Thursday 4 August 2016

Running the latest Ubuntu on the Intel Compute Stick

UpdateThis work is superseded by my '' script which can respin an official ISO suitable for use on Intel Atom devices.

The Intel Compute Stick has formalised a new standard for computing devices. Plugged into any HDMI TV or monitor and with a keyboard and mouse connected either wirelessly, via Bluetooth or by USB it becomes a fully functional mini PC. While the first ARM SOC 'sticks' that appeared were to facilitate the conversion to a smart TV, the re-purposing as a mini PC was hampered by the restrictive shortfall of lack of HD graphics due to closed source drivers. With Intel SOC 'sticks' and the availability of open-source software, a 'stick' mini PC is finally achievable. And because Intel fully support the Compute Stick with updated drivers and most importantly updated BIOS which are all available as downloads from the Intel website, it is my chosen device for development.

When Intel released their first Compute Stick with Ubuntu, an open-source operating system based on Debian, it was the restrictive hardware specification that impacted the performance needed to run productivity applications, stream media or play games. Trying to install Ubuntu on the more powerful Windows model resulted in the loss of HDMI audio, WiFi and Bluetooth. Fortunately the latest Core M Intel Compute Sticks address all of these issues and perform exceptionally well although they come at a cost.
The challenge now became how to use a lower cost Intel Compute Stick with fully working hardware and Ubuntu or a recognised flavour that uses Ubuntu as its foundation. Because having the option of running a fast but lightweight operating system can take advantage of the lesser hardware specifications.

The difference between Ubuntu flavours is the set of packages included within the release and I've concentrated on the following:
  • Ubuntu uses Unity (a graphical shell for the GNOME desktop environment)
  • Lubuntu uses LXDE (the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment)
  • Xubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment
  • Kubuntu uses KDE's Plasma desktop environment
  • Ubuntu GNOME uses the GNOME desktop environment
  • Ubuntu MATE uses the MATE desktop environment
Officially supported releases are provided as ISO images which are single files that represent an entire CD/DVD of software. An ISO image can be written to a USB to create a 'live' USB drive that containing a full operating system that can be booted or used as installation media.

I've created ISO images specifically to work on the Intel Compute Stick with the latest 16.04.1 release by combining recent patches and source code and ported them with Canonical's kernel source to fully support HDMI audio, WiFi and Bluetooth. I've also included the latest patches that try to reduce the random freezes that have been known to occur. But because the ISOs include a patched kernel to provide the missing functionality it means no automatic kernel updates from Canonical although other application packages will update as standard. Consequently I've also developed a manual patching process where a script can be downloaded and then executed to update the kernel to match those provided by Canonical.

All ISOs work on all of the Intel Compute Stick models including the Core M models which are supported for the sake of completeness. Lubuntu being a lightweight Ubuntu is highly suitable for the minimalist STCK1A8LFC model especially as I've configured it to use ZRAM both in the ISO and once installed. I've also configured them all to both run and install using either a 32-bit or 64-bit bootloader to provide the ability to easily dual-boot without needing to modify the BIOS. The BIOS settings can be accessed by powering-on the Intel Compute Stick and pressing the 'F2' option. On the Atom models in the 'Configuration' page the 'Select Operating System' option can be toggled between 'Ubuntu 64-bit'/'Windows 64-bit' and 'Windows 32-bit'. Finally each ISO can be written to a USB using either 'Rufus' in Windows or 'dd' in Linux. The USB can then be used to boot from by pressing the 'F10' option immediately after powering-on the device. For installation to the device's internal storage simply run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions.

Some cautionary advice: The initial menu screen takes slightly longer to appear than with the official ISOs. Depending on the speed of the USB drive used it can be anything from fifteen to forty-five seconds before anything appears on the screen. After installing with a 32-bit bootloader booting sometimes results just in a blank/coloured (e.g. purple) screen. To prevent this and to ensure a successful boot it is best go through the BIOS using the F10 option followed by selecting the Ubuntu option. If dual booting on the latest Atom models (STK1A32SC and STK1AW32SC) I recommend installing/re-installing 64-bit Windows to circumvent this issue. Also the ISOs only work on Intel Compute Sticks but they can be used with any model (STCK1A8LFC, STCK1A32WFC, STK1AW32SC, STK1A32SC, STK2M3W64CC, STK2M364CC and STK2MV64CC). Occasionally the Baytrail systems (STCK1A8LFC and STCK1A32WFC) have been observed to sometimes hang or freeze randomly. Further details are posted below.

