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Can gentoo run on 7" netbook VIA-ARM VT8500
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cayenne
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:35 pm    Post subject: Can gentoo run on 7" netbook VIA-ARM VT8500 Reply with quote

I'm looking at an el cheapo 7" netbook:

http://www.eglobalwireless.com/p-4333-new-7-mini-netbook-laptop-notebook-wifi-windows-black.aspx

It doesn't appear to have a BIOS...boots directly from the flash...etc.

Anyway of getting Linux, preferably Gentoo on this thing....thought it might be a fun project, and handy to just keep thrown in the car for use while out and about...price is right.

Anyway, if anyone has any links/suggestions...please let me know.

cayenne
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audiodef
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure you can at least boot this netbook from a bootable Gentoo usb drive. I'm guessing since an operating system has to be installed that you can replace whatever it comes with with Gentoo. I'm curious about this myself, so I'll be watching this thread.
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alchark
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it is really based on VIA VT8500, you may be interested in code that I'm writing here: http://gitorious.org/linux-on-via-vt8500

For the similar WonderMedia WM8505/WM8510 (which seems to be somewhat more widespread currently), there are vendor-provided kernel sources available at ftp://ftp.gpl-devices.org/pub/vendors/Wondermedia/WM8505/

VT8500 currently has no useful kernel (only a very old binary blob v2.6.10 that does not support ARM EABI), but WM8505 sources might be hacked to work on it. I am doing a clean reimplementation instead, though, as VIA/WonderMedia code is somewhat ugly and certainly unacceptable to mainline.

Once you get a suitable kernel for your hardware, you may boot it by putting it together with an appropriate U-boot scriptcmd in a /script directory on a fat partition on an SD card, which will instruct the bootloader to start your kernel instead of WinCE. The rest is essentially in scope of Gentoo handbooks :)

Other useful references:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1349626 - a really long thread about running Linux on these devices (not just Ubuntu)
http://devio.us/~nextvolume/via_arm/ - dedicated forums for those
http://tails92.sepwich.com/files/easypc/ - datasheets and software
http://tails92.sepwich.com/easypc_linux/ - a mini-distro that actually runs with the old binary kernel on VT8500
http://www.dealextreme.com/ - place where these devices are sold cheaper, with worldwide shipping included :)
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WendyB
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did my first attempt to make an easy install Gentoo-based 'distro' for this netbook:

http://www.filedropper.com/easypc-gentoo-wendy-preleasetar
or better:
http://trac.freya-webtechniek.nl/trac/Linux_VT8500/wiki/DownloadList

This is called a 'prelease' because it isn't yet what I intended, but I want to know whether it works/boot at all for the targeted audience

Please have a look at the project page:
http://trac.freya-webtechniek.nl/trac/Linux_VT8500
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Last edited by WendyB on Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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alchark
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WendyB, good job! I would only suggest to drop the point about VT8500 vs. WM8505, as with current code both can be safely enabled in kernel at the same time. It will find out what to do by itself at boot time, so there will be no need to disassemble the device and determine the exact chip version 'manually'.

Also, I really suggest considering use of pure stage3 and binary packages instead of packing the whole system image in a tarball. This is more maintainable, flexible and bandwidth-friendly (users would only pull packages they need). Mine are still available at http://gentoo.alchark.ru/packages/armv5tel/ (40Mbit/s bandwidth).
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WendyB
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

alchark wrote:
WendyB, good job! I would only suggest to drop the point about VT8500 vs. WM8505, as with current code both can be safely enabled in kernel at the same time. It will find out what to do by itself at boot time, so there will be no need to disassemble the device and determine the exact chip version 'manually'.

Also, I really suggest considering use of pure stage3 and binary packages instead of packing the whole system image in a tarball. This is more maintainable, flexible and bandwidth-friendly (users would only pull packages they need). Mine are still available at http://gentoo.alchark.ru/packages/armv5tel/ (40Mbit/s bandwidth).

Thank you. I owe you. :lol:

I have tried a kernel with both enabled, and more, with all resolutions enabled but in that case (maybe because of the resolutions) it messes up the screen
I will experiment with it, anyhow, for a next release.

My intention is to make a ready to roll OS If people have to to emerge an entire system first, that's not very user-friendly.
If they want to add things they can do, but first I want them to have a nice usable system

I did add your site to the portage bin host in make.conf
In my case it wanted to rebuild many of your binary packages because the use flags didn't fit.

Thanks for your feedback.
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alchark
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WendyB wrote:
I have tried a kernel with both enabled, and more, with all resolutions enabled but in that case (maybe because of the resolutions) it messes up the screen

As Kconfig help says, you should specify your resolution in kernel command line in that case, otherwise the largest one that is compiled in will be attempted. So you will indeed get corrupt display if your actual screen size is smaller ;)

Having both WM8505 and VT8500 is irrelevant to this, as long as you select both respective framebuffer drivers.

WendyB wrote:
In my case it wanted to rebuild many of your binary packages because the use flags didn't fit.

