Monday, July 20, 2015

Installing the x86 Android distribution onto the Wetab

Hi folks, Long time no see. So I've put away the WeTab almost for good but then a couple of days ago I got to thinking it could be a nice central system to just spend a few minutes maybe browsing around some cooking videos on youtube in the kitchen. So I got up to my tinkering business again and whaddya know I actually learned something new in the process.

First off I downloaded the latest release of the Android X86 distro which looks like it's some port of the cyanogenmod system.

So previously I had mentioned in some install blog that with USB sticks it is a hit or miss...well apparently it is nothing physical, it's actually just a silly magic set of bytes that needs to be written someplace on the USB stick. I found this out when I started getting an Error 17 (or was it Error 7, I forget). In any case, according to these nice people at the WeTab community the USB stick needs to have that written somewhere in the first 400 bytes or so.

I finally managed to write the code on to the stick but not with the printf examples I found on-line.

Instead I opened up Hexfiend and created a file with the sole 4 bytes I needed: 9d 2a 44 7b

I named the file test.bin and then used dd to write the code where it has to go.

I'm not sure if I was just running into some silliness on my part but I was doing this on a mac and apparently there are two ways to refer to the physical device, either raw by /dev/rdisk2 or some other layered way with /dev/disk2.

Of course this needs to be done only after you've figured out what the proper path is to your USB stick by running

hdutil list

Anyhow, once you have that test.bin file created, you can then DD it to the write spot on the USB stick boot record.

sudo dd if=test.bin of=/dev/disk2 bs=1 seek=440

Use hexdump then to ensure that you see those 4 bytes where they ought to have gone:

sudo hexdump -s 440 -n 4 /dev/disk2

First impression is I like this better than Windows on the WeTab because of the lesser performance hit. But it looks like the video rendering drivers are whacked. I still have to look around a bit to see if that's something that can easily be fixed with some boot setting. Well, enough tinkering for now, enjoy cracking open your old junk closet and digging the WeTab out :)

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