Photos of a Freerunner


Photos of an Openmoko Freerunner mobile phone (not new, took them last year). Debian installed. The capacitor soldered within its micro SD pins is present on modern hardware revisions to solve a problem with the GPS.

Linux boot messages on FreerunnerOpening a FreerunnerCapacitor in microSD socket

Photos taken by me and, as usual, published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Filed under: Embedded, Hardware, Photography

Updated Qi bootloader for SmartQ 5


This release has some fixes and helpful changes for debugging. But remember that it is experimental and unsupported code, so be careful. Source code and binaries are here:

The kernel is also updated. It is recommended to use the kernel and modules included in that directory as it has been modified to show Linux console messages on the screen (very useful for locating and fixing problems). To install the bootloader, follow the instructions of the previous release.

When booting, it shows a very short red light, followed by a short yellow, followed by green light. If green light is reached, it means that the bootloader has finished its job and Linux is booting. If you are using my modified kernel, you should see the boot messages from this point. This is the meaning of the LED lights:

Blinking red LED should mean that the battery is too low, but it is not implemented yet.

Photos of the boot messages and Mer distribution running from SD card:

SmartQ 5 - Linux console messagesMer distribution on SmartQ 5

If you are interested in cooperating with the Mer project please join to the #mer channel at

Filed under: Embedded, Software — Tags:

Boot the SmartQ 5 from SD card


Update: This information is old, please read a more recent post on this topic.

I made a modified Qi bootloader for the SmartQ 5 MID that can boot from the
external SD card, as a convenient way of developping or testing OS, or for system rescue purposes in case of internal flash corruption. This is the bootloader operation:

The SmartQ Qi bootloader is written to the end of the SD card. Create partitions to suit your preferences, make at least one ext2/ext3 partition to install the root filesystem and optionally a swap partition, but always remember to reserve 1 MiB of free, unpartitioned space at the end of the SD card. To be precise, at least the latest 1042 blocks (512 bytes each) must be reserved.

The precompiled bootloader and a kernel, installation script and source code are here:

Look at the script in order to make a bootable SD card:

./ /dev/SD_CARD_DEVICE qi-smartq-20090603.bin

To boot from the SD card, keep the “move” (also known as fullscreen) button pressed and then press the “power” button.

There is no battery check at the moment, look for the next release, I’m working in that.

Filed under: Embedded, Software — Tags:

SmartQ5 MID


The SmartQ5 MID is an ARM tablet device made by a chinese company. Based on S3C6410 processor, it can run Linux, modified Qi and U-Boot bootloaders, and low cost. An interesting platform for hacking. I could not resist the temptation to open it and take some photos of its inner beauty.

SmartQ5 MIDOpening a SmartQ5Removing screws to access the PCBSmartQ5 PCBSmartQ5 PCBSmartQ5 PCB with battery attached

Photos taken by me and, as usual, published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Filed under: Embedded, Hardware, Photography

Hack your own cross compiler


I’ve made a custom cross-compilation toolchain for ARM processors. It works either
as a standalone toolchain or within Scratchbox2.

Most precompiled toolchains were not suitable for my own purposes since I needed a very specific version of binutils and glibc, and trying to build CodeSourcery’s toolchains with their included script was too much masochistic.

The source code and build script is included, and unlike the build script
in CodeSourcery toolchains, this one actually works. It is meant to be
hacked, built from source code to create toolchains with custom patches
or with different tool and library versions.


Filed under: Embedded, Software — Tags: , ,

Alone in the Light


Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise stated, articles and their accompanying pictures are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Spain License.

Roberto Gordo Saez


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