Home > Linux, Rockchip RK31xx, Testing, Ubuntu, Video > How-to Install and “Hack” Linux on T428 or MK802 IV mini PCs

How-to Install and “Hack” Linux on T428 or MK802 IV mini PCs

PicUntu 4.5 installer is probably the easiest method to install Ubuntu on a Rockchip RK3188 based mini PC, but if you want a little more flexibility I’ll provide another method to install Linux on T428, MK802 IV or compatible devices, as well as links to go further: dual boot Android / Linux, create your own official distro, status of Mali-400 GPU support in RK3188…

The method below is not new, as it was posted by Linuxium (Ian Morrison) in Freaktab in September, but this is the first time I’ve taken the time and managed to run Linux on Rockchip RK3188, and I’ll provide some more detailed steps.

Prerequisites

Even though in some cases it’s possible to install Rockchip firmware from Linux, AFAIK the tools available in Linux lack supports for the parameter and loader files, so ironically, you’ll need a Windows XP/7/8 machine to install Linux in your mini PC.

If not done yet, make sure to install Rockchip USB drivers first, as well as RKAndroidTool v1.37. If you can’t uncompress RKAndroidToolv1.37.7z, please install 7-zip.

You’ll obviously need an RK3188 device. T428 and MK802 IV are known to work with this method, but other RK3188 devices may also work although you may lose functionalities such as Wi-Fi, if the Wi-Fi module is different than AP6210. As a site note, you can also buy MK802 IV LE which comes pre-installed with PicUntu, but you’ll probably save money if you buy the Android version, and install Linux yourself instead.

You don’t need (micro) SD card to install Linux, as it will run from the flash. This will fully replace Android, and probably wipe all your data. There are other methods to boot from micro SD card that I’ll link to at the end of the post.

Installing Linux in MK802 IV or T428

Now that the required driver and tool are installed in Windows, you’ll need to download a few files:

To test the method, I decided to go with T428, a 1080p kernel, and Lubuntu 13.04, so I downloaded 5 files from the list above, namely RK3188Loader(L)_V1.20.bin, linuxium-nand-parameter, linuxium-boot.img, linuxium-1080-t428-nand-kernel and linuxium-ubuntu1304-lubuntu-desktop-rfs.img.7z.

First let’s uncompress linuxium-ubuntu1304-lubuntu-desktop-rfs.img.7z to get linuxium-ubuntu1304-lubuntu-desktop-rfs.img (2.7 GB).

Now start RKAndroidTool v1.37 (RKAndroidTool.exe in RkAndroidToolv1.37 directory), and load the 5 files to the corresponding Loader, parameter, boot, kernel and section, by clicking on the cells in the right column called “…” , and make sure the 5 check boxed are ticked as shown in the screen shot below.

RKAndroidTool_v1.37_linux

Now it’s time to start your device in recovery mode. For T428, connect a USB cable to your computer, press the recovery button on the side of the enclosure, connect the other end to the micro USB port to power the device, and release the recovery button. RKAndroidTool should detect your device, and “No Found RKAndroid rock usb” at the bottom of the window change to “Found RKAndroid Loader Rock Usb”. Some other devices may not have an external recovery button, but instead an internal switch accessible with a toothpick, paper clip, or other sharp object via a tiny hole.

Recovery Button on T428 mini PC

Recovery Button on T428 mini PC

Note for VirtualBox only, skip this paragraph you are using a Windows computer: The procedure can also be performed in VirtualBox. Just make sure to enable the device in your guest OS by accessing the top menu: Devices->USB Devices, and select the new device that appears. In my case, T428 in recovery mode is seen as “Unknown device 2207:310B [0100]“. During the installation the stick will reboot a few times, and you have to go to Devices->USB Devices again each time to select the device.

We’re almost done. Now click on “EraseIDB” button, wait a few seconds for the procedure to complete, and click on “Run” to flash Linux to the device. This last step will take a couple of minutes for flashing and verification. You’ll see the progress in the console on the right side of the window, and upon completion the last message should be: “INFO: Run OK”, and the device is exit recovery mode leading to the message “No Found RKAndroid rock USB” at the bottom of the window.

