Friday, 1 December 2017

Linux on MINIX NEO Z83-4 and Z83-4 Pro

The final piece of the jigsaw is now in place for running Linux on the MINIX NEO Z83-4 and Z83-4 Pro devices with the mainline kernel now patched to support wifi, audio and bluetooth.

It has been an interesting kernel journey with:

v4.9 including the eMMC v5.0 driver required for accessing the internal storage
v4.11 including the HDMI audio driver.
v4.12 recognizing the BCM43455 wifi driver but suffered a regression with the release of v4.13
v4.13.2/v4.14 including a fix for BCM43455 wifi driver
v4.14 including a fix for the headphone audio driver
v4.15-rc1 now includes a fix for the bluetooth driver

However to run fully working Ubuntu on either device still requires additional steps. The Canonical v4.15-rc1 mainline build was built using a patched config using default settings and does not include the changes required for including Intel ASoC Audio Drivers or the Serial Device Bus with serial drivers.

So first it is necessary to create a new config and compile the kernel.

Then it is just respinning the official Ubuntu ISO using my '' script to add the compiled packages providing the latest kernel, the required UCM files and missing wifi firmware.

Unfortunately the most recent UCM file for the headphone audio driver isn't compatible so I've had to modify it specifically to work with these devices.

Also the wifi firmware file first needs to be extracted from the Windows installation where it is located at 'C:\Windows\System32\drivers\4345r6nvram.txt'.

Once everything is prepared the following respin command was used to create the Ubuntu ISO as shown above: -i ubuntu-17.04-desktop-amd64.iso -l "linux-headers-4.15.0-rc1-linuxium_4.15.0~rc1~linuxium_amd64.deb linux-image-4.15.0-rc1-linuxium_4.15.0~rc1~linuxium_amd64.deb" -f "" -c -f 4345r6nvram.txt -c "mv /usr/local/bin/4345r6nvram.txt /lib/firmware/brcm/brcmfmac43455-sdio.txt" -f HdmiLpeAudio.conf -c "mv /usr/local/bin/HdmiLpeAudio.conf /usr/share/alsa/cards" -f MINIX-Z83-4-chtrt5645.conf -c "mv /usr/local/bin/MINIX-Z83-4-chtrt5645.conf /usr/share/alsa/ucm/chtrt5645/chtrt5645.conf" -f MINIX-Z83-4-chtrt5645-HiFi.conf -c "mv /usr/local/bin/MINIX-Z83-4-chtrt5645-HiFi.conf /usr/share/alsa/ucm/chtrt5645/HiFi.conf"

At this stage it is still very early in the release cycle and there is still work to be undertaken to simplify the respinning of ISOs for these devices.

However the key point is that the mainline kernel now supports MINIX NEO Z83-4 and Z83-4 Pro devices. Meaning over time as various distros and OS migrate to the v4.15 kernel and later versions they should work flawlessly on them.

Please donate if you find my work useful using the following link


  1. Hi Linuxium,
    I have some questions, some generic some other specific to my laptop:

    1. How can I apply the patch, that you install to the kernel during the isorespin process, in an already installed linux ?

    2. in your post you say that audio is working on 4.14 but it doesn't work for me. It didn't work also with the kernel that come from the isorespin process.
    [ 8.256512] bytcht_es8316 bytcht_es8316: ASoC: CODEC DAI ES8316 HiFi not registered
    [ 8.256526] bytcht_es8316 bytcht_es8316: snd_soc_register_card failed -517

    I don't know if this lines are related to the audio, but the word "CODEC" let me think that.

    I tried to copy UCM files from and to put them in /usr/share/alsa/ucm/bytcht-es8316 but the results when I try it are:
    # alsaucm -c bytcht-es8316 set _verb HiFi set _disdev HSMic set _enadev IntMic
    ALSA lib main.c:432:(execute_sequence) unable to open ctl device 'hw:bytchtes8316'
    ALSA lib main.c:1698:(set_verb_user) error: failed to initialize new use case: HiFi
    alsaucm: error failed to set _verb=HiFi: No such device

    3. also touchpad doesn't work. The only reaction I obtained is moving 3 fingers on it. The reaction obtained is like ALT-TAB : switching by windows.
    4. no battery management

    Every suggestions is welcome.

    Thank you.
    Best regards.


    1. It is difficult to provide specific answers as you haven't specified your device nor included a 'dmesg' however:

      1. Respinning doesn't apply any patch to the kernel so what patch are you referring to?

      2. As the post is specific to MINIX NEO Z83-4 and Z83-4 Pro devices YMMV with the v4.14 kernel on different devices. Try editing the resultant file '/usr/share/alsa/ucm/bytcht-es8316' (see the comment on lines 135/136) and remove the comment hash ('#') from line 138 through to line 156 then reboot (if installed) or respin ISO with equivalent modification and post the result.

      3. Have you added the Silead touchpad driver or equivalent depending on your device?

      4. Dependant on device AFAIK at the moment.

    2. This sound driver was put in to the script already so you should not need to download it

  2. Hi Linuxium, you are my saviour! I had lost the hope of installing linux on the Minix but you helped me to regain it, thank you.

    Just one question: where can I find all the files you used to rebuild the ISO... I mean all .conf , because I can't find them even "googling".

    I would like to build an ISO based on Lubuntu or Peppermint.
    Are they preliminary or optional to make the distro works (wifi, audio, hdmi etc.)?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Ok, I found all files in your tutorial except:
      1 - MINIX-Z83-4-chtrt5645-HiFi.conf
      2 - HdmiLpeAudio.conf (can I use the one on takaswie alsa-lib github?)

    2. I'm still developing what is required to respin an ISO for these devices and will post a solution later.

  3. Hello,
    It looks like you have put a great piece of work into getting Ubuntu running on this device. I notices in you example that you used Ubuntu 17.04, will this work also for Lubuntu 16.04.3, I am a newby on this respin process, and i will have to go through your tutorial here, but before I do this I would like to know the chances for success.
    Thanx in Advance for your inputs

    1. I'm still developing what is required to respin an ISO for these devices and will post a solution later.