How To Install Ubuntu 15.04 on MeLE PCG03 Intel Mini PC

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I’ve already spent some time to test MeLE PCG03 Bay Trail-T mini PC in Windows 8.1, including a detailed video and audio review in Kodi 14.1. Since I don’t have anything else to do with Windows on the machine, I’ve decided to install Ubuntu instead, completely wiping out Windows 8.1. Since you pay around $30 for the Windows license, MeLE PCG03 is not the ideal platform computer for this little exercise due to the extra cost, but it should also work with other Intel Atom Z3735F based computer that may not come with a license.

Lubuntu 15.04 on MeLE PCG03 (Click for Original Size)
Lubuntu 15.04 on MeLE PCG03 (Click for Original Size)

At first I planed to go with Ubuntu 14.10 Mate ISO image, and it boots fine, but was curious to try from “scratch” with another ISO, so I went with Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 2 (64-bit) image. I just went to the first link Google Search provided me and did not pay attention enough, and ended-up install Lubuntu instead, but you should be able to use any Linux AMD64 ISO with the instructions below.

The first step is to create a bootable USB flash drive.

So after downloading vivid-desktop-amd64.iso with BitTorrent, I started a Windows 7 virtual machine (but I could have done it directly in MeLE PCG03 instead), downloaded and install Rufus (Rufus 1.4.22), and create a bootable USB flash drive with the following options:

  • GPT partition scheme for UEFI computer
  • FAT32 with 32KB cluster (Other insructions recommend 64KB, but it was not available in the drop list).
  • LIVECD label (maybe not important) and vivid-desktop-amd64.iso image

Rufus_Ubuntu_Bay_TrailMake sure Rufus has selected the right Device, and click on “Start”.

Once this is done, you’ll need to download bootia32.efi, and copy it in /EFI/BOOT folder in the USB flash drive.

Now connect the USB flash to your MeLE PCG03 or other Intel Bay Trail-T device, power the device, press F7 to get to the UEFI menu, and select your USB flash drive in order to boot into Ubuntu 15.04.

If all you want to do is try Ubuntu (or the other Linux 64-bit ISO image you’ve selected), you are done.

But let’s install it instead. MeLE provided instructions to re-install Windows on PCG03, but when I asked for the firmware files, they kept quiet…, so you may want to backup your Windows installation first.

There are three partitions:


Which I backed up as follows:


But it might be a better idea to just get a single file:


That way in case you want to re-flash Windows, start Linux from the USB flash drive, and re-install it with:


So you won’t need to potentially have to re-partition the eMMC flash with gparted, as would be the case for a separate backup file for each partition.

I’ve then re-partitioned the eMMC flash to format p3 as ext-4 and add a fourth partition for a 2GB swap, which may not be ideal on flash based device due to wear and tear:


MeLE_PCG03_Ubuntu_PartitionsNow click on Install Lubuntu 15.04, and follow the instructions until they ask about the installation type (erase everything, install side-by-side..), where you need to select “Something Else”, and set:

  1. /dev/mmcblk0p3 to ext4 mount to /
  2. /dev/mmcblk0p4 to swap
  3. I’ve also changed “Device for boot loader installation” to /dev/mmcblk0p2, but it might not be necessary to change that part.
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

Carry on with the installation. Once it’s complete, you’ll still need to boot from USB one more time in order to install the 32-bit version of grub. Reboot, press F7, select your USB drive, and once you are in Grub (showing Ubuntu, Advanced options for Ubuntu, Windows Boot Manager, System setup), press ‘c’ to enter the grub terminal, and type the following commands in order to load the kernel and initramfs, and boot from the internal flash:


The exact command will depend on your device and chosen linux distribution, but since grub support auto-completion it’s quite easy. For type “linux (hd”, and press tab to select the right drive and partition, then “/boot/vm”, and press tab again to select the right kernel, and so on.

Login into Ubuntu with the username / password you selected during installation, make sure you’ve connected an Ethernet cable,. and install 32-bit grub with efi support:


And now you’re done… Depending on your platform, you may also need to check your BIOS settings to make sure Secure Boot is disabled, and in my case at the beginning I had either a black screen (Ubuntu) or just the two lines (Advanced options for Ubuntu):


So I went to the BIOS in Advanced->Security Configuration, and disabled Intel TXE, which seems to have made the trick.

Intel_TXE_BIOSBoot time takes about 12 seconds from the time I press enter in grub to the login screen.

I haven’t tested it much for now, except from some web browsing, and playing YouTube in Firefox (very slow), but before doing my deeply into testing, I’d like to find out a way to enable audio on the platform, at least via the 3.5mm headphone jack, as HDMI audio may be more complicated. A workaround tried by other people is to use a USB sound card. Here’s the full boot log where you’ll see that the audio chipset (ALC5640) is detected, but the driver (byt-rt5640) fails to initialize it.

