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Mer linux for kaiser.

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By poly_poly-man, Senior Member on 28th September 2009, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Magister2k7

Please update first post of a thread, as Mer should run X with a latest kernel from git.
You just need to disable FB_MSM_DOUBLE_BUFFER ("Enable MSM Framebuffer double buffering") and enable framebuffer refresh thread.

Yeah, I kinda doomed myself from the start with how I structured this post. I'll restructure it later to be more able to show you good information.

Old start:
Mer is a more community-led version of the Maemo phone and internet tablet operating system. See .

I was in contact with a member of that project (Stskeeps on freenode#mer), who gave me some information about porting this to phones such as the kaiser. He and I thought it would be a great way to benefit both communities (we get a good, not google-owned linux-based os for our phones, they get developers helping them make mer better). We also agreed that it would take a bit of effort.

First of all, Mer is completely designed for landscape-only, 800x480 phones at this point. It has been run well at 640x480, but that's still 4 times our native resolution, and 2 times what we can fake without crashes. The resolution problem is easily fixed by skilled theme-makers. The landscape/portrait problem should be fixed soon, given that the upcoming n900 will be a portrait/landscape phone. He said wait for the maemo conference for more on that.

The other problems we might hit basically are just the standard problems of molding the userspace around the kernel (get a phone app working, get the modem to work, etc.).

If you are serious about helping, please come to #mer and/or #htc-linux on freenode. At this point, the mer folks are probably more help to what we need to do.


At this point, quite literally nothing works, but it all almost works. Here's what I did to get that far:

1. Partition your sd card into two partitions, and make the second one ext2.
2. Unpack (with the -p option of tar) the rootfs ( , pick the q5 rootfs) to the ext2 partition. Make sure that it's not in any subfolders, but as the root of the drive.
3. Grab a zImage (or build your own) using the instructions we had in place from android. Put it on the fat side.
4. Set up HaRET on the fat side - Use a default.txt from android, get rid of the initrd, get rid of your ppp stuff (for now), and add "root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait" to the kernel cmdline.
5. mknod /dev/fb0 c 29 0 (this was my number, check using the terminal in android, cat /proc/devices for the major, and /proc/fb for the minor). Also make sure that it's within the root, not on your disk :P .

That should boot, giving you a ton of messages about an "incorrect resolution png" or something - that's the splash screen unable to load. Simply rename /lib/init/splash-* (two files) to something else. Once you get a terminal later, there's an actual package to remove, but this lets it go a bit further.

You also need to keep X from starting at this point - all it does is hang. I have not yet done this myself, but it should be an initscript that you just un-link.

EDIT: It wasn't X that caused the issues. It was the combination of failed splashes and consolefont. Comment out the lines with "splash" in them in /etc/init.d/check{fs,root}.sh, and re-run.

I do not know if X actually fails - doing that test now.

EDIT: hitting framebuffer issues... no X yet.

So, if you're adventurous, and preferably a dev at this point (this is completely useless to users), please try this out and make it better!

Okay, just a note: the password is "rootme".
28th September 2009, 04:50 PM |#2  
enatefox's Avatar
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First reply!

this is relevant to my interests. I'll take a look. I remember seeing that Maemo was made on top of Gnome. Do you know if there's a chance to get Debian apps on here? That's the big thing for me to get me working on it-- some type of desktop compatibility. Having an X-server is perfect. Looks like you're saying the resolution issue is purely theme based? How open are the devs for it for suggestions and feedback?
28th September 2009, 05:38 PM |#3  
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2nd reply

This does sound cool
28th September 2009, 06:31 PM |#4  
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already made some read about this in the new nokia n900..
its cool.. it free.. but i dont like the ui :\
lets see where this goes.. but.. for now.. for me... android (L)
28th September 2009, 09:07 PM |#5  
enatefox's Avatar
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Ok, just saw it's Jaunty based which is what I've been looking for in a phone.

Is there a list of features/bugs/issues and what's been developed so far? Seems like if the kernel brought to us in part by dzo will work maybe it won't be so hard to get wifi and other features working. A list is good.
28th September 2009, 09:29 PM |#6  
poly_poly-man's Avatar
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I'll admit I haven't put much effort into it, but at this point X won't work, for one thing - probably have to change the resolution in a config somewhere.

Indeed, most of the hardware should be fine - I imagine, for example, once we are able to load the firmware, wifi should be good. Some code will have to change (a few things are built android-specific in the kernel), and some of the RIL stuff especially (phone, data, etc.) will have to be ported by someone who has that code and some time.

Indeed, Mer is Ubuntu-based, and so, according to their site, 95% of ubuntu apps should work perfectly. This is really nice for getting software on (aren't just limited to any applications in an app store or market.).

At this point, all we need to do is everything .

I'm going to try now to disable X and see if I can't get a few more things working.

EDIT: in response to your question about how open the mer-folk are to suggestions? The idea that I got from talking to them was that they are more than happy to get this extra help, and since they are trying to bring this to more devices, they are willing to put up with our requirements, to make this more readily available in general.
29th September 2009, 12:02 AM |#7  
poly_poly-man's Avatar
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Alright, as I edited, I got some more success.

By removing the splash calls and the X starting, I can get a terminal. I edited the /etc/shadow file to have a password that I knew for root. Now, I can log in as root on the console (/dev/tty1).

I tried to start X, and I'm getting some strange framebuffer errors.

I'll keep you posted.
29th September 2009, 12:18 AM |#8  
DaveTheTytnIIGuy's Avatar
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Wow, if we could get this working, it'd be sick! Thanks for posting, formatting now.
29th September 2009, 07:46 AM |#9  
hypest's Avatar
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with all the hard work already done for the Android port, seeing devs being interested in Mer is REALLY PROMISING! Waiting for Google to open up Android even more, is frustrating...
Porting Mer and thus having a REAL linux (kernel+software stack) is what we need to leverage the dev capacity of the great XDA community. At least, this is what I feel like .

Owning both a Kaiser and 2 N800s, I'll probably try out the stuff posted here... I was keeping an eye on Mer for my N800s anyway, but using it on the Kaiser is more triggering

so devs, have courage and good luck!
29th September 2009, 08:33 AM |#10  
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Frame Buffer and X server
Unfortunately I've been quite busy lately and haven't been following the Android development as closely as I would like. (I don't think I've updated my git repo for months)

If I remember correctly, the frame buffer code in the kernel wasn't finished. That would prevent X from running. Can anyone say whether that was completed? I just wanted to mention this in order to avoid people wasting their time if it is in fact the problem.

It would be great to *eventually* see X running with hardware acceleration, can anyone point me to info about how DZO got that working? Was it reverse engineered, or did he figure out how to make some binary blob happy?

It will be nice to have some choice of Linux based distros the Kaiser and Vogue. Keep up the good work everybody, I appreciate it!

29th September 2009, 01:00 PM |#11  
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I've been looking at the n900 for quite some time just waiting for its release to the US next month. I know nothing about developing but I am very excited about this one, and I hope that there is a quick start to the apps that are put out for it. I was curious myself as well at how this would port to the kaiser so I could get a good hands on before I went and bought one. I would be more than happy to be a tester. I bought an iphone cause cause the little green guy is really starting to piss me off and my tilt's about to give up the ghost. I quickly gave it to my wife as the signal strength and battery life just sucks so I hope this maemo can give me what I want
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