Latest steps to install Ubuntu on the Asus T100TA

Standard

A year and a half on, it’s much easier to get a fully-working Linux install on the Asus Transformer T100TA. Remember when nothing really worked, and we had to jump through hoops just to get battery monitoring, or power off working? And wifi was just a pain? How things have changed…

Much of the work testing and patching new kernels has been done by Brainwreck and the guys over at the Asus T100 Ubuntu Google+ group. I’ve been away moving house (and job, and country), so sorry for not being around.

I recently did a full reinstall, and here are the latest steps I took to get an almost fully-working machine.

This post refers heavily to the original installation post from 2014. for more detail on any of the steps, you might want to take a look there or in the many helpful comments from other users.

Current status (updated 04/01/2016)

  • Graphics: Working with accelerated (3D) graphics 8/10
  • Wifi: Working well with stock Ubuntu and later kernels, some patching needed in latest 4.3 & 4.4 kernels 6/10
  • Touchscreen: Working out of the box (no multitouch though) 10/10
  • Sound: Working, minor configuration needed 9/10
  • SD card reader: Working out of the box 10/10
  • Battery monitoring: Working out of the box 10/10
  • Tablet keys (Volume up/down etc): Working out of the box 10/10
  • Power management (Suspend/resume): Not yet working reliably — following suspend, tablet keeps suspending. Shutdown/restart works fine though.5/10
  • Orientation sensor: fully working, auto-rotation working 10/10
  • Backlight & ambient light sensor: Fully working, auto backlight adjustment possible with custom script10/10
  • Touchpad: Working, no multitouch yet 8/10
  • camera: Not yet working, but similar mt9m114 driver exists, playing to get it to recognise correct i2c ID 2/10
  • Bluetooth: Needs patching with recent kernels 5/10

1. First steps: Preparing for the Ubuntu Install

As before, prepare a bootable USB stick, but you can use the Ubuntu 15.10 amd64 release — no need for a latest daily build.

Prepare the stick any way you like, but when done, browse to the EFI/Boot directory, and place this bootloader (named bootia32.efi) there. This bootloader was compiled from source using the latest Grub2. If you don’t trust random downloaded files from the Internet (and you shouldn’t), you can find the instructions for building it yourself here.

2. Booting the Live Image

As before, ensure SecureBoot is disabled and boot to the USB stick (see the old post for detailed instructions if you don’t know how). You can jump straight to “Install Ubuntu” once the Grub menu pops up — no need to edit anything any more.

3. The Ubuntu installer

In the installer, the partitioning scheme you choose is up to you — but you will need to preserve the EFI partition, so don’t just partition the entire disk for Ubuntu.

In addition to the EFI partition, I prefer separate /, /home and /boot mount points; but that is up to you. You could squish down the Windows partition and create the additional partition(s), or just delete the Windows partition altogether if you don’t need it. It’s up to you if you want to blow away Windows or not.

The installer might fail when installing the bootloader. That doesn’t matter — even if it didn’t fail, it wouldn’t work.

When the installer completes, reboot, leaving the USB stick in.

4. First boot

Ubuntu won’t boot yet. We’ll need to install the bootloader properly. So we’ll have to manually bootstrap Ubuntu the first time.

Boot back to the Grub welcome screen on the USB stick. Hit ‘c’ to drop to a Grub command line.

You’ll need to provide Grub with the path to your kernel and initrd to boot. These are both in your /boot directory. First, the path to the kernel:


linux (hd2,gpt5)/boot/vmlinuz-3.13-xxxx root=/dev/mmcblk0p5

Here, (hd2, gpt5) refers to the fifth partition on the third disk (Partition numbering begins at 1 and disk numbering begins at 0). This will vary depending on how you installed and your T100 model. On my 32GB model, Grub assigns the USB stick as hd0, the read-only recovery flash chip as hd1, and the main internal flash as hd2. gpt5 is the fifth partition, but it will depend on how you installed (specifically, where /boot is).

Fortunately, grub has good auto-completion features, so you can hit twice as you type, and grub will list possible completions for you — just keep trying until you see the various vmlinuz kernels.

The root=/dev/mmcblk0p5 will also depend on the partition you installed to. It will be your root partition. Unfortunately this can’t be auto-completed, so if you can’t remember your partition setup, you’ll need to try by trial and error. Only the number after the ‘p’ will change — and it will probably be p5, p6 or p7.

To complete the line, press Enter.

