Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Handhelds Cellphones Debian Hardware

Debian For Android Installer Released 160

dooberrymctavish writes "You can now download an installer and bootloader for getting Debian running on your Android (G1 at the moment) device; the whole install process will take you about 10 minutes, and leaves you with access to the full plethora of programs available in Debian and lets you continue using your phone as it was intended to be: as an Android device with all the capabilities thereof. Here's a look at it running.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Debian For Android Installer Released

Comments Filter:
  • Ok. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drolli ( 522659 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @07:41PM (#26476115) Journal
    That would be a reason to buy this phone....
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are you saying that this linux can run on a computer without windows underneath it, at all ? As in, without a boot disk, without any drivers, and without any services ?

      That sounds preposterous to me.

      If it were true (and I doubt it), then companies would be selling computers without a windows. This clearly is not happening, so there must be some error in your calculations. I hope you realise that windows is more than just Office ? Its a whole system that runs the computer from start to finish, and that is a

    • Dumb question (Dumb because I can't seem to get a straight answer from T-Mobile).

      T-Mobile appears to require a 2 year subscription to their data plan to purchase this phone.

      This seems silly since, (1) I can't seem to find a spot without free wifi and I'll probably spend less than 1% of my time on 3G. (especially considering that the 3G only covers my neighborhood (where there is plenty of WiFi) - I live and work in "Eureka" ;P )

      Can I get a G1 without paying for the data plan?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @07:42PM (#26476125) Journal
    Must resist purchase of new geek toy...
    • Re:Must resist. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Miv333 ( 1180543 ) * on Thursday January 15, 2009 @08:15PM (#26476531) Homepage Journal

      Must resist purchase of new geek toy...

      Don't resist! Just give in. I bought it the day of release, I got out of my Verizon contract for 200$ even. I don't regret it one bit. Loading Debian on it? Can't wait!

    • I've been looking for a new phone. treo680 currently. I've narrowed it down to an iphone, but I realized I'd probably need to run windows or some OSXish something to be able to use it, or a G1.
      I was already pricing 8 and 16GB microsd cards/chips/whatever when I realized I should check my contract. 7 months to go.
      So maybe a G2?

      Now if the 3G from tmobile actually works in my office, the last tmobile phone didn't...

      I am eying my son's experia, but I'm guessing he'd cry like a little girl, umm I mean whine if I

    • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @07:25AM (#26480293)

      Hey, that's not a geek toy, the Openmoko Freerunner is a geek toy. That can run android and/or debian too.

      Plus, what's even better is that the kernel's still a work in progress and the phone systems barely work! How geeky is that? You get to explain to friends and family that their call is echoing or you can't pick up because you have teh linux! /worst 270 GBP I ever spent...

      • Sorry to hear you bought it...

        As somebody who truly **almost** ordered a Moko, and that very often has had to explain many many times, that something wasn't working in my laptop because it runs Linux. I feel your pain.

  • Just a chrooted env? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Is it just a chrooted Debian installation? I'm assuming so, seeing as Android's just a bunch of Java progs running on a small custom Linux distro.
  • The video sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @07:49PM (#26476197)

    Just shows Debian booting. What can you do with it?

  • it can be a serious turn off. But then, this is still great news. Question is, what is the meaning of android capabilities? Does it still mean I am forced to use Gmail?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by guppysap13 ( 1225926 )
      This video looks more like apt updating and installing than debian booting, so we don't know how long it takes to boot. On the other hand, if it takes this long to install packages using apt, installing programs is going to be really painful.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @08:18PM (#26476561)

      Hi Guys, the video is of Debian doing an 'apt-get update' the boot takes less than 3 seconds. I showed this particular video to show that it is debian running. The boot is only 3 secs.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Question is, what is the meaning of android capabilities? Does it still mean I am forced to use Gmail?

      What do you mean "forced to use GMail"? There's a mail app you can use to access any IMAP4/POP3/SMTP mail account that comes with the phone.

      • What do you mean "forced to use GMail"? There's a mail app you can use to access any IMAP4/POP3/SMTP mail account that comes with the phone.

        And it's very likely both K9 and the default email app will support IMAP IDLE [wikipedia.org] in the near future to allow for push email notification to your phone.

