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Attempt at Debian 6 (netinst), on AllFine PC 703 ARM 926

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I have recently been trying to port a copy of Linux (any decent brand), to one of these 7" display netbook style devices running ARM, mostly because of the new architecture and ability to handle USB and various of other BlueTooth devices.

They also seem to come with a handy Wi-Fi NIC somewhere in the box.

I figure the CE is far too sluggish, with fairly large latency on any movement in the GUI, with yet again a fairly 'quiet' cmd.exe

As Win CE 5/6 is standard I figured booting from a 'grub' style loader would make the most sense, there-by obliterating the old system from ram and starting 'a-fresh' from the new OS. Hopefully strap it eventually (after copying files too the internal 2G of EEPROM/RAM stuff.) and install grub then boot in to a natty new gentoo/debian install.

My findings thus far:

The AllFine crashes upon loading the virtual terminal of linux, I figure this is because of the bootloader not hanging-up in Windows CE. Sorta a memory di-cardiac-arrest, where two apps try writing/reading from the same 'space' (page-table).

I have been using -
1. SD card adapter (1squidly from poundland)
2. SD card and micro-adapter (£10 from maplin, in the sale! get in .eb)
3. AllFine ARM 926 PC 703
4. Debian netinst.iso (extracted too the ext2 partition in SD card)
4. a couple of initrd.tar.gz and kernelimg files I have not yet had the time to make (I'm having trouble, either in Gentoo or Visual Studio, in 'compiling' a kernel for the ARM architecture, any help appreciated)
5. A copy of haret CE loader - please google this as 'newbie' can not post external link.

With the above -
1. Format your SD :
either one big vfat (fat32)
or two as one vfat 150Mb and one ext2 <1024Mb

2. Bung your dist in the large bit or the root if you have gone for a single partition install.

3. Copy the Haret.exe too the root of the first partition (little 150Mb one)

4. Take the SD card and move it from your main machine (where you are compiling the SD card and files with-in) too the WinCE device as the netbook should have a small SD socket on the side; some guy nearly had this running VM 'style' with a small WinCE putty too 'loopback' (you will see what I mean when you have Haret up in front of you on the CE device).

5. Load explorer.exe on your WinCE, or start > run... 'cmd.exe' (if you have a 'domain' profile that limits your start button options then you will have too find another method from your system admin).

6. Navigate to the SD card and load Haret.exe (there may be a version number after but this should be nearly second nature by now).

7. click 'listen'

8. Open putty and navigate too your Netbook's IP address, with the default 9999 port.

You should get a screen with basic 'grub' style options and a fairly navigable HELP function set.

I have achieved the following so far but any help on the above pointers would be greatly appreciated. I'm considering a 'flat' WinCE compile with minimal options that pushes you in to a dual-boot grub interface. Following this I would like a few options:

Boot from SD (live OS)
Boot from USB-Disk
Boot from USB-ISO/CD
Boot from System - Gentoo
Boot from System - WinCE 6

I figure it'd be nice too keep CE5/6 for retrograde reasons.

I also include a screeny to let you know of my current progress :

Welcome, this is HaRET 0.5.2 running on WindowsCE v5.0
Minimal virtual address: 00010000, maximal virtual address: 7FFFFFFF
Detected machine Generic ARM 926/generic (Plat='Windows CE 5.0' OEM='Anyka AK780x')
CPU is ARM ARM arch 5TEJ stepping 5 running in system mode
Enter 'HELP' for a short command summary.

HaRET(1)# set KERNEL uzImage
HaRET(2)# set INITRD installrd
HaRET(3)# set MTYPE 86
HaRET(4)# set RAMADDR 0x00010000
HaRET(5)# boot
boot KERNEL=uzImage INITRD=installrd
Opening file uzImage
Failed to load file \Storage Card\uzImage
HaRET(6)# set KERNEL uzImage.bin
HaRET(7)# boot
boot KERNEL=uzImage.bin INITRD=installrd
Opening file uzImage.bin
Opening file installrd
boot params: RAMADDR=00010000 RAMSIZE=04000000 MTYPE=86 CMDLINE='root=/dev/ram0 ro console=tty0'
Boot FB feedback: 1
Built virtual to physical page mapping
Allocated 4719 pages (tags=48000000/31f61000 kernel=48001000/31f60000 initrd=48267000/31cfa000 index=49267000/30cf8000)
Built kernel tags area
Built page index
Unable to detect frame buffer address
Video buffer at 00000000 sx=0 sy=0 mx=0 my=0
Unable to detect frame buffer address
Video Phys FB=00000000 Fonts=30cf2064
preload=2260@4926E000/30cf1000 sj=4926E000 stack=4926C000/30cf3000 data=4926D000/30cf2000 exec=30cf1128
Reading 2514696 bytes...
Read complete
Reading 16777216 bytes...
Read complete

Well, at this point as I say their appears too be a system crash, fairly sure it is because of Haret referencing dual 'systems'; strange all the same.

Just interested in getting a netbook working with Linux for once!

Best Regards + any help greatly appreciated,

James B.


Then again I've also considered perhaps flashing a sodding bios in-to the EEPROM maybe, yet I've no idea if chip-skimmers (picture car block skimming and re-printing) and rapid-prototyping is the correct route to go toward flashing a Award 'themed' BIOS function too the ARM netbook. Apparently on closer look it should be possible as AWARD also reference ARM (i.e. there is an arch in their ftp that supposedly has BIOS .h .c source files for their menu system).

well? No idea if there is someone 'out their' in to skimming chips? Perhaps someone could lend a few pointers?


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