Puppy Linux on the MK802 $74 mini PC

The MK802 is a tiny computer that looks like a large USB flash drive. It has a 1.5 GHz Allwinner A10 processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage, as well as USB and HDMI ports.

But one of the most interesting things about this little $74 computer (available from AliExpress) is the microSD card slot. That’s because while the MK802 ships with the Google Android 4.0 operating system, you can also boot a different OS directly from a microSD card.

We’ve already explored how to run a version of Ubuntu Linux on the MK802. Today I took a light-weight operating system called Puppy Linux for a spin.

MK*02 running Puppy Linux

Puppy is designed to run well on computers with slow processors, little RAM, and other limitations — which makes it an excellent choice for a low power device like the MK802.

Following links from CNX Software, I found a version of Puppy pre-built for devices with Allwinner A10 processors, and then loaded it onto a microSD card using the same steps involved in creating an Ubuntu 10.04 bootable SD card (Basically just extract the mele-sd-4gb-lui-5.2.90.img file and then use Win32 Disk Imager to write the image to your microSD card).

Once that was done, all I had to do was insert the microSD card in the MK802, connect a display, power source, and mouse and keyboard. A few minutes later, Puppy was up and running.

Puppy isn’t the prettiest or the most user-friendly Linux-based operating system I’ve used. But it runs pretty quickly on the MK802, and most features seem to work right out of the box.

I had no trouble connecting to my wireless network or running most of the the apps that came pre-installed including a spreadsheet app and text editor. The SeaMonkey web browser didn’t seem to want to open, but I used the Puppy package manager to download and install Firefox 3.6. While it took a little while for the browser to launch or load web pages, I’m still kind of impressed that a $74 , mini computer can handle full desktop-style applications at all.

For the most part, I’ve only been playing with operating systems that have been compiled by other users so far. But CNX Software has instructions for building your own disk image based on Debian, Ubuntu, or another operating system. The images can be used for an MK802, Mele A1000, or other tablet or mini PC with an Allwinner A10 CPU.

  • wallyrulz


  • Sarah

    Please, please, please, please, please change the HDMI overscan setting on your monitor if your adventures with the MK802 will be continuing. I’ve developed a nervous tick from looking at your photos.

    • Sarah

      My apologies, I just watched your video where you explained the situation. I’ll try to keep my OCD under control.

      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        Hehe, trust me… I would it I could. I might invest in an HDMI to VGA adapter to see if that helps.

        I do have a few other displays in the house that might work better, but it’s most convenient to experiment in my office, where the Dell monitor is the only display with an HDMI input.

      • florixc
  • http://www.facebook.com/lorne.hammond Lorne Hammond

    You’ve given Onlive a try, but how about onlive desktop – its available in the play market. Instead of trying to install os’s onto this device, why not just run ICS and stream your os.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IMKZUY3WNZRSUCWGXUAQQDBUCE First

    Kickass Brad. You really have delved into this little device. I’m still skeptical about my actual usage, so waiting.

    It would be awesome if you could get hold of a webcam and test that Skype functionality.

  • Hubert

    XBMC would be awesome :)

  • sola

    Good stuff.

    I imagine the next generation of low-cost dual-core SOCs (like the Rockchip RK3060) will be able to properly run Ubuntu, Firefox and LibreOffice.

    Now, that will be a revolution.

  • Michael Alexander

    Miniand has successfully built Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu and Kubuntu 12.04 images for the MK802 and has them for download on their site.

    They have information about it in their forums: https://www.miniand.com/forums/forums/2/topics/1

  • CYouth

    Thx brad for taking my request, puppy looks much better and there are a few visual tweak you can install to make it a little more appealing to the eye. But tbh it looks good enough to me haha. Can you do another video of it running the new released lubunti image? Also I think there is ALIP img floating around as well

  • Markus

    Hey Brother! How are you? I could not enter on miniand forum… Can I get those images somewhere else? Thanks!

  • Gary Newell

    I think Puppy Linux is perfect for these sort of devices. It would probably be good to go for Lucid Puppy for ease of use or remaster it to make it look prettier. For a cheap retro gaming console mix the MK802 with Puppy Arcade!!! I wrote a similar review on my blog about Puppy Linux and the Raspberry PI (http://everydaylinuxuser.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/5-ways-to-use-puppy-linux.html)

  • Alex Caldas

    My wireless didn’t worked

  • asdfg

    How about puppy linux arcade? That would be awesome.

  • bagus

    Brad, How if You use better device like MK908 Quad Core with bigger memory, and how to make a replaceable another distro of linux OS on some kind device? thanks