Latest KDE Neon 5.22 x64 (Ubuntu) on the Neo Z64W

I was always sceptical about the amount of noise surrounding Linux installations on the Z64, so with a new requirement for a lightweight device, I thought I'd bring this little square brick back to life and see what it was all about. After all, it's just a PC (albeit the 32-bit EFI fudge) and Linux installs to anything™.

This old thread from 2015 was my foresight and these instructions are mostly a cut-down version of that article so creds to OP.

Here I'm using Neon (Ubuntu-based) but in theory, any version of Ubuntu/Linux will work. I'd recommend keeping your choice mainstream for better support and driver availability. I'd not used Neon before, but now I'd recommend it as the first choice for Linux noobs. Setup is a piece of cake and it's pre-loaded with proprietary driver sources so even the 3rd party vendor devices work out of the gate. (y)

Note: all commands and preparation are performed on an existing Debian Linux machine.

Warning: If you have concerns, or aren't confident reinstalling an OS from scratch, make sure you take a backup image.

1.) Get the 32bit EFI

Download this 32bit EFI from the thread linked above (creds to OP).

2.) Create a live Linux USB

- your chosen distro iso is downloaded.
- a suitable USB device is mounted.
- a little command-line experience backed by google skills.

Note: Replace "/dev/sd_" with the correct designation for your USB device. The command "lsblk" will give you a clear picture of all block devices that are available.

# Wipe the USB drive
sgdisk --zap-all /dev/sd_

# Create a new GPT partition
sgdisk --new=1:0:0 --typecode=1:ef00 /dev/sd_

# Create a FAT32 partition, as expected by the UEFI BIOS
mkfs.vfat -F32 /dev/sd_1

# Create a temporary folder ready to mount to
mkdir image

# Mount the FAT32 partition (only root can mount)
sudo mount -t vfat /dev/sd_1 image/

# Uncompress Ubuntu onto the mounted USB
sudo 7z x name-of-your-chosen-linux-image.iso -oimage/

# Add the 32-bit bootloader
sudo cp bootia32.efi image/EFI/BOOT/

# Complete pending writes
sudo sync

# Unmount the USB
sudo umount image

# Remove the temporary folder
rmdir image

3.) BIOS settings

i. Fondle DEL on boot to enter setup and set these values:

Execute Disable Bit = Disabled
Quiet boot = Disabled

Note: You may notice option "ISP PCI Device Selection" mention that it should be another value for Linux, ignore and leave it at Windows.

ii. Head to the last menu page and Save Settings (without reset or exit).
iii. You should see the USB name listed in the "Boot Override" choices, select it and hit Enter to boot.
iv. The Linux grub menu will appear. Select the option that allows you to boot/try without installing.

Note: If you get a black screen or Windows, then you may be missing the bootia32.efi file, check the file is in the right directory. The 64bit version will be in the same dir if you're in the right place.

4.) Last warning to backup to avoid:cry:

5.) The fun bit: Installing Linux

If you've successfully booted into your live USB, you're almost done :cool:

i. When asked about the partitioning select the manual override, and delete ALL partitions - there should be 4 in total - doesn't matter, nuke em!
ii. As this is just a dinky 30GB disk, the partition scheme is going to be simple. Configure your partitions as follows:

1st -- [ 550MB ] -- fat32 -- Boot-flag=ON -- ( Mount Point = /boot/efi )
2nd -- [ 2GB ] -- ext4 -- swap -- ( Mount Point = n/a for swap )
3rd -- [ ~30GB ( remaining space ) ] -- ext4 -- ( Mount Point = / )

Note: You could omit the swap (like Win Virtual Mem) for light RAM application, but as there's only 2GB of RAM to play with this might stop our little brick from sweating. Feel free to make it smaller - if you want to suspend your sessions to RAM, aka sleep, you will need a swap equal to RAM (2GB) as a minimum.

iii. Complete the remaining setup steps (will vary depending on distro - Neon is crazy simple).
iv. Once setup is complete and you boot into Linux for the first time, open a terminal and perform a little EFI-switcheroo with these 4 commands:

Note: Don't forget to change the .efi paths to match your setup.

sudo apt-get install grub-efi-ia32 grub-efi-ia32-bin
sudo cp /boot/efi/EFI/neon/grubia32.efi /boot/efi/EFI/neon/grubx64.efi
sudo update grub2
sudo reboot/

v. So you see our 32-bit EFI has become our pseudo-64-bit EFI. Now you can power off and remove the USB. The BIOS should correctly have defaulted to boot the Linux install, but boot to BIOS to double-check. If Linux/Neon/other distro isn't the first option, update, save and reboot.

6.) Limitations

None found so far. Everything works out of the box including WiFi and HDMI audio which appear to have been trouble in the past.

Enjoys. (y)

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