Intel Compute-Stick - success!

Got NomadBSD up and running just fine on several models of Intel Compute-Sticks and thought I’d provide some notes:

Right now I’m only running from an external usb boot of NomadBSD, although I’m working on ways to figure out how to run from the internal mmc or even external eMMC devices like micro-sd cards, but for now usb booting is working fine and running in that environment.

Bios/EFI setup:
These are 64-bit capable EFI boxes, um sticks, however some may come default with 32-bit installations of Windows. I prefer to run EFI in 64 bit, even though ram is small, so I’m using the 64 bit NomadBSD images. Typically F2 at boot gets you in, but watch your screen if it is different.

To change to 64 bit operations, one goes into the bios/setup screens and it is an easy matter to change to a 64 bit operating system - even if your only choice is 64-bit Windows - use that even though we are booting 64 bit NomadBSD! Of course if you find out that secure-boot is enabled, disable it.

WARNING - do NOT, repeat DO NOT choose “Android” as a boot option. If you do, you won’t be able to simply reset things - you’ll be locked out of the setup routine and will have to go through major machinations to even get back in to fix it! Consider it bricked more or less unless you have android bootable material. You’ve been warned!

Boot from USB. Either tell setup to look for your USB as the first boot device (plugged in of course to be recognized) or use the boot-selection option at powerup.

My environment:
I’ve been running on early Gen1 and Gen2 versions of the ComputeStick. Hardware support varies, and some quirks will be noticed on these consumer-level devices. How much time you spend fixing them is up to you, although I personally take the slacker-solution rather than invest my lifetime fixing one-off issues. :slight_smile:

An example is that I normally run with an Anker 4-port usb 3.0 passive hub hanging off it to support keyboard, mouse, usb-boot stick of NomadBSD. That leaves one port free for things that may not work, like sound or wifi out of the box - depending on model. In those cases, I just use usb hardware dongles that DO work for the time being. Please don’t tell Michael Lucas I’m doing this. :slight_smile:

Here is an example of my Gen2 STK1AW32SC model:

Note that even though discontinued, recent bios/firmware updates are easy to get if you want to go that far. In my case, I usually just boot with a *.bio image on a dedicated empty card to do it. Others may feel more comfortable with using the Windows util. I have a tendency to wipe Windows away, so booting with a .bio image is how I normally do it. Heh, try doing that easily with a no-name clone…

Note: on this model, booting anything from the micro-sd slot has been disabled by the oem! Might save you pulling some hairs trying to do so, when earlier Gen-1 models would!!

Gen1 models:
These very early models came with either Windows 8.1 or Ubuntu 14.04 on them. The Ubuntu models were saddled with very small interal mmc boot / storage. Sound was always an issue with alternative o/s boots, along with wifi support etc. Still, somewhat recent firmware can be obtained from Intel.

Thus it is no surprise that NomadBSD doesn’t recognize them either. HOWEVER, as a true NomadBSD slacker with a 4-port hub handy, those issues are easily fixed using more modern usb <> audio dongle and usb<>wifi dongle.

I’m not interested in Bluetooth, so I don’t concern myself with those issues.

Dongle notes:
I don’t feel ashamed not spending my life trying to fix a one-off hardware issue and resorting to dongles that are supported by NomadBSD out of the box. For instance, I use 802.11AC 5ghz connections with my Panda wifi dongles, which this Gen1 computestick’s wifi doesn’t support 5ghz anyway!

Conclusion:
As long as one keeps a reasonable expectation of performance, these little consumer level items can be useful with NomadBSD.

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Tip for those wishing to keep Windows on the stick:

One nifty thing is that most come with 32-bit Windows, and we are running 64-bit NomadBSD. To switch back and forth, it is a simple matter then to just go into the bios/efi setup (F2) and change the OS from Window32 to Windows64 (NomadBSD in disguise) Thats it - no need for mucking about the bootloader etc.

It is highly unlikely you are going to be wanting to update and trying to bring Windows up to date. You are aware of the security implications of not doing so.

But you are also aware of how dinky little boxes like these may just balk at the massive upgrade and end up hammering the cpu forever going nowhere.

Unless you are very skilled at manually stopping the upgrade attempts, I have had very good luck using a simpler utility:

StopUdates10

I don’t provide a link, so you can look it up yourself from the “greatis” site.
Works on 7, 8 and 10 actually.

One reason for me not to totally remove it is:

I still rely on a windows application from the SD-CARD assocation to properly format sd-cards. Can reach into the internal controllers and fix things if they are non-optimal. Simple DD’ing and other techniques from commercial os’s don’t reach into the controllers. Another thread for another time…

Performance?

In case anyone was wondering, NomadBSD 1.4 running on one of these is roughly similar to running a Raspberry Pi 3B+. No I have not made any in-depth measurements, just casual desktop use. And I’m talking about Intel-made stick here - I have not tried any of the other clones out there.

Sure, it uses a little bit more power - about 150ma more at 5v (about 450 to 500ma idle) than a 3B+. Still very usable for those who may wish to use these off cellphone powerbanks / solar setups like I’m doing right now.

Although that’s a whole separate topic, and not truly NomadBSD specific, one big advantage to using a stick like this is that it will truly shutdown, and not leave a little led sucking power from a powerbank while you are on vacation like an RPI does. :slight_smile: