FR: Problems, problems: please help

Joel Newkirk freerunner at
Tue Mar 24 04:24:22 CET 2009

On Tue, 24 Mar 2009 01:33:10 +0100
Toni Mueller <support at> wrote {heavily snipped}:

> about one or two weeks ago, I've purchased a new FR, but haven't
> gotten it to work as much as to be usable as a phone yet. The only
> application that seems to be reliable so far is "sudoku", which I
> don't need. 

> After investing some 20 hours or so, I'm now at a loss
> and don't know what else to try.

hmmm.  1-2 weeks, 20 hours.  Sounds about right... :)  I've figured
that I average about 10 hours a week with my FreeRunner (plus a few on
the mailing lists), down from about 30 a week the first few months. 

> > There were a few issues with uboot early on, but if yours shipped
> > with 2008.8 it probably has a fixed version. There may be an
> > argument for updating to Qi, but you are probably better off
> > sticking with uboot for the moment.
> I read about Qi, but since it can't do the networking and flashing
> stuff, according to the wiki, I didn't try. Currently, maintenance
> facilities are of utmost importance to me.

I've been using Qi for a few months now - it's a bit faster, and a lot
'quieter' - near-zero console messages during boot, and no bootsplash.
(not as pretty, but saves several seconds) It offers no boot menu,
so left to its own it will look for a kernel in /boot in each of the
first three (ext2/ext3) partitions on uSD, and failing that it will boot
the kernel in NAND. If you want to experiment with two different images
at once, one NAND and one on uSD, uBoot is simpler. (if you want four
you need to log into the uboot boot prompt via USB and edit the boot
parameters to support more than one on uSD)

Qi doesn't set up DFU support on boot, so you can't flash using it, but
you only put Qi in NAND - you can still boot from the uBoot in NOR and
use that to flash. (turn on with power...+aux for NAND, aux+power for

> > or the repositories may have moved. The URLs for the repositories
> > can be found in files under /etc/opkg. I can't comment on the
> > specifics for 2008.12 as I haven't used it.
> Under /etc/opkg I find only the addresses of the repositories that
> were configured by the system, but not the repositories that I should
> try to access. IOW, I don't know what to write there.

True... :)  However, I'm curious as to what IS there.  

The new toolchain Angus Ainsley announced a few hours ago contains the
following in opkg.conf (I'm not running 2008.x so have no other
reference, and usually each feed is in a separate file):

arch all 1
src/gz all
arch any 6
src/gz any
arch noarch 11
src/gz noarch
arch arm 16
src/gz arm
arch armv4 21
src/gz armv4
arch armv4t 26
src/gz armv4t
arch om-gta02 31
src/gz om-gta02

So it would seem that those are the feeds that an up-to-date toolchain
will build packages against.

The /repository/testing folders are (IIRC, someone may correct me here)
the ones for 2008.12, but were last updated Jan 20.  

> > > FWIW, I expect to be able to use the device as a phone, a
> > > navigation system, a music player and voice recorder. - TangoGPS (tracking/mapping) - Navit (navigation) - voicenote recorder - pythm music player

> > Try some of the other distros. You may find it easier to boot off
> > SD rather than reflash every time, and you could even dual- or
> > multi-boot. See:
> This is also only mentioned, but I could find no mentioning of how to
> _install_ something on the SD card in the first place, or at least, I
> didn't find it yet. Likewise for selecting the right one out of
> umpteen distros that I might have installed (I have an 8GB card in the
> device).

Taking the simpler case of a single installation on uSD and one in
NAND, put the uSD into a reader on a desktop/laptop and partition it
and install files as below.

If using uBoot I believe you need separate /boot partition still, which
used to be vfat but now (newer uboot from factory or flashed over NAND
uboot) works with ext2/ext3 /boot - just place the kernel file in the
root of that partition (first on the card), then extract the image
tarball (download the tar.gz instead of the .jffs for an SD install)
into the second partition, ext2/ext3.

If using Qi it expects the kernel in /boot as a folder in the root
partition itself, so extract the image tarball to the first (or only)
partition, ext2/ext3, then put the kernel in /boot. (actually the
rootfs already contains the kernel, IIRC)

For multiboot beyond those two (and without swapping out uSD) you
either need to change boot menu parameters for uBoot
gives info) or use Qi, which will try the first three partitions of the
uSD in order before trying NAND.  The key here is that Qi will skip any
partition that contains the file /boot/noboot-GTA02 (for a
GTA02/Freerunner it will, other hardware differs) so you can
'preselect' the boot partition by touching this file in all others, and
deleting it in the chosen boot partition (or leaving all to boot from
NAND) then rebooting.  For a few boot options this can be reasonably
done by a short script - which can be triggered by (or embedded
in) something like /usr/share/applications/rebootnand.desktop - that
touches all the files and reboots, for example.  (I've got one each in
uSD and NAND - one touches /boot/noboot-GTA02 the other
'rm's /media/card/boot/noboot-GTA02, then they reboot)

> > See for an overview of
> > what's 
> Done that already... the list gave the impression that the Om2008.12
> (maybe a more recent edition?) would still be the best bet, though.

Hmmm, I just read through that page, and it seems a bit stale... ;)

If you're looking for something newer (and IMHO improved) but still
pretty stable, try SHR-testing,
(for uSD) or
(for NAND) with kernel

Be warned - due to some choices in the theme, and possibly a bug or
two, the GUI can be slow sometimes, most notably (when coming from
OM2008.x) the main icon screen fingerscrolling, which feels more like
watching flashcards than animation sometimes. This affects SHR and FSO
and possibly others, including the experimental 2009.x at the moment.
(currently Paroli is fullscreen with no ready access to Illume there,
so illume theme isn't yet an issue...) Simplifying the theme, disabling
dropshadows, choosing software16 renderer instead of software (looks
crappy though, IMHO) and other tweaks improve the response
dramatically, but are not yet 'standard'.

SHR is based around frameworkd, while FSO is a testbed for frameworkd.
(which the next official OM images will utilize)  The FSO Milestone 5.1
works quite well, IMHO, but bear in mind that its primary purpose is as
an environment to test and develop the framework, not as a final
distribution.  SHR and OM2009.x are each targeting complete working
systems based on frameworkd, with SHR currently in a much more stable
and complete state.  (SHR is developing ophonekitd for telephony,
2009.x is going to use Paroli, while FSO uses Zhone)

If you're looking for something more bleeding-edge, SHR-unstable or
FSO-unstable are fun, though I'd hold off on OM2009.x-experimental
( for a month or
more.  (both a month of further development and a month of your
familiarization with the FR - right now the experimental image, when
the newest build works, gives you fullscreen Paroli over frameworkd and
pretty much nothing else)  And then there's Debian, Gentoo, and Android
- check the list archives or wiki for more on them, I've not ventured
there yet.  (Debian is on my horizon though)

> Thank you!
> Kind regards,
> --Toni++

Of course, and welcome to the community.


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