How-To: Get wifi working on an ECS LIVA Mini PC Kit with Ubuntu

sysadminIf you bought a LIVA Mini PC kit from ECS and want to install Ubuntu on it, you’re in for a treat, but you’ll want to read this post to get wifi working.

The LIVA Mini PC kit is an Intel Bay Trail-M based miniature PC kit currently being sold with 2GB of RAM, 32 or 64 GB of eMMC storage, and a small form factor including an RJ45 jack for ethernet, a VGA port, an HDMI port, and two USB ports. The box is manufactured by Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) out of Taiwan, and is a better system than an Intel NUC for building a home theater pc (HTPC), although it’s about as poorly supported by the development community.

I downloaded the 64 bit version of Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS (Trusty Tahr) and used Rufus to build a bootable Ubuntu USB drive, as indicated in the instructions on the DVD that came with the LIVA in an Ubuntu directory. The instructions were written for Ubuntu 13.10 64 bit (BETA).

Wifi not working?

Almost everything worked out of the box with Ubuntu 14.04.1, except for the M.2 AzureWave AW NB136NF wireless (and bluetooth) card. The NB135NF uses the Broadcom BCM43142 chip.

Inside the Ubuntu directory on the DVD is a WLAN folder with some instructions on installing the wireless drivers. Basically, you copy the firmware and nvram files named brcmfmac-sdio.bin and brcmfmac-sdio.bin.txt into the /lib/firmware/brcm directory. Unfortunately, these instructions don’t work as of Ubuntu 3.13.0-0.14.

If you’re using this version or later of Ubuntu, you’ll find that the Broadcom device is not initialized properly. In the syslog, you’ll find this message:

kernel: [    5.841014] brcmfmac: brcmf_sdbrcm_get_fw: fail to request firmware brcm/brcmfmac43241b4-sdio.txt (-2)

This is because on 10/3/2013, a committer to the Linux kernel merged in a patch from Broadcom, which was then merged into Ubuntu by canonical and released as an update on 01/03/2014, in Ubuntu 3.13.0-0.14.

This patch made it so that the system could support multiple Broadcom devices by changing the name of the nvram file from a generic brcmfmac-sdio.bin.txt to a filename that included the chip id and revision.

The fix is rather easy, and just requires one to rename the file and reboot after following the included instructions.

cd /lib/firmware/brcm
sudo mv brcmfmac-sdio.bin.txt brcmfmac43241b4-sdio.txt

 

16 thoughts on “How-To: Get wifi working on an ECS LIVA Mini PC Kit with Ubuntu

  1. Thanks so much! This helped my Fedora 21 install too! The drivers from rpmfusion-nonfree did not include the .txt file. I copied that from the DVD (inside the zip fie: /Ubuntu/WLAN/brcmfmac-sdio.zip) over to /lib/firmware/brcm/brcmfmac43241b4-sdio.txt and stuff started working!

  2. the wifi on this thing is horrible. The signal is so bad I’m thinking about putting in an external card which is pretty dumb.

  3. when i install os(ubuntu server 14.04.1),the installer show that it can not found the hard disk device. can you tell me why? thank you very very much!!

  4. Unfortunately not. I didn’t have that problem. Perhaps the eMMC storage is loose or missing. However, I didn’t try Ubuntu Server, perhaps it lacks the correct driver for eMMC storage.

  5. Hello…
    I was able to use your directions to get the drivers installed and the WiFi card to work (thank you) but I have an issue where it keeps asking for the WEP key even though it has been entered.

    Would you happen to know what could cause this?

  6. Charly and Matthew,

    I’ve read that the card has problems with AES encryption. Try TKIP if it’s available. Also, make sure that your antenna is connected securely to the main board. I personally did not have any problems for the few weeks that I used the wifi. I’m now on ethernet, though.

  7. I’m pretty new to this so please bear with me
    1. Does the ECS LIVA have the same problem as Atom Baytrail (does not support 64bit UEFI bootloader)
    2. Once installation is complete, will it boot to Ubuntu or any OS even without a monitor attached. I’m planning to setup remote access.
    3. Will Ubuntu install into msata SSD on the ECS Liva. Since emmc is not working and I’m getting several issues with the wifi. I thinking of ditching the wifi card for an external usb wlan then replace add an msata ssd.
    4. Has anyone tried schedule powerup then boot directly to Ubuntu gui.
    Thanks!!!

  8. Hi,

    I was wondering if there is an update to this instruction for 15.04? I can’t seem to make this work using the instructions you provided. It worked before, though, for 14.04 LTS. Thanks!

  9. So I got the wireless working in Ubuntu 15.10 but I can find no sign of Bluetooth anywhere. Any idea where to look? I have looked though all the settings.

  10. Ive sucessfully installed Ubuntu 15.04 without any issues. I am currentlly writing this on the LIVA. I’ve got a dual monitor system going on this thing and its awesome!!
    As reported, WIFI card needs the workaround for it to work. Mine is shows up now, after the workaround, and lists all available wifi networks. But it wont connect to my network? Its simply keeps trying and trying. This may be due to the encryption issue that was mentioned by Mark. I am not about to change my entire network’s settings for this one device, so I simply unplugged the wireless wifi dongle from my raspberry pi, plugged it up the LIVA, and it works. Now, my issue has been stability on the wireless network. I can be on for a good while (5-10min), then I get kicked out. I have to disable the WIFI and re-enable it, to reconnect. I dont know why?
    I just enabled 2 monitor setup about 20 minutes ago and connection hasnt dropped, I know the two arent related but its a strange coincidence!!
    Anyway, I planned on placing this device near a wired ethernet jack, so wireless will not be an issue for me very much longer.
    Overall, Im extremelly happy with the ECS LIVA 32gb/2gb ram. Its running a FULL blown desktop on two monitors and handling it quite nicely 20-40% CPU performance is the highest Ive seen during this session. I have 4 items running, system monitor, system display settings, thunderbird mail, this firefox session.

  11. I was able to get the wifi working in Ubuntu 14.04 on the Liva mini (1st gen), but not the bluetooth. I’ve scoured for an updated driver from broadcom for Ubuntu..any version, but so far have come up with nothing that changes the behaviour of the wifi or enables/fixes bluetooth. The wifi, ..works.. provided you are pretty much directly near your wireless router, and even then it will slow to a crawl often when downloading larger files, and still sometimes drop the connection and fail to reconnect automatically. I has to be either rebooted or wifi / networking reset. I bought this for my kid to play vanilla minecraft, and it works like a champ for that purpose. It would be nice to have stable wifi,.. and if I could get a bluetooth driver updated ..well.. I would probably throw a party over that, and you’re all invited.

  12. Hi Mark,

    I have the same problem with owansoft: I can’t install ubuntu server because the eMMC storage is not recognized. It asks me to partition and install on the SD card that stores the installation image.

    I am wondering whether you have managed or tried to install ubuntu server on a liva x?

    Thanks,
    Panos

  13. I see there still is not reply for the BLUETOOTH. Too bad. The instructions worked just fine otherwise.

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