CVS Netbook Revisited

by on Jul.25, 2011, under Embedded devices, Hardware, How-To's, Linux, Software

A few months ago, I posted a hardware teardown of the CVS Sylvania Netbook pictured above. After working with it and performing a lot of research on it, I promised a follow up article, and here it is.  To sum it all up, with a bit of modification to the software, a spare SD card and a lot of patience, you can actually turn this thing into a somewhat useful Linux device.  There’s also some improvements and suggestions to be had for improving the Windows CE side of things should you decide to continue using it in its default state.

When I posted the original teardown, I was somewhat distressed at how little information there was for this device. There was a ton of “marketing” material online however very few real-world posts.  This appears to have changed and although most of the reviews lamblasted the device as a horrible design and underpowered, I have found that for the price I paid for it, it’s not bad at all.  In this article, we will be focusing on software because as much as I’d like to say I’ve done a lot of hardware mods to this thing, the truth of the matter is that I haven’t.  Time has continued to get away from me and I’ve had to put a lot of projects on hold.  But let’s not start this article off on a downbeat.

In the three months that I’ve been doing research on the Sylvania Netbook, I have uncovered a lot of information that can help turn this machine into a pretty useful piece of equipment.  The fact that it has a pretty decent battery in of itself should be of merit to justify the time invested in fine-tuning it.

1: Windows CE

In my research, there have been two key complaints against the Sylvania netbook in regards to a “stock” configuration.  The first complaint has been that it is running Windows CE (affectionately called “WinCE”) and the second being that the WinCE installation is really badly implemented.

  • The key thing to remember with working with Windows CE is that Windows CE is NOT Windows like on your desktop or “normal” laptop! Windows CE was designed for small form factor devices and although it shares the same name as it’s bigger brother desktop OS, Windows CE can not run Native Windows applications. This appears to be the biggest hurdle in locating user software for the device as people will attempt to download software then when they get the software into the netbook, they are thrown off by an error message stating it’s not a “valid” application.  Consider it like taking a MacOS program designed for MacOS and attempting to get it running in Windows XP.  It ain’t gonna happen.  That being said, there is Windows CE applications out there, however the pickings are slim.
  • The other issue with working with the stock Windows CE installation is that the OS software is so badly implemented on the netbook that most things that should work, don’t.  Thankfully for us there is a patch available that will make things easier.  From research, the patch addresses several performance issues with the core OS, several updates to the builtin applications as well as an update to Internet Explorer.  Unfortunately, IE will still render mobile sites by default, but the rendering won’t take as long.  The patch also fixes the issue with the wireless card not being able to properly associate with WPA/WPA2 secured networks and DHCP release/DHCP renew works as expected.  I have uploaded the patch to here.  In order to install the patch, follow the below instructions. You will need a spare SD card at least 128MB in size.

Here’s how to download and perform the OS update:

  1. Download the patch from here:  sylvania_laptop_OS_update.zip
  2. Extract the executable to an SD card.
  3. Insert the SD card into the Sylvania netbook.
  4. Browse to the SD card slot (Computer -> SD Card)
  5. Launch the patch and follow the on screen prompts.

2:On the Linux side of things…

When I did my original research, I was fortunate to have come by a site dedicated to a Linux distribution made solely for the WM8505 series devices like the Sylvania Netbook. The site and the distribution were called Bento Linux and much like the Japanese namesake, the distribution was very small and was designed to be able to run within the computer’s limited spec.  Unfortunately, the site www.bento-linux.org no longer exists but thankfully I still have the documentation and files needed to pull it off.  If you are the owner of bento-linux.org and are willing to give me the site files, I would be more than happy to host it here. Please contact me in the comments.

One of the added benefits of Bento-Linux is that unlike some replacement OS installations, this is a sidecar installation meaning that all work is done on the SD card.  If you want to boot to Windows CE, halt the Linux OS, pop out the SD card and power the Netbook back on and you’re up and running like nothing happened.  Although the Bento Linux site did have instructions for performing an installation to the device’s flash ram, it is not recommended as if you accidentally mess up the Linux distribution, there may be no recovery. In a sidecar installation, you can pop the SD card into another device, make your changes, and then put the SD card into the netbook and you’re up and running again.