Then you need to specify the location of your initrd. This is easy, it’s in the same place as the kernel:
initrd (hd2,gpt5)/boot/initrd-3.13-xxxx

Then Enter.

Then boot with:
boot

With luck after hitting Enter, you’ll boot through to Ubuntu. If it boots but you get dropped to a Busybox prompt, you got everything correct apart from the root location. Don’t be disheartened — keep trying.

5. Enabling wifi

To get further, we’ll need wifi. This is much, much easier than before — the driver is included with stock Ubuntu. We just need to copy across an nvram file from our firmware to the driver firmware, so open a terminal and type (replace XXXXXX with the real name — just press tab to autocomplete):


sudo cp /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/nvram-XXXXXX /lib/firmware/brcm/brcmfmac43241b4-sdio.txt

(Just a year ago we were custom compiling whole kernels just to get those efivars mounted, how times have changed…)

Then reload the brcmfmac driver:


sudo modprobe -r brcmfmac
sudo modprobe brcmfmac

And your wifi should come up.

6. Completing the installation

Time to fix the bootloader. To do this, we can just install grub-efi-ia32:


sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-efi-ia32

We need to add a line to the kernel boot options to prevent disk corruption.
Edit the grub configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

Find the line starting GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT and add intel_idle.max_cstate=0 before quiet splash".

Then ctrl-o, ctrl-x to save & exit, and type:
sudo update-grub to update Grub.

Remove the USB stick and reboot, and you should now have a self-sufficient booting system.

7. Sound

I killed my speakers playing with early sound drivers (fortunately I replaced them with speakers that came along when I had to replace a broken touch screen). Things are much better now though.

The driver is already loaded and working in stock ubuntu, we just need to load an Alsa state file:

Grab the file here, and copy it to /var/lib/alsa/asound.state .

Load the state file into alsa with:
sudo alsactl restore.

Sound should start working.

8. Upgrading to a newer kernel

To get backlight, hotkeys, tablet keys, etc working, we’ll need a newer, patched kernel. I haven’t played too much with the latest kernels yet, but there seem to be a few regressions. I found the this, compiled kernel to be the best available.

(The usual warnings apply about trusting stuff other people have compiled).

Download the amd64 linux-image, linux-firmware and linux-headers files, and install them one by one using:

sudo dpkg-i linux-xxxxx

… and reboot when done.

9. Other scripts

I have made (and/or borrowed) some additional support scripts to improve usability.

Download and save all the raw files somewhere (I put mine in ~/scripts). they all need to be in the same place.

Set them all to be executable:

chmod ugo+x ~/scripts/*.sh

base-station.sh enables/disables the Onboard on-screen keyboard when you undock/dock the tablet. Set up the onscreen keyboard first in System Settings → Accessibility (or type “onboard” in the terminal, and set it to automatically run on system start), then the scripts will enable/disable they keyboard for text fields. A nice notification is also displayed when the dock status is changed. Add it to your user’s startup scripts (type ‘Startup Applications’ in the dash) so it runs on login. Don’t add it to /etc/rc.local — it needs to run as the current user).

rotate.sh (via Kirill Belyaev) auto-rotates the screen/touchscreen. Again, add it to Startup Applications (NOT /etc/rc.local).

auto-brightness.sh automatically adjusts the backlight using the ambient light sensor. Ensure the light sensor driver is loaded (sudo modprobe cm3218x) and add the following line to your /etc/rc.local file, before the ‘exit’ line:


/path/to/script/auto-brightness.sh &

Test it by shining a torch on the light sensor.

And that’s it… by this point, you should have a fairly workable installation, provided you avoid using suspend and hibernation, and don’t need to use the webcam.

135 thoughts on “Latest steps to install Ubuntu on the Asus T100TA

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  2. Paweł Gołębiewski

    Hi,

    I just found your website :) I am currently in process of installing linux on Kiano Slimnote laptop, which is pretty refractory. Your post is actually very helpful, I got Ubuntu up and running and then with help from other sites I even got WiFi working.

    I’m now trying with ElementaryOS, which is based on Ubuntu, but for some reason grub doesn’t work, I cannot even see the disk as valid boot source and I have to boot it via LiveCD. I guess it there are some significant differences between Ubuntu 16.04 and ElementaryOS 0.4.

