Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How to install Kubuntu on a Chuwi Hi13

I've always dreamed to have an ubuntu-tablet. Chuwi promises official support for Ubuntu for this device. I think this Chuwi can cause a revolution: If installing ubuntu would be just as easy as insert a usb-stick and hit OK, this can be a great succes, and a way to bring ubuntu to a larger community of users.

I ordered mine by Chuwi QH store. Good store: very helpfull and correct:

Finally, after some problems with declaration by DHL, it arrives! What a nice device: very premium-feel aluminium finish.

So I couldn't wait to install ubuntu on it. Made an ubuntu USB-live-stick, and inserted it. You guess what: nothing happened...

I googled and studies for hours and hours, and now I have Ubuntu for Gnome successfully installed on the Chuwi HI13.
Nearly everything is working out-of-the-box, except grub. You have to replace it by Refind.


First we are going to update the bios of the Chuwi HI13. Because newest version has more options to boot from USB.
Go to:
and download bios:

Use your old windows computer once more... Download and install rufus on your windows computer:

Insert your first USB-stick, and copy the files to it, using Rufus.

Now we are going to make a bootable USB-stick with ubuntu.
Download Ubuntu for gnome live ISO.

Insert you second USB-stick, and burn the ubuntu iso to it, using Rufus.
Open your USB-stick with windows file browser.
Go to: Efi/Boot.
There you see 2 files:
BootX64.efi and:
Delete them and replace them with the Refind version I prepared for you:
In the directory Boot, you find the two needed files:

Notice I added a menu entry at the bottom of refind.conf.
The options i have copied from boot/grub/grub.cfg:
menuentry "Try Ubuntu GNOME" {
    loader  /casper/vmlinuz.efi
    options "file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-gnome.seed boot=casper quiet splash ---"
    initrd    /casper/initrd.lz
Then: copy the second dir on my google-drive:
to the root of your usb-stick. We will need it later.

Oke, your life stick is ready.

Now we are going to update the bios of your Chuwi HI13.
Take your chuwi HI13. Insert  your first usb-stick with bios update.
Be sure battery is 50% or more.

Please make sure windows is properly shutted down, and not in fastboot mode.
You can disable it in windows menu structure (goodluck to find it, i can not find anything in windows menu...) or use restart in stead of shutdown.
Then hit continuously F2 during boot, you will enter the UEFI-BOOT-screen.
Go to boot, and change the order so your usb-stick is first.

Now you can restart, and can succesfully update your UEFI-BOOT.

Now we are going to install ubuntu.
After updating your UEFI-Boot, insert the second USB-stick, and boot again.
Maybe you have to visit again the UEFI-BOOT and change the boot order.
Finally you should be able to startup refind on your USB-stick, you get some very small letters, I need my glasses to read them!
Choose:  Try Ubuntu GNOME
Now you get a fully working ubuntu from live ISO.
Choose install, after choosing language you can login to your WIFI-network, and check extra repositories. Note that WIFI is wqorking out-of-the-box!
Finally, you get a menu with several choices of installation.
install nearby windows, replace windows, and so on, choose the last one:
"something else"
Now you get an inserted version of gparted diskeditor.
Choose the secund ntfs-partition (It is the windows C-partotion) and shrink it with about 20 Gb.
Make a new partition with EXT4 in this empty space of about 17 Gb, choos "/ "as mount point.
Make a secund partition of about 3 Gb, and choose: swap memory.
I bought myself a sd-card of 128 Gb as my home-partition. It costed me 50 €.
So choose the Sd-card, delete the fat32 partition, and make a new one of EXT4, and mountpoint "/home"
now go on with installation.

After install, choose restart.
But you can not boot into ubuntu, because your ubuntu install used Grub, and grub is not working.

But you can boot from life-stick. It wil start Refind, and refind will automatically find your new ubuntu install.
So you tablet is fully working, but for booting you have to insert the usb-life-stick, after boot you can remove it again.

This is not an elegant solution, but we can fix it!

You have to add refind to the ESP windows bootloader.
I figured out a bit complex way in 4 steps. Hold on for 15 minutes.

step 1: mount the GPT-boot-partotion
Once booted into your fresh installed ubuntu,
install gparted:
sudo apt-get install gparted
look at the name and mountpoint of the GPT boot-partition.
Something like:

now you know the name, open terminal and type:
sudo mount /dev/mcmlbk1p1 /mnt

Now your GPT-boot-partition is mounted under /mnt

step 2: copy the refind-files to the GPT-boot-partition.
open terminal and type: sudo nautilus
now filebrowser opens with admin rights.
Be carefull what you are doing. Don't delete any windows files.
Go to /mnt/EFI/boot
In this dir, you copy the complete content of the dir: "refind" you copied earlier to the root of you USB-stick.
you must have:
refind.conf-sample (it is not necessary to change it)

If you want, you can delete the grub bootloader. Delete directory: "Ubuntu". It removes a  not-working ubuntu-button in you refind bootscreen

Then it is not working alraedy. You can try:
sudo efibootmgr
It does not see the new boot entry...

