Linux in the palm of your hand

    A long time ago, Linux for an ordinary windows user was something transcendental and incomprehensible, and even more so Linux on mobile devices. Of course, many advanced ones remember Sharp Zaurus, but most of them round their eyes and think that this is the console ala dos and that’s it. Alas, this is not all :) When I accidentally wandered into a site dedicated to porting Linux to various handheld platforms, I decided to try to “marry” my PDA and one of the mobile OS distributions. It’s necessary to somehow use the dust collecting on the shelf :)

    The whole process will take no more than 15 minutes. The first time I did a “porting” about 2.5 years ago and I’ll say right away that the first time I didn’t succeed, because I didn’t have the skills to manage Linux at all ... Okay, let's get down to business!

    1. PDA Asus A620 MyPal
    2. CF memory card, Transсend 45x 1Gb (minimum size 128 MB)
    3. 12-in-1 card reader. (Anyone who reads CF cards will do)

    1. Linux desktop (in my case it was Ubuntu 7.04 LiveCD )
    2. The kernel image is zImage (2.6.x)
    3. Initial RamDisk is initrd.
    4. The Opie shell (I won’t tell you the version, but the distribution is dated January 30, 2006).
    5. The linexec bootloader.
    Links to utilities - at the end of the article

    Step 1. Formatting the memory card
    If your memory card has any necessary data, you need to save it to the screw, otherwise everything can be lost. In general, for the purposes of experiments, you can get a card for 256-512 mb, it will cost 200-300 rubles. With hands naturally.

    In order for everything to work, you must format the memory card as follows:

    Partition 1. PRIMARY - FAT32 - 16 MB
    Partition 2. PRIMARY - Ext2 - all remaining space

    It should be noted that partitions must be primary, not extended. Otherwise, it will fail, verified empirically. I think that it is not necessary to describe the formatting of the memory card itself. This can be done with any Linux formatting utility. In my case, it was the Gnome Partition Editor (sort of called it, I don’t remember exactly).
    So, formatted, move on.

    Step 2. Preparing the files.

    In the FAT32 section, in the root, fill in the linexec.exe loader, the kernel image zImage and initrd.gz. Next, write the params.txt file. In this file we write the following (the file is attached in the linexec archive):

    \ Storage card \ zImage
    \ Storage card \ initrd.gz
    console = tty0 init = / linuxrc root = / dev / ram0

    Next, in the Ext2 section, also to the root, we unpack the Opie shell distribution archive.

    tar –xzfv [path to archive]

    This is the end of preparations.

    Step 3. Launch

    Nobody bears any responsibility, we do everything at our own peril and risk ... as usual =).

    After all the files are recorded, remove the memory card, reboot the device and run linexec.exe. After that, the device reboots itself, and the linux console window appears. We don’t touch anything, the first download lasts about 1-1.5 minutes (then faster). If possible, read what happens. If nothing happened, and a sign of this may be a boot error due to improper formatting of the memory card (the first time I had it). If everything is buzzing, we see the screen calibration window (as on windows mobile). Next - everything, you can begin to configure the device and its further application.
    I’ll say right away that WednesdayI liked Opie the most. It is not the only one, but for me the most usable and with a bunch of installed software. As an option - GPE . But about her maybe next time, because hands did not reach.

    A few shots:

    1. Iron
    Asus A620, CF 1GB

    2. Download

    3. Opie

    4. Konsole

    5. Midnight Commander

    More Opie screenshots can be found at

    Links to resources used:

    1. site materials used
    Section by Asus A620 -

    2. The Opie distribution
    package you can download here

    3. The Linux kernel (for A620) - downloadhere

    4. Loader - download here

    5. RamDisk image - download here

    Everything that was used is exclusively for Asus A620. For other devices, you can search here:

    Results I

    ’m satisfied with the final result, because opium (see Opie) turned out to be usable, despite the popular belief that Linux on a PDA is not a tenant. It turned out that the environment already has more software preinstalled than the “zero” windows mobile (2002/2003). There are pdf readers, ftp client, irc client, office applications - text editors, table editor, contact manager, and much more. I advise you to try, even if only for the sake of interest.
    There are pros and cons. The main disadvantage is stability. The device does not always wake up after standby. But if something accidentally “fell”, you won’t lose any data, because everything is on the memory card and you can easily pull all the files through the desktop.
    And yet, this is a Very Good use for old junk :)

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