arm laptops and d-i
I loathe laptops, and thus didn't own one. Needing one for DebConf (and
this time no friend had a working one for me to borrow), instead of getting
an used x86 one, I bought a $150 13.3" android thing. Because, you know,
installing a certain universal operating system should be easy, especially
if it's a popular SoC (Allwinner) and graphics chip (Mali 400), right?
Oh naive me.
It took me way too much time to figure it out, and I'm not exactly a
Debian newbie (although no experience with laptops or arm bootloaders).
The main block was no way to reflash the machine to a working state,
making me afraid to touch the nand bootloader in a non-obvious way. That
is, until I learned that Allwinners boot first from a sd card; all you
need to do is to put an ubooted kernel into the right place and copy
appropriate code into sectors before the first partition. Sounds...
familiar. That's not enough, of course, as without a module "lcd" there's
no display, etc -- debugging which requires moving the sd card, plopping
qemu-static-arm onto it and installing sshd. Same for trying anything
Now imagine a regular user trying that...
So, whom do I beat with this laptop to get d-i working?
Looks like a substantial part of Allwinner drivers got converted to DT in
3.8, 3.10 and 3.11 kernels, so it might work without a device-specific
Thus, if anyone would like to play with such an exotic laptop, feel free
to either catch me on debconf, or send me d-i images to test... It's an
Omega OAN133, not a widespread piece of hardware, but we need to do
something with incoming flood of Chromebooks and so on.