Originally Published: Wednesday, 6 June 2001 Author: Mike Baker
Published to: develop_articles/Development Articles Page: 1/9 - [Printable]

OSDN Handheld Months: Installing Linux on a Casio E105

Linux.com Senior Developer Mike Baker takes us step-by-step through installing a Linux system on a MIPS-based Windows CE device. If pre-built distributions are not for you, then this article is.

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It's no big secret that the iPaq can run Linux, for a while it was all we were hearing in the news, but what is a surprise to many people is the fact that almost any Windows CE device can run Linux to some extent. While mostly still in the infant stages, various communities such as Handhelds.org are proving Linux on PDAs is a technology to keep an eye on.

The Linux-VR project is an attempt to load Linux on devices using the Vr41xx MIPS processors common in various Windows CE devices such as the Vr4121 found in the Casio E105. Recent changes in the Windows API have made booting the Linux kernel impossible (for the time being) on current CE devices. As a result, much of the recent Linux-VR development is aimed at creating a kernel for the Agenda V3 handheld due out next month. Still, if you want to get Linux on your Casio or MIPS-based PDA, for whatever reason, we’ll show you what you can do.

Getting Started

The first thing you'll need to find out is what type of processor your handheld uses and which version of Windows CE it runs. Simply check the system control panel for this information:

start -> controlpanel -> system

The system control panel should look like the image below. This screenshot was taken from my Casio E105. As you can see the system is Windows CE 2.11 running on a MIPS processor. Although the installation procedure outlined in this article is based on installing on the E105 it should still apply to any CE device using a MIPS processor. (If you're not using a MIPS processor check the links at the end of the article for more information.)

system screenshot

In order for you to be able to run Linux on your handheld you must be running a version of Windows CE less than 3.0. Curiously, the changes in Windows CE 3.0 have rendered the boot-loader unusable and many of the API calls used by CyaCE have been removed. This may work to your advantage since many of the older WinCE devices are becoming obsolete in the Windows world, making the hardware an even more attractive candidate for Linux. Even though the new devices have almost the exactly the same hardware, without the ability to update to 2.11 they're not of much use.

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