Minnowboard:MinnowMaxDistros

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Revision as of 15:57, 28 May 2014 by Max E Work (talk | contribs) (Minor clarifications)
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Setting up Linux for the Minnowboard Max

The general proces is quite similar to setting up Linux on any other computer. You make a bootable installer USB flash drive for your distro of choice, plug in the storage volume you want to install to (i.e. a larger SATA or USB HDD, MicroSD card, etc.,) and then install to that drive. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

When installing to a MicroSD card, be aware that these cards are frequently quite slow and may result in poor performance if you install an operating system to them. Also, at least some distros will need some tweaks to their initial RAM disks in order to boot from SDHC cards.

When installing to a USB storage device, you may be unable to boot your installer USB with your installation target connected at the same time-- you might have to wait until after the installer USB is completely booted before plugging in your installation target. Also, after the installation is complete, you will have to adjust the GRUB configuration of your new installation to allow it to boot without the installer USB present.

Linux Mint 16 "Petra" 64-bit

It is recommended that you use the MATE or XFCE edition of Linux Mint. MATE has been tested and found to be very responsive and snappy on the hardware, and XFCE should be just as good. Cinnamon or KDE may be too demanding.

To create a bootable USB installer drive for Linux Mint, you can use the Universal USB Installer from pendrivelinux.com. A "direct write" method may work as well, but this is as yet untested.

Booting from the installer flash drive

If you get an EFI shell, the following commands should get the installer booting:

   fs0:
   EFI\BOOT\grubx64.efi

However, depending on the boot order setup of your Minnowboard Max, you may not get an EFI shell at all.

If you're installing Mint to a USB flash drive or USB HDD

You should wait to plug in your installation target drive until after the Linux Mint live environment has finished booting.

If you're installing Mint to a MicroSD Card

Not tried yet.

If you're installing Mint to a SATA drive

Not tried yet.

Install Process

This will be very similar to a normal Linux Mint install process. Just be sure to select the correct storage volume to install to. Select the options to wipe whatever's on that volume already and repartition it automatically. The installer will create a small FAT EFI partition, a large EXT4 root partition, and then a small swap partition. This is all fine.

If you're installing Mint to a USB flash drive or USB HDD

The GRUB configuration is going to need some adjustments to make your target disk boot without the installer disk present.

After finishing the installer, shut down the MinnowMax, and start it back up again with only the target disk plugged in. You will need to get to the bootloader menu and hit "e" to edit the first entry. Change all mentions of hd1,gpt2 to hd0,gpt2 and all mentions of ahci1,gpt2 to ahci0,gpt2. Then hit F10 to boot your Linux Mint installation for the first time. If you get an EFI shell, see #Booting from your Linux Mint Installation for instructions on getting to a bootloader menu.

Once you've finished booting and have logged in, launch a terminal and run the following command to regenerate your GRUB configuration:

   sudo update-grub

You will no longer have to manually edit the bootloader entry every time you boot Linux Mint. Be sure no bootable storage volumes besides your Mint installation are plugged in when you do this.

If you're installing Mint to a MicroSD Card

Not tried yet.

If you're installing Mint to a SATA drive

Not tried yet.

Final Steps

It is highly recommended that you upgrade to a new kernel (3.14 or newer) after your installation is complete. This fixes a number of things, including HDMI sound output (this has been tested and confirmed to work after the kernel update.) You may have to compile it yourself. Find Linux Mint's standard kernel configuration under /boot, copy it to .config in your Linux 3.14 source tree, run "make oldconfig" to update the configuration to match the newer kernel, and then compile the kernel as normal. If you have another Linux computer with which to do the actual compilation of the kernel, that would likely be faster than compiling it on the Minowboard MAX. Then you can copy the kernel source tree over to your Max and run the installation part. (TODO: find a PPA or something with newer kernels in it so people don't have to compile them.)

Booting from your Linux Mint Installation

If you're installing Mint to a USB flash drive or USB HDD

The Linux Mint installer does not seem to automatically change the boot order setup of the Minnowboard MAX, so you may get an EFI shell when you boot. To get to the Linux Mint bootloader, you may have to run the following EFI commands at boot time:

   fs0:
   EFI\ubuntu\grubx64.efi

If you want to adjust your boot order manually, you can run the following EFI command:

   exit

This will drop you to a legacy BIOS configuration screen where you can do a number of things, including tweak your boot order. Once this is done, the EFI commands listed above should be unnecessary. (TODO: write up what actual steps are involved.)

Fedora 20 x86-64

To create a bootable USB installer drive for Fedora, instead of using a 3rd-party tool like Unetbootin, you should be using one of the direct write methods listed here: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/How_to_create_and_use_Live_USB#quickstarts

Booting from the installer flash drive

If you get an EFI shell, the following commands should get the installer booting:

   fs0:
   EFI\BOOT\grubx64.efi

However, depending on the boot order setup of your Minnowboard Max, you may not get an EFI shell at all.

