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Installing QtMoko on Openmoko Freerunner GTA02

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After trying out SHR without much luck (GSM calls didn't work, connecting to wifi often caused system crashes, ...) I decided to move on to the next distro, that is QtMoko.

I followed a similar procedure to what I did for SHR, in this case I created a FAT16 partition sized 8MB for the kernel and a bigger ext3 partition (~500MB) for the main filesystem, both on my 2GB SD card. I also left some space for a swap partition (128MB).

After ssh-ing into the phone, I created the partitions

fdisk /dev/mmcblk0

(the SD card path)

Use m to list commands, n will let us create a new partition, t specify the type (choose Linux for an ext2/ext3, FAT16 for the kernel partition, swap for the swap one).

Format the partitions with mkfs

# FAT16 for kernel
mkfs.vfat /dev/mmcblk0p3
# ext3 for filesystem
mkfs.ext3 /dev/mmcblk0p5

Copy the distribution and kernel image to the mounted partitions:

# kernel (small partition)
mount /dev/mmcblk0p3 /mnt/mokokernel
cp uImage-fic-gta01-latest.bin /mnt/mokokernel/uImage.bin
# (or use scp from host computer through ssh)
scp uImage-fic-gta01-latest.bin
# filesystem (big partition)
mount /dev/mmcblk0p5 /mnt/moko
# (following from host computer)
cat /home/m2/Desktop/openmoko_distros/qtmoko-debian-v24.tar.gz |ssh This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "gunzip -d | tar -C /mnt/moko/ -xf -"

Now add another entry to boot QtMoko with kernel in p3 and fs in p5:
(the following to be typed at the bootloader prompt, how to do it?)

NB: change menu_4 according to your needs in order to make sure you don't overwrite an existing useful entry, use printenv to find out current entries, up to 10 can be specified

# (for ext2 kernel partition)
setenv menu_4 Boot from microSD part3/part5 (ext2+ext3): setenv bootargs \${bootargs_base} rootfstype=ext3 root=/dev/mmcblk0p5 rootdelay=5 \${mtdparts}\; mmcinit\; sleep 1\; ext2load mmc 1:3 0x32000000 \${sd_image_name}\; bootm 0x32000000
# (for FAT16 kernel partition)
setenv menu_4 Boot from microSD part3/part5 (FAT+ext3): setenv bootargs \${bootargs_base} rootfstype=ext3 root=/dev/mmcblk0p5 rootdelay=5 \${mtdparts}\; mmcinit\; sleep 1\; fatload mmc 1:3 0x32000000 \${sd_image_name}\; bootm 0x32000000

Now you can boot the Freerunner by pressing power button followed by AUX button (keep both down for a few seconds) and choose the entry you just created.

First impressions with QtMoko

I must say I was pretty impressed. First of all it is much faster and more responsive than SHR or Om-2008 (the two distros I have tried so far). I find the menu navigation quite intuitive and not overly crowded. As I understand it is based on a Qt framework originally developed by Nokia. It definitely feels like a phone rather than a computer OS, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

A few warnings:

  • QtMoko has a tendency to delete all your SMS from your SIM card, I have read that this was fixed but it wasn't in my case
  • the default /etc/fstab does mount default partitions at /media/card and as swap, make sure you adjust those values to reflect your partitioning
  • I did manage to crash the system a few times, one time it went particularly wrong and after restarting I would get a fatal error (blank screen) every time I'd try to use the keyboard, possibly changing the language caused so as that is the last action I did before the mishap (I "fix" that by reinstalling the whole thing, reflashing the filesystem partition)
  • in my understanding QtMoko runs within a Qt desktop environment (QtExtended) sitting on top of a Debian installation (yes like Ubuntu...), this causes it to be very stable and configurable, yet having some oddities, i.e. there is no X server running by default, so all the graphical applications you would run under Debian do not work, however you can run them using the included application Qx which runs a X server on top of the QtExtended (or maybe in parallel?), haven't yet experimented much with this

What works very fine:

  • most applications already installed
  • wifi connections (requires a few clicks to configure), nice surprise
  • GPS (though slow to get fix)
  • phone functions (calls, SMS) though the volume is quite low, that's a common problem with the Openmoko I think
  • underlying Debian system (can use apt-get update, etc. to install packages)

Overall this is definitely a usable system for everyday use, relatively speaking, and looks more tidy and focused than SHR.


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