Linux Mint on the iOTA Flo 11.6″ laptop

This is how the laptop arrived, pre-installed with Windows 10. I soon put an end to that nonsense!

I recently installed Linux Mint on my iOTA Flo 11.6″ laptop. The process was simple and very straight forward.

The iOTA Flo is a compact 11.6″ laptop featuring 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC drive and a two-core Intel Celeron N33350 1.1GHz CPU, and an Intel HD 500 graphics card. On the sides it has inputs for power, two USB ports, mini HDMI, headphones and a micro SD card slot. It also features a 720p (I think) webcam, full HD (1920 × 1080) screen, and Bluetooth capabilities (which I have switched off for power and security reasons). Not bad for £179.99.

I really wanted to install CloudReady: Home Edition from Neverware, which is a free and easy way to convert your laptop into a Chromebook. But it failed right from the start, unable to find my (or any other) WiFi network. It seems that CloudReady didn’t have the wireless card adapter for the iOTA Flo (apparently it’s a Realtek 802.11n WLAN adapter).

So, I switched to Linux Mint and it installed flawlessly within a few minutes. Linux Mint is a modern, elegant and easy to use operating system. It is based on Debian and Ubuntu so has a lot of compatible software. But in reality, I really just need this machine for a checking emails, doing some web browsing and some light office work.

It starts up and is ready to go in just under one minute. It handles even five or six browser tabs open (I’m trying out Brave with it, rather than jumping straight to Google Chrome). LibreOffice is a perfectly good (and free) alternative to Microsoft Office. I have very little else installed—Sublime Text 3, GitKraken, and espanso to autocomplete text and save me from typing. I have logged in with my Google account and so can easily save to Google Drive as though to a local folder.

Already, this laptop feels slicker and more usable than the rather bloated Microsoft Windows 10. I’m running the Cinnamon desktop with a Google Chromebook-inspired theme and icon set (see this blog post on how). I feel like I can really focus on writing rather than wrestle with Windows.

Battery life has been impressive—lasting a whole day even with the screen brightness cranked up full.

It’s not the fastest of laptops. But having switched from Windows 10 to Linux Mint really has given it a new lease of life. And, to be honest, I don’t miss Windows. It’s just an operating system—it should never get in the way of carrying out whatever task you need to do. Most of the systems I use are online now and whether I use Google Chrome on Windows 10 or Brave on Linux Mint should not make a difference.

I may report back in a few months with an update but already I am delighted with this lightweight (in every way) little laptop. I keep looking for excuses to use it around the house. That has to be a good thing, right?

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

13 thoughts on “Linux Mint on the iOTA Flo 11.6″ laptop”

  1. I came across this post looking for info on the wifi issue. Unfortunately even now (October 2021) it’s still an issue.

    I have 6 of these Flo laptops that need Cloudready for a school.

    I will speak to Cloudready direct and see if they have a solution.

    1. Yeah, the last time I did an OS refresh on this device, I couldn’t get Cloudready to work on it. I’d be interested in knowing if you can get it to install successfully. I’ve since moved from Linux Mint to elementary OS 6.

        1. Hi Paul, that’s a good question. My experience of trying out both elementary OS and Mint Linux is that I found that I was able to get on and use my laptop much quicker using elementary OS. Mint offers a myriad of options to tweak this and that while elementary OS has made a lot of those decisions already. elementary OS feels like a more coherent, well-balanced experience while Mint feels like it lays everything open to the user to adjust things to their liking.

          Installing applications on both was simple, but then my requirements weren’t terribly complex. elementary OS has locked down their store to a number of carefully curated applications, but you can always use other methods to install them, e.g. flatpak, snap, etc. Installing applications on Mint via the store was a bit more straightforward, I felt.

          If I was to move to a Linux OS fulltime, I would definitely choose elementary OS. For me it has the right aesthetic and approach to getting out of the way quickly to allow me simply to do what I want to do, which in my case was mostly writing and browser-based work.

          I hope that is helpful.

  2. I have an iOTA Flo, and Put Mint on the second drive, it worked well but wouldn’t recognise the wifi card at all. I was trying to install Elementary, and would like to take away the windows os but don’t know how to go about that. Any tips?

    1. By second drive, do you mean the SD card?

      I was quite bold when I received mine. Before I even booted to Windows, I wiped the main drive and installed elementary OS. I simply went inserted the elementary OS installer on USB drive, booted into the BIOS when it started up, changed the boot order to select the USB drive as the first drive to check, saved the confirm and restarted the laptop. When it booted to elementary OS, I followed the instructions and selected to wipe the drive and make elementary OS the one and only OS. It found the wifi card fine. Everything was working as expected.

  3. Hi Gareth,

    I came across your site troubleshooting this device. I seem to have royally messed up my Linux install and the device won’t even get to the bios anymore. I had managed to boot to a live USB but it crashed just after formatting the onboard storage. I saw some messages about IO errors, the partitions being in use and then the screen turned blank and locked up.

    Any attempt to boot now doesn’t even enable the screen’s backlight. The power LED turns on and off if I hold down the power button for ~10s.

    What I’ve tried:
    – booting with nothing inserted into any ports
    – booting with the linux ISO flashed to a USB
    – booting with the linux ISO flashed to an SD card

    Same story each time. Only indication of life from the machine is the power LED.

    Have you encountered this issue? Are you aware of any fixes?

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Hi Rob, yes I had this issue with one distro (I wish I could remember now what it was). It just wasn’t happy with this laptop. I found that Mint and elementary OS worked for me, but some other distros just would not have a bar of it. I’ve since given away this laptop to a friend so I can’t even check again, sorry.

      1. Hi Gareth, thanks for taking the time to respond. I was attempting to install Arch using the archinstall script (I know, I know…). I’ve since attempted to reinstall Windows but can’t even get to the BIOS to do it.

        I’m getting power to the USB ports and the power LED turns on so it’s essentially turned into a portable charger at this point!

        I knew I should’ve just got a second hand Thinkpad with a real SSD but the 89.99 price point was too tempting for a tinkering machine!

        1. That’s odd that you can’t access the BIOS. I can’t remember which key it was that accessed the BIOS (Esc? F1? Del?). I never had any issues tapping on the key after switching on until the BIOS appeared. Is that not working for you?

          (I gave my iOTA Flo to a friend a couple of months ago, so I can’t check it myself.)

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