To try an ISO download it from one of the links (in red) below and write it to a USB using either 'Rufus' in Windows or 'dd' in Linux.

Ubuntu comes with everything. All the essential applications, like an office suite, browsers, email and media apps come pre-installed and thousands more games and applications are available in the Ubuntu Software Centre.

Lubuntu is a fast, energy saving and lightweight variant of Ubuntu using LXDE. It is popular with PC and laptop users running on low-spec hardware.

Xubuntu is an elegant and easy to use operating system. Xubuntu comes with Xfce, which is a stable, light and configurable desktop environment.

Kubuntu offers the KDE Plasma Workspace experience, a good-looking system for home and office use.

Ubuntu GNOME
Ubuntu GNOME uses GNOME Shell along with a plethora of applications from the GNOME Desktop Environment.

Ubuntu MATE
Ubuntu MATE expresses the simplicity of a classic desktop environment. MATE is the continuation of the GNOME 2 desktop which was Ubuntu's default desktop.

To upgrade the kernel to match a version released for Ubuntu 16.04 first download the upgrade script, make it is executable (use 'chmod 755 <script>') and then run as 'root' ('./<script>'). Once the script has finished executing the device will need to be rebooted to use the updated (patched) kernel.




4.4.0-38-57 (Update: current latest Xenial)

One issue that has been reported with Linux kernel versions newer than 3.16 on Baytrail processors (i.e. not specific to just on the Intel Compute Stick or with the Z3735F SOC) is a random freeze where the whole system hangs. Unfortunately no complete fix currently exists however if you encounter freezes an accepted workaround is to limit the processor (CPU) to a certain power state, or 'C-state', if such freezes are encountered.

I incorporate this solution along with disabling IPv6 system wide (which may or may not of use) through editing the boot options on STCK1A8LFC and STCK1A32WFC devices.

Open a terminal session and enter the following command (on a single line):

sudo sed -i 's/\(GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=\)""/\1"ipv6.disable=1 intel_idle.max_cstate=1"/' /etc/default/grub

To implement the change enter:

sudo update-grub

and then reboot the system by entering:

sudo reboot

The above change only needs to be made once, typically following installation to eMMC storage.

I've also compiled the latest stable 4.7.x kernel with configs based on Ubuntu and provide as an update script for anyone who wants a bleeding edge kernel:


Note that this kernel does not include the HDMI audio and C-state patches as they need further work on porting.

Update: The latest stable 4.7.2 (Edit: 4.8.0) Ubuntu kernel for Intel Compute Cherry Trail Sticks (STK1AW32SC/STK1A32SC) now supports micro SD cards albeit with limitations (see

I've patched the 4.7.2 Ubuntu kernel to make it work on Intel Compute Sticks and the update script is available from:

4.7.2-040702 (current latest Stable)

And this kernel does include the HDMI audio.

Alternatively for anyone who wants to do additional testing my latest WIP v4.8-rc3 mainline build for Intel Compute Sticks is available from:

4.8-rc3 (Mainline)

Ignore the missing firmware issue (see

Finally Lubuntu Yakkety Yak Alpha 2 (i.e. 16.10) has just been released:

So I've also created a version suitable for Intel Compute Sticks. It can be downloaded from here and used as LiveUSB or it can be installed.

If you want to upgrade the Yakkety kernel from Alpha 1 to Alpha 2 then use the following script:


Update: Lubuntu 16.10 Beta 1 has now been released for Intel Compute Sticks together with an updated kernel:

4.4.0-9136 (current latest Yakkety 16.10 kernel)

Acknowledgements:  Linux Kernel Organization (, Canonical Ltd. (Ubuntu), Pierre-Louis Bossart (HDMI audio), Linuxium (v4.8 HDMI audio), Daniel Bilik (C-state), Bastien Nocera (WiFi) and Larry Finger (Bluetooth).