You can use -K instead of -k to force using binary packages, if you wish so (see emerge man page).
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WendyB
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

alchark wrote:
WendyB wrote:
I have tried a kernel with both enabled, and more, with all resolutions enabled but in that case (maybe because of the resolutions) it messes up the screen

As Kconfig help says, you should specify your resolution in kernel command line in that case, otherwise the largest one that is compiled in will be attempted. So you will indeed get corrupt display if your actual screen size is smaller ;)

Having both WM8505 and VT8500 is irrelevant to this, as long as you select both respective framebuffer drivers.

WendyB wrote:
In my case it wanted to rebuild many of your binary packages because the use flags didn't fit.

You can use -K instead of -k to force using binary packages, if you wish so (see emerge man page).

Ok, I understand. Problem is I don't know which variations there are, so I didn't want to try to much.
Anyways, I will change the kernel.

I was also wondering whether it would make sense to use compiler optimization like: '-mcpu=arm926ej-s' or -mtune='arm926ej-s' (That's the specific processor which /proc/cpuinfo gives)
At the moment I don't use O, but if all compilation goes well I will try -O2, but not more)
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alchark
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My packages are all built with '-Os -mcpu=arm926ej-s -pipe' and '-Wl,--hash-style=gnu'. Those are considered safe flags, so it definitely does not hurt. If a package misbehaves with these, it's a bug.
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WendyB
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a (probably newbie) question about cross-compiling

I have managed to make a working toolchain on my PC using the instructions here:
http://dev.gentoo.org/~vapier/CROSS-COMPILE-HOWTO

Compiling often goes nice, but very often I have problems with the configure script or linker not finding libraries which I'm very sure are installed on the target system

I'm using a command line like this:
ROOT="/media/easypc2" PORTAGE_CONFIGROOT="/media/easypc2" SYSROOT="/media/easypc2" MAKEOPTS="-j5" CBUILD="x86_64-pc-linux-gnu" CHOST="armv5tel-softfloat-linux-gnueabi" emerge mypackage

Am I doing something wrong/unusual ?
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alchark
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's just a buildsystem issue. Sometimes it can be resolved by manually adding -L$ROOT/usr/lib to your LDFLAGS, unless there are .la-files involved. In this latter case you could try just killing those .la-files, but it does not always help. Cross-compilation is generally a pain :)
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WendyB
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally got a complete install. Mostly by emerging on the EPC itself with help of distcc

I have a release 1 with midori webbrowser, claws email and pidgin messenger
kernel should support wm8505 and VT8500 and different resolutions.
for the resolution swap the scriptcmd file if needed, default is 800x480

http://trac.freya-webtechniek.nl/trac/Linux_VT8500/wiki/DownloadList
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johnlu
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi WendyB, I had a question related to this hardware. Where did you find all info about how to write a new scriptcmd to boot a new kernel in SD?

I'm trying to make a new gentoo distro for wm8650 7" netbook, and your help would be appreciated.
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WendyB
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnlu wrote:
Hi WendyB, I had a question related to this hardware. Where did you find all info about how to write a new scriptcmd to boot a new kernel in SD?

I'm trying to make a new gentoo distro for wm8650 7" netbook, and your help would be appreciated.

I found that instructions here:
http://gitorious.org/linux-on-via-vt8500/pages/HowToUbootScriptcmd
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panyo
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:40 am    Post subject: works on wm8505 Reply with quote

This is great!
WendyB wrote:

kernel should support wm8505 and VT8500
...
http://trac.freya-webtechniek.nl/trac/Linux_VT8500/wiki/DownloadList


Boots fine on my $99 (they are usually cheaper now) Sylvania netbook which I
believe is wm8505.

I logged in as root with the password specified in the readme linked at
your wiki.

The next thing I did was to change from Dutch to English and Dvorak keyboard.
I followed the instructions at the Gentoo localization guide:

http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/guide-localization.xml

through part 5, setting locale to en_US.UTF8 and keymap= en_DV .

You say on your blog that you could not get the ethernet and MMC drivers to work. The \
output of dmesg shows

Code:
 pwm_bl:disagrees about version of symbol module_layout
serio_raw:disagrees about version of symbol module_layout
psmouse:disagrees about version of symbol module_layout
crc_ccitt:disagrees about version of symbol module_layout
rtc_tv8500:disagrees about version of symbol module_layout
mmc_core:disagrees about version of symbol module_layout
rct_cmos:disagrees about version of symbol module_layout


for the modules in question. A quick search suggests it is a problem
of matching the kernel you are running to the version of the kernel
the modules were compiled against. It seems it should be easy to fix.

Your distribution and the binary packages at the Russian site are very
valuable. They could really make these machines usable.

I use fvwm with a 3x3 virtual desktop and sloppy focus for X on my other machines.

Best would be if GNU Emacs could handle graphics through the framebuffer in
the console.

Lightweight interfaces on these low power devices make them very effective- ultimate hacking/scientific computing terminals.
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