Step 3:
restart and boot into windows .
download and install the app: EasyUEFI.
start it, choose the left button.
Choose add entry
search for the REFIND you have just installed.
give it a name: "Refind"

Step 4:

Now restart into the UEFI-bootloader (continuously hit F2).
goto boot, at bottom of page you see: BBS priorities.
You see normally tree entries now:
ubuntu grub
change it so refind is first.
and you get a nice graphical refind loginscreen.

Further experiences with ubuntu.

I tried ubuntu unity, kubuntu, ubuntu gnome, mint mate, elementaryos, debian gnome and fedora gnome.

Mint and debian: no touchscreen support, you need the latest linux kernel to have it.
Kubuntu: definitely faster respons, the best working distro on this device.
But no onscreen keyboard at login, no support for rotating screen.
Ubuntu unity: no support for rotating, there is an onscreen keyboard, but it is half hidden under de screen corner, so useless. i don' t like the unity startmenu. And it is less faster responding then kubuntu.

I tested Ubuntu Gnome for a very long time.
Everything is supported: WIFI, bluetooth and touchscreen are working out-of-the-box.
Screen keyboard at login, working after you switch it on in: "settings --> universal acces"

Rotating screen automatically, works ! But in landscape mode, your screen is upside down. You have to turn it around, untill it is normal again, you hold you tablet flat, and you can lock the automatic turning from the taskbar. so, i can live with it for the moment... I figured out it is a bug in iio-sensor-proxy.
If you enter command: sudo monitor-sensor, you can see it is always 180 degree wrong...

I tried the: "dash to dock" gnome extension, but then gnome becomes very slow. And it opens all application two times. Don't use it!

The right-mouse-button menu, by tap-and-hold is working sometimes, only in gnome itself, not in other apps. So you need to hold your physical keyboard standby.
Firefox does not support touch-scrolling , but i found a firefox extension: "Grab and drag" . then it supports touch scrolling. Firefox is slow and not very responsive. But to be honest: I have more then 20 extensions and 400 favourites, and this all is synced between all my devices... Maybe an empty firefox is working well... Chromium is working very much better and faster.

The onscreen keyboard does not show up always: only in gnome itself, not in other applications, but i found a gnome extension: "onscreen keyboard button" that shows an icon on the taskbar to activate the keyboard:
Simply draw the onscreen button from off to on.

The onscreen keyboard is  sometimes covering your workspace. There is a handy gnome extension to solve it: Caribou-resize-workspace:
Simply draw the onscreen button from off to on.

I could succesfully connect my bluetooth speaker, but it did not show up as audio device. There was a simple solution:
Adding read permissions for the gdm user on the pulseaudio bin. Open terminal (CTRL-ALT-T) and type:
sudo setfacl -m u:gdm:r /usr/bin/pulseaudio
And restart the system.

Working speed is extremely slow and un-responsive. It seems to me my Chuwi is suffering under lack of support by the graphical drivers. Touch support is not everywhere on the screen, or is not good all the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. 
- double tap a folder in nautilus is only working after 10 times trying.
- the "back" button of firefox in the upper left corner is only responding after 10 hits.
- in: "Gparted" you can not switch from drive in the upper right corner, only with mouse, impossible with touch.
- and many more...

Therefore, I definitely moved away from Ubuntu for Gnome, and installed Kubuntu.

Here is the refind.conf menu entry:
menuentry "Try Kubuntu" {
    loader  /casper/vmlinuz.efi 
    options "file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu-gnome.seed boot=casper quiet splash ---"
    initrd    /casper/initrd.lz
- the touch problems I mentioned above aren't there in Kubuntu. It's all working fine.
- no onscreen keyboard at login: I set the Chuwi to automatically login, without asking password. Solved...
- the same with suspend mode: disable password asking. Done...
- Bluetooth is working out-of-the-box. Just have to switch your audio device manually.
- I played around with KDE: it is nice: you can change nearly everything. You can brake a lot. But there is always that very handy linux-method to restore a default desktop: open your Dolphin, make hidden files visible. Delete everything in your home-map that are not data-files. And then restart. Now you have your default desktop again.
- no rotating mode: you can set rotation in the settings menu manually, but no auto-rotate support. I will try to make some button in the taskbar by myself. Keep you in touch!

