microsoft has started to eagerly embrace the ARM ISA as a secondary alternativ­e to x86-x64. Thus Windows is now available on multiple CPU architectu­res – however, the Udoo Vision is the only SBC here with an x64 processor, in the shape of the Atom x7-E3950. While it sadly is limited to Windows 10 due to its old age, the chip can run x86 software natively.

For ARM-based single-board computers, a partially unofficial version of Windows 11 is available; a similar version is available for the Rock 5B. Windows 11 on the Raspberry Pi 5 and the Rock 5B works reasonably well, but is slowish, especially when running x86 applicatio­ns via the emulation layer. No version of Windows is available for the Tinker Board or the Orange Pi 3B.

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