RKAndroidTool_v1.37_LInux_CompleteThat’s it. Linux has now been successfully installed on your RK3188 device. Time to connect the power supply, and give it a try.

Lubuntu in T428 (Video)

I’ve done that with T428. Boot takes about a minute, and my Wi-Fi network was detected. However, the root password is required before entering my Wi-Fi password, so I had to open a terminal, and type “sudo passwd root” to change the root password. For some reasons my SSID was shown twice in the interface, one failed to connected, but the other worked just fine. I haven’t tried Bluetooth. The best with Linux is probably to connect a USB mouse and keyboard, but I connected Mele F10 air mouse instead as it is more convenient for quick test.

I loaded several programs simultaneously: the terminal, minesweeper, a graphics editor, Chromium, Firefox, Abiword, etc.. and all programs loaded fast and the user experience was OK, although not as smooth as Ubuntu on ODROID-X featuring 2D/3D hardware acceleration, which is currently lacking in RK3188 Linux.

Web browsing performance is acceptable, but due to lack of VPU support, YouTube video playback is extremely choppy as the system uses software video decode. Running Ubuntu with the 720p kernel may provide a better experience here. There was also some rendering issues in Chromium with the Webstore, but the few web pages I tried loaded just fine.

There’s 5GB free memory on the flash out of 8GB, and shutdown seems to work fine, although It’s probably putting the device in standby mode, rather than actually shutting it down due to hardware limitation.

More Linux on RK3188 mini PCs links and resources.

If you want to customize features in the kernel used above, the source code is available in https://github.com/linuxium/3188-SRC-AP6210 and can be used for both T428 and MK802 IV.

If you’re interested in dual booting Linux and Android, or just running Linux or Android from an SD card, Linuxium has posted dual boot instructions in G+. His bootloader is quite flexible, and allow you to mix different scenario and choose whether you want to install an OS to the flash, or boot from Android. I did try this method with  MK908, using a kernel built with omegamoon’s MK908 source, but the Android image required for this bootloader, would just not start at all.

If Ubuntu, and close derivatives such as Lubuntu or Xubuntu, are just not your cup of tea, Galland recently posted instructions showing how to create your own image with official ARM rootfs booting from a micro SD card, including OpenSUSE which he tried on Radxa development board.

If you want to follow Linux on RK3188 devices news, I recommend you follow Ian Morrison on G+, as well as Galland Blog. Alternatively, you could also join Google+ Mini PCs community as both will usually post their instructions there, and you’ll also get news about new HDMI sticks, tiny media players, and as well as tips.

Linux for Rockchip RK3188 currently does not support Mali-400 GPU, so 2D and 3D hardware acceleration are both missing. This has already been done on RK3066 also featuring Mali-400MP4 GPU, and I don’t really understand which technical details make it difficult to implement, but it’s clearly a challenge or it would have happened already. On the positive side, lima packages should work on RK3188, and work will soon be done to try it out on Radxa board. In the meantime, if you think GPU support is important you can “+” Linuxium’s post on RK3188 GPU matter to make your voice heard, as well as to motivate voluntary developers. Having said that, it’s possible the lack of ARM SoC’s GPU support in Linux, at least Ubuntu, will disappear in April 2014 with the release of Ubuntu 14.04 because it can make use of Android kernel and drivers via libhybris.

If you want to go further, dig into the kernel internal, and/or help with development, you can also join linux-rockchip community which is working on Linux and Android for Rockchip SoC.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

  1. Richard Ames
    December 4th, 2013 at 23:13 | #1

    Great collection of information. Many thanks! I think if this class of devices improves in reliability, it could become the next wave of desktop devices.

  2. adem
    December 5th, 2013 at 15:54 | #2

    i had mk908 v3 before i sold it i tried to install picuntu downloaded the latest one but it wouldn’t let me

  3. Gianluca
    December 8th, 2013 at 00:21 | #3

    Thank you very much for these detailed instructions. I really appreciate it.

