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Linux on the Iconia Tab a500, for 2018

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Worldblender

Member
Feb 17, 2015
46
39
Moto G Power
I have new instructions here that are much better, but require some amount of software compiling (mainly with the kernel): https://forum.xda-developers.com/iconia-a500/linux-acer-iconia-tab-a500-2020-edition-t4136023

I'm a latecomer to the scene of seeing GNU/Linux userland distros run on this tablet, as I only acquired mine from a friend since last year, and couldn't use it until I replaced the ac adapter and battery. I was this lucky as Android devices capable of running GNU/Linux distros natively are hard to come by, and moreso for getting it for free. But first, the tablet needed to be fixed up by software:
  1. I upgraded the stock Android OS from 3.?.? to 4.0.3 by downloading Acer-provided updates to a microSD card.
  2. Now I could retrieve the tablet's serial number and generate the SBK from it in order to flash Skrillax_CZ's custom bootloader with nvflash.
  3. I flashed CWM 6.0.4.5 custom recovery first (to AKB partition), then OmniROM based on Android 4.4.4 (to LNX partition). I flashed an Open GApps package at first, but I had to remove it as those apps try to utilize the NEON extensions that this tablet's CPU lacks, causing them to crash. (4.4 is the minimum version the Open GApps supports anyways) Instead, I used F-Droid for an app store replacement, which sufficed for most of my needs.
  4. Then I got to flashing a kernel that enables booting native Linux distros (to SOS partition). While I tried both sp3dev's 2.6.38 kernel and rogro82's 3.1.10 kernel (a modded version that loads the distro from the 2nd partition of a microSD card), I stuck with the 3.1.10 kernel, as it included the ASIX AX8817X USB 2.0 Ethernet driver which allows me an alternate method of internet connection in case I couldn't use wi-fi (both boot images are attached for preservation and convenience, renamed).
Now I was ready to experience running Linux distros natively on a mobile device for the first time. :fingers-crossed: From this point on, I would be using rootfs images to reach this dream of mine. With the new instructions posted above, I may have finally realized this dream! While I have more stuff working smoothly (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, 2D software acceleration), other minor things are still not, including the camera and 3D acceleration (due to such support not existing in mainline kernel).
Some notes I made for this time period:
  • I have found out that glibc versions 2.24 and later have removed support for Linux kernel versions < 3.2, which limits the choice of distros I can select from without additional work.
    The minimum Linux kernel version that this version of the GNU C Library can be used with is 3.2, except on i[4567]86 and x86_64, where Linux kernel version 2.6.32 or later suffices (on architectures that already required kernel versions more recent than 3.2, those requirements remain unchanged). Linux 3.2 or later kernel headers are required on all architectures.
    The workarounds to this are to use an alternate C library, or use older versions of glibc (Version 2.23 is used in Ubuntu 16.04, but it is compiled to only run with Linux 3.2 or later, so it must be recompiled by lowering the minimum kernel version to 2.6.32).
  • The file bcm4329-fullmac-4.bin can be found in packages of linux-firmware, but bcm4329-fullmac-4.txt needs to be obtained from the stock Android OSes, as the file "/system/etc/wifi/bcmdhd.cal" (original file attached for convenience, renamed).
  • Linux kernel version 3.1.10 is the latest one provided by NVIDIA, and new versions are unlikely to be ported to this tablet's CPU, according to https://developer.nvidia.com/linux-tegra-rel-16. :mad:
  • Other than the above three points, Linux distros will work almost flawlessly, but if the screen is turned back on, an external keyboard is needed to switch to one of six virtual terminals by using Ctrl+Alt+[1-6], and then switching back to Ctrl+Alt+7, where 7 may be replaced if the GUI is running in another virtual terminal location. This process is not needed if the NVIDIA proprietary drivers are being used, which can be found on this page: https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nvidia-graphics-drivers-tegra/16.3-0ubuntu2/+build/4804631 (Beware that X11 ABI versions > 14 are not supported, so downgrade the xorg version somehow to the 1.14.x series to use this driver).
    [Version 16.3] is the final release supporting Ventana. T20 support will not be included in future releases.
  • The internal storage is also detected by the kernel, but its contents cannot be normally accessed, as it has a special partitioning scheme that cannot be recognized. It is possible to format it, and partition it to hold accessible data, but I recommend not doing any partitioning for it, as it may require a longer restoration process that will not be explained here for now. However, using TestDisk to search for partitions using the GPT partitioning scheme allows four of them to be accessible. I recommend only copying data from those partitions; writing the detected partitioning scheme is risky for now.
  • Putting the tablet to sleep by use of pm-utils works, and the tablet will even power back up after the power button is pressed, but it may cause the BCM4329 SDIO card to stop working until the next reboot.
  • Any programs that utilize OpenGL during their operations are very likely to have poor performance, and will remain so, as this tablet model's GPU only supports OpenGL ES and EGL :crying: , unless those programs are altered by source code to include support one of these two APIs. Additionally, some colors may appear to be off during any OpenGL rendering (e.g. orange is rendered blue) However, the proprietary drivers may help with faster OpenGL ES and EGL rendering, but still, most programs are unable to utilize them.
I guess I can be blamed for sticking with too old hardware; people are moving onto newer hardware so quickly! However, there's still hope for having some sort of Linux tablet, but the road to getting there is not easy.

