Hello folks, this post is about the Gigabyte BRIX (model GB-XM12-3227 rev 1.0) barebone computer. I bought this mini PC in order to transform it into an HTPC computer. I’ve managed to install Ubuntu with XBMC on it, so I will detail here the steps in case it may help some people out there.

Hardware

Here’s my hardware setup :

  • mSATA disk : Crucial SSD M4 CT128M4SSD3 128 GB
  • 8 gb memory : 2 X Kingston KVR1333D3S9/4G
  • In the box : Intel Core i3-3227U CPU @ 1.90 GHz, mini PCIE Wifi card (RTL8188CE), Power supply cable
  • External Drive : Seagate Expansion Desktop 3,5″ 3TB USB 3.0

Different OS tested

Once I was with my BRIX on hands, I tried to install different Ubuntu based OSes.

To make a bootable usb key, I suggest you to use the Unetbootin app (macOS, Linux and Windows compatible).
To do so, follow the official tutorial at : http://doc.ubuntu-fr.org/unetbootin

XBMCBuntu 12.2

I’ve tested the ISO xbmcbuntu-12.2.Intel-NVIDIA and the install didn’t worked for me. The command line installation stoped at some point and my TV displayed : No Video Input.

Ubuntu 12.04

I’ve tested the official 64 bits version (xforcevesa and nomodeset grub options added), and the install stucks at

Ubuntu 13.04

Tested with the official 64 bits version (xforcevesa and nomodeset grub options added), and the install went as expected.

Gigabyte BRIX running Ubuntu 13.04

Gigabyte BRIX running Ubuntu 13.04

Devices drivers

Wifi

The RTL8188CE WIFI card got installed natively without any problems with Ubuntu 13.0.4

mSata

Disk seems to be responding well, here are the quick benchmarks I’ve made :

/dev/sda:
Timing cached reads: 11322 MB in 2.00 seconds = 5666.05 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 1106 MB in 3.00 seconds = 368.64 MB/sec

External Seagate Expansion Desktop USB 3.0 Drive

External disk seems to be working as well as the mSata. No problems until now.

/dev/sdb:
Timing cached reads: 11420 MB in 2.00 seconds = 5715.07 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 478 MB in 3.01 seconds = 158.69 MB/sec

Memory

Memory detected and installed correctly. lshw output :

slot A :
description: SODIMM DDR3 Synchronous 1333 MHz (0,8 ns)
vendor: Kingston
slot: ChannelA-DIMM0
size: 4GiB
width: 64 bits
clock: 1333MHz (0.8ns)

and

Slot B :
description: SODIMM DDR3 Synchronous 1333 MHz (0,8 ns)
vendor: Kingston
slot: ChannelB-DIMM0
size: 4GiB
width: 64 bits
clock: 1333MHz (0.8ns)

Wake on Lan (WOL) support

Using the ethtool Unix tool, I’ve checked that the network card supports WOL.

Gigabyte eth0 Wol support

Gigabyte eth0 Wol support

Update 1

Regarding the WOL functionality, here’s the answer I got from Gigabyte.

Dear XX,
After confirming with related department, GB-XM12-3227 (rev. 1.0) support Wake on LAN (WOL) function.
Regards, GIGABYTE

Update 2

Following Phil Wiffen’s great advise (check his article), I disabled the ERP support in the BIOS and the WOL functionality worked as it should.

I can now Wake-UP from the suspend, hibernate and poweroff states.

BIOS Update

I’ve installed the latest BIOS provided by Gigabyte (F5) without problems.
Please note that since I’ve the version F5 installed my Samsung TV has some trouble when it comes to display the BIOS settings screen. If I needed to guess, I would say it’s related to the resolution which the BIOS uses (1024×768).

I cannot be responsible for any damage you could do to your BRIX device. My advice is :

Don’t update the BIOS unless you know what you’re doing. Avoid doing it if not needed.

How to

Since Gigabyte doesn’t provide linux compatible tools for flashing you will need a DOS environnment to perform the flash.
The simplest choice you have is to use FreeDOS.

  1. Get a usb pen drive and format it to FAT32
  2. Use UNetbootin to install FreeDOS on it (you can download FreeDOS directly from the UNetbootin app)
  3. Download the executable file into a Windows computer and extracts the contents to a temp folder. You should have three files (ex: AFU303.exe, flash.bat, HM3AP.F5)
  4. Copy these three files to the pen drive (don’t put in a folder)
  5. Modify the BRIX bios settings in order to accept the boot from the usb pen drive
  6. Once you’have boot on FreeDOS, launch the flash.bat and it will start the flash process (it took me approximately 3 min)