Ubuntu 18.04 on Beelink Gemini J45 Mini PC (Fix and Review)

When I recently reviewed the Beelink J45 (aka Beelink Gemini J), a mini PC that uses the slightly older Intel Apollo Lake Pentium J4205 processor, whilst Windows 10 Pro ran fine it was unsuitable for Ubuntu because after installation the system became unstable and problems were encountered when running anything that loaded the system. The main issue was that when connected via wired-ethernet performing a command like ‘sudo apt upgrade’ would cause the ethernet to drop after which only a reboot would restore the connection. At the time it, was unclear what the cause was however a solution to the issue was posted by ‘gambetta’ on the Beelink forum. Basically it consists of installing the r8168 module which is the Linux device driver released for RealTek RTL8168B/8111B, RTL8168C/8111C, RTL8168CP/8111CP, RTL8168D/8111D, RTL8168DP/8111DP and RTL8168E/8111E Gigabit Ethernet controllers with PCI-Express interface. To paraphrase the ‘README.Debian’ file, you use ‘r8168-dkms because the in-kernel r8169 does not support your NIC or is not working properly’. So the commands to install this driver are:

You will notice that this includes an ‘apt update’ command that may cause the ethernet to drop so you might need to reboot and re-enter the commands until successful. Alternatively, you can use my “isorespin.sh” script to respin an Ubuntu ISO (e.g. Ubuntu 18.04.3) with the options --boot GRUB-64 --package r8168-dkms and use the resulting ISO to install Ubuntu.

As a reminder here is the performance of the mini PC under Windows when compared with other Intel mini PCs:

Windows Mini PC Benchmarks Comparison
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As usual, I shrunk the Windows partition and created a new partition so I could then install and dual boot Ubuntu using my respun Ubuntu 18.04.3 ISO.

After installation, a brief check showed everything was now working including Ethernet together with WiFi, Bluetooth, and audio. I then ran some basic commands to look at the hardware in more detail:

I next ran my standard Phoronix Test Suite benchmarks and the results can be compared with those from the previous testing on other mini PCs:

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Beelink J45 phoronix benchmarks
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As the full results might be a little confusing because for some tests, higher is better, whereas for others, lower is better, the following bar chart may be easier to understand:

beelink J45 benchmark charts
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I’ve then run ‘sbc-bench’ which is a small set of different CPU performance tests focusing on server performance, ‘glmark2’ from the standard repositories which is a benchmark for OpenGL (ES) 2.0, some real-world timing tests for the compilation, zipping and unzipping of the Linux mainline v5.2 kernel, ‘iozone’ also from the standard repositories which is a filesystem benchmark tool and finally ‘Octane 2’ which is a JavaScript benchmark and was run in Chrome.

Beelink J45 Octane 2.0 Ubuntu
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A summary of the results from each of the above benchmark tests was compared with previously tested mini PCs as follows:

Ubuntu Linux Mini PCs Comparison Table
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The performance is as expected compared to the slightly more powerful Gemini Lake mini PCs.

I also tested Geekbench 4:

AZW Gemini J45 GeekBench 4and ran the UNIGINE Heaven benchmark:

Beelink Gemini J45 Unigine-Heaven Benchmark Ubuntu

For real-world testing, I played videos in Firefox, Chrome and Kodi in Ubuntu. The results were very similar with other mini PCs and the following tables summarise the tests and results for each of web browsing, Kodi in general and Kodi playing specific videos:

Beelink J45 ubuntu web browser Beelink J45 kodi ubuntu Beelink J45 kodi specific

Overall the device performance is as expected in Ubuntu once the RealTek Linux device driver is loaded. Again I’d like to thank Beelink for providing the Gemini J45 for review. It currently retails at around $250 for the tested configuration (8GB RAM, 512GB SSD) on Aliexpress.

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