Kyle Chase said...

Do you know if it is possible to get the sd card working on devices that support it? I would like to move /home to a micro sd card. Thanks.

chrisamin said...

I would also love to see SD support! I'm happy to help with debugging if necessary, spare time allowing.

chrisamin said...

Looks a bit like this bug:

algarcia said...

I'm currently running your Xubuntu release on my STCK1A8LFC. After a couple of months I'm wondering: You state you made some changes to use ZRAM for the Lubuntu version, is this change also available on the other flavors? Or will I need to install Lubuntu to take advantage of the ZRAM tweak and then install XFCE on top of that?

Also, what would I need to install Windows 7 or 10 on my STCK1A8LFC? I tried running my Windows 7 USB drive and couldn't get it to boot.

ashoka said...

hats off to your effort.
Is there any way to run lubuntu on meegopad T02?

Unknown said...

Installing the Ubuntu ISO on an STK1AW32SC fails when trying to install GRUB. Installing the stock Ubuntu ISO works, but without audio or microsd support (obviously). The Ubuntu installer does not give a meaningful explanation other than "grub failed" and "the installer has failed."

Are there any resources for patching an installed Ubuntu 16.04 to include your changes for the Intel Stick?


Linuxium said...

I'm currently trying to get SD card support to work however I've just 'bricked' my device so development is paused for the time being.

Linuxium said...

Yes, the ZRAM advantages are available across all Ubuntu flavours.

Personally I wouldn't try Windows on the STCK1A8LFC because the hardware doesn't meet the minimum specification requirements.

Linuxium said...

I don't support the Meegopad T02.

Linuxium said...

Which Ubuntu ISO did you try? The 16.04.1 one above from Earlier versions (including 16.04) no longer work which is why I've included the note that those pages refers to earlier work and my latest ISOs can be downloaded here.

Unknown said...

I used the Ubuntu ISO from this page. The install appears to work well (including getting sound during the install), but it fails on GRUB.

Thank you so much for your contributions to this community of users. I can't imagine how much time this must take.

Unknown said...

I've been connected to the internet through wifi. Thanks for your work on this.

Linuxium said...

I've checked with the ISO above and can confirm there is no problem with the installation. The issue you describe now occurs in my earlier 16.04 ISO so I can only recommend you download the latest ISO again (from and try once more.

Ins-ext said...

Hello... I'm trying to install your Lubuntu on my Meegopad T02... I made the usb disk with rufus and with lily usb... in both case, when I choose the usb disk in the boot setup, the screen goes dark and that's it. Nothing happens. What am I doing wrong ? thanks for your help !!

chrisamin said...

Thanks for all your work, I only bought the compute stick because I saw the effort you've been putting in to making it work well with Linux. It's now my primary way of watching TV so that's really great.

I've made a small donation to show my thanks. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help with the SD card issue.

Alberto Segura said...

Same here with meegopad t07. Lubuntu and Ubuntu screen goes dark when i choose install or try ubuntu options.

Ins-ext said...

Ah... easy to know why: linuxium works doesn't support meegopad... I shoud've read more carefully (:

Ulrich said...


first of all i am amazed by the amount of work and help you are providing to this community, it is very impressive.

I have a quick question for anyone; i apologize in advance if it has been answer already or if i sound clueless ( i probably am!!) , i am super new with stick compute and i am working on a proof of concept for work, i ordered AWOW Intel BayTrail T-CR Z3735F, which come loaded with Win10, it nice, but i would need to get Linux running on it. I followed the step and got a UEFI bootable usb stick, get it to the grub menu, select the install and that is pretty much it! :) I am seeing name like Meegopad T02 and other model, which is totally cryptic for me, i was wondering is the one that have would have the same architecture than the non-supported or if i am missing something that i should do. I even try launch from EFI shell same dark screen. here is the spec:
AWOW Intel BayTrail T-CR Z3735F Quad-core 1.83GHz/GPU Mini PC Stick Windows 10 Intel Atom Z3735F 2GB RAM+32GB storage (from amazon), the Bios is Megatrend Aptio, forgot the version with UEFI 2.3 pi 1.2; if that help to direct me into the correct direction. :)

Thank you!


