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Thread: ChDistro for Android - run any (ARM) Linux distro on any Android device (in chroot)

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    ChDistro for Android - run any (ARM) Linux distro on any Android device (in chroot)

    Idea to run a full-fledged Linux distro in chroot on Android is not new - there're quite a few blog and forum posts about that (including on tabletroms.com). One typical problem here is that instructions posted in device-specific sections and as pertinent for a specific device. Another problem is that it's still not enough know, niche solution. Many people who'd want to run Linux is skeptical about chroot. I was just like that, until I finally tried it. Well, what I found is that it's very nice, suitable for daily use solution which works NOW. You don't need to wait for someone to hack kernel for your device, you don't need to hope that you would have time for that in a month or two - just start to use it today (as long as your device is rooted). Just small fixes required here and there.

    So, to raise awareness of this nice solution and develop and collect features and fixes in one place, suitable for any device, I set up a "ChDistro for Android" project and opening this topic in "General" site section, hoping to catch attention of all interested people across device.

    The project is still being set up, but there're already instructions and downloads provided, together with fixes and additional features over common chroot scripts floating around. One reason I also pursued when setting up this project is to do it all in true Open Source manner - so you know how the distro images provide were built, know that they are not altered beyond upstream state (or if they were, how exactly), have source with full history of changes, not some trojanish binaries, etc, etc.

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    Edam (09-20-2011)

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    Links to post in device-specific section of setting up chroot environments - all these topic could benefit from ChDistro.

    Last edited by androq; 09-17-2011 at 04:51 AM. Reason: more links

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    Global Moderator zerobrain's Avatar
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    How full-fledged is it? Does video playback work?
    I installed ubuntu in chroot on my Notion Ink Adam tablet once but didn't play around with it enough because I had some problems with the screen resolution.
    Thanks.

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    soren66 (09-18-2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by zerobrain View Post
    How full-fledged is it? Does video playback work?
    Not ultimately full-fledged ;-). Video playback would work, but the whole graphic display is handled via VNC session, which pretty good (at least on 1GHz device) for normal web browsing/doc work, but playback of course will be choppy. But that's the main idea of chroot - you run Linux in parallel with Android, not instead of it. So, you can use Android where it excels (video, games, you PIM data, integration with online services), and Linux distro - for the rest, which includes software development tools, office, and lots of other apps which aren't available on Android or just "toyish" there.

    I installed ubuntu in chroot on my Notion Ink Adam tablet once but didn't play around with it enough because I had some problems with the screen resolution.
    Thanks.
    That's typical problem I saw with chroot environments provided on forums - they work and you see that performance is quite good to be usable, but there're myriad of small issues. That poses problems for different types of users: both for those who aren't familiar with Linux interenals, and expect it to "just work" (like Ubuntu nowadays), and for those who're experienced with Linux, but not Android, so don't know what is the best terminal/viewer to use for access, how to workaround issues they may have, etc.

    That's exactly why I started the project - to provide environment which would work as seamlessly as possible for everyone. For example, I already patched ConnectBot (terminal app to access Linux console in this case) to work well with external keyboard, which was a common problem (and you need extkbd to do more or less sizable work with Linux).

    Regarding screen resolution, that was one of the fixes I did recently - to pre-configure VNC server screen size to match that of physical device, to avoid unneeded scrolling, etc. So far, that was tested exactly on Adam ;-) (may need more work and feedback to make it work across devices).

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    Some updates: I've been working on elaborating docs beyond Quick Start guide, and tested pre-provided clean-room Ubuntu Jaunty images for issues commonly seen in Ubuntu images of unknown source floating around the net. Some issues are gone (like completely broken X1 keymap), some were investigated and instructions for fixing were described.

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    First thanks a lot for the project. It would be extremely useful if only I could make it work...

    I followed the instructions but I get an error in the bash script: line 31 unexpected "("

    Using NI Adam with AC0.3 ROM

    Any hint?
    Thx
    Adam Wifi/3G Pixel Qi - ROM: ICS beta (CM9)

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    Thanks Androq,

    Long time waiting for something like this!!!

    I am now reading your wiki and want to try this in my adam

    Do I need to format the sd card in any specific format like ext4 or something? now it is fat32

    I am now on Beast 2.2.1 do I need to upgrate to Adamcom?

    Thanks

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    Hi androq,

    do you have the link for the connectbot? I think the one in your page is broken

    ""# Download and install ConnectBot with support for external keyboard.""

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stef View Post
    First thanks a lot for the project. It would be extremely useful if only I could make it work...

    I followed the instructions but I get an error in the bash script: line 31 unexpected "("
    Good catch. It appears that I have bash as a default shell here. Fixed, made sure it work with busybox shell. Please re-download "chdistro" script.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edam View Post
    Do I need to format the sd card in any specific format like ext4 or something? now it is fat32
    No, *not* requiring to reformat a card is one of the aim I pursue. It should be as simple as just uncompressing a filesystem image file and dropping it on a card. (Advanced users can still use a real partition of course; I'm personally too lazy for that so far.)


    I am now on Beast 2.2.1 do I need to upgrate to Adamcom?
    Here again, my aim is to produce nicely working environment not requiring any upgrades beyond basic rooting and busybox install. I happen to use Adam and Beast 2.2.1 too. And I patched ConnectBot to work nice with that already. Note that Android VNC Viewer is not patched, so GUI won't work that well yet.
    Last edited by androq; 09-22-2011 at 01:24 PM.

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