Although the site claimed that the distro could run on a 512MB SD card, I will up the recommendation to at least a 2GB card.  Prices are low and SD cards are very commonplace so it’s worth it to get a larger chip.  I started out on a 2GB SD card, but later upgraded to a 4GB Microdrive and noticed a significant performance increase going from solid-state memory to a USB Microdrive. Your mileage will vary, but it is recommended to stick with an SD card first, then perform upgrades and additional installations as needed later on.  As far as USB devices are concerned, you can use any USB storage device/keydrive that is recognized by the usb mass-storage driver in Linux.

Please note that the version of Bento I was running is usable however it did not appear that the sound card was operational. Since I am intending to use this as an external serial console, this was not a deal breaker for me.

Installation (SD Card Only)

Bento-linux comes in two parts. One part is for a FAT16 partition placed at the beginning of the SD card and it contains the boot commands needed to tell u-boot (the Netbook’s bootloader) how to boot the linux kernel and the root filesystem.  The other part contains the linux kernel and the filesystem in an EXT3 filesystem and will contain all the files needed to run Linux.

  1. You will need to start with an SD card at least 1GB in size.  I used a 2GB which gave me some room to play around on and of course the bigger, the better.
  2. Partition the SD card with a 20MB FAT16 partition at the beginning of the card and the rest of the disk space can be allocated for an EXT3 partition.  Do not create a swap partition.
  3. Download the file fatpart.tgz and extract it into the root of the FAT partition on the SD card.
  4. Download the file extpart.tgz and extract it into the root of the EXT3 partition of the SD card.
  5. Unmount the card and insert into the Sylvania’s SD cardslot and power on the machine. It should boot the Bento Linux distribution

Installation (SD Card + USB stick)

This setup does not require special partitioning, however it does require that the SD card be formatted FAT16.   You will also need a USB storage device formatted EXT3.

  1. Download the file fatpartusb.tgz and extract it to the root of the FAT formatted SD card.
  2. Download the file extpart.tgz and extract it to the root of the EXT3 formatted USB stick (or hard drive).
  3. Insert the SD card into the Sylvania’s SD slot and insert the USB stick into a free USB port on the Sylvania.

In either instance, when you first boot the distro, it will simply bring you to a console prompt and you are good to go.  There are a couple of things you may want to do:

  • (Pretty much required)  Set a root password.
  • Install fluxbox (light weight graphical interface) and wicd for wireless control.
  • Install aurora (lightweight firefox lookalike)
  • Install other applications though apt-get as desired.

Although the bento-linux site is no longer in existence, it appears that all the repositories that come with the distribution point to the arm ports of the official Debian repositories.  Prior to them going offline, I saw a note about Bento-Linux had the sources for the WM8505 however it appears that VIA has recently released the sources for the WM8585/VT8505 chips that drive the netbook so if you have any custom drivers, it appears that now there is an easier method for getting the drivers compiled in.  I am not a kernel compiler expert so I can’t advise on this process, however some brief research does seem to indicate that there is some element of truth to this.

Linux Impressions and final words

After getting the Bento Linux distribution working comfortably in the netbook, I played around with it and made some tweaks here and there that did give some notable boost in performance.   If you are using a spinning platter form of storage, creation of a  swap file or swap partition is recommended as it will give you a performance boost.  Attempting to make a swap file on the SD card or on a solid-state USB drive are not recommended because of the performance hit when writing to these devices and also due to the issue of “burn-in” when a storage cell is written to frequently.  I found that the device works decently enough for quick tasks and light webpages however it will not handle flash at all, nor will it be able to render sites with large amounts of images.  In my testing, I was able to use this device to configure Cisco switches and other devices through a USB-Serial adapter and Linux’s “minicom” terminal emulator.

While I believe it was a valiant effort by Sylvania to enter into the netbook market, I do believe that they should have done more research.  The Sylvania netbook, even running Linux and with all the performance tweaks mentioned, still is easily beat by Asus’ first offerings into the Netbook market. The two biggest things that seem to harm this device are the lack of RAM in the system (mine only has 128MB RAM) and the sub-par processor less than 1GHz.  If you have one, then you may be able to make it work for you, however if you are considering one, I’d stay clear.  It’s not worth the price they are asking for it at CVS.

