Installing Ubuntu 17.04 on CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Apollo Lake Laptop

[Update: The instructions below do not work with the newly manufactured models because

  1. CHUWI completely changed the hardware
  2. The company also disabled the Linux option in the BIOS (See comments in this post)

So you may need to use rEFInd boot manager or isorepin.sh script to install Linux (and some drivers may still not work out of the box)

]

Since I’ve completed the review of CHUWI LapBook 14.1 with Windows 10 last week-end, I’ve decided to give it a try with a Linux distribution, and I chose to go with a daily build of Ubuntu 17.04 since we’ve seen Apollo Lake platforms need a recent Linux kernel. While Ubuntu 17.04 will be officially release in April 2017, likely with Linux 4.10, the current (alpha) build comes with Linux 4.9. I had already quickly booted Ubuntu 17.04 on the Laptop from a USB drive flashed using Rufus right after the review, but today I’ve just decided to wipe out Windows 10, and replace it with the Linux distributions and check what works, what does not.

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The first thing you’ll have to do is to press Esc while starting the laptop to enter the BIOS / UEFI “Aptio Setup Utility”, go to the Boot menu, and change from “Windows” to “Linux” for “OS Slelect” (sic.) option.

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If you don’t do that, you’ll only have a cursor on the top left of the display when you boot Linux from the USB flash drive. Save to apply the options, and at next boot your bootable USB flash drive should boot into Ubuntu. If not, press F7 at boot time to access the boot menu shown below.

In my case the flash drive was the first boot device so it started automatically, and after a few seconds, you’ll be asked to try or install Ubuntu.

I’d recommend to just try the first time, and if you can login and connect to WiFi, you can do the actual installation, which I did, and after a few second I got to the graphical installation program asking me to select the language.

So I carried on, connecting to my wireless access point in the process, and selecting US keyboard. I also checked “Download updates while installing Ubuntu” and “Install third-party software…”

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I was stuck in the installation in the next screen “Installation Type”, after after selecting Erase disk and install Ubuntu, the Install Now button was grayed out. I tried to select other option, but no luck the button was still unusable.

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I went back a few times, and I tried again, and after several attempt, I could finally click on Install Now.

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At this stage it warns me it will destroy all data on selected partitions, meaning here that it will completely wipe out Windows 10, and I have not yet a recovery method. I have asked CHUWI for a recovery firmware image or Windows 10 drivers, but I have yet to get an answer. Nevertheless I clicked on Continue, and the installation proceeded.

Then remove the USB flash drive, rebooted the laptop, and within half a minute or so, I could browse the web and watching YouTube videos in Ubuntu immediately.

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Details app still shows “Ubuntu 16.10”, but checking parameters in the command line shows it’s definitely Ubuntu 17.04:


All specifications are correctly detected with an Intel Celeron N3450 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC flash. I also tested all hardware ports and features to check which drivers may be missing.

FeaturesResults
DisplayOK
KeyboardOK
MousepadOK
WiFiOK
BluetoothPairing with phone OK, file transfer failed
USB 2.0 portOK
USB 3.0 portOK
micro SD slotOK
Headphone jackOK
SpeakersOK
MicrophoneOK
WebcamOK
mini HDMIOK

So everything works, except Bluetooth which can pair with my phone, but I could not transfer files in any direction. So the driver might be OK, with some other issues in Ubuntu? If you’ve read the Windows 10 review you know that I had three USB flash drive, and only one would work in both USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports. In Ubuntu, I still have one that is not recognized at all (and nothing in dmesg), so I guess it might be a contact issue, but the other two work with both USB ports. When I connected the mini HDMI port to my TV, the laptop switches automatically to extended desktop mode.

There may be some issues that I missed, but so far CHUWI LapBook 14.1 looks like a perfectly usable $250 Ubuntu laptop if you use a distribution with a recent Linux kernel. If you are interested you can pre-order it on GearBest or Banggood.

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AlexN
AlexN
3 years ago

Interesting. I was eager to see if regular laptops with Apollo Lake are Linux friendly or not.

AlexN
AlexN
3 years ago

Could you check battery duration on linux?

dx
dx
3 years ago

I think it’s the “3rd party software” option that greys out the install button.