Linuxium said...

Many thanks for the donation. It really helps.

Linuxium said...

There are many very similar looking devices that often sound identical. However there are frequently minor differences which importantly manifest in the BIOS and have significant and direct impact on the ability to run an OS. I've written some 'Buying Tips' (see which would also apply to purchasing Intel Baytrail mini PCs. FYI my ISOs only work on Intel Compute Sticks which are the actual products from Intel and not a generic collective term for Intel based mini PC sticks.

Ulrich said...

Thank you very much for the prompt reply; This is what i thought, it is been a bit of hit and miss with clones, however this confirm what i was thinking; i will reference the list for next purchases.

Thank you for your help!

niu tech said...

How to boot (L)ubuntu from the SD card? It is not visible in the F10 boot menu.

XXX said...

Your EFI is 32 or 64 bit(efi and cpu some where is not the same )? Can you see BOOTIA32.EFI in the bootsupport X:/EFI ?

Linuxium said...

Finally micro SD card support ... see but note the current limitations.

Linuxium said...

@niu tech:'Documenting micro SD card installation' is still on the TODO list.

Unknown said...

Linuxium, firstly thanks for your efforts. I have just bought one of the original Windows devices, and am about to install Lubuntu on it using your instructions. I've just going through the process of backing-up the Windows installation prior to installing Lubuntu, which seems to work fine from your boot images (using DD). It may be worth documenting the backup process in case others wish to do the same. Someone else has already done the hard work, in this thread.

Unknown said...

I just burned Lubuntu to a 2GB SD using Rufus (DD mode, not ISO) and it worked perfectly. Do you have the latest BIOS on your Intel stick? Both menu options shown under F10 looked the same to me (like the internal storage), but I chose the second option and it booted to Lubuntu live.

Linuxium said...

I'm afraid that it will be another item for the 'todo' list. I've some guides and how-tos on both my website and G+ and I've previously documented the backup process (e.g. but admittedly it has become somewhat buried in all the other information.

Linuxium said...

@niu tech: Are these instrustions not detailed enough? Although they were written for use with my earlier 14.04 ISO the concepts still apply except that you wouldn't need the DSDR patch with my 16.04 ISO.

Linuxium said...

#Rod Bacon: Do you mean the UEFI options or the GRUB options? (Hint: Screen is light grey=UEFI purple=GRUB)

Unknown said...

Has anyone else noticed that the 4.4.0-34-1 kernel includes a bug where RTWHALXT (part of the WiFi driver) runs 100% CPU for a long time? I'm going to test one of the newer kernels, and see if it's any better.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your hard work. I'll give it another try!

Unknown said...

I can confirm that this is a problem with the 4.7x kernel too. There seems to be a lot of posts about this out there. I'm wondering if it's a problem in the stick that actually ships with Ubuntu on it from the factory as well?

Unknown said...

Seems like it's a problem on the factory Ubuntu devices too.

Dan said...

Well I tried, and the live version of Ubuntu Mate works fine. I can install it on the main memory of the intel stick (32 gigs), fine. However, after the installation and the system reboots, The grub shows me only the 3 original options, Try Ubuntu, Install Ubuntu, or fix and repair disk. If I remove the usb drive and boot the stick, I get a no bootable device error. Tried a Boot Repair too, and the error says Locked-ESP. Any ideas?

Linuxium said...

The ISOs are for Intel Compute Sticks.

Linuxium said...

I suspect that the NVRAM and ESP are out of sync. This can be easily fixed by the following:

1. Start with the ICS switched off.
2. Connect your LiveCB USB.
3. Power on the ICS and press F10 and boot from the USB.
4. Open a terminal windows and enter:
sudo su -
# if efibootmgr isn't already installed:
apt-get install efibootmgr
5. Remove any boot entries that may have been created through the earlier install or attempts to get things working by entering:
for BOOTENTRY in 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
efibootmgr -b ${BOOTENTRY} -B
6. Create an Ubuntu boot entry by entering:
efibootmgr -c -d /dev/mmcblk0 -p 1 -l \\EFI\\ubuntu\\grubx64.efi -L Ubuntu
7. Reboot and press F10 and boot from the newly created Ubuntu entry.
8. Repeat from step 1 if it fails.
9. Remove USB and reboot.