I adapted instructions from the three sources below:

  1. Linuxium triple boot method (Android, Windows, Linux) on MeegoPad T01.
  2. Ubuntu on Bay Trail tablets.
  3. Installing Ubuntu on Asus T100’s internal flash

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onebir
Guest
onebir

Why vivid-desktop-amd64.iso for an Intel Atom processor? :s

newbie
Guest
newbie

You should try 3.19 kernel. There should be a support of bay trail audio.

EKrava
Guest
EKrava

are you got ACPI Errors in dmesg ?

nickr
Guest
nickr

@onebir obviously because the atom is 64 bit.

nickr
Guest
nickr

@newbie analogue or hdmi?

nickr
Guest
nickr

You can also create the usb boot with unetbootin. You just need to add the bootia32.efi file to /EFI/BOOT afterwards (same as above). unetbootin also works on linux, meaning I didn’t need windows or to download rufus.

Raymond Day
Guest
Raymond Day

Now that you have Linux on it can you just do the sudo dd if=/dev/mmcblk0 | pv | dd of= Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 2.img bs=16M and put it up so any one can download and dd copy it back?

fossxplorer
Guest
fossxplorer

Let me know if you need storage space with 1gbit speed.

Slackstick
Guest
Slackstick

Thanks for the documentation. Can’t wait to get my Pipo.
Is WLAN working?

Auric
Guest
Auric

What about Kodibuntu

Is it worth a try?

deadhp1
Guest

Since your audio is actually detected you could try replacing the contents of /lib/firmware/intel/ with the firmware files from chromium.
There is some info about running ubuntu on the asus t100 at http://www.jfwhome.com/2014/03/07/perfect-ubuntu-or-other-linux-on-the-asus-transformer-book-t100/
Check out section 8. Sound for info on the chromium firmware files and asound.state.

nickr
Guest
nickr

@cnxsoft

My experience (should have said I guess) is with guleek i8. But these Z3735F machines all seem very similar.

Eric
Guest

Does the wifi and bluetooth working? is there any sound output from HDMI PORT? also ethernet working?

deadhp1
Guest

@cnxsoft
as far as I’ve seen on the meegopad the audio device only shows up in lspci is you change the bios setting, of course it stops working in windows then.
I do have audio working in linux with a 3.10 kernel I built with yocto, but it’s buggy in other ways.
I’m still working on patching a newer kernel. I just need some free time!

adem
Guest
adem

I MADE A USB installer with rufus but when i go to boot from i select it but still windows boots up i followed your review by the way my boxis the voyo mini pc.

adem
Guest
adem

ohhh crap i will give it a nother go thanks

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Hello,

have a problem with my Mele PCG03.
I have Ubuntu booted via USB stick.
I then later the live Sytem of Ubuntu shut down and pulled the USB stick.
After this, I then pulled the power supply

Since then, makes my Mele PCG03 not turn on.
Have written an email to Mele, but have only given me the drivers.

The LED always looks red and blue
I made a video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFdbJpIIXWM&feature=youtu.be

Can you help me?

thanks and best regards

Daniel

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Thank You
But the unit is dead.
It only flashes red and blue.
How should I install the firmware here?

trackback

[…] it comes with Windows 8.1 with Bing software, you can also install Ubuntu (and probably other operating systems) on the computer. But the price of the computer includes the […]

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

Thank you for creating this guide. I purchased the PCG03 rebranded as the Quantum Byte and wasn’t expecting it to be so hard to replace Windows with Ubuntu. Compared to other fanless PCs I couldn’t beat the price. After disabling all the Secure Boot and TXE options in the BIOS and reformatting the SSD everything seems to be working well and fast in Lubuntu. I just wish I could get sound and bluetooth working.

Liu Yang
Guest
Liu Yang

I got a Z3735F based tv box and installed ubuntu 14.10 with gnome live cd successfully following this guide. But when I install 15.04 with ubuntu-gnome-15.04-desktop-amd64, got a error at the step “Installing the ‘grub2’ package. The error message is “GRUB installation failed, The ‘grub-efi-amd64-singed’ package failed to install into /target/. Without the GRUB boot loader, the installed system will not boot.”. Any clue to solve this problem? Thanks..

trackback

[…] been able to run Ubuntu on Intel Atom Z3735F mini PCs, as well as other Linux distributions, for a while, but with an important caveat: HDMI audio would […]

