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Old 09-10-2013, 04:20 AM   #1
MarekGibek
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Turn your Kobo into a Debian Linux tablet

Sorry for the delay - I was on vacation

It's fantastic that you guys were able to solve most of your problems yourself and even managed to run my sample image on a Kobo Mini (fixing bootloader)!!

Now I'm back with the necessary kernel changes needed to install Debian on your Kobos:

https://github.com/marek-g/kobo-kernel-2.6.35.3-marek

The only changes needed to run X11 are related to the eInk display driver and keyboard driver. Inside !Marek/framebuffer-utils folder there are the files to enable and disable eInk's autoupdate mode.

You can undo changes for touch driver because:
  • the changes enable multitouch in the kernel but I still didn't find a working driver for X11 (I started implementing a custom X11 driver but it supports single touch only for now and no right button) - maybe it's because I left single touch events for compatibility with original software
  • according to other posts I probably hardcoded 800x600 resolution somewhere so that needs to be fixed
If you stay with the original touch driver you can use the evdev driver for X11 and still have a working touch and even configure the right mouse button emulation.

I was playing with the image posted here and I've found it's nice to:
  • install nautilus to navigate through your files
  • install okular (with extensions) to view PDF files
  • install calibre - it has great ePub reader (ebook-viewer command) - it needs path to ebook as a parameter so you can use zenity command to open file selector and pass the selected path to ebook-viewer (you can use this command: ebook-viewer `zenity --file-selector`)
  • install gtk-theme-switch to change font sizes and look of gtk apps
  • modify gtk theme to increase slider size
  • modify Firefox's chrome.css file to increase tab sizes etc. - it would be nice to have custom Firefox theme for Kobo
You can add new software to the menu by editing the awesome.lua config file in the ~/.config folder.

I hope that together we will be able to do things like:
  • better screen updates (automatic full screen refresh from time to time)
  • support for screen rotation at any time
  • enable multitouch
  • port existing / write new software
  • ... ?

Have a good fun,
Marek

Related: Sample Kobo Debian firmware image
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Last edited by Alexander Turcic; 09-10-2013 at 08:46 AM. Reason: moved to frontpage
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:34 PM   #2
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarekGibek View Post
I hope that together we will be able to do things like:
  • better screen updates (automatic full screen refresh from time to time)
  • support for screen rotation at any time
  • enable multitouch
  • port existing / write new software
  • ... ?
Hi Marek, do you know if the chipset and usb in this Kobo supports usb host functionality to use an usb keyboard or usb bluetooth dongle with the correct cabling?
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:00 AM   #4
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Hi Marek, do you know if the chipset and usb in this Kobo supports usb host functionality to use an usb keyboard or usb bluetooth dongle with the correct cabling?
It would be great I have Kobo Mini i prepare to change it into linux tablet. How is it with battery life? Is posible sleep kobo as usually? Works suspend as in normal linux PC?
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:54 AM   #5
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Are these screenshots from an actual Kobo or just concept design?

(Holding my breath...)
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by embryo View Post
Are these screenshots from an actual Kobo or just concept design?

(Holding my breath...)
It's from the Kobo itself, no concept or mockups! No colors on the eink screen, obviously...
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Hi Marek, do you know if the chipset and usb in this Kobo supports usb host functionality to use an usb keyboard or usb bluetooth dongle with the correct cabling?
Hi fsiefken!

The chipset supports usb host functionality. But I don't know if the power line is connected to the USB port on PCB board.

However you have more options to connect mouse and keyboard:
  • You can install Synergy app on kobo and use mouse and keyboard connected to your PC.
  • You can install xserver on your PC (like Xming for Windows) and export DISPLAY variable on kobo - all apps you start will open their windows on your desktop! I'm using that method to faster configure apps with a mouse than via touch and windows can have any size.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:54 AM   #8
MarekGibek
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It would be great I have Kobo Mini i prepare to change it into linux tablet. How is it with battery life? Is posible sleep kobo as usually? Works suspend as in normal linux PC?
Battery usage is normal, I think. It can run pretty long (measured in days) with wifi off but only a few hours with wifi on (on my 1000 mAh battery).

Suspend is possible. On sample image there is suspend (bash) script. I didn't provide method to call it and I didn't test it deeply - you can add it to the menu for example (editing awesome.lua config file).
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:59 AM   #9
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Hmmm, this looks quite interesting!

How difficult would it be to build our own firmware image from the sources?
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Old 09-12-2013, 03:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by MarekGibek View Post
Battery usage is normal, I think. It can run pretty long (measured in days) with wifi off but only a few hours with wifi on (on my 1000 mAh battery).

Suspend is possible. On sample image there is suspend (bash) script. I didn't provide method to call it and I didn't test it deeply - you can add it to the menu for example (editing awesome.lua config file).
Thanks for reply. I have another questions about sd card life. Do you limit swap or write acces into card? Forexample firefox make a lot of files while you browse web.
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Old 09-18-2013, 04:23 AM   #11
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Thumbs up Photographs, video?

Hello, I was wondering if you could provide photographs and perhaps video of the functionality you have so far with the kernel and its modules with the Kobo Mini / any other models you have this working on.

I'm a software guy who is in the process of migrating 100% to Linux. I could really use a machine with e-ink display with USB keyboard and battery installed into an old Thinkpad 240 chassis. Problem is, I'm not sure if Kobo Mini is the right e-ink reader to use for this purpose (Kindle might be of better size for using gnu screen and switching between ttys, but I'm not sure if linux for kindle has x support)

So if you wouldn't mind could you take pictures and maybe even make a little video and post it on youtube?


I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks in advance for the awesome work and hopefully I can join on in the action.
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:16 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by MarekGibek View Post
Now I'm back with the necessary kernel changes needed to install Debian on your Kobos:
https://github.com/marek-g/kobo-kernel-2.6.35.3-marek
How much extra configuration is needed to run in on Kobo Aura HD?
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Old 09-20-2013, 03:33 AM   #13
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Can sobebody with working Kobo Mini upload image? Please
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Old 09-20-2013, 03:46 PM   #14
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You know what would be really cool?
Something like this for our Kobos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXiiaprv3do
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_AcgYhoivA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7ydDBxnL8w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQJGfU8fEUg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgb6sVT6OYY

too bad we don't have android

Last edited by freekobo; 09-20-2013 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 09-22-2013, 03:17 PM   #15
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How much extra configuration is needed to run in on Kobo Aura HD?
You could probably follow the method in this post for the Aura HD.

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I've seen those videos before, and I kind of like the idea of running emulators on an e-ink display. If you set up a debian chroot on your Kobo, such as this thread details, you can install a gameboy emulator with "apt-get install gnuboy-x". Of course, without a keyboard there's no way to control it. I wrote some proof-of-concept software some time ago to detect touch input and simulate keyboard presses for the gnuboy gameboy emulator, but it would need more polishing before it would be useful.
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