Joostvdw from Belgium


  1. Replies
    1. dear Денис Гайдамак, I have changed my blog, it is a detailed howto now. I have succesfully installed Kubuntu on the chuwi HI13. I tried ubuntu for unity en ubuntu gnome. There were both very slow, unity lacks some touch support, and is not very configurabel, gnome is nearly perfect, but is veeeery slooow... Kubuntu seems to work very good. It lacks also some touch support, but you can change and configure everything in KDE...

    2. Joost, did you pay customs duties on delivery of this device. How much it was?

      I'm interested to buy one but hight import fees stops me... can you share your experince

  2. Hello, i habe a question about the Partitions.
    I need a 20 GB NTFS ? Mount point ?
    And no ESP partition for the bootloader ?
    Its not Wirkung for me .
    Didvi need to create an uefi stick wuth rufus ?


  3. Dearest Denndsd,
    > I need a 20 GB NTFS ? Mount point ?
    No, you need for linux: an EXT4-partition. or two: it has some advantages to make a separate partotion for you /home (in windows: mydocuments). I used a TF-card for it.
    And a swap partition.
    so you need:
    EXT4 / min 10Gb
    EXT4 /home as large as possible
    SWAP roughly 3Gb

    But windows uses now the entire Disk, so you have to shrink te windows partition.

    > And no ESP partition for the bootloader ?
    Not at the moment, after install you add Refind to the windwos ESP.

    > Did I need to create an uefi stick wuth rufus ?

    Yes, i tries a lot of solutions, but with Rufus is the easyest.

    Goodluck !!

  4. Thank you for your answer.
    I cant boot from the Installation with the boot stick.
    When i Install Ubuntu I got the message that i need to create an ESP partition with 35 mb for the bootloader.
    I have created these PArtitions.

    EXT 4 30 GB /home
    Swap 3 GB Swap
    EXT 4 20 GB /
    I dont need an Windows PArtition beacause i dont have Windows on my tablet.
    So i tried to create an ESP PArtition and install the bootloader on it.
    but it doesnt work.

    1. Dear denndsd, you are almost there! Create a FAT32 partition of some megabites. And give it a Boot-flag (do it with gparted). Make a di "EFI" on it, and in efi a dir "BOOT". Coppy the content of the "refind"dir of my tutorial to it:
      I think you can restart now, and the UEFI-bootloader will find it. And refind on it starts, and fund automatically you installed ubuntu.

    2. Ah okay thanks.
      It works only half.
      I created an fat32 GB partition with the boot flag and gparted also set the esp flag.
      I cant boot directly from the Ubuntu installation but I can boot from the stick and then from the installation.
      But I always in the emergency mode because there is one partition that Ubuntu can't mount. See photo

    3. Dear Denndsd, I think you have deleted and made again one of your partotions. Then the UUID is changed. You have to change the UUID in /etc/fstab. But maybe better and faster is to do installation again, as it takes only a few minutes in linux... Goodluck!

    4. Okay,
      i reinstalled Ubuntu and created a Fat32 partition with the refind folder ./EFI/BOOT/
      I can boot from the stick and then from the installation but not from the installation direktly.

    5. Dear Denndsd: you are almost there. Boot your ubuntu install. once booted, the ESP-partition is mounted at /boot. I suppose you added the Refind here like I described. Now follow my blog: "Then change the boot-order with efimgr:
      opens an other terminal, and type:
      sudo efibootmgr

      You get the order of boot entries.

      Change it now, so that refind is first, with a command like:
      sudo efibootmgr -o 0001,0000,0002
      you have to change this command that it will fit your needs.

      Now restart into the UEFI-bootloader (continuously hit F2).
      goto boot, at bottom of page you see: BBS priorities.
      You see normally tree entries now:
      ubuntu grub
      change it so refind is first.


    6. Thank you,
      Its not working now.
      I copied the inside of the refind folder in /boot/efi/EFI/BOOT

      I can see the boot device ubuntu but i cant boot from it.
      When i select the ubuntu to boot , the screen turn off for a moment and then the same Screen appers.

  5. Thank you very much for your phantastic tutorial! I also received my Chuwi 13 3 days ago and I`m pretty impressed what you get for your money! It was also my dream to own a Linux tablet. It´s final destination will be in my practice as a thin client/fat client based on ubuntu which will boot on my main server, which will then do all its work. Im also really happy with the detachable kayboard. Even this is fun to type on. Doesnt feel cheap or anything, more like a mechanical one. So far I like it :-)

  6. About your rotation screen problems:
    (You should also checkout his blog:

    Good luck!
    Hope to get soon a chuwi like yours

    1. Dear Eduardo, Thanks for advise, i am so happy you and others are trying to help and think.
      But rotation is working fine in Ubuntu for Gnome (only in gnome, not in unitiy or kde) . The only problem is that it flips automattically in the upside down direction, only oin landscape, portrait is fine. I think it is a bug in iio-sensor-proxy.
      If you enter command: sudo monitor-sensor, I see it is always 180 degree wrong... Do you know a way to change this ?

