installing Ubuntu / Mint Linux on Onda 820w tablet

Most modern Windows tablets are powered by Intel’s Bay Trail Atom chips — they use the x86 chipset, the low powered mobile brother of Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 chips.

You can find Windows tablet with features that are reasonable, extremely cheap, because is a double subsidization from Microsoft and Intel to introduce their products in a mobile market dominated by Android and Apple. Nevertheless, they’re perfectly serviceable for low and medium end Windows work, and come with Windows 10 preinstalled.

Onda V820w

One of these devices is the Onda V820w , a dual boot Windows 10 system + Android 4.4 with impressive specs.

  • CPU: Intel Z3735F Quad Core 1.3GHz
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphic Gen7 processor
  • 2GB RAM + 32GB ROM
  • 8 inch screen WXGA IPS 1280 x 800

Why not get hold of a inexpensive Bay Trail tablet and install Linux on it? After all, if it’s x86-based then we can install pretty much anything on it, right? Today I will show you how easy is to install Ubuntu Linux on a Intel Atom Bay Trail tablet with a UEFI hack. I’ll use my Onda V820W as an example in this guide.

This guide requires:

  1. Onda V820w ( I buy mine for $95 on Gearbest )
  2. OTG USB hub with external power (need to use simultaneously keyboard and USB flash, i used this $5 Micro USB Hub)
  3. USB keyboard
  4. USB flashdrive
  5. Live USB / Install Instructions
  6. Latest Ubuntu 64bit (download)
  7. Rufus tool (download)
  8. UEFI bootloader bootia32.efi (click “raw” to download)
When Intel launched “Bay Trail” Atom tablets, Microsoft supported them with a new feature called InstaGo. At launch, it was a bit buggy. Microsoft couldn’t support it in 64-bit mode. So, initially, tablets with Bay Trail processors shipped with 32-bit firmware even though you have a 64-bit tablet running 64-bit Windows OS. Why is this bad? First, you can’t run most Linux operating systems. Even in 32-bit mode, thanks to most Linux platforms not supporting UEFI32-only devices. Luckily this can be easily fixed using a 32-bit UEFI bootloader.Apart from this you will need a USB OTG HUB to be able to connect more than one device at a time (keyboard, boot device, optionally a mouse) during installation time when the touch screen does not work.

I want to erase all Windows data, because I want my new Linux operating system to have all the space he need. Following this guide will overwrite any data and create new partitions with Linux filesystems and swap space. Of course you can also choose to delete only one of the partitions, for example the android space and keep linux and windows.

I choose a Ubuntu-based distro but this guide should work with Debian distributions too.

Install Instructions

Open Rufus, select Ubuntu image, USB drive letter, Fat32, GPT for EUFI and click Start.

Rufus will now create a bootable USB flashdrive for us.

Though it won’t boot, since we made 64bit flashdrive, but most Intel Atom Bay Trail is shipped only with 32bit UFEI bootloader and Linux i386 32bit doesn’t support EFI booting.

So we need a workaround. Copy custom bootia32.efi to X:\EFI\BOOT to fix 32bit EFI Shell incompatibility issue.

We have a bootable USB flashdrive now!

Connect Flashdrive, keyboard and power to tablet with USB adapter hub.

Restart tablet, F7 for boot menu or Del for BIOS/UEFI (you may need to turn of secure boot in BIOS/UEFI first).

Select USB flashdrive option from boot menu.

And that’s it. Select Try Ubuntu, it will boot to Live OS without any issues. Delete all partitions using gparted. Reboot. From here the installation is the same as any other linux.

WiFi, Bluetooth, Touchscreen needs extra drivers after installing Ubuntu, you can head to Settings > Updates to get the latest version, including better support for our hardware, i recommend to choose updates are installed automatically.

Since i was using a Mint 16.04 LTS at the time there was no driver available, if this is your case then install manually (these are from onda975w , but will work for us).

https://wiki.gnome.org/BastienNocera/Ondav975w

Have fun, get work done, and enjoy your new linux Tablet.