So I like running a full computer on my TV. It’s just convenient to be able to easily to Youtube, torrent stuff directly on it, copy files to it over sftp, play any media file I can find, etc etc. Our last “tv box” was a small nettop that was a little under powered: it chocked on high def video files and full screen youtube. So I’ve been waiting for a replacement that fit the following parameters: cheap (less than $400), small nettop form factor and light on power consumption, and more powerful. The Lenovo Q190 hit the mark with dual core and 4gb ram. My only concern was it was a Windows 8 box so it’d be the first time installing Linux on a secure boot machine.

The good news is it went really well. First note, the Windows 8 partition resizer may be the best thing about Windows 8. I remember being stoked when Windows got its own partition resizer back in Vista or Windows 7 days. The only slight con was that it was pretty hungry. If you were using only 20GB on a fresh install, it wouldn’t shrink much lower than 60GB… But the new Windows 8 one is hilarious and will let you shrink down to 100% full. Also it’s unbelievably fast, like I had to reload it to double check it had actually done the shrink.

After that, rebooted the machine and jammed F1 (ok actually I jammed F1, F2, F8, F9, F10, F11, F12, and ESC) to bring up the “BIOS”. There I turned off Secure boot in the security menu, and turned off Quick Boot. Then the USB stick booted Ubuntu fine. The install ran fine too. I did have to go back into the BIOS after to reorder the boot drives. Ubuntu manager to name its partition in a way the BIOS could recognize so I just moved that in priority above Windows 8 and next reboot got Grub!

The device runs fine, all the high def files I could throw at it it ran fine and so far even full screen youtube on higher def seems to be ok.

The box is supposed to have Wifi but that doesn’t seem to have been recognized out of the box but that’s ok, I can either poke at it or leave it plugged into ethernet, not a deal breaker. It also came with an adorable hand held keyboard/mouse device but it’s bluetooth also doesn’t seem to be supported. But it fulfils what I need well so I’m pleased and secureboot was less of a pain to work around than I’d worried about, so yeah!