As I mentioned on twitter a few times I got my hands on a cheap Windows 10 tablet by Vonino. I previously had a Vonino Tablet running Android and it really did pack a good bang for it’s buck giving me a 1080p screen, 3G connection and HDMI output. When I saw that the iMart QSL tablet was a fully (debatable) x86 tablet with HDMI out, 4G and a full USB Port I just had to get it. It’s a cheap tablet though (round 200$/€) and you can see that in the build quality (the back almost seems 3D printed with a cheap printer) and the screen isn’t quite so good. However it’s windows 10 performance was pretty decent (used it to play/test/develop a few Unity 3D games I have on the backburner and they were flawless). So I naturally decided to scrap windows 10, throw out the warranty and install Ubuntu on it because I REALLY HATE NICE THINGS!
- Backup your Windows Install and mark down your Windows 8/8.1/10 serial code! I didn’t so short of buying a new license, I have no way to install Win10 again! Clever me…
- Get a 8gb+ usb to burn Ubuntu on it
- Have a usb hub ready to plug in! You will need a mouse and keyboard to plug in, besides the usb stick with the OS on it.
- Optionally but highly recommended, get yourself a wifi adaptor module that works well with Linux! The onboard Wifi card is guaranteed not to work!
- A (virtual)notebook to write down your partitions, kernel versions and what else might be needed
Where ogh were did my install go?
First hurdle – tablet is x86_64 with a 32bit efi loader! Yep… 32bit version of Ubuntu 15.04/10 or 16.04 cannot be installed on a efi32 so I had to use the 64 version together with John Wells’s 32 bootloader (get it here). Long story short Ubuntu was able to boot from my LiveUSB! If only getting the usb to boot was that hard part! Installing it on the other hand? Well, let’s get down to it. Here are some problems I ran into:
- Ubuntu could not write to the flash memory
- Kernel panic’s and freezes after 10-20 minutes
- Ubuntu froze mid install 10 times
- OnBoard wifi didn’t work
- Sound doesn’t work
- Bluetooth is a no-tooth
- Grub doesn’t install
- OS thinks you are running on battery! Does not recognized the device being plugged in
- GRUB DOES NOT FREAKING INSTALL
Still want to attempt to match Ubuntu with your baytrail tablet? Ok, you know what you might run into! So let’s go through the steps:
- Burn ubuntu 15.10 or 16.04 on the USB. I used Unetbootin for this.
- Grab John Well’s 32bit bootloader and place it on the usb under EFI/Boot
- Plug in your usb hub, connect the mouse, keyboard and usb stick to it
- If you have windows 10 install, go into the Recovery Menu (it’s in system settings, above Activation. Can’t remember the exact location and can’t check because I am a dummy™)
- Select Boot from EFI USB
- Wait for the restart to complete!
Now you should be greeted by the default Ubuntu Live(CD/USB) grub with the options to Try before installing, Install it and a few other smuc options. You might want to highlight the option you are interested in and press ‘e’ to add a nomodeset flag instead of quiet splash, just to make sure you won’t get any freezes during the install process.
I recommend formatting the system partitions yourself to avoid any problems. I went with:
- A 200MB efi partition
- A 28000MB ext4 partition mounted at / for the system
- A 2000MB swap area due to my tablet only having 2gb of ram!
Write down the name and location of those partition! You will need to type them in manually after the reboot so you can boot into your newly installed system! Note: At the end of both installations (15.10 and 16.04) the process failed to install GRUB (Fatal Error). While still on the live session go into your main hdd (where the OS was installed) and enter /Boot/. Write down vmlinuz/initrd.img version (initrd.img-4.2.0-16-generic for 15.10). Most of your files should have been copied and prepared before the grub-install error so…. just reboot without unplugging the USB. We will need the LiveUSB’s grub to boot into our installed system! After the reboot, press ‘c’ to access the command line. We will load the OS manually with:
linux (hd1,gpt2)/boot/vmlinuz-4.2.0-16-generic root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 nomodeset
Replaced 4.2.0-16 with your kernel version and root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 with the partition address you wrote down during the install process. If all is well you should be able to log into your newly installed OS!
Now, we have to hunt for drivers, get grub working so we won’t have to carry the liveUSB with us every time, enable touchscreen support, maybe get the audio drivers working and who knows what more! But before we get there, disable the lock screen and screen saver! Last thing you want is to get locked out with no input method while software-updates happen! Play it safe or it’s back to square 1.
Hello Grub we meet again, it's been a while where should we begin?
There are a few ways to go about this! Easy way?
sudo apt-get install grub-efi-ia32“.
The more complex scenario has you cloning the git repository from
“git.savannah.gnu.org/grub.git“, performing an “./autogen“, “./configure” with “–with-platform=efi –target=i386 –program-prefix=”” “, “make“, “sudo ../grub-install -d . –efi-directory /boot/efi/ –target=i386” and finishing up by copying the new bootloader from /boot/efi/EFI/grub to ubuntu/grubx64.efi. Note that I managed to get away with just installing grub-efi-ia32, but according to people like “InfoSoda” and “John Wells” the previous process should work nicely. There’s also a similar method illustrated by “Sturmflut” on his blog.
So, what's next?
Well, here things go off-track depending on your device, experience and knowledge. In my case, Sound, Bluetooth and Touch are not working, even after upgrading my kernel to the latest mainline one (4.5rc6)! On other devices things work out of the box. Mine just lacks the needed drivers. I’ve reached out to Vonino support for some information on the tablet’s hardware but I’m not holding my breath to get anything useful. Then again, who knows! So far, I’m extremely surprised to see that Mobile Broadband is working considering that I couldn’t set it up on Windows 10! Bluetooth is on the must-fix list for me if I am to get any use out of this tablet. Really hate the idea of having the carry a clunky wired keyboard and mouse when I have two beautiful alternatives (Microsoft Bluetooth Designer Mouse and a Logitech K480 bluetooth keyboard)! So my next step is to try and see if I can get bluetooth up and running some how. Else, I might just have to retire the newly acquired tablet for a while and maybe get the BQ Ubuntu tablet that everyone was talking about! Anyway, I’ll update this post with more information if I get any of the remaining issues solved.
Have a great month!