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I have looked around online and can't find anyone talking about putting Debian on the Nexus 7. Of course we could use chroot to run Debian but I was hoping for a little more.
Since Canonical have started supporting Ubuntu on the device we have a full Linux kernel running. Now from within this is it possible to just debootstrap on to a new partition and run off of this? Without access to a device I don't know how well partition editing works with the device.
The second problem I can see coming up is X11. I read that the Ubuntu distro uses the android window system to put everything up on screen. I presume that there is no easy way to support X on the device. Does anyone know if there is a work-around for this?
I've run Debian on an Android phone via a chroot environment, and a VNC client to get a desktop going. I have no experience running a native install on an Android device, so I might not be much help.
You could always use Ubuntu's kernel config to compile a Debian kernel for the device, or bootstrap Ubuntu instead. Xorg is available for ARM devices. It would depend if there is support for the Nexus's display though. Also I'm not sure how much you could do with the partitioning. I would assume you need to keep the firmware partitions intact to avoid bricking the device. This is what my Android phone's partitioning looks like.
Thank you for replying. That is a lot of partitions there, I knew android had many but I had never looked at how many. Also the single FAT32 partition looks sort of silly...
Having spent some time thinking about it (I am still travelling and so haven't got my hands on the device yet) building the kernel ought to be ok, the Ubuntu install presumably contains all the necessary non-standard modules and drivers I'd need. Yes partitions might be a bit of a problem, people who have tried (although perhaps I have only seen the unsuccessful ones) have bricked the device. Their mistake was to delete the bootloader, so long as we can avoid doing this we at least shouldn't lose anything (and get to have reinstall fun when everything goes wrong!).
The real problem I believe is going to be Xorg, I have come across one or two people talking about it not supporting the display. Does anyone know if this is the case? The Canonical installer avoids using it in favour of the android window system, this suggests ot me that it is not supported.
Also if we decide that this is going to be impossible can we collate the reasons why? There is no information out there to explain what would/wouldn't work.
Well there are 4 partitions on the device itself that could be used. The partitions that are normally mounted as /system, /data, /cache, and /emmc (or /sdcard [internal]), which is most of the internal storage anyway, plus you could also use the external sdcard as well.
I suppose the tricky part is dealing with HBOOT. Would the stock HBOOT boot a standard Linux kernel? Messing with HBOOT is a good risk of bricking the device if something goes wrong. Also, would the Debian kernel and ramdisk live on the /boot partition of the phone. That's only 16MB on my phone, would be a tight fit. I suppose if HBOOT stays intact, and can boot into recovery, everything could be easily reversed if necessary.
If X11 doesn't work natively, then a VNC setup could be used. It ran fine for me when I tried it.