Note: If you have a dual boot installation then the ESP patition may be #2 so modify the '-p 1' in the command above to '-p 2' or to whatever the ESP partition is. This then allows for booting Windows through GRUB.

Unknown said...

If I am looking to install your Xubuntu iso on my STCK1A32WFC; which kernel script do you recommend?
Would you still recommend disabling ipv6 if not needed?

Thank you for your work!


Hi linuxium, I've installed your perfect work using 4.4.0-36-55 script, but my mini pc was set to "Secure Boot" by default, which can't be disabled in BIOS(the BIOS of my mini pc is too simple to set), sou the linuxium kernel can't boot up because of no signed. the official ubuntu apt source has linux-signed-image.*deb make my mini pc boot, but no wifi, no sound.

so how do sign the kernel you patched?
Thank you very much.


And I've download your ISO, Ubuntu & Lubuntu, to make a startup USB to boot up my mini pc, then I got the grub interface, selected "try ubuntu" (another time selected "install ubunt"), then got black screen, nothing continue.

I think it is due to no signed kernel, is it right? and how to fix it?

Unknown said...

Great job, Thanks! I installed Lubuntu 16.04 from sdcard erasing disk (who needs recovery when there is sdcard boot?)

Question, does that 4.7.2 kernel work on the ICS 8 or is it only for the ICS 32 only?

Thanks again!

Linuxium said...

I'd recommend you install my Xubuntu ISO and then upgrade the kernel to the latest version using 4.4.0-36-55 (or annotated with 'Update: current latest Xenial'). And if you get system freezes you can add 'intel_idle.max_cstate=1'. I only disable IPV6 because I use static IPV4 addresses so the choice is yours.

Linuxium said...

Are you using an Intel Compute Stick?

Linuxium said...

My ISOs only work on Intel Compute Sticks.

Linuxium said...

All my kernels work on all Intel Compute Stick models with either 32-bit or 64-bit bootloader.

Unknown said...

Ok thanks, I have the 8 gb... :-/ I'll stick to stock kernel for now... Lubuntu 16.04 iso works very nice. Is it more lightweight than the Xubuntu? I get 1.2 GB free of 5.5 GB after installing Kodi, Spotify, Chrome, LibreOffice, TeamViewer, ssh, VLC, rdpx, ProjectM + 250+ .milk files. Not bad! Wonder if Xubuntu will give me that much space after installing software... Which one takes up more space after installing?

Linuxium said...

Lubuntu is probably best given your device also only has 1GB RAM.

Unknown said...

Ok, thanks!

Unknown said...

Leave the man alone, he's doing a great job, if you want the source, download it, he even provided the links to the patches. What else do you need? The compile command?

Unknown said...

BTW, Yes, you are right, he does have to provide the source code, and in no way I am suggesting to violate the GPL license, but why not contact him privately and ask for it, nobody else wants it. I'm sure he will not have any problem with that.

Unknown said...


I'm seeing the same issue, though not sure what is ICS or LiveCB usb?

can you explain for newbies?

Unknown said...


Im using STCK1A32WFC device, which i've upgraded from BIOS version 25 to 31. Now the install would not work as well...
Fails with the message:
" Unable to find a medium containing a live file system.

Any idea?


Unknown said...

tried again:
using BETA 2 version + bios 31.
installed and worked fine (without wifi to avoid updates).
tried to reboot - nothing.
i've booted from liveCD - used efibootmgr, only 2 entries. made the local disk default. and rebooted.
got the message:
"A bootable device has not been detected".

What can i do now?

(installing openELEC iso would work - though no sound, etc..)
my main purpose is to have lubuntu installed with HDMI sound+wifi and to use KODI/openelec on top.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for enabling ICS owners to upgrade to new distros. I have installed your Lubuntu version. It has improved the performance of my STCK1A8LFC significantly. I am having two issues. I am not able to control my monitor's brightness and I am not able to get sufficient sound volume even after installing Pulse audio and setting to 150%. Are either of these related to your modifications? If so, could you tell what to do?