NEW: I have successfully cross-compiled this Linux 3.17.0-rc7 kernel, using the picasso config from rogro82's kernel source. When compiling this kernel, do not switch to any other branches, or prompts like this will appear upon invoking make:
Code:
Patch physical to virtual translations at runtime (ARM_PATCH_PHYS_VIRT) [N/y/?] n
Physical address of main memory (PHYS_OFFSET) [] (NEW)
I also created a boot image for it, but after flashing it, attempting to boot results in the bootloader being stuck at the loading screen, without hope for anymore activity unless powered off by force. Even inserting an initrd will not change anything but the size of the boot image (Max size for the SOS partition is ~5MB). :crying: This also seems to have happened a version of the 2.6.38 kernel from sp3dev that I have self-compiled, but that one was without an initrd. Either I'm not using the correct toolchain (I'm using the ones provided from the Ubuntu repositories), or non-manufacturer-provided kernels don't have the special code to support this tablet model. However, I really want to get this kernel to boot successfully, so that newer distro versions can be used (my results will appear in another post).
 

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Worldblender

Member
Feb 17, 2015
46
39
Moto G Power
Supported Distros

Almost any distro will work out-of-the-box (OOTB), but some require software-level modifications that can only be done on a real armv7-based device or emulation, so here is a list of distros whose latest stable versions have an arm build, can successfully boot up, use glibc <= 2.23, and their image locations (all of them can at least boot to a terminal login screen, if a graphical desktop environment is not preinstalled, but this will require use of an external USB keyboard):
Unfortunately, for some reason, the BCM4329 wi-fi works OOTB only with older versions of some distros, including these:
  • Devuan 1 Jessie (already listed above)
  • Debian 8 Jessie and older (supported until May 2020)
  • Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr and older (supported until April 2019)
On newer versions of these distros, if I was able to boot them successfully, they will work, but when running
Code:
iwconfig wlan0 txpower auto
it results in input/output errors that are meaningless, and the kernel messages do not really help that much, even when using the supplied nvram file (do I need to get a different one, or support had been dropped entirely for this card?) For these cases, USB ethernet adapters are the only way to get an internet connection to this tablet model. I have never been able to get Bluetooth to work, unless I missed some other task that I have not yet heard of.

NOTE: To remove the root password, use this command on a Linux/BSD/other Unix OS:
Code:
sed -i 's/root:x:/root::/' /etc/passwd
"/etc/passwd" can be replaced with another location if needed. "/etc/fstab" may also need to edited to reflect the partition layout of the microSD card that a selected distro is installed to.
OOTB distro support for this tablet model is very limited at this time; support for it seems to be being dropped implicitly :( , unless I can compile and successfully get a newer kernel version to boot up. DistroWatch.com lists many more, but older versions of most distros will most likely have to be used. It's better to use the versions that are still supported, for that they will still receive software and security updates occasionally.
 