  7. I have found the missing lnk, why you couldnt figure out to get a working refind bootloader. I have changed the blog, and descibed a howto in four steps. Good luck to everybody!

  8. I have succesfully installed Android X86 on the Chuwi HI13. This was marvellous: everything works out-of the-box, and at enormous speed. I am trying to make my HI13 triple boot. Keep you in touch!

    1. Hi Joost.

      Just tried to install Android_x86. But it does not detect the internal drive. How did you solve this part?

      Best regards

  9. Hello,
    Thank you for the much needed tutorial! :-)
    I got Ubuntu Gnome to be natively installed by following your instructiuons and it worked for a few boots and now it won't boot into it. It is caught some sort of a senor error. I deleted my windows install and now don't know how to get it back. Have you any advice?

    1. Maybe this issue :

  10. Also, I am excited to hear that you got Android installed as well! :-)

    Can you please share how you did it?

    Thank you for doing this!

  11. Hi Joost,

    I'm very curious how you got Android working! That would make this tablet even more awesome.


  12. Can you please share how you got Android working on our fabulous tablets? :-)

  13. I have succesfully made my CHUWI HI13 triple boot, added Android-x86. I made a new blogpost to describe a detailed howto. Please let me know your commands ? Thanks !!!

  14. Hello!

    I've just decided to buy one of these tablets although I do not have it just yet.

    First of all what version is the kernel you were using on kubuntu?

    Secondly, I wonder what chipset the cameras must be using. Since I don't have my tablet (yet) I can't tell but is there anything listed in lspci or lsusb?


    1. Should also say that I have a second device, a bben mini PC which uses the same chipset as this tablet ( Apollo lake N3450 ) and that works very well (although currently the debian installer dosen't understand that chip!).

      I do have debian on my bben device and pretty much everything works: sound, wifi, video, bluetooth no problems there. Since this tablet is the same chipset it should work just as well (my guess is the "guts" of all these devices is pretty much the same). Video performance was nice and fast no problems even in firefox.

      Maybe there is better support in debian stretch (which is what I'm using on the bben)....


  15. Hello, thank you very much for this post. I am trying to boot elementary os but I get the error: invalid loader file!
    Not found while loading vmlinuz.efi

    my entry is this:
    menuentry "Try elementary OS" {
    loader /casper/vmlinuz.efi
    options "file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper quiet splash ---"
    initrd /casper/initrd.lz

    Could you please help me?

  16. hey dude, i'm french tech guy how want to translate your tutorial in french . Are you ok about that ? The french tutorial (with a link to your page) is

    See ya ;)

  17. on my recent hi13 I have bios ap1v116_x64.rom which I saved in a file 8388608 bytes date 16/05/2017

  18. Hi, Just finished to install my Kubuntu on the HI13 and put dwm on it. Everything work fine excep the camera (front and back) . Any idee ?

  19. I've installed Kubuntu following this great tutorial. However, I have an issue with right-mouse-click, it doesn't work and everything on the screen is too small.

  20. great work! helps a lot to figure out on my lenovo yoga tab 2, but there are driver problems with the wolfson sound card and the broadcom gnss geolocation driver for gps. nevertheless thank you very much!

  21. Thanks for the great writeup! I just installed the latest kubuntu using these instructions. I already had BIOS v1.16 which was able to boot from USB, so I didn't change that. The one part I got a bit stuck was booting into the newly installed OS. Refind didn't find it with just the 2 files in EFI/Boot. I copied all the other files from the refind directory into there, and that made it find it. I think it was probably lacking the ext4 driver before.

    I also found out it's a bad idea to lift up the laptop by its screen during the installation. It easily separates from the keyboard, which is usually no big deal, but as I had the install media USB in the keyboard's USB slot, this caused the install to fail.

  22. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences!
    Please let me know the right choice in the drop down menu "Device for boot loader instalation" in the "Something else" option.

    Thank you very much.


  23. Hi,

    Just got my Chuwi Hi13, created "your" Ubuntu stick and I am running it from the stick. I get Wifi but no support for the Touchscreen (I used Ubuntu 17).

    Did you do anything special for the touchscreen, or may it be that Chuwi changed the hardware in new models?

    Thank you for your tutorial anyway.


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