May 28, 2017 | 2:21 pm
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[HOWTO] Install Linux on an Ockel Sirius B

I recently picked up one of these Ockel Sirius B pocket computers.  It comes with Windows 10 Home by default, but you probably know my stance on Windows 10 by now.  First logical stop is to install Linux on it and turn it into a useful PC.

This isn’t for the faint of heart and will require some previous linux and firmware updating experience.  I will give a step by step but there exists a very real possibility that you will render your Sirius B unusable.

First, some files are needed:
Sirius B Linux Bios
Ubuntu WiFi Drivers

You’ll also need to download an ISO of your favorite linux distro.  I’m using Ubuntu Mate for this guide, but any recent debian based distro should work with these instructions.  If you want to use something else, like Arch, or Redhat, you may need to take extra steps to get it to work but I won’t cover them here.

Create yourself a USB flash drive to install Ubuntu from.  On a windows PC, something like Rufus would work good for this.  Under linux, you should be able to dd the iso over to the usb stick using the following command:

# dd if=[linux.iso] of=/dev/sd[x] bs=1MB

Of course, replace the items in the brackets [] with what applies for your system.  Using dd incorrectly can damage your current system so be careful.  I tend to unplug the usb drive and then plug it back in.  Run dmesg from a terminal window and it will tell you what the sd designator linux has assigned to it.  Also un-mount (not eject) the drive before flashing.

Once the USB drive is created, create a 2 directories called “bios” and “wifi” on the usb stick’s root directory.  Extract the files you downloaded above into their appropriate directories on the USB stick.

Now the Windows 10 that came installed by default on the Sirius B has fast boot turned on.  This crappy feature makes it so when you shut down the PC, it doesn’t actually shut down.  It hibernates instead.  This makes it so when you try to boot off of removable media, it will handily ignore your commands and simply boot straight to windows instead.  This will hinder what we’re trying to do so we need to disable fast boot.

On the Sirius B, boot into Windows and click on the Start menu.  Type “Power Options” and hit enter.  This should open the control panel to the power settings.  The option to disable fast boot is grayed out so you can’t select it.  You’ll need to click on the link at the top of the window that says “Change settings that are currently unavailable”.  Scroll down to Shutdown settings and uncheck “Turn on fast startup”.  Save your changes and shutdown the Sirius B.

Plug in the USB drive to the Sirius and press the power button.  Immediately press F7 to enter the boot menu.  On the menu, select “Built in UEFI shell”.  If you pay attention to the top of the screen, you should see the designation that UEFI has given to your USB drive.  In my case, it was fs3.

The bios that comes on the Sirius B only supports 32 bit Windows 10 as its OS.  We need to change that to a 64 bit, linux friendly bios.

DO NOT REMOVE POWER DURING THIS OPERATION.  Doing so will render your Sirius B unusable.

Perform the following commands to flash the bios:

fs3:
cd bios
dir
fpt.efi -f BIOS-64bit.bin -rewrite

Wait about 5 minutes while if erases the bios, flashes the new bios, and then verifies that the write worked.

Type “exit” when it is completed and you will enter into the new bios automatically.

Head to the boot options menu and change the boot order to boot from USB first.  Save and Exit.  It will immediately boot back into the bios.  This is normal.  Pull the power plug from the Sirius and let it sit for about 10 seconds.  When you plug it back in, you should boot to the USB stick and you’ll get the boot menu for linux.  Either run the install from this menu, or run the live version to test it out.  Remember, the system runs slower from USB than the internal drive so don’t use this as a reference as far as system speed goes.

Install linux as normal and when it’s finished, you’ll want to reboot and remove the USB drive to stop it from starting the installer again.  At this point, you do not have network connectivity.

Once the reboot is complete, plug your USB drive back in, open a terminal window, and navigate to the wifi directory on the USB stick.

Run the included “install.sh” script to install the wifi driver.  Then you’ll need to reboot again.

Once this final reboot is complete, you should be able to connect to your wireless network.

At this point, I’d suggest doing a “sudo apt update” and “sudo apt upgrade” to bring your distro up to date.

 

That’s it.  Your Ockel Sirius B is not a fully functional Linux PC.

initrd