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Worldblender

Member
Feb 17, 2015
46
39
Moto G Power
Potential new kernel source

See the bottom of the first post for more information about this.
I'm working on trying to get us a newer kernel version than the NVIDIA-provided 3.1.10 one, located at https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/tegra/linux.git/. This one is at 3.17.0-rc7. It's better in that comes straight from kernel.org, the official source of Linux kernel releases. However, its last update was from 09/28/2014, so while it is considerably newer than manufacturer-provided sources, it's not as new as the 4.x series (I'm not sure if I'm even willing to try compiling this series due to the age of this tablet model's hardware), but at least this will allow the tablet to successfully boot up newer distro versions. The issues with the BCM4239 card are likely to carry over here, but I can compile more drivers, either built-in to the image, or as modules that need to be added to a rootfs. Doing this will open up more alternate methods of getting an internet connection, such as by USB wi-fi/cellular adapters, or by USB RNDIS tethering. For reference, here are the current two 3.x release series, both of which are receiving updates as long-term support series:
  • 3.16.x, supported until April 2020.
  • 3.2.x, supported until May 2018.
That means in about two more years, this tablet model will effectively reach its end-of-life.
Do not flash the boot image attached here; it does not work yet. All of the attachments are provided for analysis, as they need more work before becoming usable. I try to learn most things on my own, but some things are not obvious to me as to what I should, so I need all the help I can get so that we can load new distro versions and give life to the remaining of these tablets for a few more years. At most, CentOS 7 is supported until June 2024 (enterprise-oriented distros tend to be supported for unusually longer amounts of time), if older kernels versions must be used or I fail to get this new kernel working at all, so this will be our only supported option if we can't get a new solution by the 1st half of 2020.
 

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laciii1985

Member
Dec 9, 2012
13
1
Hi!

Sorry for the noob question folks...
I really would like to try some linux distros on this tablet, I have the Skrillax_CZ's custom bootloader installed, also the latest OmniROM but how can I install / boot a linux distro?
Thank you!

Ladislav
 

Worldblender

Member
Feb 17, 2015
46
39
Moto G Power
The kernel that I used expects the root file system to be on
Code:
/dev/mmcblk1p2
. Images for the Raspberry Pi are usually formatted with two partitions: one containing the boot files; the other containing the actual filesystem. The latter is what the kernel expects to read.
 
Oct 28, 2011
10
0
I've been hoping for a thread like this since I wasn't getting anywhere with my own old A500. With Google support flaky as ever on my tablet, I've been itching to remove it entirely for a Linux distro. When I get time, I would love to tinker with the materials you've shared, Worldblender.
 

Worldblender

Member
Feb 17, 2015
46
39
Moto G Power
2019 Status

Finally, I've decided to try again to get something a little more recent onto here. Ubuntu 16.04 and one flavor, Ubuntu MATE 15.04, can currently be run. Ubuntu Mate is an Ubuntu flavor shipping with the MATE desktop environment, and the only flavor to produce images for the Raspberry Pi, hence their partition layout is compatible with the 3.1.10 kernel image.
Here's what I went through today (all versions require editing /etc/fstab to disable mounting of the first partition for them to complete booting. To get Wi-Fi working, use the text file from the very first post of this topic, and place it in the same location (/lib/firmware/brcm); no need to copy the BIN file as it will already be present on the images):
  • Ubuntu MATE:

    • 15.04: Only version that successfully boots out-of-the-box. Unsupported version. Use this image for now, as all others listed here don't work out-of-the-box.
    • 15.10: Crashes with a kernel panic. Unsupported version.
    • 16.04: Crashes with a kernel panic. Requires replacing the libc6 package and everything that directly depends on it with the ones from 15.10. Supported until April 2021. Glibc version 2.23 is in 16.04, while 2.21 is in 15.04 and 15.10.
  • Ubuntu:

    • 16.04: Preinstalled images for Raspberry Pi 2/3 available at http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/16.04/release/. Username and password is "ubuntu", and will prompt to change password upon logging in. Requires replacing the libc6 package and everything that directly depends on it with the ones from 15.10. Glibc version 2.23 is in 16.04, while 2.21 is in 15.04 and 15.10.
For Ubuntu 16.04, the following packages must be replaced prior to first boot with a chroot running on either an ARM virtual machine (the instructions at https://wiki.debian.org/QemuUserEmulation will also work), or another ARM computer (Android smartphones and tablets can be used here, as long as they have a microSD slot or support USB-OTG, where a USB SD card reader has to be used instead):
  1. libc-bin
  2. libc6
  3. locales
  4. perl
  5. perl-base
  6. perl-modules
After that, I recommend pinning/locking the packages "libc6" and "perl-base" to prevent the OS from becoming unbootable after an upgrade.
For all unsupported versions of Ubuntu, change the package repository URLs to point to http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ so that more packages can be installed.