A couple of comments left by Syed and Dave to the original CVS netbook post indicates that there are people out there that are able to get Android running on this device.  If you have information or an article written on how you did it, let me know in the comments.  I’m interested in trying it out and finding out what works on this machine.

:, , , ,

59 Comments for this entry

  • matthew

    Hey firestorm_v1,
    I do not have one of these netbooks yet, but I am saving up for it. I have found a link for putting android on it, and it looks pretty straightforward: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4FwFR4DRfU
    If the link doesn’t work like people are saying, just look up: android on cvs netbook ; on YouTube. Thanks for the awesome tutorials!

    ~Matthew

  • Oto

    I believe the 64X in RAM part number NY64X161043 means 64MB. Or maybe it is 64×16=1024Mbits or 128MB

  • Phil Osborn

    Thanks for the great info. Been dithering over buying with my $70 CVS rain check.

    Here’s an option that I mentioned on the Yahoo site, but have not been able to pursue further.

    Remember the Amiga OS? It was a full-featured, fully modern 32bit, multitasking, multithreaded OS that did most of what most people are doing today with win7, and it did it in one meg of ram – or less. There are tens of thousands of Amiga apps available for download, including browsers. And there aren’t that many user differences from windows in general. Icons, mouse, hi-res color, good sound support. My Amy 3000 would go from a cold boot to logging into my fave BBS in 14 seconds, flat, and I could run 20 or 30 apps simultaneously without major slowdowns.

    So, I tried the official Amiga emulator on my win 98 machine at work a few years ago and it ran pretty well, once I figured out how to slow the keyboard down. Actually, it seemed to run much faster than the original hardware supported Amiga, which was no slouch. Just tapping a key would get you ten pages of that character.

    So, the Sylvania netbook has a LOT more power and space than any Amiga ever. And my understanding is that Amiga Inc. has an emulator for Win CE that some people are running on their WinCE smartphones.

    I am so swamped that likely I would never get that far, but I would be happy to contribute a couple bucks or so to anyone who does succeed. I LOVED my Amy and it worked like a demon compared to Microsloth garbage. Even just as a notebook – for taking notes and email access – the Sylvania looks to be worth it, but imagine having a thousand apps on board that ran circles around anything native to CE.

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Phil:

    Thank you for your comments. The thought of running an Amiga OS inside the Sylvania would no doubt appeal to some. It sounds like a great project. Unfortunately I’m not versed in Amiga at all, having never used one before however I do have some friends that may be interested in getting it running. Should you get the opportunity to get it going, write back with your progress.

    Thank you.

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • abrasive/jhl

    You can buy that thing in /pharmacies/ now?

    It’s impressive how many brands this little shanzhai netbook has sold under! (Sylvania did nothing but print their brand on these, for what it’s worth).

    I’m pretty sure you can get an Android system for these things by scrounging around on the internet (it comes as a recovery boot image that forcibly installs it on to the flash). Beware, though, since many such recoverers also overwrite the bootloader, and if the BL isn’t compatible, you’ve got a brick on your hands.

    bento-linux is actually based around an Android kernel that I nicked from one such recovery distribution, with consequent limitations when not running as root.
    I did build a new kernel from pure Linux sources; you can find the kernel at http://bur.st/~abrasive/uzImage.bin and the source is available (including my patches) at https://github.com/projectgus/kernel_wm8505 thanks to the ever-awesome projectgus.

  • Shadowman

    I just came into a similar laptop with similar parts to the one described in your post. However may I ask you to describe the boot process of the device more thoroughly so I can get an idea if this will work for me.

    For me the default boot says “Wireless Book” with a bar at the bottom saying “Loading device drivers” is it the same for you?

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Shadowman:

    The boot process on this device is not very detailed. Basically I get a “Sylvania” splash screen, then I see the Windows CE desktop. When I boot Linux, I get the same “Sylvania” splash screen then the linux kernel console output. I haven’t seen a “Loading Device Drivers” prompt unfortunately.

