Installing Armbian on Amlogic S905w Android TV Box (Tanix TX3 Mini)

I love the idea of the Raspberry Pi, but there are some cheaper alternative single board computers that offer a similar experience for a fraction of the cost. While the community support isn't quite what it is for the Pi, there are a ton of projects you can accomplish on the cheap with these little hidden gems. Keep an eye on AliExpress and Amazon and you can find SBC's sporting quad core ARM process with 2-4 GB of RAM for under $30, including a power supply and IR remote control.

The box used in this video is a Tanix TX3 Mini I picked up on eBay for $22 shipped. It sports a Quad Core Amlogic S905w @ 2GHz and 2 GB of DDR3 RAM.

Things You Will Need

Downloads and Flashing to MicroSD

  1. Download Armbian Download | Alternate Ubuntu | Alternate Debian
  2. Download Balena Etcher Download
  3. Run Balena Etcher
  4. Burn Armbian image to microSD card
  5. Safely remove microSD and re-insert
  6. Ignore/close the Windows dialogs to format the inserted microSD card

Configure MicroSD Card for Armbian

  1. Open the readable partition of the microSD card in Explorer
  2. Rename the appropriate file from below to u-boot.ext on the root of the SD card

    u-boot-s905 (for s905)
    u-boot-s905x-s912 (for s905x and s912)
    u-boot-s905x2-s922 (for s905x2 and s922)

  3. Edit /extlinux/extlinux.conf in a text editor
    1. Comment out rk-3399 lines by adding #
    2. Uncomment aml s9xx FDT and APPEND lines by removing #
    3. Update the FDT line to point to a working .dtb file for your device
      # aml s9xxx
      #FDT /dtb/amlogic/meson-g12a-x96-max-no-cvbs.dtb
      #FDT /dtb/amlogic/meson-g12b-ugoos-am6-no-cvbs.dtb
      #FDT /dtb/amlogic/meson-g12b-odroid-n2.dtb
      FDT /dtb/amlogic/meson-gxl-s905w-p281.dtb
      APPEND=root=LABEL=ROOTFS rootflags=data=writeback rw console=ttyAML0,115200n8 console=tty0 no_console_suspend consoleblank=0 fsck.fix=yes net.ifnames=0
    4. Save
    5. Close
  4. Safely remove microSD
  5. Insert microSD card to Android TV box

Booting to Armbian for the First Time

  1. Plug the power adapter into the Android TV box
  2. If the device has never booted from external storage before the stock Android OS will load
  3. In Android, navigate to the application drawer > Run Update & Backup
  4. Select Local > Navigate to the microSD card >
  5. Select Update
  6. The system will reboot twice and should then begin booting Armbian from the microSD card
  7. You should see the Armbian terminal running startup scripts
  8. When prompted, input a new root password
  9. Confirm the new root password
  10. When prompted, input a username
  11. Input a password for the new user
  12. Confirm the password for the new user
  13. Follow any additional the prompts
  14. Armbian will boot into the desktop environment

Special thanks to the developers and forum members over at for making this possible