    If you have any idea where to search for solution, please respond :)

  3. John

    Hi I am trying install Ubuntu 14.04 on T100.
    I made the USB stick, but I cannot find the EFI/Boot directory under it. Can you clarify where to put the bootloader?
    The root has the following directories
    /.disk
    /boot
    /casper
    /dists
    /install
    /isolinux
    /pics
    /pool
    /pressed

    Also, my ISO image is for 64bit (and it seems you also used 64bit), but the bootloader is compiled for 32bit. Did you have any problem with it?

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  5. Greg Smith

    Glad to have found your page. I have a T100 and I’m tired of Windows constantly complaining that it needs an additional 15 Gig to install the latest update. Will be giving this a shot in a little while.

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  7. Jon

    Ive got everything working other than the bootloader when i boot without usb it goes straight to windows. I have to boot to usb and go into grub and load the kernel. I did the aptget for bootloader and edited grub file and reloaded it. Any thoughts?

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  9. Major

    Jon I had the same problem. After initial instal it doesnt shutdown properly but I load back into the ubs to fix the boot and it does boot but everytime after that it doesn’t shutdown or boot properly..

  10. ahmad

    Hello, I need help installing ubuntu 16.10 on asus transformer mini T102HA. Please if you can make it in steps as I’m new to the world of linux. Thank you

  11. Don

    I was able to use your directions to load Ubuntu 16.10. It seems that everything is working except the SD Card Reader. Any thoughts on getting it operational.

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  13. Ola

    I have used this site and the debian wiki for t100 and manage to install siductuion patience, with siduction manage to install grub without hassle and the t100 will start directly after installation without having to prepare grub. The wifi works after following the guides mentioned above. However, the sound, touchscreen doesn’t work with the siduction kernel so after some tries I found out thet with liquorix kernel I get sound, touchpad AND also hdmi sound to work.

  14. Brian Carnes

    DON and others using 16.04 and later and having SD card troubles:

    I hit the same thing. From a fresh install of 16.04, the microSD card reader does not work. It is a problem w/ the RTC and mmc0 having a (fake) irq conflict. This author’s article was using 15.10, which was before a change in the irq assignment scheme that triggered this.

    For details see:
    https://patchwork.ozlabs.org/patch/740607/

    Since I need to run this machine on vanilla ubuntu from trusted sources, I rebuilt the latest blessed LTS kernel+patches from Ubuntu (at this time: 4.8.0-54), along with the above patch. The external SD card springs back into life nicely.

    I believe some of the custom T100-targeted kernels/ISOs floating around (of unknown provenance) either contain the above patch, or have built RTC in as a standalone module (which apparently masks this problem, but is still flawed in principle and may cause other problems).

    Before going this route, I found that the SD problem also persists in an unmodified 4.10 kernel. The above patch should be part of the final 4.12 kernel.

    Happy hacking

  15. socrim

    Thank you sooo much! I just installed Ubuntu 17.04 successfully on a Dell Venue 8 Pro thanks to your helpful tips. Especially steps 4 and 6 saved me a lot of time! Awesome! Someone at work threw out the Venue, because his Windows installation was broken. Now I have nice little linux tablet. :-) Have a nice day!

  16. Michael Ash

    Thank you — this is a very helpful site.

    I used https://forum.xda-developers.com/windows-8-rt/win-8-development/live-asus-t100-ta-magic-stick-t3091481 to boot (nothing else seemed to work) and then install the linux files from the same.

    Then I used the advice in sections 4 and 6 of this document to boot from the disk installation and complete the install

    Then I booted to single-user mode to create a root password and a non-guest user with password.

    Then I modified /etc/grub.d/40_custom with the linux and initrd lines described in section 4 and then I ran sudo update-grub

    Now I have a working installation of ubuntu 15.04 (vivid)

    So now my question: how can I upgrade to a more recent ubuntu release? I would like to keep all the grub-efi-ia32 stuff (which I don’t understand very well) intact, also grub looking at the correct partition of the correct disk etc.

    Thank you very much for your guidance (and for this excellent site).

  17. Ryan Rolland

    I was running ‘root=/dev/mmcblk1p2′ as a separate command. *It is not!!! No error or anything from grub. The boot just fails.
    *AGAIN, NOTE THIS IS ALL ONE COMMAND:
    grub> linux /boot/vmlinuz-3.13.0-29-generic root=/dev/mmcblk1p2

  18. Olivier

    Hi Thanks for the awsome guide, you mention you replaced a broken touch screen, is that easy enough to do ? where did you buy the replacement ?

    All the best
    Olivier

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