If you're installing Fedora to a USB flash drive or USB HDD

You should wait to plug in your installation target drive until after the Fedora live environment has finished booting.

If you're installing Fedora to a MicroSD Card

Unlike if you are installing to USB drive, you should be able to boot from the installer USB with an SD card already in the Minnowboard MAX. If the MicroSD card already has an OS on it that you want to replace, you may have to wait until the Fedora live environment has finished booting before plugging it in, or change your boot order in the Minnowboard Max's legacy BIOS menu.

If you're installing Fedora to a SATA drive

You should have the drive plugged in before you power on the Minnowboard Max. If the SATA drive card already has an OS on it that you want to replace, you may have to change your boot order in the Minnowboard Max's legacy BIOS menu.

Install Process

This will be very similar to a normal Fedora install process. The one thing that might be a little different is that you must be sure to select the correct drive to install to on the "installation destination" screen. You may have to use the "reclaim space" tool to delete any existing partitions on your target drive. Once you've cleaned out the target drive of its existing partitions, you should just let the Fedora installer repartition the drive automatically if you possibly can.

Installing to Very Small Disks

If the disk you're installing to is 4 gigabytes or less, you may need to create the partition table manually. You should use the "create mountpoint automatically" button from within the manual partitioning tool, then adjust the partition table manually. You can avoid creating a separate /boot partition, which is the default behavior, and just make the root partition bigger instead. You'll also have to change the root partition type from "LVM" to "Standard Partition," as EFI systems cannot boot directly from LVM partitions. This should stop the Fedora installer from complaining about insufficient space. (You still need a separate /boot/efi partition, so don't get rid of that.) However, you should really get a bigger disk instead.

Otherwise, you can proceed with the Fedora installation as normal.

If you're installing Fedora to a USB flash drive or USB HDD

The GRUB configuration is going to need some adjustments to make your target disk boot without the installer disk present.

After finishing the installer, shut down the MinnowMax, and start it back up again with only the target disk plugged in. You will need to get to the bootloader menu and hit "e" to edit the first entry. Change all mentions of hd1,gpt2 to hd0,gpt2 and all mentions of ahci1,gpt2 to ahci0,gpt2. Then hit F10 to boot your Fedora installation for the first time.

Once you've finished booting and have logged in, launch a terminal and run the following command to regenerate your GRUB configuration:

   sudo grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/efi/EFI/fedora/grub.cfg

You will no longer have to manually edit the bootloader entry every time you boot Fedora. Be sure no other bootable storage volumes besides your Fedora installation are plugged in when you do this, otherwise you may get extraneous bootloader menu entries.

If you're installing Fedora to a MicroSD Card

The GRUB configuration should be fine, but the default initial ramdisk (INITRD) does not yet include drivers necessary for the kernel to boot from the MicroSD card.

After finishing the installer, leave the live environment running for a while. You should be able to find the SD card mounted in /run/media/liveuser. The precise name of the mountpoint will depend on the SD card's UUID and will vary. You will want to chroot into the Fedora installation you just made, change the configuration of your INITRD, and then regenerate your INITRD with your new configuration. Run the following commands in a terminal:

   sudo mount --bind /proc /run/media/liveuser/<uuid>/proc
   sudo mount --bind /dev /run/media/liveuser/<uuid>/dev
   sudo mount --bind /sys /run/media/liveuser/<uuid>/sys
   sudo chroot /run/media/liveuser/<uuid> /bin/bash
   echo 'add_drivers+="mmc_block sdhci sdhci-pci"' >> /etc/dracut.conf
   dracut --force --kver 3.11.10-301.fc20.x86_64
   exit 
   sudo sync

These instructions are based on these pages:

You may need to adjust the dracut line based on what kernel version your Fedora installer was built with.

At this point, you should be able to shut down the MinnowMax, and start it back up again with only the MicroSD card plugged in. Fedora should boot without incident.

If you're installing Fedora to a SATA Drive

Because the SATA ports get scanned before the USB ports, your SATA drive should have been detected before the installer USB, so the GRUB setup on your new Fedora installation is already correct. Your installation is complete.

Final Steps

It is highly recommended that you upgrade to a new kernel (3.14 or newer) after your installation is complete. This fixes a number of things, including HDMI sound output (was not tested on Fedora.) Linux 3.14 is already available in Fedora's repositories. Just run a normal system update process to install it.

You may also want to install a different desktop than GNOME 3, as gnome-shell is somewhat unresponsive on the Minnowboard MAX.