Small Linux Laptop Forum

Elonex One T & One T+, CnM Minibook => Software & OS Modifications, Alternative Distributions => Development => Topic started by: Estrella on February 28, 2010, 02:47:52 PM

Title: debian lenny
Post by: Estrella on February 28, 2010, 02:47:52 PM
Is is possible to install that linux distribution on small mipsel computer?
Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: wicknix on February 28, 2010, 04:53:53 PM
Not until we have a working 2.6 kernel. That's why we are stuck with Etch at the moment because Etch was the last debian release that still supported the 2.4 kernel.

Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: veng on March 05, 2010, 11:42:37 AM
Not until we have a working 2.6 kernel. That's why we are stuck with Etch at the moment because Etch was the last debian release that still supported the 2.4 kernel.


You may not hear about this list, but entire archive is definitely worth reading (
There is working, but unstable 2.6 kernel from the linuxtogo project. (
Nils Faerber made also installer with this kernel and rootfs based on Angström project (extremely experimental).
I was testing this and my own rootfs based on Emdebian Grip, prepared on Qemu Mipsel image (
on my minibook (so many sleepless nights) ;D Track mipsbook-devel list, there are still issues to work out.


Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: rovaals on April 11, 2010, 05:03:46 PM
I have a Fidelity VPC, which is a LLL available in Canada. It has some software differences from what I've read on the other LLLs.

uname -a spits out specifically this:
Linux (none) #128 PREEMPT Fri Jul 24 08:40:32 EDT 2009 mips unknown

I have extracted the boot image and the kernel (from /dev/mtd0 and /dev/mtd1) and it looks like i've got a proper extract. If someone can give me a place to upload it you're welcome to take a look at it and test it out on your machines. I would love to get Debian Lenny on it.

I put a little more detail on some of the interesting software on my machine on the site's forum (
Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: higgybees on April 11, 2010, 07:13:26 PM
Hi Rovaals,
I asked about these some time ago,794.45.html . It appears they are running an arm processor. So Wicknix didn't think it would work. It's a shame it would open up all sorts of possibilities. I don't know if the image could be used though. Fred
Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: rovaals on April 11, 2010, 07:50:48 PM
I took a look for other ways to verify cpu arch, since the uname says mips, see below output from dmesg

Linux version (root@localhost.localdomain) (gcc version 4.1.2) #128 PREEMPT Fri Jul 24 08:40:32 EDT 2009
CPU revision is: 1ed0024f (Ingenic JZRISC)
CPU clock: 336MHz, System clock: 112MHz, Peripheral clock: 112MHz, Memory clock: 112MHz
JZ4750 NB0708B V1.0 board setup

I see that the older LLL's ran JZ4730, so it's not the exact same cpu, but its the same arch and same chip maker.

I was able to run the xterm binary from the site if that means anything. That's how I was able to run uname and also extract my kernel.

Edit: cat /proc/cpuinfo backs up this data
system type : JZ4750
processor : 0
cpu model : Ingenic JZRISC V4.15
BogoMIPS : 335.05
Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: wicknix on April 11, 2010, 09:20:34 PM
Very interesting. The original VPC's were arm based according to google. Seeing a mips one seems quite rare. :)

You could upload your kernel and rootfs to (it's 'file factory basic' is free and you can upload up to 300mb without joining).

I just read your post on asking about backing up your rootfs. The easiest way is insert an empty formatted SD card, then cd to / . Then tar -cvf /path/to/sdcard/backup.tar . That will backup everything linked to / into a nice tarball archive. From there you could bz2 it also to shrink it down in size for uploading.

I would love to check out the rootfs and kernel. The kernel probably wont work as the chips are different so i'd assume the memory addresses and mount points and stuff would be also.

Once you backup your rootfs, for you getting debian lenny or sid working would be fairly easy. Just debootstrap a mipsel lenny or sid, add your kernel modules to it, then create a new recovery.img (assuming the VPC has a similar recovery system like our machines do). Then flash your new lenny or sid to it.

Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: rovaals on April 12, 2010, 12:55:30 AM
Zipped kernel:

When trying to tar the rootfs I'm getting "Short Read" error from tar after writing about 700mb to my empty 8gb SDHC card.

