John's little Zaurus page

Years ago I picked up a Sharp Zaurus SL-C760 and absolutely love it. I immediately flashed the OS to pdaXrom 1.1.0rc8 (now rc12) and now have a complete GNU/Linux/X11-based email/web/LaTeX computer that fits easily in my pocket, has a 6+ hour battery, is instant-on, and has no harddrive to wear out. For more details, see my old Zaurus page.

Out with the Old

Alas, "progress" marches on, which in this case means that 11b-only devices such as the C760 with "orinoco"-style wireless card can connect to almost no current 11g/n networks. And even if I could find an 11g CompactFlash card, rc12's linux 2.4.x kernel doesn't include 11g support, which was added in 2.6.24. So I needed to give up on my beloved but no-longer-developed pdaXrom.

Zaurus SL-C760 Open Zaurus SL-C760 Closed

Lots of Googling led to several non-solutions: Zubuntu (gets caught in an infinite fsck loop on boot due to not ignoring the Zaurus' "Jan. 1 1970" initial hwclock date); Debian "Andromeda" or OpenBSD (don't support the C7x0); NetBSD (doesn't support CF 11g cards); pre-kexecboot Angstrom (doesn't include 11g drivers).

In with the New

After much travail, I finally found a working solution: the Angstrom distribution's recent releases feature a 2.6.26 kernel including 'libertas' drivers for the Ambicom WL54 CF card. The trick is to install an Angstrom image that doesn't use the standard "udev" device driver.

For the full instructions, read on:

  1. First, flash your Z with the appropriate kexecboot boot loader.
  2. Then create a new rootfs image using Angstrom's onlinebuilder and copy it to an ext2-formatted SD card. Be sure to choose the following options: Depending on what additional packages you choose, you could need anywhere from a 32MB to a 1GB card. (My c760 could never read 1GB cards, so I selected just enough x11 packages to fit on a 512MB card.)
  3. You'll also need firmware your 11g card. For the WL54CF, you can grab debian's libertas-firmware package and unpack the contained /lib/firmware/ directory to your SD card (e.g., using "dpkg -x" or "ar -x").
  4. Boot the Z with the ext2 card and select it in the kexecboot menu. Log in as root. Insert the libertas modules by doing: cd /lib/firmware; modprobe libertas_cs
  5. Configure iwconfig eth0 as needed for your network, and do a ifdown eth0; ifup eth0 to reload the eth0 device with DHCP. Enjoy!
Now that I've reached my goal of being able to ssh out from the Zaurus on an 11n network, I'm happy for now. Things I still would like to do include: If you know how to do that last one, please mail me at user 'girash', host 'interstel dot net'. Thanks!
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