Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Installing Ubuntu Linux Inside Android on a Scroll Engage Tablet

There have been various ways of running a Linux distro inside of Android, but most use a chrooted Live CD and VNC server that you connect to with an Android VNC client app, and it often involved long sessions of commandline wizardry and scripting to get it to work, until recently when some nice coders have packaged them into an easy to use app and disc image. One such version is "The Complete Linux Installer" by Linux On Android, a free version of which is available on Play. But firstly I had to root my Scroll Engage, which is surprisingly easy to do I used an app called Super SU.  Just install it and run it and it's done.

Next, install the free Complete linux Installer app from Play, open it up and tap Install Guides follow the instructions. I chose the Ubuntu 12.04 guide but there's also Arch, Backtrack, Fedora 17 and OpenSUSE12. Follow the instructions and make sure you have all the prerequisites. The Engage supports loop devices that's required. The app offers links to VNCViewer and Terminal apps if you haven't got them already, and a link to download the special Ubuntu disc image. You can also download this separately from their site, which is what I did, then I ftp'd it across. It has to be extracted into a folder called 'ubuntu' on your SD card (it asks for the directory if it is not in /sdcard/ubuntu). Once you have that, click next and folow the rest of the instructions, for setting up Ubuntu's user and password, and VNC connection.

I found when I first tried to start Ubuntu it came up with this error:

Validating image checksum... /data/data/com.zpwebsites.linuxonandroid/files/[74]: /data/data/com.zpwebsites.linuxonandroid/files/busybox: cannot execute - Permission denied

After a little bit of searching I found the solution here.
"Either navigate with a root file manger to  /data/data/com.zpwebsites.linuxonandroid/files/ and set the busybox files permissions to execute.
Or just delete the busybox if you have already got a busybox install on your device itself (normaly in /xbin or /sbin)
Or wipe the apps cache and data then re start the install app and it should ask for root access, grant this and the app will set busybox to executable itself"

I found it easiest to set the right permissions with Root Browser Lite file manager (freely available from Play, but any root enabled file manager should do). Once I did that Ubuntu worked just fine, it boots to a commandline and starts a VNC server. Once all is running fine then switch to your VNC viewer and enter the details (as listed on the last page of the install guide).


IP: localhost
port: 5900

For Ubuntu
Password: ubuntu
24 bit colour

Once saved and the VNC client is started it should connect to the chrooted Ubuntu system. With the large Ubuntu image, it looks like the standard Unity desktop and there's 1GB of free space to play with and you can install any apps that are in the Ubuntu (ARM) repositories. I found it a little awkward to use VNC and I think it's easier with a USB keyboard and mouse, using it like a little netbook. I'm not sure what i'm going to use it for yet, but it's pretty cool to have!

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