To download any of the Ubuntu MATE image versions listed above, use the torrents attached below (should still work at the time of writing this post). The Internet Archive has saved copies of these torrents, as they can no longer be accessed from the current Ubuntu MATE download page. They can be found at https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://ubuntu-mate.org/raspberry-pi/*
This is the best that I can offer; either use Ubuntu 15.04 right away (and access some newer program versions, but have no access to the latest security updates), or tweak Ubuntu 16.04 post-install with the package names listed above (and access even newer program versions plus security updates until April 2021). It may be the last time we can get newer software on an aging tablet from 2011 [!], unless new ones are compiled from source.
 

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beaka

Member
Aug 24, 2019
12
5
Upgrade from 14.04 lubuntu by digetx

Thanks for posting the upgrade info, trying for a while but never found out the fix, until now.

After installing and upgrading 14.04 install as originally described on tegraowners I locked all the packages you mentioned eg:
libc-bin
libc6
locales
perl
perl-base
perl-modules

Then did a distrbution upgrade and presto, v16.04. Now I can install the latest versions of some programs I use.

Many thanks for sharing and kudos for finding issue. One day I hope to get back into linux seriously, changed a lot since the 14 floppy disk distributions. :good:
 

beaka

Member
Aug 24, 2019
12
5
18.04 upgrade works so far

After the v16.04 upgrade I thought "go for broke" and try another dist upgrade and after a few warnings it worked.

Havent tried everything yet but Chromium works to get this typed, and system profiler but I can't upload image here.

Kicad 5 installed but eeschema crashed in 16.04 but it runs on 18.04 albeit a little slower than an i5

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1X3yEyWYsCWyF6RXxgd4GpBkyIHBmIPlw/view?usp=sharing
 
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pheex79

Member
Oct 11, 2019
10
0
After the v16.04 upgrade I thought "go for broke" and try another dist upgrade and after a few warnings it worked.

Havent tried everything yet but Chromium works to get this typed, and system profiler but I can't upload image here.

Kicad 5 installed but eeschema crashed in 16.04 but it runs on 18.04 albeit a little slower than an i5

Hi beaka, can you share rootfs and install files from tegraowners lubuntu 14.04 ? I'm looking for it but tegraowners is gone now.
 

beaka

Member
Aug 24, 2019
12
5
rootfs and installer from tegraowners

Hi beaka, can you share rootfs and install files from tegraowners lubuntu 14.04 ? I'm looking for it but tegraowners is gone now.

Hi pheex,
Here are links to the files I used to install lubuntu 14.04 then do the distupgrades to 18.04
installer:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/13Gg7Xhyx_C1Ra7_rkD4G_3yoPbf-qvC5/view?usp=sharing

rootfs:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/14YZ-_o2c-3afqD0PbppWod12p3xB5fs2/view?usp=sharing

I have skrilax v8 loader and install to sd card.

Hope that helps. :good:
 
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beaka

Member
Aug 24, 2019
12
5
Dist upgrade don't work for me, something broke dependencies, maybe the packages i freeze (libc...)
Do you remember how do you proceed ?

