We are very happy to announce the first testing release of Plasma Active for Nexus 7. Plasma Active, in a nutshell, is a Linux distribution (based on Mer as a core) that is specifically optimized for tablet computers.
Tuomas Kulve and me had been working on the Mer “hardware-adaptation” for Nexus 7 that enables to run Mer-based distributions like Plasma Active on the Nexus 7. Based on this hardware-adaptation and the work from Plasma Active we created an installable “image” that can be used to “flash” the current Plasma Active 3 on the Nexus 7.
Event though very much already works reasonably well, there are still some glitches. So, please don’t expect a 100% working system. We released this as testing version in order to get more feedback and with the hope that others may also contribute to the Mer Nexus 7 hardware-adaptation as well.
Here are two photos of Plasma Active running on the Nexus 7:
To see the installation instructions read on.
Please be warned that, by following the instructions stated here, you will lose the warranty on your Nexus 7. Furthermore, you might damage or destroy your Nexus 7 or even worse. You do all the things described here on your own responsibility.
You can get the current version of Plasma Active for Nexus 7 including the MOSLO here. You will need the “plasma-active-*.tar.bz2” as well as the “moslo-nexus7-*.tar.gz” files. The “*.ks” file is the file that was used to create the rootfs tarball (“*.tar.bz2”).
In order to install Plasma Active on the Nexus 7 you need to first unlock the boot loader. How this is done is, e.g., explained here. Note that you need the fastboot tool that is mentioned in that link also at least for flashing the MOSLO to the Nexus 7. We assume that you know how to get the required tools for your desktop operating system.
After you unlocked the bootloader you need to reboot and keep the volume down key pressed. You should see the Nexus 7 bootloader showing “Start”.
Connect the Nexus 7 to your PC with the USB cable. Make sure that no other USB devices are plugged-in. Flash the MOSLO using fastboot as follows:
fastboot -c "ro console=tty1 rootwait rootfstype=ext4" flash:raw boot zImage-moslo initrd-moslo
We assume that you already extracted the”moslo-nexus7-*.tar.gz” and know where the relevant files are. Furthermore, note that this is an exemplary kernel command line. You could also specify options like “fbcon=rotate:1” for rotating the kernel output into landscape or “quiet” for suppressing kernel output. For the first tests it is strongly suggested to keep the kernel command line as-is.
When flashing of the MOSLO succeeded keep the Nexus 7 connected to your computer and press the power button in order to boot into MOSLO. With the Nexus 7 connected to your computer via USB, MOSLO should automatically export the userdata partition as USB storage device. You can check, e.g., via “dmesg” that a new USB device showed up.
In this short guide we will use the entire userdata partition and don’t set up multiboot. At first we format the userdata partition as ext4 file system:
mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX # /dev/sdX is where the exported userdata partition showed up.
Next, we mount the userdata partition and extract the rootfs tarball to it:
mount /dev/sdX /mnt/foo cd /mnt/foo tar xvf /plasma-active-nexus7-*.tar.bz2 sync cd - umount /mnt/foo
That’s it. Next is to reboot into your Plasma Active installation.
In order to boot into Plasma Active simply detach the Nexus 7 from your computer by pulling the USB cable. MOSLO should detect this and initiate the kexec hardboot procedure. You should see a notice that the device will reboot in 5 seconds. Do not press any key during reboot.
The device then reboots and the same bootloader “Start” screen should appear as at the beginning. This time simply press the power key. Your Nexus 7 should now boot into Plasma Active. Please note that I could successfully test this procedure with the 8GB model. However, it failed with the 3G 32GB model.
If there are problems booting into Plasma Active this way you can try to restart the device holding down the volume down key. When the bootloader screen appears you can then try to directly boot into Plasma Active with the MOSLO kernel as follows:
fastboot -c "root=/dev/mmcblk0pX ro console=tty1 rootwait rootfstype=ext4" boot zImage-moslo # For the non-3G models X is 9. # For the 3G model X is 10.
Note that when you reboot Plasma Active your device will reboot twice. At first the MOSLO will be booted which then performs a kexec hardboot and reboots into the actual Plasma Active.
If you don’t need the MOSLO and want to boot directly into Plasma Active on reboot you can do this permanently by flashing the MOSLO kernel as follows:
fastboot -c "root=/dev/mmcblk0pX ro console=tty1 rootwait rootfstype=ext4" flash:raw boot zImage-moslo # For the non-3G models X is 9. # For the 3G model X is 10.
You can re-install the MOSLO at any time later without any problem. You can also temporarily boot into MOSLO by following the MOSLO installation instructions above and leaving out “flash:raw”.
We hope that you like our “small Christmas present”. 😉 We had very much fun hacking on the hardware-adaptation and will continue our work to make Plasma Active run even better on Nexus 7. 🙂 We will also update the Mer Wiki with more detailed instructions for running Plasma Active on Nexus 7.