Update – Debian on Agestar Firmware

Warning/Note: This is not an update to the existing firmware. This is for installing Debian. If you don’t know anything about Linux, this is not for you. This firmware DOES NOT contain web interface.

I haven’t looked again on Debian installer for Agestar, but I have built a new firmware for Debian on Agestar using the latest kernel patch (faster network). If you have installed Debian using the instruction in here, you can download zImage-20092008 to Agestar, and then do:

dd if=zImage-20092008 of=/dev/mtdblock1

If you haven’t installed Debian, then when following the instruction, but instead of using star.bin use star-20092008.bin. To make it clear, use zImage-20092008 to update existing installation, and star-20092008.bin for new installation (starting from the original Agestar firmware). If you made a mistake, then you need a serial port to unbrick your Agestar. NOTE: the web update method only works on agestar, other models can work by using serial port and latest patch for kernel source (2.6.29 or later).

If you are interested to make your own firmware, this is what you should do:

  1. Download armboot.bin and put it to a directory
  2. Download mergefile.c to the same directory as armboot.bin
  3. Compile mergefile.c (just do cc mergefile.c -o mergefile)
  4. Compile your kernel according to the instruction at http://tinyhack.com/2008/09/08/how-to-compile-kernel-for-agestar/ to create zImage, copy/move it to the same directory as armboot.bin
  5. Type ./mergefile to merge armboot.bin and zImage to star.bin.

You can use star.bin to flash (replace) original firmware. If you already installed Debian, and you want to update your kernel, you only need to build zImage and do dd if=newzImage of=/dev/mtdblock1.

EEE PC 900

One of our friend bought an EEE PC 900, it has 4 GB + 16 GB SSD. The seller didn’t told us that the 16 GB SSD was very slow (I should have read this). I found out about his when she tried to install many programs in the 4 gb SSD, and is was full. Using some steps that i found on the Internet, I tried moving her Windows installation to the 16 GB SSD. And the result is: the Windows is very slow.

I found some other guides to speed up Windows on the 16 GB partition. I didn’t try all of the suggestions (too many steps), so I finally gave up because the speed improvement is not so much in my case. Finally I just moved the Windows back to the 4 GB SSD, and then reinstalling some seldom used software to the 16 GB partition.

How to compile kernel for Agestar

Here is a guide how to compile a kernel for your Agestar. In this latest patch from me, I have included the network driver with scatter/gather support. For FTP transfer, HTTP, or other transfers that uses sendfile syscall, the speed is about 50% faster than before, for ordinary transfer, it almost doesn’t change.

  1. Download vanilla kernel from kernel.org (use version linux-
  2. Extract kernel , and apply this patch file (patchfile-20080907.gz)
  3. Download initramfs.cpio.gz put it in the kernel directory and extract it
  4. Download my configuration file config-20080907 put it into kernel directory, rename it as .config
  5. Install an arm compiler, your distribution may have them (for instance in Debian you can use aptitude with emdebian.org repository), or download from codesourcery.com.
  6. Edit Makefile, find CROSS_COMPILE and change the value to the location and prefix of your compiler. For example, of your compiler is /opt/arm/920t_le/bin/arm_920t_le-gcc, fill in /opt/arm/920t_le/bin/arm_920t_le- (without the gcc part)
  7. To configure the kernel, type “make menuconfig”
  8. Type make to build zImage

NOTE: the zImage is NOT a FIRMWARE. You can write zImage to /dev/mtdblock1 on the agestar to update your kernel but not through the web interface. I will write another tutorial on how to make zImage into a firmware that can be flashed using the web interface.

If you want a newer kernel, start from the current kernel, and keep on patching with the next incremental patch until you reach the kernel number that you want. This is not always easy, because sometimes a patch will conflict with the changes that i have made.