4. Installation to Initrd

This installation applies equally to all netbooks, including the malaybooks, as far as we know. Linux does not know any difference between these flavours of machines. This section limits itself to an initrd system. The next section describes the installation of a larger, more complete linux system onto a compactflash disk.

This page describes a linux installation that uses the Arlo boot loader to boot to linux from a running EPOC system. Using Arlo is optional; the section on "Bookboot" in this HOWTO describes the construction of an "OS.IMG" file that boots to linux directly; this is the preferred method by far these days. The OS.IMG has the advantage of a quicker, less involved boot to linux. An "OS.IMG" based system just boots the kernel and initrd that have been already included in the "OS.IMG" file, so installation in this case consists of merely putting the "OS.IMG" file onto the first FAT partition of the compactflash card, just as for the original netBook's "OS.IMG" file.

4.1. Getting the things you need

You will need three things to complete an installation of linux on the netBook: (1) a kernel image, (2) a ram disk root filesystem (initrd.gz), and (3) the EPOC application ArLo.

(1) You can obtain kernel images from Psilinux Downloads. A single linux kernel supports the 16 MB, 32MB and 64MB systems (depending on if you have a Series 7, a netBook or the 32MB memory expansion card in the netBook, etc.). You will find a legacy 16MB kernel there as well. Put the kernel on your netBook as, e.g., D:\linux.image. You can also check out openpsion for "testing" kernels [well...everything is "testing" at this stage!] for the netBook.

(2) You can obtain a ram disk root filesystem from the Psilinux Downloads page. Just about any initrd.gz system will work (maybe), but here is a place to get started. Put this on your netbook as, e.g., D:\initrd.gz. For now you can also check out openpsion for initrd's developed specifically for the netBook (32 or 64 MB ram). In general, a Series 7 has too little memory to warrant an initrd-only system.

(3) Finally, get and install Arlo which is used to boot linux from a running EPOC system. (The original Arlo webpage is ArLo.) ArLo can now be installed as a *.zip installation. Unzip the zip file (preserving the folder structure) on either drive C: or D:. ArLo has a nice GUI frontend. Details on how to use ArLo can be found at that web site, or the manual. This HOWTO also has a section Using ArLo - Booting Linux from EPOC.

4.2. Backup EPOC

When you boot linux everything on your C: drive will be wiped clean, so you will need to backup your C: drive. Linux will use all the memory of the Psion as system memory (except for the ram disk, of course). I've found that the best way to do this is to copy everything from the C: drive, including the System directory, onto a backup directory on the compactflash (I have a big compactflash, and I recommend that you get the largest one that you can afford). To restore the backup after rebooting into EPOC, I first delete everything on the C: drive, including the System directory. Then, copy paste your back up files (e.g., Documents and System) from the D: drive back onto the (empty) C: drive. This preserves most of your settings, e.g., modem or ethernet. (I have a malaybook that does not allow overwriting of files, hence I have to delete everything on the C: drive to restore the backup.)

When rebooting, it is helpful to have the netBook's OS.img file on the compactflash as well. With present systems, from linux a <Ctrl><Menu><Delete> will cause the system to shutdown and reboot into EPOC if the OS.img file is present on on the compactflash.

You may want to get and install the free "sysback" package which will restore many of your system settings (e.g., home city) after a hard reboot.

4.3. Configure ArLo

The linux kernel will presently boot up using an initrd. We had troubles originally, but the issue was resolved by putting a space between "series" and "7" in "machine = series 7" of the arlo.cfg file. You can use this file as the configuration file, or as a guide of how to configure ArLo. The key is to use the line "machine = series 7" to tell ArLo what type of machine it is on. More about ArLo on the Series 7/netBook can be found at Peter van Sebille's Place and a manual for ArLo is available. Note that the Arlo GUI configuration save will not save the "machine = series 7" option, so the arlo.cfg file has to be edited manually.

4.4. Booting and Rebooting

With the above ArLo configuration, you should be able to select ArLo from the tools and just hit a return to see linux boot up. Check out the /proc directory, etc. Things are limited to basic networking, ssh, etc. without X windows at the moment (July 2005). To reboot, just type reboot at the shell prompt which will boot you back into EPOC (I've got EPOC to boot up by cycling the compactflash card and pressing the reset button, etc.) So, you need not remove all the batteries of the netBook for a complete reset. Some distributions have enabled reboot through <Ctrl><Menu><Delete> .

Figure 1. A netBook with linux booted up