Debian on the FreeRunner -- now official

Daniel Benoy daniel at
Fri Aug 15 19:41:19 CEST 2008

As a heads up to everyone, this may not work with an SDHC card.  u-boot (to the best of my knowledge) doesn't support SDHC, even though the linux kernel does.  So when u-boot goes to read the FAT filesystem and load in the kernel, it fails.

One thing that might work (Although it may mess you up in terms of kernel modules and such?) is setting up u-boot to load the kernel from flash (which you use with your openembedded openmoko distribution) and then pointing the kernel command line toward your SDHC Debian root partition.

To do this, you will have to boot up u-boot with the prompt.  Press and hold the power button, and THEN (after, not before) press and hold the AUX button.. and hold them until you see the the boot prompt.  Then connect a USB cable, and if your PC has the right drivers, you should have access to a serial port, such as /dev/ttyACM0 which you can connect to, in order to get a u-boot command line.

These commands should get you started:

Notice the menu_# variables.  You'll want to make a hybrid which boots exactly the same as internal flash (taking the kernel from flash) except that the root=xyz paramater will be different.

I suggest that someone make up a wiki article explaining how to do this while they're figuring it out.  (I've already had to do it once myself)

On Friday 15 August 2008 12:04:03 Joachim Breitner wrote:
> Dear OpenMoko community,
> the FSO packaging team of the Debian project[1] is happy to announce
> that we have started to provide installation procedures and packages
> required to have your FreeRunner[2] run Debian-powered.
> This means that you can use your favorite tools such as apt-get and the
> other >20.000 packages on your FreeRunner, including the
>[3] software stack. You can also develop applications
> for your FreeRunner the “Debian way”.
> To install Debian onto your MicroSD card, alongside your current Image
> on the internal Flash, see the instructions at
> These will provide you with a minimal Debian installation plus
> everything required to use zhone. From there on, you are free to modify
> your system as you wish – with the full power and flexibility of the
> Debian system.
> Note that Debian does not try provide yet another software stack (or
> “Distribution” in the OpenMoko slang) next to 2007.2, 2008.8 or FSO, but
> rather an alternative base, comparable to OpenEmbedded[3]. We are
> looking forward to also support other stacks such as the Stable Hybrid
> Release[4], once they are ready for that.
> All this is still very new and was created during at the DebConf 8 in
> Mar de Plata since last week. This means that there are still bugs and
> other things to improve. You are invited to join the development by
> subscribing to the smartphone-standards[5] mailing list that the Debian
> team shares with the FSO team. There is also a wiki page[6] with more
> information on the pkg-fso team, including a TODO section.
> I’d like to thank Jon “maddog” Hall from Koolu[7] for lending me an
> additional device for installation tests, and all the other testers at
> DebConf and elsewhere that helped us to remove at least some of the
> bugs. But don’t worry – I’m sure there are some bugs left for you!
> Please send replies and further discussion to the
> smartphone-standards[5] mailing list, but note that you have to
> subscribe to that list first.
> Enjoy!
> 	Joachim Breitner
> on behalf of the pkg-fso team:
> 	Philipp Kern
> 	Jan Lübbe
> 	Luca Capello
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> [4]
> [5]
> [6]
> [7]

Daniel Benoy
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