Monday, February 20, 2012

NSLU Optware for Android

Yes, there was kind of attempt at that already, but:
  • It's no longer available at the link announced and spread over the Internet (yep, it's available at another, but why so ... complicated?)
  • It ships binary blobs of unknown origin. Yup, maybe one could trace their origins, but who'd bother, and telepaths are on vacation as usual. It should be described stringently where they are from, if not scripted to be collected in user's build directory from known good sources, so users can actually trust them.
  • It is marketed as supporting only something called "Nook Color". What's that, I thought it was Optware for Android? Could I have Optware specifically for my HP nx9420 notebook, serial number XYZZY, 3Gb of RAM? Just make sure it's different from the Optware for the same notebook, but with 4Gb of RAM, and from any other Optwares in the world!
  • It goes as far as patching rootfs ramdisk. That may work on Nook Color or may brick it. That may work on next firmware upgrade of Nook Color or may brick. That may work on another device or may brick. The talk is not about this, it's about the fact that it's two big differences - to be able to install and run bash and to have sshd started automatically after the boot. I definitely want first, but I will do good consideration if/when I need second. So, I don't want setup for those 2 stages to mixed and done without myself being ready for stage 2.
  • It still appears to rely on presence of some other 3rd party stuff (look at that #!/bin/sh line, there's no such thing on pristine Android device, only #!/system/bin/sh)
So well, I decided to take my turn on hacking up an Optware bootstrap script for pure Android (root and adb access are the only prereqs). It's hosted here: and intended to be run on a Linux hosts. It starts by downloading CodeSourcery toolchain for libc and ipkg and immediate dependencies from to bootstrap ipkg on device. Yep, it's being tested on Nook Tablet so far, but at least it is called Optware for Android and I have that aim ;-). So, bugreports and patches are welcome. And I have few more devices to test it on, just steal me some time...