    • There is now a good extension to the default mail client called K9 (an android mutt) that handles POP and IMAP. You will still need a Google account for the phone, but I don't use Gmail on mine.

  • I'm tempted to root my phone to use this trick. It almost makes me wish I bought the developer handset.

  • by joey ( 315 ) <joey@kitenet.net> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @08:12PM (#26476503) Homepage

    All the video shows is debootstrap being run in a terminal on, presumably, a G1 phone.

    Since debootstrap is a shell script that builds a debian chroot and is designed to be run on any linux system, that is not a significant accomplishment, is it?

    That's the "installer" portion. The "bootloader" portion would appear to consist of something like:

    chroot /debian

    Anyway, it's nice to see interest in running Debian on these devices, I guess..

    • But hey, the music is nice. It seems the Debian installer got better ;-)

      Hey how do get [tuwien.ac.at] my [tuwien.ac.at] pointless [tuwien.ac.at] blog [tuwien.ac.at] entries [tuwien.ac.at] on slashdot?

    • teh lolz (Score:5, Informative)

      by joey ( 315 ) <joey@kitenet.net> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @08:33PM (#26476703) Homepage

      Here is the actual code from the bootdeb script.

      I particularly like how init is "started" before the kernel is "booted". The "automounter" is also a nice touch. It's also impressive how the kernel boots in exactly 1 second every time.

      echo "Custom Linux Pseudo Bootstrapper V1.0 - by Mark Walker"
      echo "WEB: http://www.androidfanatic.com/ [androidfanatic.com]"
      echo "EML: admin@androidfanatic.com"
      echo " "
      sleep 1
      echo "Starting init process"
      sleep 1
      echo "INIT: Debian booting....."
      sleep 1
      echo "Running Linux Kernel"
      sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
      sleep 1
      echo "AutoMounter started"
      sleep 1
      echo "Type EXIT to end session"
      echo "Make sure you do a proper EXIT for a clean kill of Debian!"
      echo " "

      chroot $mnt /bin/bash

      On the other hand, my prediction re debootstrap was wrong. Rather than just use the shell script as designed, the creator of this thing ships an entire pre-built debian system that's chrooted into. Amusingly, this includes a root/.bash_history showing every command he ran while setting it up. (It also includes 104 mb of cached debs in /var, etc.)

      Anyway, very amusing.

  • booting? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aperion ( 1022267 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @08:43PM (#26476809)
    Article mentions Android is based on Debian, so basically what has happened is apt-get was installed (and all required software) which then gives access to the entire debain ARM library.

    Is this correct?

    It's sad the number of responses saying this is a boot screen... maybe if you don't actually look at it, and just go: 'oh pretty text!'
    • by lintux ( 125434 )

      > Article mentions Android is based on Debian

      I have mine for only a week so I may have missed sometihng, but I definitely haven't noticed anything "Debianish" on the phone. Non-GNU libc, very odd userland (it's not GNU nor busybox), etc...

    • by Nurgled ( 63197 )

      I think you misunderstood the sentence about it not being a port. It's saying that the phone's architecture is ARM EABI and that Debian has an existing port for ARM EABI; Android itself is not built on Debian, as far as I'm aware.

      • EABI is a family of specifications. Android does not strictly comply to EABI. You'll often see ARM-EABI and Linux-EABI. If you have a choice, you want Linux-EABI.

  • You can now download an installer and bootloader for getting Debian running on your Android

    Well I've tried, you insensitive clod, but he keeps running away, and as it has robotic legs it's faster than me!

  • NICE! (Score:4, Informative)

    by certain death ( 947081 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @08:48PM (#26476853)
    I have the phone, but I am not so sure I am willing to do this...
    • Re:NICE! (Score:4, Informative)

      by riflemann ( 190895 ) <riflemann@@@bb...cactii...net> on Friday January 16, 2009 @01:42AM (#26478855)

      I put debian on my Dev G1. Zero problems.

      It's safe - all it does is run a chroot environment from your SD card, thus you are unable to break your existing system (/dev hacks aside). No kernel is booted, it lives off the running system kernel.

      This means two things:

      - Resources are only consumed by actual running debian processes you initiate. No mysterious background daemons. I run a bash shell, and the only extra process on the phone is one bash shell.