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Abrasive:

    This is true. I didn’t expect to see a netbook (or a tablet) at CVS much less a Sylvania branded product. The last time I found anything genuine Sylvania, it was vacuum tubes and old transistor driven TVs. I honestly haven’t done much research into Android however I don’t doubt that there’s a port for the WM8585 based SOCs.

    That is great information. I know the kernel_wm8505 link came up in my research, but your new kernel is a great find!

    Thank you for the information.

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • Shadowman

    Hopefully the boot won’t be a problem. Do you have any information on Bento linux? It’s based on Debian(apt-get)? what repositories does it use? What kernel?

  • Stacy

    Hi I cannot connect to the internet now… DNS error. Any idea

  • Om

    Hi FIRESTORM_v1,
    I would like to Know if there is a way to install Android on this Sylvania Netbook. Maby be from SD card or may be flashing it directly. I could not find much help on the web elsewhere. I appreciate your help.

  • Neil

    There is a guy out there who goes by ‘Tipstir’ who hosts a site for cheap tablet support and info. I own one of the ‘drugstore tablets’ ( a Maylong) which is based on the same processor as these Sylvania netbooks. I have succesfully done this the other way around: I have used this CE update and put CE on my Maylong tablet! Why? Because I can… Anyway, I would imagine that the reverse would work. Try this: http://androidtabletzone.the-talk.net/forum

    I hope to grab one of these to play with this season. I was thinking it would make a great radio streaming and ham-radio helper (Echolink). I will bookmark your site and check back!
    Thanks for the info!

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Neil:

    I believe that name came up in my research a lot. He did a lot of work on other WM8505 tablets including the Maylong series. As a fellow HAM (although I think my license expired), I would be interested in your progress on getting Echolink working on it. If you are able to get it running, please let us know!

    Good luck,

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Om:

    I am not sure, several commenters have posted other information that has yielded them great results. One recent commenter mentioned an “ungoogle mod” that may work for what you’re looking for. I haven’t done any research on it, so I couldn’t advise without trying it as to whether not it runs off SD or flash. If you try it and it works, write back and let us know how it works for you.

    Good luck,

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Stacy:

    If you’re running the “original” WinCE, your best bet is to download the update linked in this article. This fixes the device’s ability to get DNS information on DHCP lease. Alternatively, you can statically assign DNS servers to it. I use 4.2.2.1 and 4.2.2.2 as they are very reliable public DNS servers and should work on the device just fine.

    Good luck,

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Shadowman:

    Unfortunately, the Bento-Linux site went down about a month before I had a chance to publish the article. If memory serves, it uses the debian APT repositories for the Debian OS it was based on however I forget the version. The Kernel was a custom mod by another Sylvania hacker from an Android kernel to be able to run on the WM8505 chip. I believe there’s a comment in the original article (linked here) that indicates that there were some kernel patches applied but a newer custom kernel mod is possible. I haven’t tried it but I wouldn’t doubt that it works.

    Happy Hacking,

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • Neil

    OK. Echolink is working! No internal mic though, but I have a ton of headsets that work with this thing. I used the Android build here in this forum thread:

    http://devio.us/~nextvolume/via_arm/viewtopic.php?id=4&t_id=167&page=1

    You’ll need to install ‘Better Terminal’, enter SU, edit init.rc with vi and comment out some lines to stop the volume control from constantly beeping. The instructions are on the second page of the thread for fixing this. There’s lots of other tweaking info there that I have yet to try, but I will soon.

    The link to the Echolink APK is here:

    http://www.echolink.org/downloads/EchoLink-1_1_3.apk

    You’ll need to install that way since there is no market. Figuring out vi with the Sylvania’s keyboard was fun. I can’t remember how I switched back to command mode but I finally managed it. The ZZzz key brings up the menu. I will report back as this evolves.

    Neil, W2NDG

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Neil:

    That’s awesome news and great links! Thank you for the information. There are many people on these articles that have expressed their desire to run Android on this netbook. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to check it out myself. I’ll have to find some time to check it out and try an install. If all goes well, I’ll mirror the files and post instructions here!

    Thank you for the valuable information!

