Installing Freedombox on Minix NEO Z83-4 Pro

Hope you’re all feeling OK today. I would like to install Freedombox on my Minix Z83-4 Pro but I am having some issues.
If you’re not sure what Minix Z83-4 is, it’s basically a mini pc. It has a Intel Atom® x5-Z8350 Processor and 4GB of RAM.

I have downloaded the appropriate image (I believe NEO Z83-4 Pro is Intel/AMD 64-bit hardware) and written it to a bootable USB with Etcher.

I am having an issue whereby I cannot boot from a USB to install Freedombox. I really want to reuse the Minix device as my Freedombox. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I’ve also posted on the Minix forum to see if they have any ideas. That post is located - here

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Hi @jamesramez, welcome to FreedomBox community. Although no one has reported running FreedomBox on a Minix, I believe you should be able to run it. Here are some tips:

  • The amd64 images are currently not using UEFI. If you are able to access the device’s UEFI (pre-boot) screen, try turning on the ‘legacy boot’ mode. If this mode is not available, I would be able to build you UEFI based images in a few weeks time.
  • You may also have to turn on USB booting and set high priority to it. You may also be able get a boot device menu and select USB device.
  • Are you connected to a display? What do you see? Boot failure or boot getting stuck somewhere? Or USB not recognized.
  • If all else fails, install Debian and then install FreedomBox on top of it.

Thanks for your fast reply. It would be most appreciated if you could build UEFI based images if it’s not too much trouble. I am going to try to install it again and will record the issues.

I forgot to mention that the manufacturer offers two “official firmwares”, Windows 10 Pro and Ubuntu 18.04. I’m not sure if they somehow modified these so they can boot on the device

They are located here: -

Is there some way I can donate to assist with any development costs to get this working?

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It seems that Minix has somehow locked the hardware down. When I set in BIOS to boot from USB, it always fails. However, if I use one of their official firmwares it works.

I will try to build UEFI images as soon as I can. You can direct donations to the FreedomBox Foundation. However, we have no mechanism to ear mark the donation for a task (or something like a bounty program).

Meanwhile, some questions:

  • What exactly happens when you try to boot using USB device?
  • Are you able to access the UEFI firmware interface? (what company made it?)
  • Is there an option for “Legacy boot” or “BIOS boot”?
  • Is security boot enabled? Is there a way to disabled it?

We if have access to the build scripts they used to build the official images, we can check what exact changes they are doing to build the images. They may have published these scripts, I have not checked yet. Smaller vendors don’t usually have access to Windows source code, I think. It is unlikely they have don’t something special to build Windows images. That gives us a good chance.

Is that Minix device to be run from a usb flash drive? (sdcard like)

When you work on images Sunil, to add UEFI stuff, may it make sense to also change the maker scripts to format the (testing-based) freedombox partitions in the images with Samsung’s F2FS (used on many other phones as well)? So that freedombox can actually work reliably on consumer-type flash storage beyond a couple of months?

My test showed that a F2FS rootfs is fully supported after manually formatting and populating it, i.e. boot loader etc. works out of the box in bullseye (initramfs kernel modules and boot support).