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#1 2010-02-24 01:18:43

sand_man
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From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

ARM Linux Distros

I just picked up a cheap and dirty ARM netbook with very low specs (1GB flash memory and 128MB ram).
I haven't received it yet but it comes packaged with some custom Linux distro that I'm sure I won't want. So my question is, what are my options?
I really wanted to give Moblin a try but I don't think they make an ARM port.

I know there is an Arch Mobile port but not sure if that works on anything than OpenMoko.
Does anyone know much about the Debian ARM port or any other recommendations?

My other consideration is Android for ARM but not sure if that is ready yet.

Last edited by sand_man (2010-02-24 01:21:37)


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#2 2010-02-24 01:29:51

jshield
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Registered: 2010-02-15
Posts: 20

Re: ARM Linux Distros

what model?
have you looked on google?

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#3 2010-02-24 01:37:33

Allan
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From: Brisbane, AU
Registered: 2007-06-09
Posts: 10,416
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Re: ARM Linux Distros

sand_man wrote:

I know there is an Arch Mobile port but not sure if that works on anything than OpenMoko.

The CFLAGS they use do not look too specific so Arch Mobile may work for you.  But we would need to know what model you are getting...

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#4 2010-02-24 01:48:52

sand_man
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From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

Re: ARM Linux Distros

Ok, ok, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit I purchased one of these cheap and nasty netbooks. But the price was right. As long as I can get a nice and light distro on in, I'll be happy. Hey, it comes with 12 months of wireless internet.


edit: I suppose I could try netbsd too?

Last edited by sand_man (2010-02-24 02:24:47)


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#5 2010-02-24 08:53:06

jshield
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Registered: 2010-02-15
Posts: 20

Re: ARM Linux Distros

what is it running at the moment?
and can you get your hands dirty so to speak comfortable cross compiling kernels, toolchains, all that fun stuff?

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#6 2010-02-24 09:34:29

sand_man
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

Re: ARM Linux Distros

Sure I can do that but I'm not really interested in going to that much effort just for a ***** little netbook.
I have no idea what it's actually running right now because it hasn't been delivered yet. Non of the information on the net says anything other than Linux.


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#7 2010-02-24 20:36:04

ramjet
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Registered: 2005-02-16
Posts: 37

Re: ARM Linux Distros

lol, catch of the day eh? I nearly bought the same one but i couldn't find the model number and therefore specs.  The gprs functionality gives it some interesting possibilities though - car pc?. you could try put android on it.

Last edited by ramjet (2010-02-24 20:36:59)

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#8 2010-02-24 22:19:32

Hide
Member
From: Castalia
Registered: 2007-02-02
Posts: 368

Re: ARM Linux Distros

Not sure whether it was mentioned somewhere, but:
http://www.ubuntu.com/products/whatisubuntu/arm

smile

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#9 2010-02-24 22:31:55

Bralkein
Member
Registered: 2004-10-26
Posts: 354

Re: ARM Linux Distros

I have a SheevaPlug ARM computer, it came with Ubuntu ARM on it but that kinda sucked. I can't remember why exactly, but I do remember that it caused me a bunch of problems, plus there were some problems with package availability and suchlike. I replaced it with Debian ARM, which is great. It just seems exactly like Debian x86: stable, full-functionality, everything is as one would expect. The only thing is I didn't try any graphical stuff with it since SheevaPlug has only a serial console and no graphics output, so I cannot comment on that. Also I think it could be a bit of a squeeze getting everything into 1GB, but I think you could manage it if you tried. (My install is 1.6GB, which includes 512MB swap and a bunch of extra packages installed, I made no attempt to shrink my install size so I think you could probably be OK)

So yeah, I'd recommend Debian if you can do that. I don't know how easy it will be to install, though. If it's ARM-based then it will have something different to the PC BIOS system you're probably used to. I used an installation system made specifically for the SheevaPlug, which involved typing mystery hex values into the system's boot firmware and flashing kernels or some other weird stuff like that. There was a guide that I just pasted the steps from, but if I hadn't had access to that, I would probably have been completely stuck. Oh yeah, also I was installing to a SD flash card, so I formatted it, copied the files etc. using my laptop. I'm guessing your netbook storage is soldered on, so that won't be an option for you. Hopefully it can boot from USB or network though.

