Home > Android, Linux, Rockchip RK31xx, Ubuntu > Easy and Safe Way to Try Linux on Popular Rockchip RK3188 mini PCs

Easy and Safe Way to Try Linux on Popular Rockchip RK3188 mini PCs

Until recently, installing Linux on Rockchip R3188 based TV boxes or HDMI TV dongles meant you had to flash one or more binaries to your device using various type of tools for Linux or Windows. But thanks to various members of the community, it’s now as easy as flashing an image for the Raspberry Pi, as long as you own Minix Neo X7, PQ Labs iStick A350-SSD, Radxa Rock development board, or Rikomagic MK802IV (AP6210 or 8188EU Wi-Fi module versions) thanks to images provided by Ian Morrison on G+ mini PC community that can be booted from a (micro) SD card, which the added advantage that it won’t mess with your Android installation.

MINIX_NEO_X7_Linux

You can do it whether you use a Windows or Linux PC, and it should also be possible on Mac OS X, but I don’t know the commands. Here are the steps to follow for MINIX NEO X7, other products will have the same procedure, only the filename will change:

  1. Download the image (linux-sdcard-minix-neo-x7.img.7z)
  2. Extract linux-sdcard-minix-neo-x7.img.7z using a utility that can handle this type of file, for example 7-Zip for Windows, or p7zip in Linux.
  3. Insert a (micro) SD card into your computer, and flash the extracted image:
    • Windows – Using Win32DiskImager GUI tool
    • Linux –  with dd:
      sudo dd if=linux-sdcard-minix-neo-x7.img of=/dev/sdX bs=4M

      where ‘X’ is the disk name, and varies from system to system. It may also be like /dev/mmcblkX. Use ‘lsusb’ to find out. If you use a USB hard drive, be very careful, as you may wipe out your data if you use the wrong X.

  4. Once this is complete, simply insert the SD card into your device, and powered it up and it should start Linux (Ubuntu 12.04)

The login credentials are Linuxium / p. Now you’ll get a fully working system, and if you want to return back to Android simply remove the SD card.

However, you may want to complete a few more steps to take advantage of the full SD card capacity.

  1. Type the following in a terminal window in your mini PC:
    echo -e "d\nn\np\n1\n81921\n\nw" | sudo fdisk /dev/mmcblk0'
  2. Reboot, and type the command below to complete the partition resize:
    sudo reseize2fs /dev/mmcblk0p1

Mali GPU hardware acceleration can be enabled as follows:

sudo mv /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/mesa-egl /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/xmesa-egl

Finally, if for some reasons, you want to create a root password, you can do by typing:

sudo su -
passwd root

Now what if you don’t own any of the devices with pre-built SD card images? You can checkout Androtab.info instructions for Radxa Rock, which will give you ideas of what you need to do to boot from SD card on your own system. This does not require internal flash at all, you could unsolder the flash, and it would still work. Have fun!

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  1. Onanii
    July 2nd, 2014 at 19:44 | #1

    hi does it work for RK3066 devices?

  2. guest
    July 2nd, 2014 at 21:14 | #2

    can i try it on mk908? mk908 and mk802iv has similiar hardware.

  3. July 2nd, 2014 at 21:20 | #3

    @Onanii
    I think it only works for RK3188 devices (TBC).

    @guest
    Yes, you can try, there is no risk, since it won’t modify your internal flash. But once I tried MK802 IV on MK908 and it did not work (NAND flash version), so there must be some kernel differences.

  4. Gabe
    July 2nd, 2014 at 23:05 | #4

    I’ve tried it on an OS-TRK802Q stick(which I think has the insides of a J22), only wifi is not working. Glmark2 score is:52, glxgears fps around 62-79 FPS

  5. Gabe
    July 2nd, 2014 at 23:11 | #5

    The first command works for 8GB microSD card only?

  6. Gabe
    July 3rd, 2014 at 00:45 | #6

    I’ve tried then Minix Neo X7 version, should have tried the Mk902 IV version.

  7. riklaunim
    July 3rd, 2014 at 02:29 | #7

    I have a tutorial and a set of benchmarks for Measy U4A dongle (RK3188) http://www.rkblog.rk.edu.pl/w/p/picuntu-and-linuxium-linux-measy-u4a-android-dongle/ and some Radxa articles are coming too.

  8. hamadi
    July 3rd, 2014 at 08:48 | #8

    there’s a way for dummy using chroot

  9. July 3rd, 2014 at 13:24 | #9

    The Radxa guys have uploaded both Android 4.4 and Lubuntu SD card images- http://wiki.radxa.com/Rock/SD_images

  10. fathony
    July 3rd, 2014 at 15:20 | #10

    can this method applied on “MINIX NEO X7 mini” ?

  11. linuxium
    July 3rd, 2014 at 20:28 | #11

    If anyone is interested some additional devices include:

    Tronsmart T428 –
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B99O3A0dDe67bFJBSTFqSzlxMG8

    J22/CX919II –
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B99O3A0dDe67eTBRd3RXY0FpcWc

    MK809III –
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B99O3A0dDe67NmIyLTl4Z3ZFRmc

    Booting will give you a full Ubuntu 12.04 LTS desktop with Unity. It will not affect your installed software and there is no pre-requisite for a specific stock or custom ROM to be pre-installed. No ‘flashing’ is required as everything needed to boot is taken from the SD card so it will work even if the NAND is empty or the device is ‘bricked’.

