Sunday, January 6, 2013

Install Ubuntu on Rockchip MK803-III ARM MiniPC

My daughter and I are beginning a quest to build a new robot based on a Neato XV11. Part of the "brains" of this machine will be a $60 Rockchip MK803-III RK3066 mini-pc. It ships with Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" pre-installed, however, for the purposes of this project I will need a Linux Kernel and User-space that is far more capable.

 A developer by the alias "AndrewDB" has taken the time to configure a kernel, assemble a filesystem, and test it all for the RK3066 common platforms. This is what I will be using as the platform for my software development.

Steps to install Ubuntu 12.10:

Root the Android Installation:

  • The way I have found to get this done is to install a new Android ROM.   I have choosen to use popular ROM by the developer with the alias "Finless" called "UG802 Finless ROM 1.6 'custom' JellyBean" Obtained Here
  • The instructions of that thread pertain mostly to installing this on the UG802 based device with a ICS ROM already installed.  I suspect due to the 802-III already having JB on the device there is a crucial step that is missing:
    • There is a step in the ROM installation where you need to be able to put the device into Flash Mode.   The supplied RKFlashTool with that ROM does not work on our device to do that.  
      • You will need to additionallty install the RKBatchTool
      • If selecting the "Reboot To Flash Mode" button fails (as it did for me), run the RKBatchTool, and click the "Switch" button. 
      • The device will reboot and go to a blank screen and the RKFlashTool will then find the device correctly.  Continue following the instructions from the Finless ROM.
  • After completing the installation you will now have a new Android ROM that is pre-rooted.
Flashing Ubuntu:
  • From the rooted Android ROM:
    • Run the included "Reboot" application to get back into Flash Mode
  • Flash and follow the instructions provided by AndrewDB here.
You should now have a dual boot Android JB and Ubuntu 12.10 computer.


  1. You say that the rkflashtool failed to work for you; it's also not working for me on an mk809; how did it fail for you.

    1. The RKFlashtool would not reboot the machine into flash mode. It was giving me an error alluding to it not being in the right mode to switch it. The other tool had no issues rebooting it.

  2. How are you controlling your robot? Bluetooth? Just curious. Thanks!

  3. Over WiFi. Ill be posting an entry on that soon as I just got it all up and running now.

  4. Hey, how would I go about removing Ubuntu from the device? It won't load to Android anymore, every time I turn it on it loads to Ubuntu or waits to load if I do not have the micro sd card in. Any ideas?

  5. Will it work for MK803 ver.1 2012/11/30?