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z2uFlashstock v0.3

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It's that time of year again for an upgraded flash script. This latest version is the easiest yet and again will flash from stock to u-boot and back. As usual, the goods are at the bottom of this post. I've added some fancy new features like progress bars.

Edit: To use the flash script, extract the contents of the zip file to a FAT formatted SD card, put it in a stock or ubooted zipit and power on. The zipit should boot to the menu, if it does not you did something wrong (try again) or the zipit does not like your SD card (try a different card).

There's a not so fancy new menu with the following options: 

Backup: This will create a backup of whatever currently resides in the Zipit's flash memory. The mtdblocks, md5sums and offsets are saved to the flashdump directory on the sd card with the name you choose. The install does NOT ask you to create a backup so you should do this first.

New z2uflasher and Flashstock combined

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It's time again for a new flash script. slug_ has been busy pumping out the releases of gmenu-jffs2 so I figured I'd make something a little easier to update. The new z2uflasher/Flashstock combo runs entirely from a fat formatted sd card. It will ONLY work on a stock zipit or one with u-boot already installed (sorry "OpenZipit" / 2.6.29 users). Flashstock is pretty much the same, the special goo is in the new z2uflasher which runs via initramfs inside the 2.6.29 kernel (for maximum sd card compatibility). For those who don't care about the nitty gritty and just want the goods can skip down to the bottom.

The flash scripts are stored on the card in /sbin and the goodies are stored in /u-boot. The first goodie, flash.def,  contains the flash partition layout with a line for each partition specifying the filename to be flashed, the offset (where that file begins in flash) and the md5sum of the file. Currently our Zipit flash layout is:

Linux 3.6.0 Kernel for OpenWrt (with zram!)

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The Linux Kernel has a new feature called zram that allows RAM to be compressed. This could help out on the Zipit since it only has 32M. Back in September Wejp built a kernel with zram and a new Arch rootfs. I figured I'd try to get it going on OpenWrt and have succeed. I used anarsoul's 3.6 tree but also had to add a patch that allows LZMA compression on JFFS2 filesystems so it can be used with slug's in flash rootfs. This is a rough guide on how to get it working. At some point I would like to get the updated kernel into the OpenWrt-Zipit tree.

Site Woes

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I apologize that my site was down starting around September 20th and lasting several weeks. There is apparently some issue at the hosting company and all attempts at contacting them have failed. The control panel backend for was (thankfully) still available and I was able to backup everything.

This is the temporary home for until I decide on a new host. Some of the old links may not work. The downloads page has been updated with correct links so if you are looking for files, head there first. There are also plenty of other Zipit files you can paruse through in the Zipit directory.

Tidbits and Goings On

I haven't made a post in quite a while so I thought I'd summarize what's been happening in my neck of the woods. 

On the Zipit front there has been some progress with OpenWrt: 

Gameboy Emulation on OpenWrt-Zipit

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I felt like re-living old times by playing some Gameboy roms on the Zipit so I compiled the ohboy emulator with OpenWrt buildroot. 

Ohboy is actually a frontend for the Gameboy emulator gnuboy, but it combines the two into one binary. The menu system is a very nice addition to the SDL based emulator and runs well on the Zipit.

I created an OpenWrt package of ohboy that should run on any of the current builds floating around. I'm running slug's in-flash gmenu2x build on my main Zipit right now with my overlayfs scripts that puts packages on the SD card. If you are running the overlayfs scripts you can download and install the package with:

OpenWrt OverlayFS - Part 2

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After much experimenting with overlayfs in OpenWrt I've finally settled on a solution that works well. I have decided to call this project 'ovpkg' as in 'overlay package'. You can still use my old instructions if you have an ext2 partition on your card, but if you want to use a completely fat formatted card you can try out this new set of scripts.

You'll need to make sure you have the following packages installed:
losetup, fdisk, e2fsprogs
There seems to be a problem with the e2fsprogs package hosted at the repo that prevents these scripts from working. Install my e2fsprogs package instead of using the one from the repo (opkg install /path/to/downloaded/e2fsprogs_1.41.12-2_pxa.ipk).

Recessed Zipit Power Button

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Update: I just got a form submission with a good tip on the power button mod:
"I recessed my power button by removing the keypad and with a sharp narrow chisel blade in my x-acto handle removed the little center tip on the underside of the green key. Now I never have unintended turn on. No need for all that tedious gluing. The key still functions albeit with a firmer push."

Last month I got a wiggler jtag clone from ebay and brought some dead Zipit's back to life again. Now I find myself using more than one quite often and decided to do another soft keyboard mod so I don't get yelled at for clicking while the wife is sleeping. I also find myself putting the Zipit in suspend mode and carrying it around the house. The power button seems to always get pushed while in my pocket.

Some goodies for OpenWrt

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Gmu player

wejp's gmu player has been available on the Zipit for some time. His latest version is 0.8.0BETA1 which I have compiled for OpenWrt. You can get the makefile and patches from my github if you want to compile it yourself or install the package below.


State of the Zipit

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The Zipit Z2 has been around for a while now and is showing some age compared to the newest flashy ARM devices like the beagleboard and the soon to be released Raspberry Pi, but there's still plenty of life left in the Z2. You can now get a Z2 for as low as $10. In December 2010 rkdavis did a little blurb about what went on that year in the land of the Zipits. This is my blurb for what happened in 2011.

Early on in 2011, fanoush brought us a properly rotated uboot screen on the Zipit lcd as well as a more reliable uboot keypad driver. To go along with these changes I released a new flash that included fanoush's uboot patches and a "RecoveryOS" which contained a small/basic linux initramfs with some tools that (barely) fit into the Zipit's flash memory.

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