It seems like it's worth a go though, so good luck and hopefully you'll find a nice easy way to do it.

P.S. There are arm and armel versions of Debian, I tried to find what the difference was but it's confusing and I'm tired. I think armel is what you want, it's what I use, but I'm not sure so maybe check if you can.

P.P.S. I made like 10 edits to this plus I probably missed a load of stuff. I'm very tired, I'll check this thread again tomorrow.

Last edited by Bralkein (2010-02-24 22:38:37)

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#10 2010-02-24 23:21:45

jshield
Member
Registered: 2010-02-15
Posts: 20

Re: ARM Linux Distros

arm and armel is to do with the byte sex of the system or the endianness of the system

last I checked ARM can operate in both.

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#11 2010-02-25 00:20:10

ilembitov
Member
Registered: 2008-10-07
Posts: 124

Re: ARM Linux Distros

sand_man wrote:

I just picked up a cheap and dirty ARM netbook with very low specs (1GB flash memory and 128MB ram).
I haven't received it yet but it comes packaged with some custom Linux distro that I'm sure I won't want. So my question is, what are my options?
I really wanted to give Moblin a try but I don't think they make an ARM port.

I know there is an Arch Mobile port but not sure if that works on anything than OpenMoko.
Does anyone know much about the Debian ARM port or any other recommendations?

My other consideration is Android for ARM but not sure if that is ready yet.

You should first realise what hardware does it have. What wifi/ethernet chip, what GPU does it have, etc.

Actually all BSDs should work on ARM. But I would suggest OpenBSD, not NetBSD. It has many nice features, like their own unified implementation of the whole wifi thing. They don't use ifconfig+iwconfig+wpa_supplicant+wireless_tools. They just use ifconfig. That's it. The drawback, however, that they don't have support for any kind of complicated WPA/WEP encryption, it's just PSK. And they never support any closed source drivers and you are unlikely to get it to work.

They also have their own way of packaging X.org. It's rather monolithic than modular, so it's more stable. And they ship some custom patches. Furthermore, the basic install is really tiny, even in comparison to ArchLinux - just because BSD utils are much smaller than GNU.

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#12 2010-02-25 00:45:51

sand_man
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From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

Re: ARM Linux Distros

ramjet wrote:

lol, catch of the day eh? I nearly bought the same one but i couldn't find the model number and therefore specs.  The gprs functionality gives it some interesting possibilities though - car pc?. you could try put android on it.

haha yeah I couldn't help myself wink

I've looked for the exact specs of this machine but I can't find any solid information on it. The only thing I think I'll have a problem with is the 1GB space. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.


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#13 2010-02-25 02:55:54

Gen2ly
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From: Sevierville, TN
Registered: 2009-03-06
Posts: 1,529
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Re: ARM Linux Distros

Gentoo supports ARM pretty good too.  There's a guy there that does it that really knows what he is doing.  Unfortunately with that 1GB of RAM, it be out of the question (you couldn't even compile gcc, I'd think).  As for OpenBSD, I'm not sure that they support the ARM architecture, though NetBSD surely will.  If you want to find out want you can get on it, take a look at some lightweight distros like SliTaz or a rescue cd like Parted Magic.

Last edited by Gen2ly (2010-02-25 02:56:19)


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#14 2010-02-25 03:50:06

pseudonomous
Member
Registered: 2008-04-23
Posts: 349

Re: ARM Linux Distros

Nokia and Intel announced that they were pooling their linux development efforts to create "meego", which will be the sucessor to maemo and mobin and run on both arm and x86, but I can't seem to find a project webpage or anything yet, so this probably wouldn't be an option for awhile, assuming the project actually materializes.

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#15 2010-02-25 04:10:11

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 13,142

Re: ARM Linux Distros

Gen2ly wrote:

Gentoo supports ARM pretty good too.  There's a guy there that does it that really knows what he is doing.  Unfortunately with that 1GB of RAM, it be out of the question (you couldn't even compile gcc, I'd think).

I like Gentoo.  It runs well on many architectures.  You can cross compile from another system.  I guarantee you will learn a lot.  Be prepared to spend a solid week of time.  I like Arch because the installation is a breeze by comparison.  Arch has the advantage that it only has to support one architecture without concern adverse effects on older / other systems.

