Installing Ubuntu on the Archos 9 Tablet

Installing Ubuntu on the Archos 9 Tablet

Why bother with a locked-in iPad if you're a true technohead, when you can install Ubuntu on the Archos 9 Internet Tablet? The Archos 9 has several flaws, mostly surrounding the installed software. People say it's slow, but really with something other than "Windows Starter" it's actually pretty peppy. The internal hard drive is a bit slow, so I replaced mine with an SSD so I don't have to worry about a physically spinning drive anymore in my hands, and I get better performance.

Installing Ubuntu on it isn't for the weak kneed, but it's not that tough either. Here's a step by step to get you up and running.

Get Ubuntu

First, you'll need a working Ubuntu desktop, and the the ISO file to the Ubuntu Lucid Netbook Edition. No, it's not called "Remix" anymore.

Use the "Startup Disk Creator" under the administration tools on your desktop to install that ISO on a USB stick making it a bootable USB device.

Attach a USB hub to the Archos 9, along with a keyboard and mouse. Some tutorials may tell you to install a Linux-friendly USB wireless card, but that's not necessary - I'll show you how to install the wireless drivers from the USB stick later.

At first the touchscreen won't work, which is why we'll want the keyboard and mouse. Plug your new Ubuntu Netbook Edition USB stick into the usb hub as well and boot up your Archos.

Install Ubuntu just like you would on any other device. Be sure to tell it to automatically log you in at boot.

After install, remove the USB stick temporarily and boot into your new install. Your screen will be a bit stretched at first, but we'll get to video drivers in a minute.

Installing Wireless Drivers (the easy way)

After booting, plug the USB stick back into the hub. On the Archos, pick "System" then scroll down to "Synaptic Package Manager." Yes, the scroll bar seems backwards because it's designed for a touch screen.

After Synaptic opens, go to "Settings" and "Software Sources." On the "Ubuntu Software" tab, uncheck everything. On the "Other Software" tab add the following repository:

deb file:///media/Ubuntu lucid main restricted

Close the "Software Sources" dialog and click "Reload".

Search for the following package and install it:

bcmwl-kernel-source

Afterwards, remove the USB stick and reboot. Now the wireless will work.

Installing Video Drivers

After rebooting go back into Synaptic, on the "Ubuntu Software" tab check "main", "universe", "restricted" and "multiverse". On the "Other Software" tab uncheck the "file" line we just added and now add this repository:

ppa:gma500/ppa

Close and click "Reload".

Search for "poulsbo" and install the following packages:

poulsbo-driver-2d
poulsbo-driver-3d
poulsbo-config

While in there, let's install a couple of other accessibility apps we will likely want such as:

cellwriter
easystroke

Preventing xorg Crashes

Now it gets a bit tougher. We want to open a console under "Accessories".

We need to set a few options in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file.

sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Make yours include the following:
Section "Device"
     Identifier    "Configured Video Device"
     Driver        "psb"
     Option        "ShadowFB"  "True"
     Option        "DRI"       "off"
EndSection

Also, edit your grub startup line:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

Make sure the "GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT" line looks like this:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash mem=980mb i8042.nomux=1"

The last bit of that may or may not be needed. I also set "GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=5" so I can easily pull up the recovery boot menu if I completely toast xorg. You may want to do that as well, but it will make your Archos boot slower.

Now do:

sudo update-grub

Installing Touchscreen Drivers

In the console enter the following:

sudo nano /etc/rc.local

Arrow down to just before the "exit 0" line and add the following line:

echo -n "serio_raw" > /sys/bus/serio/devices/serio1/drvctl

Press "ctrl-x" and hit "Y" to save your changes.

Continuing in the console enter the following to install the touchscreen driver:

wget http://home.eeti.com.tw/web20/drivers/touch_driver/Linux/20100413/eGalaxTouch-3.01.4001-32b-k26.tar.gz
tar -zxvf eGalaxTouch*
cd eGalaxTouch32
./setup.sh

Select PS/2 by pressing 2 when asked.

Calibrating the Touchscreen

Now, restart, and after booting open a console and enter:

sudo eGalaxTouch
This will let you calibrate the touchscreen. On the "Tool" tab click "Linearization" and pick 25 points. It will then step you through calibrating the screen.

You can now use the "Keyboard Shortcuts" application in the System menu to define your hardware buttons.

There you go, you should now be able to remove the USB hub, keyboard and mouse and boot your new tablet. Most of this could probably be placed into a script, but at this point the Poulsbo driver is unstable enough I think that unleashing it on the average joe without enough experience to go through this list would be dangerous.

NOTE:

The eGalaxyTouch drivers cause xorg to crash when you connect any new keyboard devices after booting. If anyone has any information on how to fix this, please post it in the comments!

Posted by Tony on Jun 27, 2010 | Desktop Linux, Gadgets