  12. July 3rd, 2014 at 20:38 | #12

    @fathony
    Based on the difference with NEO X7 (http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/08/05/minix-neo-x7mini-vs-neo-x7-android-media-players-comparison/), I’d say it should work, possibly excluding Wi-Fi (different module)

  13. onebir
    July 3rd, 2014 at 21:59 | #13

    @linuxium
    Presumably you can only create these images for devices you have; if people donate & send RK3188 devices, would you have time (etc) to create images for those?

  14. linuxium
    July 4th, 2014 at 18:32 | #14

    @onebir

    If a manufacturer donates and sends me a RK3188 or even a RK3288 device together with the Android kernel source I’ll certainly try and create an image for it.

  15. bench
    July 4th, 2014 at 23:49 | #15

    Hi,

    Great work! I have try it on my mk902ii using the MINIX NEO X7 image. It book up ok, but reported the wirelss is not ready? I have a look at the mk902ii spec and it is uses the same AP6210 (at least I think it does) as neo x7. Any idea?

  16. onebir
    July 5th, 2014 at 01:11 | #16

    @linuxium
    I hope some will see that this offers a unique added value for their devices & send some your way (maybe throwing in a bit of cash with them ;)

  17. wkt
    July 5th, 2014 at 02:35 | #17

    I tried the Linux on my CX-919 ( old ? NOT : CX-919 II )

    1st I took linux-sdcard-j22.img an put it to SD card.
    Boots fine : but no WLAN device found in iwconfig output – so not usable at this moment.

    2nd I took linux-sdcard-rkm-mk802iv-new.img to SD
    Boots fine & WLAN device found ! Also I hear sounds. Very nice.
    BUT : my TV has obviously 1920×1080 and so the buttons on the left
    are almost invisible. Also the panel on the top right is invisible
    but scrolls down if I touch the top border of the screen.

    My question : can I somehow get a smaller screen resolution on boot ?
    ( dont know the values : 1024×780 ???… or what )

  18. July 5th, 2014 at 13:41 | #18

    @wkt
    I don’t think you have a resolution issue, what you describe looks like “overscan”. I described it @ http://www.cnx-software.com/2010/05/30/tackling-overscan-in-media-players-and-digital-signage/
    There should be settings on your television to underscan automatically, it’s not necessarily called that way.
    No all TV support underscan, so you may have to modify your setting with xrandr, or edit directly a config file. I’m not sure which one it is, maybe /etc/X11/xorg.conf?

  19. wkt
    July 6th, 2014 at 06:35 | #19

    @cnxsoft

    The underscan trick works on my TV from Acer via the HDMI settings built in.

    Thanks for this problem solving info.

  20. lonely2k5
    July 11th, 2014 at 00:07 | #20

    I cannot get MALi to work on CX919II no T
    any idea?

  21. RickW
    August 29th, 2014 at 06:33 | #21

    Hello,

    Thank you for creating this ubuntu build. It was easy to throw on the SD Card and boot up. I have a small issue though. The / filesystem is only 1.9gb and has filled up. Do you know of a way to expand it on the fly? Google results say you must boot it off a linux live CD and expand it offline.. Is it possible to maybe plug the SD Card into my laptop and expand the partition with some tool?

    Thanks!

  22. Shant
    September 11th, 2014 at 16:46 | #22

    Hello,

    Does it provides eth adapter support ?

  23. September 11th, 2014 at 17:09 | #23

    @Shant
    It should. Worst case, just build the kernel with the right options.

  24. RickW
    September 12th, 2014 at 00:54 | #24

    Wow I totally missed the two lines where you explained how to expand the filesystem. Sorry about that !

  25. Patrick
    September 16th, 2014 at 02:16 | #25

    i tried it but my X7 will not boot from the SD card. Does anyone have an idea ?

  26. Patrick
    September 16th, 2014 at 02:17 | #26

    ?..or should the minix be rooted first ?

  27. September 16th, 2014 at 09:58 | #27

    @Patrick
    I’m not sure why it does not work, but it has nothing to do with Android being rooted or not, since the SD card method is supposed to work even if you don’t have NAND flash

  28. Patrick
    September 18th, 2014 at 03:15 | #28

    thans for the replay… i will give it another try.

  29. Patrick
    September 18th, 2014 at 03:15 | #29

    ..reply offcourse

  30. Mark
    October 1st, 2014 at 22:52 | #30

    Didn’t work for me… I get the log in for one second and the screen goes black. Any ideas?

  31. Joakim
    October 18th, 2014 at 22:14 | #31

    Hey, installed this on my MINIX NEO x7 mini and its working fine. why i installed this was because i wanted to run Plex Media server on it but im having truble installing it. the error i get is its wrong architecture, is ther a way to go around this?

  32. Bob Inglis
    October 19th, 2014 at 15:50 | #32

    Would you be able to use this tool to flash Minix Neo 7 img?

  1. July 4th, 2014 at 01:47 | #1
  2. September 3rd, 2014 at 00:16 | #2