Kind of weird, since the rootfs, and 2 data mounts don't add up to more than 500mb. (SD card not listed at that time, but it mounts fine and shows correct free space when I do df. Listing not current because my wireless doesn't work with WEP or WPA  :-\, so i'm typing this from another computer)

Filesystem           1k-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
ubi0:rootfs             268756     18512    245184   7% /
tmpfs                    61604        68     61536   0% /dev
ubi0:data              1726960    436884   1285016  25% /mnt/udisk
ubi0:data2             1618828      2052   1611716   0% /mnt/data2

Right now I'm playing around with trying to change the desktop icons... Like throwing one up there for the NES and SNES emulators. Maybe try to change the background image.

As far as getting debian lenny or sid on here on my own...
debootstrap - not sure how to do that
add my kernel modules - don't know where i'm pulling these from or where I'm putting them
create recovery.img, this is just making a tar file right? that I could probably handle that  :P
Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: wicknix on April 12, 2010, 02:40:07 AM
The error at the end of tarring the rootfs is normal. Same happens when i tarred my rootfs. Tar exits with an error, but the whole rootfs is indeed there and backed up. The size wont match up according to df because during the tar process, its also tarring everything in /proc and /tmp along with device nodes not normally created until the device boots. So i'm thinking your backup went fine.

Google debootstrap :)

You'd take the kernel modules out of your rootfs backup and copy them into your debootstrapped debian lenny/sid rootfs before packaging it up into a recovery image.

Yep, at least on our machines the recovery images are just tar.bz2 renamed to .img.

Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: rovaals on April 12, 2010, 03:14:12 AM
It's ironic, my usb SD card reader for my desktop doesn't do SDHC, but this little machine does.

I have it zipping up the tar file on my wife's laptop now. I will upload it in a little while and post the link.

I looked at the debootstrap stuff and at /proc/modules for the kernel module stuff.

I found my wifi driver (rt73, it's a ralink usb device in there somewhere) and the kernel modules for the NAND.

debootstrap... so that would be just a base system? I've done scratch installs of Debian before, but I don't know if I want to do that on this laptop.

Even though it sounds silly to run Etch on my machine when I have a kernel that can run lenny, I wonder about running 3MX, just to try it out.

I read some posts about recovering a machine that looked interesting. Partitioning an SD card with 16mb for the kernel and the rest for the extracted rootfs (with 2 kernels included, 1 that would boot rootfs from the 2nd SD partition and 1 that would boot from the extended NAND.
My wireless doesn't work now (well technically it does work, but not with WEP or WPA) so not having my wireless driver while testing, if there isn't an RT73 for 2.4, is not a big deal.

One last thing, how big is the kernel partition on your NAND? One of the brands (elonex? CnM?) has a kernel for download on their site that is under 1mb....    My kernel partition is 4mb, and the extracted kernel zipped is 2.6mb. I'm just hoping that IF this kernel does work on your machines when booted from an SD for testing, that they can actually fit the thing.
Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: rovaals on April 12, 2010, 12:18:33 PM
Rootfs tarred and zipped (
Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: wicknix on April 12, 2010, 06:51:40 PM
Thanks. I'm interested to see how that rootfs is set up. Started the download as i left for work.

As for our kernel partition size, if i remember right, it is either 4 or 5 mb.

Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: rovaals on April 13, 2010, 03:34:59 AM
I believe most of the desktop related stuff is sitting under /mnt/udisk/pdaxrom/install

It uses matchbox for the window decorations and what appears to be OPIE (based on Qt) for the desktop.
Title: Re: debian lenny
Post by: rovaals on April 14, 2010, 02:53:02 AM

the /mnt/udisk/pdaxrom/install/bin/ is what kicks off x server, matchbox and qpe
It runs qpe as the desktop.

I've found that qpe and qpe.2k are the same and have a weird layout for the desktop and are a pain to change icons
qpe.6k however just pulls all the icons from the opie/Desktop/Applications folder, works great. It also pops up a start menu when you click the power putton on the left side of the task bar, the normal qpe just asks "power off?" and gives no menu.
When i went to change I didn't sync before rebooting and somehow corrupted the file. the laptop would not boot at that point.
I knew from my searching of the backup structure that the rcS does some checks on the SD card to look for update packages before running so I renamed my backup of to and made an empty boot.ini file and put them on the SD card. after booting the system I got a little bar that said "Updating system" and then qpe started....whew, I proceeded to copy my backup back to the NAND, change it to qpe.6k again and this time sync before rebooting.
With this change it is MUCH more usable as a desktop interface.

Now I can finally throw in an xterm desktop icon.

I've had some mixed luck with GameBoard, some apps work after getting the missing libgpe or libSDL files from the retro recovery image, and some crash my laptop and make it reboot. I'm going to try sdlgnuboy, as I enjoy emulated consoles and already have the snes and nes emu on here as the default build.