Linux on Hannspree MicroPC Stick PC

Installing Manjaro x64 on a PC stick with 32 bit efi

Posted by Sam Bartle on 12 June 2020

Background

A few years ago I bought a small HDMI Stick PC, the Hannspree MicroPC, which is manufactured by Quanta computer. Its a low power atom with 2GB RAM running a full install of Windows 10. Its plenty fast enough (even running Windows 10) for the price and convenience and it travels with me any time I go abroad.

I always intended for it to run linux as i assumed that it would be slow, however I've only just got round to converting it as it actually works fine with Windows 10.

While installing my chosen distro (I'm a Debian or Manjaro user depending on the situation), I discovered a bit of a snag, while the CPU is 64bit, the EFI bootloader is only 32 bit. This means you either have to install a 32bit distribution and in this instance I wanted to use Manjaro which has officially dropped support for 32bit.

The Solution

After doing a bit of googling it seems there are a variety of ways to get this working, however non of them seemed simple enough for my liking. Below is the nice easy method I used.

  1. Download the latest 64 bit Manjaro ISO (I used Manjaro XFCE 20.0.3)
  2. Write the image to a USB Stick (4GB) - I used Rufus to write it from Windows. This will destroy any data on the stick, as well as makign the stick read only temporarily as it writes the stick in ISO mode.
  3. Copy everything off the stick to a folder.
  4. Take a note of the volume label of the USB stick, youll need it in a few steps.
  5. Remove all the partitions on the stick, create a single Fat 32 partition filling the whole stick.
  6. Copy everything back onto the stick as it was.
  7. Rename the volume lable back to what it was originally.
  8. Copy the 32 bit efi boot files to the stick to enable it to boot on the MicroPC.
  9. Connect a USB hub to the MicroPC, plug in the new USB stick and a wired keyboard.
  10. Hold ESC while powering on the MicroPC to get to the boot menu.
  11. Use the Secure Boot menu to disable secure boot. Press F10 to save and when it reboots, hold ESC again to get the menu up.
  12. Use the boot menu option to select the USB, whcih shoudl now boot to the normal Manjaro Live mode.
  13. Install as normal, making sure to do an EFI install. On modern images this will actually detect the 32bit EFI and install the right version of grub for you, meaning after installing you can simply remove the USB and reboot to boot into the installed system.