This board, while a bit larger than the RPi 3 has a much faster processor and double the RAM at a lower price point. I have the 2GB model costing $29 which shipped on time and arrived quite fast from China.
Linux gurus, lenny.raposo and longsleep along with help from many others have gotten fairly solid Linus builds ready to burn on SD card and available here: http://wiki.pine64.org/index.php/Pine_A64_Software_Release I am using the Debian Jessie image 20160701 to start with.
Follow their directions to install the image on a fast microSD, I used a 32gb card freebie from microcenter that h2wtest rated at 16Mb/s write and 33Mb/s read. Faster is better.
Insert burned SD and connect a powered hub to one of the USB host ports with a keyboard, mouse and wifi dongle ( or ethernet ) before booting then attach a 2.5a micro USB power supply.
Without adding drivers, certain net cards will work, come will not. The Alfa AWUS036H does work out of the box but has occasional freezes. The Alfa AWUS036NHA does not work. others will work, the more common in Linux the better chances it will be trouble free.
Boot the system creds are debian:debian
If you used an SD card larger than 8GB you will want to resize the filesystem to use the whole card. There is a supplied script to do it but I had to run the commands manually to get them to take effect.
# If this does not show the full capacity do the following after reading the script
partx -u /dev/mmcblk0
setup your net connection and verify you have access to the outside.
You now have a working Linux mini-PC.
Normal next step is to update any packages to get fixes.
Open a terminal window and we will get started:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade –fix-missing
You now have a current and ready to run system.
In the next post we will blink and LED then install nodejs and npm.