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Re: Installing Debian on a Zealz GK802/imx6 dongle?

Dear Vagrant,

First of all, thank you very much for answering to my question.

On Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 4:52 PM, Vagrant Cascadian <vagrant@debian.org> wrote:
> On 2017-04-28, Rogério Brito wrote:
>> Anyway, revisiting this device, I am interested in getting any more
>> modern operating system on it and, of course, Debian is my first
>> choice. Does anybody here have any experience with this kind of system
>> or something similar? If yes, how have things evolved in the last 4
>> years? Is it too painful to install Debian on it?
> It looks like there's at least a devicetree for it in linux:
> arch/arm/boot/dts/imx6q-gk802.dts:      model = "Zealz GK802";
> arch/arm/boot/dts/imx6q-gk802.dts:      compatible = "zealz,imx6q-gk802", "fsl,imx6q";
> Several of the drivers (hdmi, microsd, usb-otg, internal usb) are
> marked as: status = "okay";
> The .dtb is present in the linux 4.9.x linux-image-4.9.0-2-armmp
> package. There are several other imx6 devices supported in debian's
> armhf kernels, so the necessary drivers *might* already be enabled.
> That all sounds reasonably promising.

Thanks a lot for all these status updates. I must say that I'm
completely lost in this sea of ARM hardware, with so many variants, so
many (unofficial) kernel trees (and that's not even counting the
Android trees that I just started to learn about, with the intention
of getting a more updated version of Android also working on this

I really appreciate this help of yours. PowerPC like Macs are super
easy in comparison.

> So, your task will be to figure out how to get the bootloader that comes
> with it (or port it to a modern u-boot) to load Debian's kernel,
> initramfs and the appropriate .dtb file.

I experimented with things a bit during these past few days and I got
the following results/pieces of information:

* This device boots from a microSD card, which makes things
considerably lower risk in comparison with other devices, which means
that, in the worst case, I can just wipe the microsd card and start

* Ignoring the Android image that came with it (and which has 9
partitions!), the only other working image that I got was the one
provided by [1], which was supposed to be a Debian 7 netinstall image.
It worked up to a point where, retrieving the packages from the
network, there was a segfault and I didn't pursue things further.

[1]: http://projectgus.com/2013/05/debian-installer-for-zealz-gk802-android-tv-quad-core-arm-minipc/

This image has a very peculiar layout:

* The image is a regular MBR partition table (not UEFI), created with sfdisk.

* The u-boot binary that was used was put starting at 1KB from the
beginning of the image, in *an unpartitioned* area before the
beginning of the first partition. (The android image also had many
gaps between partitions, when I inspected it with gparted).

* The first real partition starts at 1MB from the beginning of the image.

* The contents of this real partition are only 3 things: a script for
uboot, a kernel image (a 3.0.x kernel, if memory serves correctly) and
an initrd that contains the netinstall parts.

Given all this information and the sea of the images and files in [2],
I'm a bit lost here on which method I should pursue further.

[2]: http://ftp.nl.debian.org/debian/dists/testing/main/installer-armhf/current/images/hd-media/SD-card-images/README.concatenateable_images

Should I use these hd-media images (creating one for my device---but I
don't know what I should include in the potential
"firmware.gk802.img.gz", if that is the way to go) or should I use
another method, like the one given in [3].

[3]: http://ftp.nl.debian.org/debian/dists/testing/main/installer-armhf/current/images/u-boot/MX6_Cubox-i/

Do you have any advice?

> You'll probably want to figure out how to connect to the serial
> console...

Hopefully, this is not needed... Yet. :-)

>> I can provide some details with respect to the hardware and document
>> my experiences and the installation process somewhere for reference of
>> others (kind of what Martin did with some systems on his personal
>> page) with the ultimate goal of getting it working well with Linux.
> There are pages for various devices on:
>       https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/

Excellent. I will wait until I have success to report the results there.


Rogério Brito : rbrito@{ime.usp.br,gmail.com} : GPG key 4096R/BCFCAAAA
http://cynic.cc/blog/ : github.com/rbrito : profiles.google.com/rbrito
DebianQA: http://qa.debian.org/developer.php?login=rbrito%40ime.usp.br

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