Rather then doing something useful I decided to upgrade my Zaurus sl-5600 from OpenZaurus to Angstrom. Several months back the SanDisk wifi card I had died, and since I would need to install applications, I would need a network connection. I got the cheapest cf wifi card I could find on ebay, a Symbol High Rate, only to discover that it only supports WEP encryption. This means it won’t be very useful at the local coffee shop but by temporarily changing my home network from WPA to WEP I can do upgrades and install software. At least I only paid $10 buck for the card
“OpenZaurus time is over – long live Ångström” reads the headline at the OpenZaurus web site. The post is dated April 26 2007. It is more than two years later and Angstrom has been busy. They created install kits and root file system images for all manner of handheld and ultra-portable computing devices (incuding a robot). They even have the OpenMoko software packages in their repos.
On OZ I had been using the Qtopia/Opie distribution, but found that Opie from Angstrom lacked wireless networking support. So I gave X11 with GPE another try. I had last tried X11 with OZ but found it much too sluggish. This time I set up a swap file and once it was configured to use it I found performance tolerable. The first attempt at upgrading the system following install failed, the sl-5600 only has 64MB of storage and only 22 of that is for the rootfs. Halfway through the update it ran out of space locked up and refused to reboot.
The solution was to install the altboot console distribution, which has a boot loader for loading image files on the loop device at runlevel “-1” (the kernel is loaded into memory but the fs has not yet been mounted) from a CF or SD card. This allows you to have multiple image files on a storage device and lets you choose which one to run from a menu.
You will need;
this is an install kit which includes an image file and a flashing utility for the sl-5600.
Here are pretty good instructions for using the flash utility.
Once you have completed that step you will need a gzipped root file system;
First lets make a swap file;
1. create a 120MB swapfile
dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile.swap bs=1M count=120
2. format it
The swap file will be installed on the same SD/CF card you install the rootfs images.
Next create the disk image and populate it with the contents of gzipped rootfs
1. This makes a 256MB image file base.img, change the count to change the size
dd if=/dev/zero of=base.img bs=1M count=256
2. Here we format base.img to ext2
3. Now we set up the file on the loop device
losetup /dev/loop0 base.img
4. This is simple, we make the base directory and use it to mount the loop device
mkdir base mount -t ext2 /dev/loop0 base
5. change directory to base and extract the contents of the rootfs.tar.gz
cd base tar xvzf ../Angstrom-x11-image-glibc-ipk-2007.12-r18-poodle.rootfs.tar.gz
6. Create a swap entry in the /etc/fstab to make it “persistent” automatically available. This entry is for an SD card; for a CF card replace “card” with “cf”.
echo "/media/card/swapfile.swap none swap sw 0 0" >> ./etc/fstab
7. Then we leave the directory, unmount it and sync the file system, I believe that sync is redundant as it happens when you unmount the file system.
cd .. umount base sync
You can now copy that base.img file to your SD/CF card. For altboot to recognize it, you must put it on the SD/CF card under a directory named “boot-images”, and the file must be named with -rootfs.bin at the end. For example on my system I used these commands to copy the image and the swap file to their final locations:
cp base.img /media/disk/boot-images/x11-rootfs.bin cp swapfile.swap /media/disk/swapfile.swap
*Warning* The mount point of your SD/CF card may be different on your computer.
You can use the default fat file system that all SD/CF cards ship with but I took this opportunity to format the file system with ext2. No fancy code here, I used gparted but if you want to be hardcore you can use fdisk, its simple enough that I wont bother explaining it. If you want the SD/CF card to remain readable by a Windows operating system then stick with the default FAT fs.
XMMS rocks compared to the old Opie Player. I am still waiting for Fennec, Firefox’s mobile browser, it may replace Midori. I have yet to see if it can connect to the City Wifi network which is unencrypted, so lack of WPA support shouldn’t be an issue. I would hate try and tap out a lengthy email on that tiny keyboard, modern cellular phones have bigger keyboards then the 5600 and the on screen keyboard is much too sensitive. The repeat rate should be adjustable somewhere, as is it would do for a short spelling iimppairred msssage.
Today I found the Fennec packages in the Angstrom unstable branch. I am going to set up an unstable image and see how it runs, alt-boot boot makes it a simple process. I’ll try out the OpenMoko distribution as well, the sl-5600 is not phone and doesn’t have GPS but I would like to see where OM is going and perhaps install it on a smart phone in the future.