Sat, 28 Apr 2007

Setting up the N800

Here's the steps I have taken to flash my wife's N800 and make it useful.



  • Get the linux flasher-3.0 and firmware image. Put them in the same directory on your linux box.
  • Update: get the latest image.
  • Switch off the N800, unplug the charger and connect the N800 to your linux machine with the USB cable.
  • As root, or a user with permissions to access USB, run
./flasher-3.0 -F RX-34_2007SE_3.2007.10-7_PR_COMBINED_MR0_ARM.bin -f -R
  • Update: run
./flasher-3.0 -F RX-34_2007SE_4.2007.26-8_PR_COMBINED_MR0_ARM.bin -f -R
  • Wait for the message
Suitable USB device not found, waiting
  • Switch on the N800 by either
    • Plugging in the charger or
    • Switching it on using the power button whist pressing the Home button
  • The image should now flash and the N800 will reboot

Get root

In order to do anything interesting, you'll need root access. This involves adding a repository and installing a couple of applications. The N800 uses the debian packaging system, so this will be familiar to anyone who is used to debian or ubuntu.

  • Add the repository
Catalog name Maemo Repository
Web address
Distribution bora
Components free non-free

See for more information.

  • Install osso-xterm.
  • Update: Also available here.
  • Start xterm. It's in the extras menu.
  • run sudo gainroot
  • set the root password

Red pill mode

Red pill mode is an (ex) easter egg providing access to some advanced features. Activate it by going to add a new application catalogue, setting the "Web Address" to "matrix" and pressing "Cancel".

See for more information.


Install the ssh package.

  • Update: Also available here.


Perform whatever configuration you would like. For example:

  • Set the hostname - echo myn800 > /etc/hostname
  • Set up hosts - scp myserver:/etc/hosts /etc

Add packages

Other useful packages can be found at, for example:


Install by clicking on

Start the server by running


Download from and install it using dpkg -i x11vnc_0.8-3_armel.deb.

In order to get mouse clicks working properly, you will need to add the string " -extension XInputExtension" to the ARGS string in the file /etc/init.d/x-server. For me, that leaves line 5 as

ARGS="-mouse tslib -nozap -dpi $DISPLAY_DPI -wr -nolisten tcp -extension XInputExtension"

Then reboot.


Install from


Install from (Doesn't seem happy to install. Perhaps it's only for the 770 after all?)


Install from


Install from Reboot after the installation. To enable clicking on items, run

gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/canola/plugins/uicontainer/free_click true
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/canola/plugins/uifolder/free_click true

Boot off SD

Why might you want to do that? Well, you get your root filesystem somewhere where it's not going away, you can make it as large as you need and, as a bonus, not being a jffs2 filesystem it will probably seem about twice as fast.

Partition the SD card

I've seen instructions for doing this on the N800. It seems easier to me to just plug a card reader into your linux box and partition it that way.

Make the first partition FAT16(6) and the second linux(83).

fdisk /dev/sdb

Format the partitions
mkdosfs /dev/sdb1
mke2fs /dev/sdb2

On Ubuntu, removing and reinserting the card should be enough to create the required devices to run these commands.

Get GNU tar onto your N800

The busybox tar just won't cut it, so you'll need to get the GNU version onto your N800. However you do that, you'll need somewhere to put it, so first

mkdir /root/bin

You can get tar onto the N800 using the N800 by downloading the tar .deb file and extracting the tar binary:

apt-get -d install tar  (you'll need to answer Y to the questions)
mkdir /t
dpkg -x /var/cache/apt/archives/tar*.deb /t
mv /t/bin/tar /root/bin
rm -r /t
apt-get clean

Or you could do a similar thing on your linux box, getting the .deb from (or whatever the current version is) and scp it across. That particular tar_1.14-2.1osso_armel.deb is also available from my site.

Or just download the thing from my site.

Mount the rootfs
mkdir /mnt/rootfs
mount -t jffs2 /dev/mtdblock4 /mnt/rootfs

Copy the rootfs

The rootfs needs to be copied to newly created partition. Again, this can be done directly on the N800, but it seems easier just to do it whilst the SD card is connected to the linux box. On the N800:

/root/bin/tar cf - -C /mnt/rootfs/ . | ssh -l user myserver tar xvf - -C /media/usbdisk-1

Enable dual booting

This part is possible due to the work of Frantisek Dufka.

Download the initfs_flasher and unzip it.

tar xvzf initfs_flasher.tgz
cd initfs_flasher

Make sure the N800 has sufficient power, close all applications, disconnect from the network and open an xterm. Run the flasher


After the reboot, run

chroot /mnt/initfs cal-tool --set-root-device ask:mmc2

and reboot

shutdown -r now


[/unix/n800] permanent link

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