Ubuntu 12.04 on a Nano PC nT-1200

9 May

I recently set up a fully working Ubuntu 12.04.2 32-bit (yes, with working display / video card!) on a Foxconn nT-1200 Nano PC (Intel Atom D2500 with Intel GMA 3600 video card) and a OCZ 120 GB SSD and G-Skill 4 GB RAM.

I was able to get this entire setup from Newegg.com for about $250 – quite a deal! (I already had a Samsung 22″ monitor and keyboard and mouse I used for the install.)

Note that only Ubuntu 12.04 (and the 32-bit version, at that) will work on this specific Nano PC – the Intel GMA 3600 is encumbered by proprietary PowerVR chips which don’t have any drivers supported beyond 12.04 (I couldn’t get the video card to work on 12.10 or 13.04).

Also, you will need to have a bootable USB stick with Ubuntu 12.04.2 32-bit ISO installed using Startup Disk Creator (the Nano PC doesn’t have an optical drive).

So having gotten that out of the way, here are the steps on how I got a fully working nT-1200 with Ubuntu 12.04:

  1. Open up the nT-1200. This is actually a bit of a chore, since the screws are really deep inside the case. Luckily Foxconn provides a small screwdriver that lets you get to the screws and remove them.
  2. Once you have the case open, you should be able to pop in your 2.5-inch SATA drive (mine was an OCZ 120 GB SSD) and RAM. Note that the RAM has to be PC3-1066 and a 206-pin version.
  3. Put case back together. Connect your Nano PC to power, as well as a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
  4. At this point – before booting up – make sure to stick your USB boot stick with Ubuntu 12.04 32-bit inserted into the Nano PC.
  5. When the BIOS boot screen comes up, hit “Delete” to bring up BIOS options.
  6. In the BIOS options, use the right arrow on the keyboard to get to “Boot options”.
  7. The first boot device by default will be “Hard drive”. Scroll down to reach “Hard drive boot options.”
  8. There you will see (if you have your USB already inserted) an option to select the first HDD boot device – USB or HDD. Choose your USB as the first boot option.
  9. Hit F10 on the keyboard to save the boot settings and reboot.
  10. It should boot into your USB boot drive with Ubuntu 12.04. Do wait for a few seconds, the screen will blink for a bit, but that’s fine, it should show you your regular install screen after a bit.
  11. Follow the regular Ubuntu install procedure to install Ubuntu on your SSD.
  12. Once install is complete, reboot, and this time, hit “Del” to get to the BIOS, and change the “Hard drive boot options” to boot from SSD first.
  13. Hit F10 to save the boot options, pop out your USB stick, and boot from your SSD.

If all goes well, you should be able to boot into your spanking new Ubuntu 12.04 on the Foxconn Nano PC!

Note that for me, Ubuntu didn’t recognize the monitor resolution automatically on the VGA cable. I had to add this line to the /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf file:

xrandr --output VGA-0 --mode 1920x1080

That allows xrandr to automatically set the monitor resolution to the right size when booting up (make sure to change the 1920×1080 resolution to the right one for your monitor.

That should do it! At this point you should have a fully working Ubuntu OS on your Nano PC – enjoy! (And no Windows taxes to pay on this one!)

One Response to “Ubuntu 12.04 on a Nano PC nT-1200”

  1. Jeff Hutchison January 23, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

    I realize this is an old blog, but anyone attempting to use these nano-pc’s might benefit from knowing that you can ssh into a headless install and blacklist the offending video driver


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