Locked Out
Guest
Locked Out

Here’s one I hope you can solve. The techs at Quantum Suppliers are out of ideas. I was trying to install a fresh Win 8.1 image back on to my Quantum Byte and it wouldn’t boot. It blew away the OS completely. Then I tried disabling legacy USB in the BIOS to attempt to get the USB stick to boot. Big mistake. Since doing that, no USB 2.0 keyboard will work and it will only boot to the EFI shell prompt. The only thing that will show power on is when I insert a USB 3.0 stick into the port. If they made a USB 3.0 keyboard I would buy it, the quantum byte would recognize it, and then I could get back into the bios and be back in business. Tough one….is there not two pins I could short on the board to force a BIOS reset or something similiar?

trackback

[…] some reasons, after installing Ubuntu 15.04 on MeLE PCG03 a while ago, I had to re-install Windows 8.1 on the device. The backup I used with dd did not work, […]

ironhead
Guest
ironhead

everything is ok until command:
sudo cp /boot/efi/EFI/ubuntu/grubia32.efi /boot/efi/EFI/ubuntu/grubx64.efi

ubuntu says that there’s no such file or directory. what is wrong?

Bouc
Guest
Bouc

Hi, great guide. I used it to install Ubuntu on my Tablet HP with the same processor of the MeLE PCG03.

I’ have a problem when, after the installation, I reboot from USB:
typing “linux (hd1,gpt4)/boot/vmlinuz-3.16.0-46-generic root=/dev/mmcblk0p4” is ok, but when i type “initrd (hd1,gpt3)/boot/initrd-3.18.0-13-generic” the system says that the file dosen’t exist..

In the boot directory I don’t have this file but only “initrd.img-3.16.0-46-generic”.
Can you give me an help?

Lucas
Guest

Hi CNXsoft,

I installed Ubuntu 14.04 on my Minix z64 (same processor), and saw you had the same problem as me:

“Loading Linux 3.18.0.13-generic….
Loading initial ramdisk…

So I went to the BIOS in Advanced->Security Configuration, and disabled Intel TXE, which seems to have made the trick.”

That also happens to me from time to time… But i can’t find the TXE configuration on my system.

Bouc
Guest
Bouc

@cnxsoft
Now ok, for my installation the file correct is “initrd.img-3.16.0-46-generic” and not only “initrd-3.16.0-46-generic”.
Now I can boot from usb to may SO on the HD.
Thanks!

juckveld
Guest
juckveld

@Locked Out
i made same mistake…. long time of googling ,but i found solutiom by flash eprom by new bios. some soldering and flash programimg experience needed.

Locked Out
Guest
Locked Out

@juckveld
Can you describe the process of how you fixed your issue? Did you pretty much desoldier the flash chip, reprogram it, and solider back in? I was thinking you could replace the chip with a blank one, but not sure if that would work.

juckveld
Guest
juckveld

@Locked Out
Yes…desoldering flash chip 25QFW64.
I was try to reprograming, but chip is powered by 1,8V and i do mistake and programer using 3,3 V and i destroed flash. Then I buy new-one – aliexpress (0,5E) and this time used 3,3-1,8V converter and try reprograming again.
file bios.bin was about time of googling. I think (but not sure) it possible use bios.bin file from similar devices.
Programed chip soldered back to board and device will start and boot..and bios working including USB ports. jupíí
WIN10/8 does not start yet (win starting booting screen show and end by reboot request)… will need reinstall but its last problem.
sry my ENG. CZech

juckveld
Guest
juckveld

@Locked Out
Replacing by new blank chip will not work.

Klaus
Guest
Klaus

I tried to follow this guide, but for a Beelink Z83. Unfortunaly, the BIOS has no “Secure Boot” or “TXE” option at all. The only things to change there are date/time and the boot order 🙁
As descibed above, the boot process failed with a completely black screen. Is there any chance to install Ubuntu on this device?

Thx, Klaus

Eu
Guest
Eu

@Locked Out
Did you figure out how to reset the Quantum Byte Bios? My keyboard is good but I have lost my password. Tried removing the battery, it’s been out of it for 24+ hours. I have an EPROM programmer but not sure how it is loaded. Just flash the downloaded BIOS file as is? that’s it? Juckveld can you provide link to instructions, even if in different language?

juckveld
Guest
juckveld

@Eu

need : solder station + soldering experience with SMD , pc + flash programer (elnec…) , bios file … , 3,3V to 1,8V converter for flashing

or send me mail to service mele and ask for bios file. or google…

http://blog.warboutdistributie.nl/updaten-bios-mele-pcg03-tbv-auto-power-on/ (not tested this file.)

1. desolder 8pin 25qfw64 chip
2. erase a flash new bios.bin (or buy new blank chip on aliexpress)
3. solder chip back.

bios will start work…system win8 will need reinstall