Roughly speaking, the MinnowBoard Max1 is a Raspberry Pi like board based around an Intel Atom. It’s rather more expensive than the Pi, but crucially has a SATA port which allows one to connect a normal disk-drive.


I tried installing the 64-bit versions of both Mint 17 MATE2 and Ubuntu 14.04.01 server3 edition. Both appeared to work, but I’ve not run either in anger yet.

One needs a magic incantation to convert the OS ISO image into a format suitable for a USB stick. On OS X:

hdiutil convert -format UDRW -o out.img in.iso

A new kernel

When playing with hardware the Linux kernel has many useful modules which are not enabled in the stock Ubuntu & Mint builds. So I compiled my own kernel.4

I put a copy of the kernel config5 on GitHub. My kernel tree’s been patched to include notro’s tftfb6 device.


The MAC address7 of the Ethernet adapter was set to 00:00:00:00:00:00 which seemed to break the network.

Happily it’s easy to hack this on a live system, and patch /etc/network/interfaces to solve the problem permanently. Wikibooks tells you all you need to know.8

Patch it in firmware

In principle, I think Intel’s firmware updater9 should allow you to set the MAC address. It didn’t appear to work for me though.

SATA power

I hooked up an old Crucial SSD drive to the SATA port. Experiments suggest that the drive only needs a 5V power rail, and 5V is conveniently available on J2 next to the SATA port.


In other words, if you do try this it might, as far as I know, break something.

Luis Montoya pointed out to me that this approach is discussed on the mailing list.10

Online help.

CPU data

I’ve been playing with the dual-core version, which uses an Intel Atom E3825.14 The datasheet15 for the CPU runs to some 5,000 pages, but can be helpful!