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HP t620: Linux 


 


 

 



Linux

Tiny Core 7.2 booted from a USB pen drive without any problems.

Scottie4442 has tried out Ubuntu 16.04, Linux Mint 18, Fedora 25, Centos 7 and Windows 10 pro. pfsense worked, but without wifi as the supplied wireless card is not supported in FreeBSD. (You can obviously fit a different card if you want to use pfsense).

In February 2021 I installed Linux Mint and am using one for the occasional Zoom meeting.

These days booting an installed OS is more complex than it used to be what with MBR/GPT/Legacy/EFI/Secure Boot/... options. In March 2021 I heard from Erik:

I've been trying to install Debian on a t620 on the mSATA drive. I created a bootable USB with Rufus using debian-10.8.0-amd64-netinst.iso and GPT partition scheme default other settings. The t620 booted off the USB fine and it seemed to install fine but when I came to boot from the internal mSATA it said there was 'no boot disk'.

After a lot of googling, I found Boot Repair. I installed the boot repair iso on a USB with Rufus using the same settings as before and booted off that. I then used the 'Recommended Repair' button and now its booting ok!

Interestingly, I had tried installing Lubuntu 20.04.2 earlier with similar problems, but then read there should have been an 'erase disk' option in the partition setup. If it's missing it means a swap partition on the disk is mounted. the command:

sudo swapoff -a

unmounts it. The erase disk option was then available and partitioning using that let the t620 boot off the drive also.

In May 2021 I heard from Fredrik, another Debian user:

I just installed Debian (debian-10.9.0-amd64-netinst.iso) on my t620. All went well except that X11 wouldn't start. Here are the changes I made to get it going:

  1. Edited two lines in /etc/apt/sources.list and added "non-free" and "contrib" to those:
    deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster main non-free contrib
    deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster main non-free contrib
  2. Installed the firmware needed that is not included in the free Debian repositories:
    apt-get update
    apt-get install intel-microcode firmware-misc-nonfree firmware-amd-graphics firmware-realtek

It still complains about some firmware files missing for the graphics, but I ignore those for now. The possible missing firmware is /lib/firmware/amdgpu/vega20_asd.bin for module amdgpu

CPU wise I guess the t620 with my 2 core version, is a little like a lazy RPi 4 :)

Debian

I have received the odd email from people having trouble with installing Debian onto the t620. Generally the comment is that the installation is apparently successful but then they find the system won't boot. This is an issue with UEFI booting, not Legacy booting. It's actually something that's (maybe) easy to fix.

Essentially, for UEFI systems, the Debian installer puts the boot files into the directory /EFI/debian/ on the ESP partition. Ignoring exactly what the standard says about UEFI boot loaders (and I haven't waded through the standard to check) the t620 boot code appears to look for the file EFI/boot/bootx64.efi on the EFI partition and ignores the debian directory. So all that needs to be done is to create the directory boot and copy over the file debian/grubx64.efi to boot/bootx64.efi.

I set out to check this out:

  1. Download debian-11.0.0-amd64-DVD-1.iso
  2. Used Rufus to create bootable USB installation media on an 8GB USB pen drive
  3. Boot it and pick 'Graphical Install'
  4. Install debian
  5. Remove USB installation media and Reboot
  6. Debian ran!

The reason for this was that I had used an old style partition table on the USB pendrive and so the installer had copied this approach and had set it up for Legacy booting. One way of solving the problem!

I repeated the above but told Rufus to use a GPT and to set the USB pen drive up for UEFI booting. This time the debian installer set up the t620 installation for UEFI booting.

Repeating the above...

  1. Remove installation media and Reboot
  2. Get message ERROR: No boot disk has been detected or the disk has failed.

OK. I now spent some time going around in circles as the behaviour of the t620 was not consistent - sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. In this thread an approach using the rEFInd boot manager is described. You might like to try that. (Thank you Peter for that link).

What I did was fire up Tiny Core Linux which I had to hand on a USB pen drive. You can use any 'live' Linux distribution that will give you a command line. The description below is particular to Tiny Core, you may need to adjust mount points and the like to suit your particular flavour of Linux.

Debian had been installed onto the internal flash of the t620. This flash drive is designated as sda. The first partition (sda1) is the ESP partition. Debian itself was installed to sda2.

Boot Linux and open a terminal, then...

~$ mount /dev/sda1          # Mount the EFI partition
~$ cd /mnt/sda1/EFI/        # Move to where the EFI boot stuff is
/mnt/sda1/EFI$ ls           # see what's there
debian/
/mnt/sda1/EFI$ mkdir boot   # create the 'boot' directory
/mnt/sda1/EFI$ cp debian/grubx64.efi boot/bootx64.efi   # copy over the efi code 
/mnt/sda1/EFI$ sudo reboot  # that's it

That's it. At this point, if you use the F9 key on power up to bring up the boot menu, you should be able to select and run debian. However if you leave the t620 to its own devices you'll end up with the 'no boot disk' message.

After a while of fiddling about I went into the BIOS, selected 'Boot Order', and disabled ubuntu (the standard HP Linux OS boot), network booting and various other stuff (like Floppy boot). Lo and behold the t620 now booted into the grub menu and then into debian.

Subsequently I re-enabled 'ubuntu' and the t620 still continued to auto-boot debian.

I don't pretend to understand what's going here, all I know is that after the diddling mentioned above it happily boots 64-bit debian in UEFI mode.

 


Any comments? email me. Added April 2017    Last update September 2021