I did a new install to card.
apt update
apt upgrade
reboot
open synaptic package manager and lock the versions of:
libc-bin
libc6
locales
perl
perl-base
perl-modules​
by selecting then Package/Lock version from menu
reboot and make sure it works
open software updater and update (use gui version as apt doesnt seem to lock version)
reboot and make sure it works
open software updater and do dist upgrade to 16.04 (go to bed as slow dl on 3g)
reboot to see if it worked
then I did a dd of the sd as the upgrade takes hours over 3g
software updater to upgrade 16.04 security
after that I again used software updater to go to 18.04
dd sd card so never have to do it again :eek:
using apt from 18.04 doesnt seem to break anything so far that I use.

brief summary but hope it helps. once you get it to 16.04 it seems a bit more stable and on 18.04 it works and is a bit more responsive but I havent tried every feature, just web(chromium and ff v55, had to find old pre-neon vers) , samba, kicad, freerdp (works well) and I can even print to epson wifi x420 (just found it on network, almost thought I was in windows :D)

good luck let us know how you go
 

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  • 5
    2019 Status

    Finally, I've decided to try again to get something a little more recent onto here. Ubuntu 16.04 and one flavor, Ubuntu MATE 15.04, can currently be run. Ubuntu Mate is an Ubuntu flavor shipping with the MATE desktop environment, and the only flavor to produce images for the Raspberry Pi, hence their partition layout is compatible with the 3.1.10 kernel image.
    Here's what I went through today (all versions require editing /etc/fstab to disable mounting of the first partition for them to complete booting. To get Wi-Fi working, use the text file from the very first post of this topic, and place it in the same location (/lib/firmware/brcm); no need to copy the BIN file as it will already be present on the images):
    • Ubuntu MATE:

      • 15.04: Only version that successfully boots out-of-the-box. Unsupported version. Use this image for now, as all others listed here don't work out-of-the-box.
      • 15.10: Crashes with a kernel panic. Unsupported version.
      • 16.04: Crashes with a kernel panic. Requires replacing the libc6 package and everything that directly depends on it with the ones from 15.10. Supported until April 2021. Glibc version 2.23 is in 16.04, while 2.21 is in 15.04 and 15.10.
    • Ubuntu:

      • 16.04: Preinstalled images for Raspberry Pi 2/3 available at http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/16.04/release/. Username and password is "ubuntu", and will prompt to change password upon logging in. Requires replacing the libc6 package and everything that directly depends on it with the ones from 15.10. Glibc version 2.23 is in 16.04, while 2.21 is in 15.04 and 15.10.
    For Ubuntu 16.04, the following packages must be replaced prior to first boot with a chroot running on either an ARM virtual machine (the instructions at https://wiki.debian.org/QemuUserEmulation will also work), or another ARM computer (Android smartphones and tablets can be used here, as long as they have a microSD slot or support USB-OTG, where a USB SD card reader has to be used instead):
    1. libc-bin
    2. libc6
    3. locales
    4. perl
    5. perl-base
    6. perl-modules
    After that, I recommend pinning/locking the packages "libc6" and "perl-base" to prevent the OS from becoming unbootable after an upgrade.
    For all unsupported versions of Ubuntu, change the package repository URLs to point to http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ so that more packages can be installed.

    To download any of the Ubuntu MATE image versions listed above, use the torrents attached below (should still work at the time of writing this post). The Internet Archive has saved copies of these torrents, as they can no longer be accessed from the current Ubuntu MATE download page. They can be found at https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://ubuntu-mate.org/raspberry-pi/*
    This is the best that I can offer; either use Ubuntu 15.04 right away (and access some newer program versions, but have no access to the latest security updates), or tweak Ubuntu 16.04 post-install with the package names listed above (and access even newer program versions plus security updates until April 2021). It may be the last time we can get newer software on an aging tablet from 2011 [!], unless new ones are compiled from source.
    3
    I have new instructions here that are much better, but require some amount of software compiling (mainly with the kernel): https://forum.xda-developers.com/iconia-a500/linux-acer-iconia-tab-a500-2020-edition-t4136023

