Wednesday 29 March 2017

Running Ubuntu with an Upstream Kernel on Intel Bay and Cherry Trail Devices

UpdateThis work is superseded by my '' script which can respin an official ISO suitable for use on Intel Atom devices.

In the past Intel Atom based mini PCs with Bay Trail and Cherry Trail SOCs required customized kernels to provide HDMI audio. As of version 4.11 the mainline kernel will include support for HDMI audio on Intel Atom SoCs and early release candidates are already available. The latest mainline kernel also includes a number of other patches including AXP288, I2C and the latest anti-freeze patches. Canonical build upstream kernels based on these release candidates and they have just released 'deb' packages using the first Ubuntu version 4.11 kernel configuration file.

In anticipation that the v4.11 kernel will be included in Ubuntu 17.10 thereby removing the basic need for customized kernels, I am now providing an interim migration path that allows the latest v4.11 Ubuntu kernel build to be used with Ubuntu ISOs.

Using a script that I've developed you can respin an existing Ubuntu ISO so that you can boot it from a device with either a 32-bit bootloader or a 64-bit bootloader and optionally update it with the latest Canonical Ubuntu build of an upstream kernel.

Linux Mint ISOs are now supported using the updated latest version of the script

To respin an existing Ubuntu ISO you will need to use a Linux machine with 'squashfs-tools' and 'xorriso' installed (e.g. 'sudo apt install -y squashfs-tools xorriso') and a working internet connection with at least 10GB of free space. Having downloaded an ISO (for example 'ubuntu-16.04.2-desktop-amd64.iso' simply download my (latest version of the) script and run with the ISO as a parameter (e.g. './ ubuntu-16.04.2-desktop-amd64.iso'). Or to respin and update the kernel include a '-u' or '--update' option (e.g. './ --update ubuntu-16.04.2-desktop-amd64.iso'). Note: if you get the unexpected error 'File must be an Ubuntu ISO ... exiting.' when running the script on a non-Ubuntu platform then make the following one-off update to the script by running the command 'sed -i "49,53d;59d"' which should then enable it to run without issue.

You can respin the latest available ISOs include the recently released 17.04 Beta 2 of any flavour including Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu etc, as well as respinning earlier releases such as 16.04.2 or 14.04.5 for example.

As some wifi/bluetooth driver and userspace files are still required I've provided additional scripts to support RTL8723BS and various Broadcom chipsets as well as the ALSA UCM files for some audio chipsets used for headphones. The scripts can be run whilst using the ISO as a 'LiveCD' to provide wifi connectivity (assuming they have been previously downloaded and are accessed from USB or similar). Once an ISO has been installed the scripts can be run to install the additional functionality.

For the RTL8723BS chipset your first option is to download and run which will build the wifi and bluetooth drivers from source and this requires a working internet connection. Alternatively you can download and run (see Update: below for the latest version) which installs prebuilt binaries from the same source but does not require the internet. This second script only works for the Ubuntu built upstream kernel defined by the script name.

For Broadcom chipsets you can download and run which should get wifi and bluetooth working for most of the popular Broadcom chipsets (as I don't have the devices to do extensive testing unfortunately). If you run this script with an internet connection it will also update the Broadcom firmware with the latest upstream firmware from Google's ChromiumOS which may help for other Broadcom based devices.

Note that in both cases the bluetooth service requires 'systemd' (as used by 17.04 and 16.04) so earlier Ubuntu versions will need a manual configuration to run the service.

Finally for updating the UCM files where you have a headphone jack you will need an internet connection before downloading and running which provides audio for devices with the 5640 and 5640 chipsets.

A new kernel release candidate is released each week prior to the final version and you can go to;O=D to check the latest version which will be displayed first.

If you want to respin ISOs with a release candidate later than 'rc4' simply edit '' and change the first couple of lines
to match the required version.

Mainline kernel v4.11-rc5 includes a new patch for the RTL8723BS wifi driver that improves speed and reliability. So I've uploaded an updated version of my script preconfigured for v4.11-rc5 together with a new script which installs the prebuilt wifi and bluetooth binaries compiled for v4.11-rc5. This version of the script now additionally supports Linux Mint ISOs.

