The Beelink S1 is promoted as supporting Ubuntu 16.04.
Above is a snip from the product’s Amazon page. Now to be fair, the text appears to be written by a distributor, and so I won’t attribute the text to Beelink. But the promotion makes the mini PC to be an attractive proposition for a Linux box.
I had a mix of live Linux distros (Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, etc) on DVDs and USB memory sticks of various sizes to hand. The images were written with a variety of software (Etcher, Rufus and others) with MBR and GPT partition schemes, and partition schemes designed for BIOS.
Accessing the BIOS (pressing the Delete key) on boot up looks promising. This is because both legacy and UEFI boot modes are available.
The DVDs and memory sticks are all recognized in the BIOS. As the screenshot above shows, my external USB DVD drive is recognized. But despite bags of experimentation, not a solitary DVD or memory stick would boot Linux. That’s right! Absolutely nothing would boot Linux either using UEFI or Legacy boot modes. And I verified the DVDs and memory sticks work fine on other UEFI PCs, which all booted to Linux without a hitch. Strangely a Windows 8 DVD booted fine. Maybe the software I’m using to burn DVDs and memory sticks don’t meet some exacting standard?
The Beelink S1 doesn’t list the micro SD card slot or the 1GB mechanical hard disk as boot options, so sadly these options were not available as installation methods.
After spending an inordinate amount of time seeking to boot Linux on the PC, I contacted Beelink’s support. Surely it can’t be that difficult to install Linux? Maybe the hardware was faulty or I was missing the bleeding obvious? I asked for their advice on how to boot Linux from a USB key or USB DVD drive, given the PC is promoted supporting Ubuntu 16.04.
Within 24 hours a member of their technical support made contact. The speed of the response was impressive. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the content.
HI dear ??? An unusual introduction. Whatever. As you can see, Beelink recommends using Windows 10 or to return the device to China at my expense. I’d rather pop my todger between two floury buns and shout “Dinner time, Fido!”
If anyone has the Beelink S1 running Linux, please let me know. I’d love to write a review of the mini PC running Linux. If you are looking for a cheap Windows 10 box, the S1 is superior to many of its competitors. But for Linux, it’s probably best to look elsewhere unless you want to run it in a virtual box!