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Hardware Linux

Installing Linux On ARM-Based Netbooks? 179

An anonymous reader writes "I am sure that many other Slashdotters have noticed an increase in ARM-based netbooks over the past several months. For example, the Augen E-Go. It is a widely touted theory that it is impossible to install Linux on one of these notebooks, replacing the commonly installed Windows CE operating system. The sub-$100 netbooks carry decent specs, including 533MHz ARM processor; 128MB DDR RAM; and a 2GB Flash drive, as well as most expected netbook components (USB, Wi-Fi, etc.). I find it hard to believe that a computer with these specs is impossible to hack and install Linux to, but Google searches have been largely unsuccessful in finding proper information. Do any Slashdot readers have experience in installing ARM Linux distros to these cheap netbooks like this? If so, what distros do they recommend?" (In particular, I wonder if anyone can comment on Ubuntu on ARM.)
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Installing Linux On ARM-Based Netbooks?

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  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Friday May 21, 2010 @07:51PM (#32300940) Homepage

    I don't even get why these arm based machines come with windows ce, that's just setting the user up for disappointment... Sure it looks like windows, but won't run any of the apps people would expect to run on it....
    Linux at least doesn't create such a false impression, and has a much wider array of applications readily available for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2010 @07:51PM (#32300944)

    NetBSD runs on my toothbrush. I'm sure it'll run on your thingamabobber.

  • ARMeD Slack (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2010 @08:00PM (#32301026)

    Check out Slackware on ARM

    This is is a port of 12.2 packages (slackware is almost complete with 13 rc1).

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @08:11PM (#32301148) Homepage

    I've already posted in this thread elsewhere, but I just thought I might add: Google is likely part of your problem (inability to find anything useful).

    I've noticed lately that Google has become much less of a useful resource when looking up technical information. You're more likely to find a useful link with "stupid" queries, but any level of complexity results in two out of three being only-sorta related. It's a mess, and historically useful search formatting (quoting, -, +, etc.) no longer really help.

    I really hope a better alternative comes along soon (or google releases "" or some such thing - with the old indexing). The lack of good search results (nay, worse results) has really made my life more difficult.

  • by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @08:25PM (#32301246) Homepage

    I have to agree. I've had experience installing Linux on ARM and other "exotic" systems, they all seem to be very picky about what systems will work and what won't. You will have to boot into CE just to get it to load, and it will run like a dog.

    Drivers will be your biggest hurdle if you can actually get it to run, as between models they seem to change up hardware continually.

    I'd pretty much drop the idea unless you want to build it from scratch or input man hours into helping a dying ARM Linux project.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2010 @08:54PM (#32301446)

    The Simpad is an ARM-based tablet computer made by Siemens some years back. It came with WIN CE but people have created a Linux distro called OESF that runs on it and it will run many Sharp Zaurus applications unmodified even though it has a much larger screen than a PDA.

    I would expect that people would have to do some boot loader hacking similar to what was done with Simpad, but if you could get that Simpad distro booted on one of these netbooks then you will be past the biggest hurdle in making Ubuntu Netbook remix run on them.

  • Re:Amazing! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:25PM (#32301612)

    Take it from someone who admins RedHat/Centos boxes for a living, install debian instead.

  • Re:Amazing! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:47PM (#32301736)

    Perhaps. But consider that if the user hadn't submitted the story there would have been other effects lost. For instance, by reading this article I found out about the E-Go, which I'd never heard of before. I also found out about Angstrom for the ARM architecture.

    If we all kept as quiet as you appear to want then the spread of ideas and information might happen at a much slower pace.

    I am the AC who wrote that post that you replied to.

    Thank you for taking the time to say that. Sometimes people say things that makes me reconsider my position and you Sir did me that favor today. I was hasty and didn't think about what you might call the positive externalities. Still, I think having independence and being able to find your own answers is a very important skill. It is something that separates the helpless and needlessly dependent sheep from those who have some guts and are willing to put effort into a thing before it crosses their minds to seek help. I'd rather the Ask Slashdot be more like "I did research on this topic and I found solutions X, Y, and Z but all of them involve various trade-offs. What would you the community do if faced with the same situation?"

    I think that's reasonable and it shows that the inquirer is serious enough to have at least tried. Maybe they found the answers and maybe they didn't but either way it gets the community involved in a more meaningful discussion, rather than so many one-liner posts containing a link or saying obvious things like "full-blown X with a desktop environment requires more memory than that device has."

    Thank you again though for providing me with real, non-inflammatory constructive feedback. It makes quite a difference. Perhaps I am too disenchanted with the sheeple who are so convinced of their own helplessness and so convinced of their inability to educate themselves using the finest information network that has ever appeared in all of history (the Internet) that these things might as well be true even though they are false. I don't know which is more worthy of blame, the public schools that teach (train) them to be this way or the people themselves for failing to question it and failing to push their own boundaries and see for themselves how real they are. Still, I should be more constructive about how I point this out and you did well by making that clear.

  • Re:Amazing! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MaxToTheMax ( 1389399 ) on Friday May 21, 2010 @10:23PM (#32301948)
    I've got SeaMonkey running just fine (if a bit slowly) on almost anything besides Flash content. This is on PuppyLinux 4.0, on a Pentium 1 with 64 Mib of RAM (2 used up by integrated graphics.) Although this is an older version of SeaMonkey from before it used XUL.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 2010 @12:09AM (#32302498)

    [quote]If it's good enough for the Beagleboard, it's good enough for a netbook. Also check Youtube for live demos.[/quote]
    OK, let's put it this way: I just tried to install 10.04 on a 400MHz K6 with 160MB of RAM (and plenty of swap) and when it tried to boot the install, the only thing that appeared was a message that said the OOM killer had taken out the system logger.

    Ubuntu is not a low-memory distribution.

  • by mackyrae ( 999347 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @09:25AM (#32304966) Homepage
    At the Ubuntu Developer Summit last November, one of the Ubuntu ARM guys did a plenary presentation where the machine hooked to the projector was an ARM machine running Ubuntu. I also saw Jonathan Riddell looking for a USB mouse so he could install Kubuntu on an ARM machine he'd been handed.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.