Also, Gentoo forums are the standard by which all others should be measured (Yes, even Arch forums -- as good as these are)


Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature -- Michael Faraday
You assume people are rational and influenced by evidence.  You must not work with the public much. -- Trilby
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#16 2010-02-25 04:55:58

sand_man
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

Re: ARM Linux Distros

pseudonomous wrote:

Nokia and Intel announced that they were pooling their linux development efforts to create "meego", which will be the sucessor to maemo and mobin and run on both arm and x86, but I can't seem to find a project webpage or anything yet, so this probably wouldn't be an option for awhile, assuming the project actually materializes.

Meego is here http://meego.com/
But it just seems like a lot of talk at the moment.


Edit:
I am not interested in learning a lot. I want an "out of the box" solution because I'm lazy.

Last edited by sand_man (2010-02-25 04:56:51)


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#17 2010-02-27 10:45:11

slint
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Registered: 2009-05-22
Posts: 31

Re: ARM Linux Distros

First you should look if someone else has installed anything different on this device. If not there most likely lies much work in front of you to get that thing running something different.

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#18 2010-02-27 12:49:57

sand_man
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

Re: ARM Linux Distros

slint wrote:

First you should look if someone else has installed anything different on this device. If not there most likely lies much work in front of you to get that thing running something different.

Well I should have it on Monday. ArchMobile looks easy enough to install from a snapshot so I'll give that a go first.


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#19 2010-02-28 00:20:25

sand_man
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

Re: ARM Linux Distros

I'm still trying to search for Linux distros that run on ARM but even most of the netbook oriented ones require more than the 1GB of space I have available. I really like the look of xPUD, Jolicloud and gOS but those three are for x86 only sad


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#20 2010-03-01 01:50:33

sand_man
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

Re: ARM Linux Distros

Just picked it up today and wow is this machine crippled. It is so slow to do ANYTHING. Why would you try to run Firefox 3 on such a low powered device? I wouldn't try to run it on my phone which has higher specs than this device.
I don't have a choice but put ArchMobile on this thing. At the moment it seems to be running IceWM and busybox(probably because of the ARM architecture).

I'm glad I didn't purchase this with high expectations tongue


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#21 2010-03-01 12:16:52

Bralkein
Member
Registered: 2004-10-26
Posts: 354

Re: ARM Linux Distros

It's a shame there doesn't seem to be an ARM version of Damn Small Linux, I think it would be perfect for that thing. I'd be very interested to hear how you fare when trying to install another distro on that thing! It's always exciting doing stuff with more "exotic" hardware.

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#22 2010-03-01 12:41:56

stefanwilkens
Member
From: Enschede, the Netherlands
Registered: 2008-12-10
Posts: 624

Re: ARM Linux Distros

Gentoo?


Arch i686 on Phenom X4 | GTX760

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#23 2010-03-01 22:52:09

sand_man
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2008-06-10
Posts: 2,164

Re: ARM Linux Distros

Well I haven't had time to look at it yet but if I can boot from SD card I should be able to avoid the 1GB storage limit for the OS.
The short time I have looked at it, I was not able to enter the BIOS to (hopefully) enable boot from USB but I was unable to with any key combination I could think of. This might turn out to be an expensive door stop.


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#24 2010-03-01 23:41:46

wriggary
Member
Registered: 2009-06-30
Posts: 65

Re: ARM Linux Distros

erm, I have a door that needs something to keep it open sand_man tongue

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#25 2010-03-02 07:35:53

wuischke
Member
From: Suisse Romande
Registered: 2007-01-06
Posts: 630

Re: ARM Linux Distros

I had my best experience with Ångström on my BeagleBoard, although it's currently running Ubuntu ARM in cli-only. (Lack of time + better package selection made Ubuntu the better choice, lack of time was the main reason against arch mobile, too.)

I'm pretty sure the BIOS only exists in the x86 world. The BeagleBoard uses U-Boot, and my MIPS-based router can be made to work with RedBoot. In both cases you have a command line interface where you can set settings and the commands to be executed on start. Well, I always had a serial console and a timeout to enter the bootloader prompt, so I can't help you with accessing it on your laptop.

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