AlexN
AlexN
3 years ago

It will be more than enough your estimated regular-use time. I not asking any benchmark, just your “for several days I was working with Linux on it, just on battery, and it lasted X hours”.

Thanks

@lex
@lex
3 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) I just got this device http://www.geekbuying.com/item/Package-A-Teclast-TBook11-10-6–Duanl-Boot-4GB-64GB-2in1-Tablet-370280.html but unfortunately i was presented to the infamous blue screen of death when trying to activate Windows 10. I tried to do a factory reset and got stuck on “resetting …10%” for 36 hrs, decided to turn off the device and now windows partition is bricked. For instance would you have instructions on how to restore Windows 10 on this device and how to install Linux (Bios is different in this device, seems to be a litle tricky)? I am waiting for Geekbuying support but until now they remain quiet, if… Read more »

Carlos
Carlos
3 years ago

Hi, I bought the Chuwi LapBook 14.1 and hoped I could install Ubuntu on it like you did. I got excited when I saw your post, since it seemed fairly simple, but to my surprise I cannot find the “OS select” option in my UEFI. Is it possible that our devices are not the same? Maybe the UEFI versión? Did you unlocked something else? 🙁
Thanks for this excellent work!!

Carlos
Carlos
3 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) I did nothing special, just bought it on GearBest (http://www.gearbest.com/laptops/pp_602696.html). Is the same model, right? I see your model is CWI533, I’ll have to check mine. There was another flash sale for the chinese new year and received it three days ago. I’ll check the specs for the motherboard, though I think it should be the same since all the other specs are the same. The only thing I find different is that very option in the UEFI (OS Slelect). I’lll check the version too. Shame, cause I already got my hopes up on having Linux and… Read more »

Carlos
Carlos
3 years ago


So I thought. That would be great, since the official forum is very disappointing… I hope you can get it. I really appreciate that.
Thank you very much!!

@lex
@lex
3 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) It is a pity i bought other device before you post this nice article about CHUWI. Better spend $50 plus and get it right. Before i go to the linux route i need to make sure i can get back to default Android+Windows10 if something goes wrong. BTW here is Geekbuying support answer:”As this problem, Pls call Microsoft for it to activate.”. Nice, calling Microsoft with a half bricked device will really make sense. I went to TECLAST to download the files, but you know it is impossible to download 10GB from baidu outside great wall, would… Read more »

@lex
@lex
3 years ago


Nice, will try, Thank you!

Carlos
Carlos
3 years ago


Great!!
I already commented in this post, but do you know what the flash procedure should be? Yesterday I finally could confirm that mi device is just the same as yours, with the only difference of the BIOS/UEFI version (mine .011, yours .012), so I’m pretty confident.
Thank you very much!!

Carlos
Carlos
3 years ago


Correct me if I’m wrong, but… would it be enough to put the uncompressed content of the “LapBook 14.1 BIOS 20161230” folder (inside the zip) on the root of a usb key formatted in FAT32 and just let it run automatically (Startup.nsh) on system startup? Could you confirm that?
Many Thanks!!!

Carlos
Carlos
3 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) Finally I’ve done it. It was as simple as I thought. Put the files in a FAT32 formatted usb key and restart the laptop. You still can skip flashing during boot pressing some key, but if you don’t “startup.nsh” will flash automatically. Now I have this option in my UEFI and finally could test that Linux runs ok. So far I have tried Xubuntu and Linux Mint, both working ok right out of the box. I think the option “OS Select” must be some kind of Secure Boot toggle, because in “Windows” mode I cannot run Linux,… Read more »

Bartek
Bartek
3 years ago

Hi, thank you for the info, I am interested in this laptop, but I need Linux and it is quite hard to find info about Linux on those Chinese PCs.

About the battery life, could you just charge it to 100% and simply play any long YouTube video to measure battery life? And maybe another test with opened web browser and nothing else?

Thank you in advance!

Carlos
Carlos
3 years ago


I don’t remember right now. I think it should be 4.4, since Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu LTS.