    I'm a latecomer to the scene of seeing GNU/Linux userland distros run on this tablet, as I only acquired mine from a friend since last year, and couldn't use it until I replaced the ac adapter and battery. I was this lucky as Android devices capable of running GNU/Linux distros natively are hard to come by, and moreso for getting it for free. But first, the tablet needed to be fixed up by software:
    1. I upgraded the stock Android OS from 3.?.? to 4.0.3 by downloading Acer-provided updates to a microSD card.
    2. Now I could retrieve the tablet's serial number and generate the SBK from it in order to flash Skrillax_CZ's custom bootloader with nvflash.
    3. I flashed CWM 6.0.4.5 custom recovery first (to AKB partition), then OmniROM based on Android 4.4.4 (to LNX partition). I flashed an Open GApps package at first, but I had to remove it as those apps try to utilize the NEON extensions that this tablet's CPU lacks, causing them to crash. (4.4 is the minimum version the Open GApps supports anyways) Instead, I used F-Droid for an app store replacement, which sufficed for most of my needs.
    4. Then I got to flashing a kernel that enables booting native Linux distros (to SOS partition). While I tried both sp3dev's 2.6.38 kernel and rogro82's 3.1.10 kernel (a modded version that loads the distro from the 2nd partition of a microSD card), I stuck with the 3.1.10 kernel, as it included the ASIX AX8817X USB 2.0 Ethernet driver which allows me an alternate method of internet connection in case I couldn't use wi-fi (both boot images are attached for preservation and convenience, renamed).
    Now I was ready to experience running Linux distros natively on a mobile device for the first time. :fingers-crossed: From this point on, I would be using rootfs images to reach this dream of mine. With the new instructions posted above, I may have finally realized this dream! While I have more stuff working smoothly (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, 2D software acceleration), other minor things are still not, including the camera and 3D acceleration (due to such support not existing in mainline kernel).
    Some notes I made for this time period:
    • I have found out that glibc versions 2.24 and later have removed support for Linux kernel versions < 3.2, which limits the choice of distros I can select from without additional work.
      The minimum Linux kernel version that this version of the GNU C Library can be used with is 3.2, except on i[4567]86 and x86_64, where Linux kernel version 2.6.32 or later suffices (on architectures that already required kernel versions more recent than 3.2, those requirements remain unchanged). Linux 3.2 or later kernel headers are required on all architectures.
      The workarounds to this are to use an alternate C library, or use older versions of glibc (Version 2.23 is used in Ubuntu 16.04, but it is compiled to only run with Linux 3.2 or later, so it must be recompiled by lowering the minimum kernel version to 2.6.32).
    • The file bcm4329-fullmac-4.bin can be found in packages of linux-firmware, but bcm4329-fullmac-4.txt needs to be obtained from the stock Android OSes, as the file "/system/etc/wifi/bcmdhd.cal" (original file attached for convenience, renamed).
    • Linux kernel version 3.1.10 is the latest one provided by NVIDIA, and new versions are unlikely to be ported to this tablet's CPU, according to https://developer.nvidia.com/linux-tegra-rel-16. :mad:
    • Other than the above three points, Linux distros will work almost flawlessly, but if the screen is turned back on, an external keyboard is needed to switch to one of six virtual terminals by using Ctrl+Alt+[1-6], and then switching back to Ctrl+Alt+7, where 7 may be replaced if the GUI is running in another virtual terminal location. This process is not needed if the NVIDIA proprietary drivers are being used, which can be found on this page: https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nvidia-graphics-drivers-tegra/16.3-0ubuntu2/+build/4804631 (Beware that X11 ABI versions > 14 are not supported, so downgrade the xorg version somehow to the 1.14.x series to use this driver).
      [Version 16.3] is the final release supporting Ventana. T20 support will not be included in future releases.
    • The internal storage is also detected by the kernel, but its contents cannot be normally accessed, as it has a special partitioning scheme that cannot be recognized. It is possible to format it, and partition it to hold accessible data, but I recommend not doing any partitioning for it, as it may require a longer restoration process that will not be explained here for now. However, using TestDisk to search for partitions using the GPT partitioning scheme allows four of them to be accessible. I recommend only copying data from those partitions; writing the detected partitioning scheme is risky for now.
    • Putting the tablet to sleep by use of pm-utils works, and the tablet will even power back up after the power button is pressed, but it may cause the BCM4329 SDIO card to stop working until the next reboot.
    • Any programs that utilize OpenGL during their operations are very likely to have poor performance, and will remain so, as this tablet model's GPU only supports OpenGL ES and EGL :crying: , unless those programs are altered by source code to include support one of these two APIs. Additionally, some colors may appear to be off during any OpenGL rendering (e.g. orange is rendered blue) However, the proprietary drivers may help with faster OpenGL ES and EGL rendering, but still, most programs are unable to utilize them.
    I guess I can be blamed for sticking with too old hardware; people are moving onto newer hardware so quickly! However, there's still hope for having some sort of Linux tablet, but the road to getting there is not easy.