Linuxium said...

The purpose of these posts is to help those who either don't have the time, resources, knowledge or inclination to compile binaries. As such they are not intended as guides or howtos on building binaries or for those wanting to use devices other than the Intel Compute Sticks. Furthermore there neither has been nor is any intent to breach the kernel GPL.

All source is available on GitHub.

Unfortunately I cannot predict how similarly compiled binaries will work on other hardware so this last patch reduces my workload from having to answer questions about hardware I do not own.

Linuxium said...

Thanks. Can you tell me which ISO you have used so I can also look at it?

Also moving forward, everything on this page has been superseded by so it is best to try one of those ISOs as well.

Linuxium said...

@Lior: What device are you using and which bootloader (32-bit or 64-bit) is set in the BIOS?

Have you tried re-creating the NVRAM bootloader entries (i.e. following all the steps in the instructions above)?

Unknown said...

I am using your Lubuntu 16.04. I have determined that the weak volume is being caused by my computer monitor, which I am using to output sound to my computer speakers. I suppose the way to deal with that is to get a USB DAC. Is there anything that you know of that could prevent quality sound from being output through the ICS's USB port?

I am able to adjust the brightness and contrast of the monitor only when using Kodi.

But I am going to install your Lubuntu 16.10 and will let you know if that solves things.

giantkingsquid said...

Thanks for your work with this. I followed your instructions and Youtbe video and now have a ICS running Lubuntu 16.04.1 with working SD card HDMI audio etc etc. Great job!

The only thing missing (for me anyway) is support for Bluetooth LE. I cannot get my Logitech K830 to pair correctly no matter what I try so I'm assuming it'll need a kernel compiled for it. Assuming the ICS STK1AW32SC supports BTLE that is.

Linuxium said...

I've used a USB audio adapter for sound before on the Cherrytrail STK1AW32SC device and it worked fine (see It could be a relatively cheap alternative option for you to consider.

Linuxium said...

All my 16.04.1 (and 16.10) ISOs support bluetooth although it is well known to be flaky on Baytrail devices even when using official ISOs and builds. I've heard that the latest Yakkety 4.8.0-17.19 kernel seems more stable so one option is to download my kernel upgrade script and see if it helps. You will still be able to boot from a Xenial kernel and you can always purge the Yakkety kernel if you don't want to keep it. Download link (and documentation) is in my latest post at

Unknown said...

Great! That is what I meant. DAC stands for digital to analog converter. Glad it will work.

giantkingsquid said...

I'll give that a try at some point! Thanks again for your efforts!

Unknown said...

Hi, Have anybody experinced the Wi-fi "going to sleep" or loosing its connection? My sticks loose their internet connection after beeing left alone for a while. It looks like the wifi is connected though, but when trying to connect to any webpages the browser just keep trying to connect. My mac is on the same wifi and it has no issues...

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

I have 3 STCK1A8LFC and no issues so far. What stick model do you own?

Unknown said...

why cant u get the IOS files???

Linuxium said...

Because they have been superseded with a better solution.

Unknown said...

Where can I find this better solution? Ive managed to install Ubuntu on my STCK1A32WFC (I know, old, but it's all that's available in this country.), after updating the BIOS. The Wifi is not an issue as we use a dongle anyways, but I have no HDMI audio, and would greatly appreciate any assistance in getting the audio working.

Unknown said...

Nevermind, I think I found what I was looking for.

Linuxium said...

Click on the red '' link at the very top or navigate to '' for the better solution.

Unknown said...

Hi Ian,
Excuse the intrusion, any idea if Puppy Linux (tahr64-6.0.6-uefi) will also work in this?

Linuxium said...

Puppy Linux is not an Ubuntu derived distro so it won't work with my script.

Unknown said...

Hey Ian, thanks for the reply,
I actually mean if Puppy Linux (tahr64-6.0.6-uefi) runs in the Intel Compute Stick.
Is it possible to try it out?
Here is the iso:

Thanks in advance

Linuxium said...

I can certainly put it on my TODO list but it will have a lower priority compared with everything else so don't set your expectations to high for an immediate reply.

Unknown said...

No problem mate, whenever you'll find the time.
Thanks again.

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