      - Aside from memory/cpu resources (not really scarce on a 192Mb phone), zero impact on the rest of the phone (I can compile a kernel whilst making a call at the same time).

      I can now install and run any debian app. With a $12 4Gb micro-sd, I can install a *lot*. Access either via keyboard or network (ssh).

      python and perl on my phone - w00t!

      All I'm waiting on now is someone to create python modules to interface with the phone's GUI. And/or an X server.

      • Holy Crap man! Now you have me wanting to play. I have not tried, but I have heard that a 8 or 16 gig micro-sd will work in them, do you know if that is true? If so, I may give this a shot...mostly because it just sounds fun.
        • Holy Crap man! Now you have me wanting to play. I have not tried, but I have heard that a 8 or 16 gig micro-sd will work in them, do you know if that is true? If so, I may give this a shot...mostly because it just sounds fun.

          I have a 16GB micro-SD card in my phone right now. I also have busybox installed. I also have a 32MB swap file set up on the SD card. You can do some pretty cool things with this phone.

  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @09:29PM (#26477217) Homepage

    The android standards were written so you wouldn't install package managers & run native programs. You're supposed to be running Java Xlets. What's wrong with you people?

  • Really uninspiring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NekoXP ( 67564 ) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @09:47PM (#26477389) Homepage

    Well, you boot Android, get Debian on it and the video we're treated to is... ... running apt-get to drag down packages.

    Am I the only one who thinks this is totally pointless?

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Hmm... having THOUSANDS of apps at your fingertips.

      You know that sounds vaguely like another phone I've heard about...

      • by NekoXP ( 67564 )

        Thousands of poorly maintained, 3 year old apps, too! :)

        I can think of one advantage over iPhone; no apps like iFart in the repositories. It will only be a matter of time though.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why does the article/ video say "use Debian on Android"? If you install Debian you are no longer using Android.

    I definitely plan to order one of these phones next month (I don't have T-Mobile in my area, so I need to buy the Developer Edition with the snazzy graphics on the back)

    I now need to stop procrastinating and (vastly) improve my Java skills and start writing some Android apps.

  • ...but does it run Linux?

  • by saurik ( 37804 ) on Friday January 16, 2009 @01:31AM (#26478783) Homepage

    For the record, this is just a shell script that runs the commands listed here: http://www.saurik.com/id/10. AndroidFanatics generally doesn't reference it's sources. At least this time they (arguably) provided some value in packaging, but that usually isn't the case. The Android Market Browser it has, for example, is just a republished download of http://www.cyrket.com/. It used to be an iframe, but when I told them I wasn't okay with that they decided to just wget the contents. They don't even have the intelligence/decency to reformat it at all, making the entire thing quite flagrant. Frown pants.

    • by saurik ( 37804 )


      That was also my thought (I'm the guy who organizes the g1-hackers mailing list, and has been pioneering Debian on this platform, and any changes required to init and the kernel needed to support it) ;) I almost responded "if you check, I actually registered the domain name, and once I finish the changes required to get Debian installed to / I am likely to put the final instructions there with a bug tracker", but then I remembered I hadn't /actually/ bought it yet. I quickly did just now. ;)

  • The problem with (originally) Android-based devices is that their power management is done in a completely non-standard way. It's not that it would not be open, but passing tokenized dead mice through a wormhole [lwn.net] is quite a pain. Will there be enough community interest to actually ever put the power management to a level that can be used by non-Android distributions?

    This is where the Neo FreeRunner shines - not only you can install Debian (or Gentoo) on the device, but you can actually use it as your daily
  • Reminds me of the Zaurus

    http://www.pocketworkstation.org/ [pocketworkstation.org]

  • Finally! But how to get the Ctrl, Esc and Function keys???
  • This looks very cool and has made me a lot more interested in rooting my G1 now that it's very simple to do so. However, this gives me a couple of concerns that I don't find easily-answered and I'm sure others reading this article are probably wondering, too.

    -You root your phone, you install the modded firmware...and then at a later date you decide you no longer want any of this and want to go back to a "normal" set of firmware and functionality for your G1. Once you root it and run the altered firmwar

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.