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • Om

    Hi FIRESTORM_v1,
    I downloaded the script for Windows CE from the location you provided. Now everything is erased. This seems tobe the fresh copy of Windows CE. I cannot even see wireless connection. Please guide me. What should I do for wireless connection?

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Om:

    All that is needed now is to re-setup your wireless configuration. Use the Wifi app and add your network password to the device and it should start running like it did before.

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • Kim

    Hi Firestorm, both articles about this netbook was great, can tell me where i can find a replacement battery for mine. My netbook only comes on if it’s plugged into the AC adapter.

    Please help.

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Kim:

    I’m not really sure where you could score some batteries for these. You might want to check some hobby shops around your local city and see if maybe they can point you in the right direction. The battery pack doesn’t appear to be very complex, it’s just a standard two-wire battery pack although memory escapes me if it’s Li-Ion or NiCd. Since you’re there, ask them if they can test it and make sure it’s your battery that’s dead and not the charge controller in the device itself.

    Good luck!

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • Josh

    I got a sylvania computer as a gift for Christmas, and I’ll need to use it exclusively for a bit of time.

    While the first thing I’m gonna do is download the patch, I wanted to do a full fledged upgrade that involved using a 1TB external HDD to boot a windows XP or Vista (why, yes, I am stupid and crazy why do you ask?) but I need to get a fancy new motherboard to meet specs.

    However, this is all pretty proprietary and a motherboard that small really doesn’t exist outside the world of super-cheap computers found at CVS, and, even then, I’m sure they won’t be powerful enough to upgrade OS’s.

    Is there a workaround of some sort to install a real, full fledged computer motherboard?

    I don’t care if it’s cumbersome, ugly, or has to be artificially encased in something – I pretty much need a fully functional laptop for the moment that can do all small-time nonsense without slowdowns or anything odd like that – this computer is really a godsend.

    I have an unused 1 tb external harddrive that’s unopened and have some money to get a new motherboard, but I’m on a budget.

    I should note that I’m pretty novice about computers and if that’s impossible and what I’m saying doesn’t make any sense, I really do apologize.

    I hope something good comes out of this! (bookmarking site, really good stuff.)

    Josh

  • Mel

    I love these articles! So glad some ideas for this netbook are out there. Our problem with ours is the video (preinstalled youtube and core player) stopped working, just pops up random error codes when we try to play a video. Re-istalled the Win CE which did help the wifi, but the video error remains. If I install the Linux, will video likely work again? It’s either that or return it for a new one – we’ve got a warranty on it.

    Thanks!

  • sylvia lair

    Nothing is working on the net book I purchased. Is there any way someone from your company can let me know what i need to do inorder to activate this net book!!!!!

  • SkylarMT

    I just found Bento-Linux.org …
    It moved to bentolinux.org
    A Google search provided it below a number of other entries.
    (Just remove the “-”)
    Hope I helped!

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Skylar:

    This is a wonderful find! Thank you for letting me know about the updated URL. I’ll have to check it out now that it’s back up, maybe I can find more recent kernel/OS for my sylvania.

    Happy Hacking!

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Sylvia:

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a company and I don’t work much with the stock Windows CE operating system that the device ships with. If you are running into troubles, I would suggest contacting Digital Gadgets (the makers of the device) via their phone support number, 1-888-571-0866 .

    Good Luck.

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Mel:

    I’m not sure about the video issue, unfortunately the youtube and core player applets are not exactly the pinnacle of software development. As long as the display works well outside of these two apps (i.e. no streaks, missing chunks, ghosting, static, etc.) then it’s more than likely it’s a software fault. I would suggest seeing if you can find an alternative media player of some sort. While installing Linux may be appealing, it’s not for the faint hearted or a novice user. If you have a warranty on it, your best bet is to exercise it and see if you can either get a replacement or at least some support options.

    Good luck!

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Josh:

    Unfortunately what you are describing is completely impossible. The WM8505 chip that powers the Sylvania netbook is nowhere near x86 compatible so running a standard OS is simply not going to happen. The only way that Bento is able to run on it was because some genius hackers found the spec for the WM8505 and were able to make patches to the linux kernel that would make it run.

