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Setting up Linux for the Minnowboard Max

The general proces is quite similar to setting up Linux on any other computer. You make a bootable installer USB flash drive for your distro of choice, plug in the storage volume you want to install to (i.e. a larger SATA or USB HDD, MicroSD card, etc.,) and then install to that drive. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

When installing to a MicroSD card, be aware that these cards are frequently quite slow and may result in poor performance if you install an operating system to them. Also, at least some distros will need some tweaks to their initial RAM disks in order to boot from SDHC cards.

When installing to a USB storage device, you may be unable to boot your installer USB with your installation target connected at the same time-- you might have to wait until after the installer USB is completely booted before plugging in your installation target. Also, after the installation is complete, you will have to adjust the GRUB configuration of your new installation to allow it to boot without the installer USB present.

Fedora 20 x86-64

To create a bootable USB installer drive for Fedora, instead of using a 3rd-party tool like Unetbootin, you should be using one of the direct write methods listed here: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/How_to_create_and_use_Live_USB#quickstarts

Booting from the installer flash drive

If you get an EFI shell, the following commands should get the installer booting:

   connect -r
   map -r

However, depending on the boot order setup of your Minnowboard Max, you may not get an EFI shell at all.

If you're installing Fedora to a USB flash drive or USB HDD

You should wait to plug in your installation target drive until after the Fedora live environment has finished booting.

If you're installing Fedora to a MicroSD Card

Unlike if you are installing to USB drive, you should be able to boot from the installer USB with an SD card already in the Minnowboard MAX.

Install Process

This will be very similar to a normal Fedora install process. The one thing that might be a little different is that you must be sure to select the correct drive to install to on the "installation destination" screen. You may have to use the "reclaim space" tool to delete any existing partitions on your target drive. Once you've cleaned out the target drive of its existing partitions, you should just let the Fedora installer repartition the drive automatically if you possibly can.

Installing to Very Small Disks

If the disk you're installing to is 4 gigabytes or less, you may need to create the partition table manually-- you can avoid creating a separate /boot partition, which is the default behavior, and just make the root partition bigger instead. You'll also have to change the root partition type from "LVM" to "Standard Partition," as EFI systems cannot boot directly from LVM partitions. This should stop the Fedora installer from complaining about insufficient space. (You still need a separate /boot/efi partition, so don't get rid of that.) However, you should really get a bigger disk instead.

Otherwise, you can proceed with the Fedora installation as normal.

If you're installing Fedora to a USB flash drive or USB HDD

The GRUB configuration is going to need some adjustments to make your target disk boot without the installer disk present.

After finishing the installer, shut down the MinnowMax, and start it back up again with only the target disk plugged in. You will need to get to the bootloader menu and hit "e" to edit the first entry. Change all mentions of hd1,gpt2 to hd0,gpt2 and all mentions of ahci1,gpt2 to ahci0,gpt2. Then hit F10 to boot your Fedora installation for the first time.

Once you've finished booting and have logged in, launch a terminal and run the following command to regenerate your GRUB configuration:

   sudo grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/efi/EFI/fedora/grub.cfg

You will no longer have to manually edit the bootloader entry every time you boot Fedora. Be sure no other USB drives besides your Fedora installation are plugged in when you do this.

If you're installing Fedora to a MicroSD Card

The GRUB configuration should be fine, but the default initial ramdisk (INITRD) does not yet include drivers necessary for the kernel to mount the MicroSD card.

After finishing the installer, leave the live environment running for a while. You should be able to find the SD card mounted in /run/media/liveuser. The precise name of the mountpoint will depend on the SD card's UUID and will vary. You will want to chroot into the Fedora installation you just made, change the configuration of your INITRD, and then regenerate your INITRD with your new configuration. Run the following commands in a terminal:

   sudo mount --bind /proc /run/media/liveuser/<uuid>/proc
   sudo mount --bind /dev /run/media/liveuser/<uuid>/dev
   sudo mount --bind /sys /run/media/liveuser/<uuid>/sys
   sudo chroot /run/media/liveuser/<uuid> /bin/bash
   echo 'add_drivers+="mmc_block sdhci sdhci-pci"' >> /etc/dracut.conf
   dracut --force --kver 3.11.10-301.fc20.x86_64
   sudo sync

These instructions are based on these pages:

You may need to adjust the dracut line based on what kernel version your Fedora installer was built with.

At this point, you should be able to shut down the MinnowMax, and start it back up again with only the MicroSD card plugged in. Fedora should boot without incident.

= Final Steps

It is highly recommended that you upgrade to a new kernel (3.14 or newer) after your installation is complete. This fixes a number of things, including HDMI sound output. Linux 3.14 is already available in Fedora's repositories. Just run a normal system update process to install it.