Sylvania Netbook Debian Linux
April 10, 2013 13 Comments
We found this Sylvania netbook in someone’s trash about a week ago and when I got it, it didnt work and wouldnt even try to charge. Upon further inspection, all that was wrong with it was just power connector that broke away from the solder joint inside of the netbook. It originally ran Windows CE 6 and has a WM8505 SoC processor inside. As you can tell Im not a windows person at all, and started looking around for a good linux system that would run on it. I found a ton of android versions for it, but I was wanting true debian version that I could run directly from the SD card, just like the Raspberry Pi. Then I could leave android installed on the internal flash so others could use the thing also for their ebook readers and such.
Ok, I dont really have my own distro like everyone else, but I discovered a way to put a full debian distro on it using these steps:
First, you’ll need to download the two parts you’ll need for getting the system to boot on the netbook and OS from the raspberry pi. You’ll need the Linux kernel files for the netbook:
And the main OS from the raspberry pi. You’ll want the softfloat version because the hardfloat wont work on the older arm6 chips.
|Default login||Username: pi Password: raspberry|
There’s the torrent and primary download from the raspberry pi site itself. Just follow the instructions here to copy the OS to an SD card, just as you would any raspberry pi system.
Then unplug the SD card and plug it back in so the two partitions show up on the SD card. You’ll see that the larger partition doesnt take up the full space on the sd card, that’s fine, it’ll be fixed on the first boot. The smaller partition that has the boot files, just extract the fatpart.tar.gz folders into that partition so it shows up with the tools and script folder on the base disk part.
From there, just unmount the SD card partitions and insert the SD card into the netbook, and it’ll boot up right off of the SD card if everything is set up correctly. Then it will boot to a blue screen with options to change locale, password, keyboard layout, and expand SD card space. You’ll want to select the expand option so it uses all of the empty space on the SD card. Just set up all of your options and select finish, and let the netbook reboot like it asks.
This version doesnt have any sound support yet, but everything else works fine, Im currently working on finding a kernel module that would work, but having a bit of difficulty atm due to unable to find much about the sound card.
It will boot right up to the desktop and everything should work fine.
If you get the issue of when you try to shut down or reboot from lxde menu, it may ask for password, and the dialog will dissappear before you can enter anything. An easy fix for that problem is right here:
But instead of:
gksu gedit /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.consolekit.policy
sudo leafpad /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.consolekit.policy
sudo nano /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.consolekit.policy
From then on, the system will run all programs that are available to the raspberry pi, which is an insanely large list. Everything should be able to be updated and such with no issues at all and install everything just fine.
After this is all done up and set up how you want it, you should be able to interchange the SD card between the netbook and the raspberry pi with no effort.
Just a warning, if you fully update everything, and due to the low amount of RAM in the netbook, it’ll slow down the netbook really badly, so best thing that Ive found is just to do “sudo apt-get update” and install/uninstall all of the stuff you want/dont want and leave it be.
EDIT: After discovering that the softfloat version is being discontinued, I searched for a mirror site for those who need the images still, which is here:
And updated the download links in the guide. If the links die again, just google for “2013-05-29-wheezy-armel.zip.torrent” and it’ll show a bunch of mirrors with the files needed for this guide.