Bartek
Bartek
3 years ago


Thanks for the fast reply, now the most interesting question is: how does it look like compared to Windows? If I could ask you for one more thing, could you do the same test on Windows (I guess it would be best if you tested it on the same web browser)? (that’s great you have installed it :D) Thanks again

xLer
xLer
3 years ago

I tested a few linux distro on this laptop and all installed well, – ubuntu – antegros xfce – antegros kde – manjaro kde I am an arch linux user, I’d recommend using manjaro kde as it is very integrated, use the dev edition of manjaro to install (current stable installer has issues with installing on 7th gen) then simply donwgrade to stable release. I’ve only tested battery life on antegros and manjaro KDE, seems to be about 6 hrs on normal usage (some coding on intellij, some websites being loaded on chrome) that is only achieved after tweaking laptop… Read more »

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

I habe 2 questions:

Dies this Laptop whine in any way (Coil whine)?

Does it use pwm to control the backlight? Easiest way to check that ist to take your smarthone and Film the display whilr you decrease the brightness. If it starts to flicker even slightly then you know it uses pwm.

I’m really surprised how well this thing deals with Linux! Thanks for the review!

Greetings Form germany and my Android autocorrect 🙂

Scott
Scott
3 years ago

Has anyone given Fedora ago? https://spins.fedoraproject.org/en/lxde/ ??

Jimmy
Jimmy
3 years ago

How about two finger scrolling on TouchPad?
Does this work?

Joko
Joko
3 years ago

Well it work on Windows XP??

Tomas
Tomas
3 years ago

Have anyone had a problem with loading eMMC during linux boot?
I have tried Ubuntu 17.04 and 16.04.2

That’s dmesg copy about this error:
https://pastebin.com/qv4jG1HX

I’m unable to lookup /dev/mmcblk1* because of Input/Output Error.

Lapbook works nice under Windows 10 so eMMC itself works.

Volouch
Volouch
3 years ago

thanks for the instruction on how to set up Ubuntu. 🙂
I was planning the same, however Ubuntu is not recognizing the emmc. (just read that this is also mentioned here: http://forum.chuwi.com/thread-3794-1-1.html)
Is there no way to get Linux on the emmc?

What would be the best other solution that is not too costly and still provides performance? Getting a compact USB3.0 stick, buying a M.2 ssd or buying a fast micro sd card? Any help is appreciated.

Volouch
Volouch
3 years ago

Tomas :
Have anyone had a problem with loading eMMC during linux boot?
I have tried Ubuntu 17.04 and 16.04.2
That’s dmesg copy about this error:
https://pastebin.com/qv4jG1HX
I’m unable to lookup /dev/mmcblk1* because of Input/Output Error.
Lapbook works nice under Windows 10 so eMMC itself works.

Thats the same problem i have i guess. I tried reinstalling everything and used Ubuntu 17.04. Still no chance of installing Linux to the emmc. Windows 10 itself works.

Volouch
Volouch
3 years ago

@Volouch
I tried it with ubuntu 17.04, it did not work. Then I and even installed the newest unstable kernel, no change. Also using the isorespin.sh on my iso and trying to install it with this iso didnt bring a change.
Any more ideas on that, otherwise I will have to send my lapbook back 🙁 I really dont feel like using windows on that or spending another 60$ for a M.2

Volouch
Volouch
3 years ago


I tried Ubuntu 16.04 and also 17.10, which is both based on Linux 4.10. As far as I understood you got it to work with Ubuntu 17.04. Just to make sure, you were able to install it on the emmc directly or did you put in an additional M.2 ssd?

sasha
sasha
3 years ago

@Jimmy Two finger scrolling works. Also palm swipe for window switching works (most of the time), double tap for the right click works, tap and hold for resize / move work, swipes in chrome for zoom in/out work too… Thee are really no functionality issues for the touchpad other then that i accidentally touch it while typing. For now i resolved it by adding keyboard shortcut to this script: [email protected]:~$ cat /usr/local/bin/touchtoggle.sh #!/bin/sh TDEV=xinput --list |grep HAILUCK |grep pointer |cut -f 2 |cut -f 2 -d = TSTATE=xinput --list-props $TDEV |grep 'Device Enabled' | cut -f 3 if [ $TSTATE… Read more »

Onyx
Onyx
2 years ago

Its this laptop work in windows 7 ?

michael
michael
2 years ago

The new LapBook Air is very good, do you have contact with Chuwi to have it and check linux compatibility ?

Jorge Martin Muñoz
Jorge Martin Muñoz
2 years ago

What “inexpensive” laptop like this do you suggest to buy for a full Ubuntu installation? Thanks

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