Running GQRX Smoothly on an Intel Compute Stick with a Custom Linux Kernel

Thank you to M Khanfar for submitting news about his custom Linux kernel which allows an RTL-SDR and GQRX to run smoothly and with sound on an Intel Compute Stick. The Intel Compute Stick is a full dongle based computer the size of a pack of gum with pricing that starts from US$120. It has a Quad Core Atom Processor, 2GB RAM, 32 GB of built in storage and an HDMI out port. By default the stick comes with Windows 10 installed, but M Khanfar notes that it is very sluggish.

Instead of the sluggish Windows 10 OS, M Khanfar decided that he wanted to run Ubuntu Linux instead. However he found that the standard Ubuntu image did not have support for audio over HDMI or WiFi on the Compute stick. So he built his own custom kernel with some patches to fix this issue. With the issue fixed, GQRX with an RTL-SDR now runs smoothly with full audio support, and rtl_tcp can also be run over WiFi.

M Khanfar has uploaded the patched ISO to his Google Drive here.

Update 29 January 2019: M Khanfar has updated us and noted that CubicSDR now works on the custom kernel too, and he has provided full installation instructions here. A video showing it in action can be seen on YouTube.

GQRX under Custom Kernel-Intel Computer Stick

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This is a quite interesting device, but I’d like to see a comparison with ASUS Tinkerboard first (which costs 1/2 of the Compute Stick price). Both are quad core computers, both have 2 GB RAM, both can run Linux fine.
I just wonder why would you buy this device unless you already have it (or got for free from somewhere).


The difference is that Intel stick can run x86 software. Not everything is ported to ARM architecture. It can even run Windows software under Wine. For example, SpectrumLab or HDSDR.
More credit should be given to Linuxium, who provided a lot of preassembled distros for Intel Baytrail devices:

Lucas Teske

Also the x86 inside compute stick has SSE4 (as I know) which helps a lot in libvolk (which GQRX uses)

Corrosive of SignalsEverywhere

That’s awesome!

I might finally have a reason to pick one up!
Any chance on making the patches open source so we can update with future releases?

Sounds like we need a custom distro for these!


This is really interesting. I wonder if it’s possible to do things like OP25 in future? Could the unit do what the Rpi’s do?

Corrosive of SignalsEverywhere

I bought one, going to put it on my list of things to try.