Running Linux on a VIA EPIA ME6000

Back in 2004, I bought a VIA EPIA ME6000 mainboard with the intention of installing Linux and having some fun... well, it turns out for a long time I had less fun than I imagined! Being somewhat of a newbie to Linux I wrestled with not only the joys of Linux configuration but also the peculiarities of getting it to run on something that is almost, but not quite, a full-on Intel-based PC platform.

However, rest assured that installing and running Linux on such a platform can be done. I managed it eventually, and here I describe how I did it (easily, in the end).

The hardware

This is the hardware configuration I have.

Choose the right Linux!

Inspired by a friend who had had early success with his board, I tried an installation of Gentoo. This turned out to be a horrific mistake. I fought with release 2005.0 for months, having problem after problem. By the time 2005.1 came out, I had given up - my spirit was broken. Never again did I want to sit through endless compilation, wrestle with USE flags, or some back after hours of watching paint dry to see an aborted compilation and incomprehensible error messages.

Eventually - in October 2005(!) - I heard about Debian and its compatibility with the VIA boards. I downloaded the latest release ('Sarge' - debian-31r0a-i386-netinst.iso) and in one evening I had it installed and running. I couldn't quite believe it. No crashes, no missing drivers, no 640 x 480 display. Everything worked out-of-the-box.

Setting up software