    Should this procedure work also on a Minix Neo X7?

  4. December 8th, 2013 at 09:47 | #4

    @Gianluca
    You’d have to give it a try, but it could/should.

    There’s always the risk to brick the device, but normally you should be able to recover with RkAndroidTool with the latest Android firmware uncompressed using Linux command line tools as explained in the middle and end of http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/11/19/how-to-flash-rockchip-rk3066-rk3188-firmware-in-linux/

  5. Wilson
    December 12th, 2013 at 21:53 | #5

    Howdy,

    Thank you so much for the detailed guide. Very well done with screen shots.

    NOTE TO OTHERS WITH PROBLEMS FLASHING: I had problems getting errors when erasing and running the flash on my T-428. I tried it on another computer(my laptop) and it worked the first try. The problem might be the computer using.

    Currently have Ubuntu 12.04 installed. Works great on some HD TV’s. Meaning, for some reason when I use my computer (preferred) using a HDMI to DVI input , it has over-scan issues. The borders all around are cut off and can not see about 3 inches all the way around. There are no options to change refresh / over-scan and did a search in Software Center. Works great on LCD TV direct HDMI in. The build still obviously does not support Hardware acceleration yet.

    What flavor is better?
    Ubuntu 12.04 desktop
    Lubuntu 13.04 desktop (Ubuntu with LXDE)
    Xubuntu 13.04 desktop (Ubuntu with XFCE)

    Here’s what I am thinking to do. Run Adhoc with it’s own wifi network. Have VNC or Teamviewer SERVER running at start up.
    Also have another usb WiFi device (Alfa card) plugged in.
    Wished Hibernate was working.

    Be able to easily , plug in power and connect via it’s own WIfI Adhoc and manage remotely with a phone or anything with VNC / Teamviewer client support.

  6. wilson
    December 20th, 2013 at 10:27 | #6

    Now that I have xubuntu installed and updated on my T428 mini pc, I really need to create image backup in case I crash my system and cant fix it..
    PLEASE : Someone with experience doing this on a mini pc.
    Im confused since its flashed not intsalled. Someone said I could just create a img file Ghost style.. is this correct? What about the kernel?

    Anyone…

  7. Wilson
    December 27th, 2013 at 04:38 | #7

    ANYONE??
    I need to back up xubuntu on t428 I installed. It’s updated/configured

  8. December 27th, 2013 at 09:06 | #8

    @Wilson
    You’ve asked this question in so many places in this blog, youtube, G+, etc… The people in G+ mini PCs community have already answered a solution with Linux, have you tried?

  9. Yannick C./
    February 16th, 2014 at 18:12 | #9

    Thank you for the detailed instructions,and almost everything worked but for the last step (run) when it says that doanloading file failed… Any clue on what’s going on ?

  10. February 16th, 2014 at 20:13 | #10

    @Yannick C./
    Maybe try to erase IDB, and start again.
    If it fails it could also be there’s not enough power in the USB port of your PC. Try another port or another PC.

  11. Yannick C./
    February 16th, 2014 at 23:09 | #11

    @cnxsoft
    Thanks for the answer… I have since tried to flash lubuntu (instead of ubuntu), and it works on MK809III.
    Maybe I had another error on the ubuntu img file…
    Also, I don’t if it’s a screen or video support problem, but there is a 1s blank screen every 7s. Not a dealbreaker for what I intend to do (mostly batch usage), but still annoying

  12. Daniel
    March 22nd, 2014 at 00:16 | #12

    do you know if it is possible to compile this kernel with 480p?

  13. March 22nd, 2014 at 20:26 | #13

    @Daniel
    Yes, it should be possible to compile it with 480p. I’m not quite sure how to do however.

  14. April 3rd, 2014 at 02:44 | #14

    Can I install ArchLinuxARM on MK802 IV LE? If yes then how? Please help.

  1. No trackbacks yet.