    NEW: I have successfully cross-compiled this Linux 3.17.0-rc7 kernel, using the picasso config from rogro82's kernel source. When compiling this kernel, do not switch to any other branches, or prompts like this will appear upon invoking make:
    Code:
    Patch physical to virtual translations at runtime (ARM_PATCH_PHYS_VIRT) [N/y/?] n
    Physical address of main memory (PHYS_OFFSET) [] (NEW)
    I also created a boot image for it, but after flashing it, attempting to boot results in the bootloader being stuck at the loading screen, without hope for anymore activity unless powered off by force. Even inserting an initrd will not change anything but the size of the boot image (Max size for the SOS partition is ~5MB). :crying: This also seems to have happened a version of the 2.6.38 kernel from sp3dev that I have self-compiled, but that one was without an initrd. Either I'm not using the correct toolchain (I'm using the ones provided from the Ubuntu repositories), or non-manufacturer-provided kernels don't have the special code to support this tablet model. However, I really want to get this kernel to boot successfully, so that newer distro versions can be used (my results will appear in another post).
    2
    Hi i'm new to this section. I got my Acer Tab A500 out of the shelf, cause i want to Install Ubuntu or any other Linux distro on it. As my english is not the best, i'm looking for a little help or guid to get Linux on it.
    The Tablet is already rootet and i have the skrylax bootloader on it plus a custom ICS Rom.

    Is it just install Ubuntu on the SD-Card and put it in the bootloader? I read something about Ubuntu works OutOfTheBox....

    If anyone can help, i would really appreciate it.

    Regards

    flambo

    Check out my latest instructions here: https://forum.xda-developers.com/iconia-a500/linux-acer-iconia-tab-a500-2020-edition-t4136023
    I wrote it just now.
    2
    thank you !
    I try all the weekend and can't get it working.

    I think that wpa_supplicant is a problem. I do not use it as I have open wifi, no one for miles to worry about.

    The upgrade went differently this time so I had to uninstall wpa_supplicant to get it to boot and with it went network manager and lubuntu core. Not sure what lubuntu core does but it works fine without it.

    I suspect the problem with wpa_sup is it may use Neon arm extensions which tegra2 doesnt have, so I will check the code later and see if I can build it on the A500.

    Sorry for the delay to upload but says 13hours on 3g and I am no way near that patient. :D
    1
    Supported Distros

    Almost any distro will work out-of-the-box (OOTB), but some require software-level modifications that can only be done on a real armv7-based device or emulation, so here is a list of distros whose latest stable versions have an arm build, can successfully boot up, use glibc <= 2.23, and their image locations (all of them can at least boot to a terminal login screen, if a graphical desktop environment is not preinstalled, but this will require use of an external USB keyboard):
    Unfortunately, for some reason, the BCM4329 wi-fi works OOTB only with older versions of some distros, including these:
    • Devuan 1 Jessie (already listed above)
    • Debian 8 Jessie and older (supported until May 2020)
    • Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr and older (supported until April 2019)
    On newer versions of these distros, if I was able to boot them successfully, they will work, but when running
    Code:
    iwconfig wlan0 txpower auto
    it results in input/output errors that are meaningless, and the kernel messages do not really help that much, even when using the supplied nvram file (do I need to get a different one, or support had been dropped entirely for this card?) For these cases, USB ethernet adapters are the only way to get an internet connection to this tablet model. I have never been able to get Bluetooth to work, unless I missed some other task that I have not yet heard of.

    NOTE: To remove the root password, use this command on a Linux/BSD/other Unix OS:
    Code:
    sed -i 's/root:x:/root::/' /etc/passwd
    "/etc/passwd" can be replaced with another location if needed. "/etc/fstab" may also need to edited to reflect the partition layout of the microSD card that a selected distro is installed to.
    OOTB distro support for this tablet model is very limited at this time; support for it seems to be being dropped implicitly :( , unless I can compile and successfully get a newer kernel version to boot up. DistroWatch.com lists many more, but older versions of most distros will most likely have to be used. It's better to use the versions that are still supported, for that they will still receive software and security updates occasionally.