Finally if you find my work useful then please donate using the following link as everything helps with development costs.

Monday 6 March 2017

Comparing Ubuntu Flavours Popularity

Ever since I've provided Ubuntu ISOs I've always been interested in knowing what gets downloaded the most verses the least in order to focus my work on where the interest is. Unfortunately because Google Drive doesn't offer file specific download statistics as a workaround I started using Google URL Shortener for each ISO's download link as it provides a counter.

Using the counter for each ISO I created the following table showing each Ubuntu flavour as a percentage of the total downloads for recent releases:

Initially I thought the results might be slightly skewed as Ubuntu has always been provided first before the other flavours. However as the total number of downloads is large for both releases I don't think this has caused any statistical anomaly.

I'm currently using these counter statistics to decide the priority for uploading new releases. So if you were wondering what happened to the 16.04.2 Kubuntu ISO now you know.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Ubuntu 16.04.2 and Ubuntu 17.04 Beta 1 plus flavours

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

Please note my blog is intended to be the 'dynamic' update content partner to my 'static' core content pages on my website. This particular post relates to my page where I've created some Ubuntu ISOs whose purpose is to better support Intel Atom based devices. 

As Canonical just released Ubuntu 16.04.2 with the rolling Hardware Enablement (HWE) kernels which aim to provide support for the latest hardware I've decided to provide a single kernel which is effectively a HWE 'edge' kernel specifically patched for Intel Atom SoCs in my ISOs to simplify kernel management and create a forward path for future migration to mainline kernels.

My kernel is based on Canonical's next 'zesty' kernel which is rebased to v4.10 and also available in 'xenial' as hwe-edge. Whilst v4.10 is the latest mainline kernel to be released the merge window for v4.11 now includes the revised HDMI LPE Audio Support patch set together with the AXP288 power supply patch set for Intel Atom SoCs. Because v4.11 will be released in a couple of months with the patches being included in Ubuntu hopefully by 17.10 I've added these latest patches from the merge window to my kernel. Besides the HDMI LPE patches from Pierre-Louis Bossart, Jerome Anand & Takashi Iwai and Hans de Goede's AXP288 patches I've also added Hans de Goede's PWM, I2C, CX2702X audio support, Silead touchscreen support and ASUS tablet function key support patches. Also included is Mika Kuoppalad's new anti-freeze patch, Pierre-Louis Bossart's PMC Platform Clock and Codecs patches, Ville Syrjälä atomic update fix, Bastien Nocera's wifi patch, Laszlo-Fiat's bluetooth patch, Jonas Aaberg's bluetooth patch for the ASUS 100HA together with my bluetooth support which is based on a script from Larry Finger. The kernel source is available on my github.

At this stage I'm providing ten ISOs: 16.04.2 releases of Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu GNOME and Kubuntu all with kernel Ubuntu-lts-4.10.0-10.12~16.04.2 together with Ubuntu 17.04 pseudo Beta 1 and 17.04 Beta 1 releases of Lubuntu, Xubuntu and Ubuntu Budgie all with kernel Ubuntu-4.10.0-10.12. Technically the two kernels are the same with the 'xenial' LTS kernel being a backport of the 'zesty' kernel. Note that the Ubuntu 17.04 Beta 1 is a pseudo release because there is no official Beta 1 release so I have used the daily release provided the same day the official Beta 1 flavours were released. I've also included Ubuntu Budgie as it is now an official Ubuntu flavour and I thought there may be some interest. Further flavours will be added later although I am no longer going to provided updated 16.10 releases due to resource constraints. I am also providing the corresponding kernel update scripts and I will maintain the kernels with security patches and/or Intel Atom SoC added functionality/improvements.

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


Ubuntu 16.04.2 (superseded)
(sha256sum 72832bfc886b2e0beede4f33e7703b4c2c47ef0baae1a3064fb6ab70892ee689)
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 16.04.2 (superseded)
(sha256sum e1102f37c35d1e77f515cc0574388eec700831288ecc7e8fe73ca8755eb5a5ef)
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 16.04.2 (superseded)
(sha256sum c33862d036885b41e1cc0c438b0008a14fc3495b352f8f2240fbe3843ac1fc31)
Xubuntu is an elegant and easy to use operating system. Xubuntu comes with Xfce, which is a stable, light and configurable desktop environment.