    Since you mention a 1TB External, it’s going to be in your best interest to consider a stronger netbook if you want to stay with the small form factor machines. Personally I have an Asus EeePC 900 and although I haven’t hacked it out, the card slot that the builtin SSD is connected to features a standard SATA port that some Eee users have wired to an external SATA port. Alternatively, the device supports booting from a USB HD natively in the BIOS and would serve as a far easier hack with better results than using the Sylvania.

    An Eee on Ebay will run ~$50ish+shipping as of this post, so you may even be able to save a few dollars and if you’re lucky, you can get one with a larger SSD than the 4GB one in my Eee.

    Good Luck!

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • Dsdude

    If I can’t format the USB to Ext3 should I do Ext2 or Ext4 or will neither of those work?

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello dsdude:

    You should be able to format the USB to any EXT filesystem that the kernel will recognize. EXT3 is the most common and is supported the easiest. EXT4 may work, but I don’t know if it will work with this distro. EXT2 should be avoided as it is not as fault tolerant as its later revisions.

    Good luck!

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • RunLengthLimited

    Wow! You got yours for $30? Now I feel ripped ‘cuz I paid $50 for mine. :D

    I tried flashing the Sylvania with Droid 1.5 and ended up with a black-screen brick. I’ve since restored it to it’s former WinCE glory, but your reccomendation of bento-linux has me wanting to mess with it again. I guess I have something to play with tomorrow.

    -RLL

  • RunLengthLimited

    Pretty sweet linux mini machine for $50. Thanks for the info!

  • Ivan

    Firestorm-
    I think I must have done the linux install incorrectly. It loads up to a command prompt, but asks me for a password. It’s not asking me to make one, it’s asking for one in order to run anything. When it finishes loading, it has

    Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 william tty1

    william login:


    I’ve tried a couple times now, but it’s given me this twice. what am I doing wrong?

    -Ivan

  • Kamikame

    I can’t seem to get Linux running on my machine. The script doesn’t appear to affect boot at all. I’ve tried FAT16 and FAT32 partitions. Any ideas?

  • Al Harper

    Thanks so much for your detailed instructions on installing the upgrade patch in a SYNET7WIC which uses CE7 and it appeared to have helped. I have been trying to install linux (where I am a real newbie) per your instructions without success. Can I assume the msdos partition should only have a folder named script and that the ext3 partition should have 17 folders? This is what I have after extracting the 2 .tgz files downloaded from your site. However, the computer always boots to the win ce7 desktop.

  • firestorm_v1

    In the script folder, there should be a binary file that’s only a few bytes long. This is the configuration file where u-boot gets the altered commands from in order to boot from the SD card. The first partition should be msdos, (not vfat) and should contain the script directory. The other partition is your linux ext2/ext3 partition and where the linuxpart.tgz should be untarred.

    Good luck!

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello:

    Make sure that the first partition is type MSDOS (which is just plain FAT). The bootloader is very basic and only recognizes FAT partitions.

    Good Luck!

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Ivan:

    If memory serves, the username is ‘root’ and the password is also ‘root’. Be sure to change that so your netbook is secure.

    FIRESTORM_v1

  • john

    I’m thinking chrome os. I did the upgrade
    ok on wince7 but first linux attempt came to naught. I date back to analog computers so my mental model is prehistoric. I will try a chrome recovery flash and if no luck flash the wince sd card again. Do I have a chance or am I out 40usd?

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello John:

    I’d try reflashing your WinCE card again. There’s no bootloader, so it’s important that the first partition is formatted properly. If not, it’ll act like it’s bricked (which is usually fixed with a reboot and let it run from its internal storage.

    Good Luck.

    Firestorm_v1

  • Stephen G.

    With advent of such devices as the british ‘Raspberry Pi’ single-board computer, Linux on an ARM should be a breeze, especially for this item. I got one when CVS had them advertised for $99,and I’ve been looking at using it as a driver for a robotics project I’ve been tinkering with for the past few years. The RPi, is also based on a Broadcom BCM2835. This contains an ARM1176JZFS (in a nutshell, a ARM11 runs the core) & video as well..(built-in GPU).
    Porting a Debian based linux should be a snap for this!

