Various people have been taken in by a pretend Debian installer/bootloader for the android G1 phone.

What is it, really? Well, it's a 200+ mb zip file, containing a filesystem image of a Debian installation. About 100 mb of that is cached .debs in /var. A few minor changes have been made, and /root/.bash_history helpfully shows what was done. None of it seems to be malicious, but I did not check every file.

Also included is a hilarious "boot loader" script that contains literally the following code:

echo "Custom Linux Pseudo Bootstrapper V1.0 - by Mark Walker"
echo "WEB: http://www.androidfanatic.com/"
echo "EML: admin@androidfanatic.com"
echo " "
sleep 1
echo "Starting init process"
sleep 1
echo "INIT: Debian booting....."
sleep 1
echo "Running Linux Kernel"
sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
sleep 1
echo "AutoMounter started"
sleep 1
echo "Type EXIT to end session"
echo "Make sure you do a proper EXIT for a clean kill of Debian!"
echo " "

chroot $mnt /bin/bash

That's worth the price of admission right there! I especially like how "init" is "started" before the "kernel". You can't make stuff like this up.

So, in summary, this is a way to get a prebuilt Debian chroot at the expends of wasting bandwidth and space on your phone with unncessary bits. Running debootstrap on the phone is the correct way to accomplish the same thing.

It's sad that there's such interest for Debian on the G1, and general lack of clue, that people will actually probably use this. And, like it or not, this "is" the Debian install for the G1 -- no further efforts are likely to get this kind of press. Sorta like that badly pressed CD back in the day stole the thunder of Debian 1.0.

More generally, it's a pity that when people want to get Debian on a new device, be it the G1 phone or the EEE or OpenMoko or what have you; only about half of them seem to do it right, by modifying d-i and sending the modifications back to the installer team. For this rest, this kind of hand-built, unverifyable chroot gimmeckery is the de facto standard.

This also shows you the kind of fact checking that slashdot and random blogs tend to do -- ie, none. (My own blog, of course, is rigorously fact-checked and edited by armies of lolcats.)

(Sorry, this seems to be my week for posting corrections to other people's posts to Planet Debian. I don't mean to pick on you guys.)

comment 1

More generally, it's a pity that when people want to get Debian on a new device, be it the G1 phone or the EEE or OpenMoko or what have you; only about half of them seem to do it right, by modifying d-i and sending the modifications back to the installer team.

On OpenMoko, we have to install Debian from within a running olde system. Wee use debootstrap, but I doubt d-i could be really helpful in this case.

Comment by nikita [yoush.homelinux.org:8079/author]
comment 2

More generally, it's a pity that when people want to get Debian on a new device, be it the G1 phone or the EEE or OpenMoko or what have you; only about half of them seem to do it right, by modifying d-i and sending the modifications back to the installer team.

On OpenMoko, we have to install Debian from within a running old system. Wee use debootstrap, but I doubt d-i could be really helpful in this case.

Comment by nikita [yoush.homelinux.org:8079/author]
comment 3

Given that when you want to get started with a new device, especially something that doesn’t remotely resemble a general purpose computer (such as a phone, compared to a NSLU), you want something that works fast. And if you don’t need a great amount of flexibily, you are fine with a bash script instead of d-i at first.

But of course having d-i on the FreeRunner would be great, so if anyone is interested in tackling that, I’ll happily help with advice, if possible.

Comment by joachim-breitner.de