Ubuntu MATE 16.04.2 (superseded)
(sha256sum d2d4e07cc2121a90617b94904800e60498792bf7f5736157cc7a833efe211947)
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.

Ubuntu GNOME 16.04.2 (superseded)
(sha256sum 0b4e7d175b79e89b35e0449af07f4b96bed28e5912d5f43a11bbc54e122460ed)
Ubuntu GNOME uses GNOME Shell along with a plethora of applications from the GNOME Desktop Environment.

Kubuntu 16.04.2 (superseded)
(sha256sum 3d6f1ee5db819bb0e44167efae818b9ae86a9335eca1e187291b3b31a1797ff0)
Kubuntu offers the KDE Plasma Workspace experience, a good-looking system for home and office use.

17.04 Beta 1

Ubuntu 17.04 pseudo Beta 1 (superseded)
(sha256sum f38dcc8fc64f524422028b24e8e95ebe7635241aa24edbdafeeb55dd44c5d36c)
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 17.04 Beta 1 (superseded)
(sha256sum f8a8af2d453a58a8538f9f76ceac29a1e2477793c59d373f0bddda5c3338d35f)
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 17.04 Beta 1 (superseded)
(sha256sum 2a1770e0e51921328224d5c477027420fee3f9bfc715ddb741adf75409f20afb)
Xubuntu is an elegant and easy to use operating system. Xubuntu comes with Xfce, which is a stable, light and configurable desktop environment.
Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 Beta 1 (superseded)
(sha256sum bc92e6df5b4c298fc877743ab0303d7272ec87bc7a40e79ddf80f0883dc6c8ea)
Ubuntu Budgie is stable and easy to use that integrates the Budgie Desktop environment into Ubuntu. Whether you are using it on the old computer, or powerful workstation, Ubuntu Budgie is adaptable to any device, keeping them fast and usable.

If freezing persists follow Len Brown suggestion of adding "intel_idle.max_cstate=2" as a kernel boot parameter which enables Core-C6 but disables module/package-C6. Open a terminal session and enter the following command (on a single line) 'sudo sed -i 's/\(GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=\)""/\1"intel_idle.max_cstate=2"/' /etc/default/grub'. To implement the change enter 'sudo update-gruband then reboot the system by entering 'sudo reboot'. The above change only needs to be made once, typically following installation to eMMC storage. Prior to embarking on an encrypted LVM installation you should first open a terminal session and turn off swapping using the command 'sudo swapoff -a'. If there is no wifi after booting devices with a Broadcom chip then reload the driver: in a terminal window enter 'sudo modprobe -r brcmfmac' followed by 'sudo modprobe brcmfmac'. Occasionally on some devices bluetooth doesn't initially load so it is necessary to restart the service: for Broadcom chip devices enter 'sudo systemctl stop brcmbt.service' followed by 'sudo systemctl start brcmbt.service' and for Realtek chip devices enter 'sudo systemctl stop rtl8723bsbt.service' followed by 'sudo systemctl start rtl8723bsbt.service'. Some devices still do not reboot (or warm restart) correctly which can result in a purple screen or lack of wifi and/or bluetooth on reboot. In these circumstances cycle the power and boot the device from cold. Unfortunately as I don't have a tablet I cannot advise on the screen rotation issues however others have commented in previous posts with their solutions which I'd recommend reading. WIP includes improving backlight support for some devices and the ES8316 driver which is currently under development.

Kernel update scripts are provided for updating the kernel and require my ISOs to be installed as a pre-requisite otherwise you will be missing the 'userland' files required for audio, wifi and bluetooth. To upgrade the existing installed kernel to the later version provided by the script first download the script and after making it executable (enter 'chmod 755 ~/Downloads/<script>') install it as 'root' (by entering 'sudo ~/Downloads/<script>'). Once the script has finished executing the device will need to be rebooted to use the updated (patched) kernel. 

4.10.0-10.12  (superseded)
4.10.0-10.12~16.04.2 (superseded)

Don't forget when making a comment to include the name/model of your device and if reporting a technical issue please include a copy of the output from 'dmesg' by sharing the log using 'pastebinit' or similar.