  • Scott Lawrence

    Hey there! Thanks so much for this! I just got one of these little netbooks thanks to DailySteals for $40. WinCE worked okay on it (better, after i flashed the most recent update), Android was essentially unusable for me. I used the Linux packages you have above, shoved onto an 8 gig SD card. It boots to linux, and i can log in as root without problems. Past that, I’m stuck on how to configure wifi on it. Audio seems to work (i can cat a file to /dev/audio and i hear noise) but wifi is confounding me. I found a few tutorials for wifi on linux, and they all mention iwconfig, which doesn’t seem to be present here.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    Thanks again! Cheers!

  • IdkIfthisWillhelp

    I have an arm based wm8505 sylvania netbook 124mb ram 2gig internal memory 400mhz cpu , Successfully running Android 2.2 , Mind you its now an outdated os and finding aps for it is a bitch (you will find yourself going through older and older versions of apps until the correct one works very often , and then finding out if that said app has bugs etc is a hassle.)This is also rooted / bootloader unlocked / super user access , the works. Google play / market w/e its called these days however , does not work whatsoever. its not even included in the custom rom because of this fact. I use “Aptoid” as an alternative, also i find a lot of apk files online , comes in handly when needing to download v1 to v10 of an app to find which works best on the tablet.

    http://devio.us/~nextvolume/via_arm/viewtopic.php?id=4&t_id=167&page=1

    All info needed there , i suggest reading through the ENTIRE thread. but indeed it does work as long as you have a nand chip. If you do not , which often with these sylvania netbooks , the older ones have a usb based drive vs. an onboard nand drive. I recently (in january 2013) baught 2 of these netbooks for 33$+free shipping successfully have both running android 2.2

    Couple things i wanna mention –
    Disable the onscreen keyboard
    Install aptoide market
    Install Opera Mini
    Keep in mind these things run hot when wifi is enabled you will notice one side of ur screen getting hot (the one i use the left side gets hot the one i gave to my bro the right side gets hot) , i will be doing some case modifications eventually (just drilling some breathing holes in the screen bezel or the back not sure yet)

    Regardless these things arent bad for all the ports they have you can def find many apps for external hardware i am yet to use them to their full potential im sure its just very hard to find practical use for them , other than what i have thought of – service manuals for on the site jobs , curriculum of saved documents for easy access. / Pdf reader with the only decent pdf reader once you find one that works ok and is stable , You can hook them up to your pc via ethernet for some uses im sure , you can connect via wifi aswell and use some programs to control desktops through it i belive. ive read lots of stuff on the xda forums and over google the past couple weeks i may release an overall guide to these things (mostly just a collection of other peoples work but id like to make a good compatibility list of working apks+versions)but ya hope this helped someone…/random typing i seen this was outdated and still being popped up through google search as i was doing some further research on my own tablet as i want to get a linux distro running on it now instead of android depending ofc i am just getting my feet wet with this stuff. Good luck to you all!

  • IdkIfthisWillhelp

    all props to “padman” for this. btw. that thread link provides a link to a thread by him in which he hosts all the files etc to do this , im sorry if it was not ok to post a link to another forum but i did not feel comfortable doing otherwise as well you can not post it if you like vs. me being an ignorant moron. If anything was not ok in these 2 messages , please just delete. thank you.

  • IdkIfthisWillhelp

    I will not be checking back here and offer zero help , sorry. I am not the creator of any of this work and am simply an end user like you. I merely passed the info on. Cyaas

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello idkifthisWillhelp:

    That’s awesome information, thanks for the lead. This is good news for anyone with one of these devices.

    Thanks again!
    FIRESTORM_v1

  • firestorm_v1

    Hello Scott:

    If I remember mine, (it’s been a while), you should be able to install iwconfig by simply doing “apt-get install iwconfig”. You will also need to install a wireless manager like NetworkManager or wicd (wicd was what I used, it’s lighter than NetworkManager). Once you have those applications installed, it should start working and you should be able to add your wireless info into wicd and let it perform the NIC configuration.

    Good luck!
    FIRESTORM_v1

  • Paul

    H3LL to the Yes! I got this bad boy working! Thanks for this awesome post. It has made my awesome $30 investment worth at least… well, $35 at least!

Leave a Reply