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[21 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Installing SHR on your N900

Note: This guide is aimed only at advanced users. Messing something up during the installation might break your device, so do not attempt anything, unless you are sure you can handle it.
With the “hackability” of the N900 there’s quite a lot of alternative mobile operating systems available for it. We already covered NITDroid and Mer, and today I’m going to direct you through the installation of another mobile system I find very promising, SHR.
SHR is a GNU/Linux based OS that is available for quite many devices, all of which can be found by surfing through the project’s wiki. Surely, for a mobile OS, it can perform phone calls, end SMS, use GPS all while being a well-working GNU/Linux system, just like Maemo is. So, onto installation.
You will require all these things:

A Nokia N900, updated to a latest PR (which is 1.3).
A MicroSD card with a large capacity (at least 4 gB).

Class and brand of the SD card plays a huge role here. A class 10 card is preferable. Cards are mostly “what-you-pay-is-what-you-get”, so the more expensive card is usually the better one.

U-Boot installed on your N900

Get U-boot from Extras-devel, if you don’t have it. Reboot the phone to verify installation, there should be a mention of U-Boot and usually a picture of Tux (a penguin) in a corner. Make sure to disable extras-devel after installing U-boot.

A PC with a cardreader.
An N900 Image of SHR

Get the image from here.
The guide assumes you’re using a *nix machine. Windows users can use a small GNU/Linux LiveCD for following the guide.
Now, slot your MicroSD card into your cardreader. You’ll want to repartition it.
If you don’t understand the repartition process via a commandline, you can use GParted or a similar partitioning manager.
Verify the name of the SD device with
sudo fdisk -l
It should look like /dev/sdX with X being a letter. Make sure it’s the correct device name by mounting it or otherwise checking.
If you have automounting enabled, unmount the card:
sudo umount <card_mount_point>
Run fdisk on the card:
fdisk /dev/sdX
Obviously, replace sdX with your actual device name. For testing purposes, just a single ext3 partition is okay:
Command (m for help): n
Command action
e extended
p primary partition (1-4)
p
Partition number (1-4): 1
First …

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[20 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Using rescue initrd on the N900

Note: this how-to is aimed at advanced users. Messing something up during the installation or usage may harm your device, everything is done at your own risk.
Being an ultimate hacker device, the N900 is often prone to getting software issues during your playful experiments. When that happens, don’t go strait to reflashing your device, it may still be rescued with a rescue initrd image provided by MeeGo! This how-to will show you how to install and use the initrd image for rescuing your N900.

The first part of the how-to assumes you’re using a *nix system (GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, MacOS) on your PC , information on Windows installation can be found below.
On your PC, open up the terminal. Make a new directory, where the image will be kept, and cd into it:
mkdir n900-rescue-initrd
cd n900-rescue-initrd
Now, get the rpm files for the image from the MeeGo repos:
wget http://repo.meego.com/MeeGo/releases/1.1/core/repos/armv7l/packages/armv7l/nokia-n900-rescue-initrd-0.1-2.157.armv7l.rpm
wget http://repo.meego.com/MeeGo/releases/1.1/core/repos/armv7l/packages/armv7l/kernel-n900-2.6.35.3-10.3.armv7l.rpm
Now, you’ll need to unpack the rpm packages using rpm2cpio. If you don’t have it, it should be available from your distribution’s repos. Else, you might try using a BASH or Perl versions, execute them the same way, as you would execute rmp2cpio.
rpm2cpio nokia-n900-*.rpm | cpio -vid ./boot/initrd*
rpm2cpio kernel-*n900-*.rpm | cpio -vid ./boot/vmlinuz*
Now you will have a directory named boot that will contain the files required.
Before you start the initrd charge your battery completely. The initrd doesn’t support charging and you want to be sure your phone won’t die when the initrd is in use.
To start the initrd, you’ll need to use the N900 flasher, please read this article, if you don’t understand what I mean. Note, we’re not reflashing the device, we’re just loading the image into the device’s memory on boot.
Shutdown the device by removing the battery and putting it back, then start the flasher in the same directory with
sudo flasher-3.5 -k boot/<vmlinuz-n900> -n boot/<initrd.img> -l -b”rootdelay=1 root=/dev/ram0″
Replace <vmlinuz-n900> and <initrd.img> with the actual file names.
After it is started, plug your N900 to your PC with a USB cord. Your device should now boot and you’ll get a menu with the following features:

Toggle USB networking on/off (N)
Reboot the device (R)
Shutdown the device …

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[14 Feb 2012 | | ]
Protect your network privacy on the N900 with Tor

Whenever you’re surfing the net, you do want to be concerned about your online privacy. A lot of information can get to the wrong hands if you don’t. One of the good ways to protect your network privacy is an onion router: Tor.
Now if you don’t know what onion routing is, in short, using it will have your connections bounce through many various Tor servers before reaching their destination. Everything is encrypted, which will make tracking down your path difficult, thus keeping your identity safe. The picture below shows exactly how it works:

With Maemo being a complete GNU/Linux distribution, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you can use Tor there, very easily, and with a status applet for your convenience. If you want to use it, just fetch off a package from Extras:
sudo gainroot
apt-get install status-area-applet-tor
The package will pull down Tor as one of its dependencies, so yes, you can now use Tor to protect yourself, just open up your status area menu and you’ll see a button!

Click it, and you’ll be able to run Tor and have your network connection routed. Very easy.
 

When using Tor you should note two things:
1. Now your connections are bouncing through various servers, so the connection is slower than it usually is. You have to pay for your anonymity.
2. Even Tor has  it’s weaknesses, and besides that there are other ways to identify you, if somebody needs that, like flash cookies, fingerprinting, etc. so don’t rely on it strongly and don’t think you can do naughty stuff on the net without getting caught.

Have questions or suggestions? Maybe a problem? Drop us a comment or leave a post on our forum and we’ll look into it.

Featured, Hacks, Headline »

[8 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Installing Nemo Mobile (Mer) on the N900 with *nix

Interested in installing another OS on your N900? Well, then you might want to try Mer, a libre operating system based on MeeGo. This guide will teach you how to install it using a *nix (GNU/Linux; BSD; and, technically, MacOS) system. If you’re a Windows user, refer to this post.
First of all all, you’d want to have all these things:

A Nokia N900, updated to a latest PR (which is 1.3).

If you have an N900, it’s highly unlikely you’ve got an outdated firmware. However, if you do (check it in About Product), please refer to this article.

A MicroSD card with a capacity of at least 4GiB.

Class and brand of the SD card plays a huge role here. A class 10 card is preferable. Cards are mostly “what-you-pay-is-what-you-get”, so the more expensive card is usually the better one. Do read the benchmark test for the card, you’d want the one that has a high random read/write.

U-Boot installed on the N900

Get U-boot from Extras-devel, if you don’t have it. Reboot the phone to verify installation, there should be a mention of U-Boot and usually a picture of Tux (a penguin) in a corner. Make sure to disable extras-devel after installing U-boot.

A *nix PC with a cardreader.
And an image for Nemo Mobile

Get an appropriate image here. Latest release have been proven to have a bug when installing on an SD card, so look for an older release.
Once you have all that, onto installation!
Slot in your MicroSD card into a cardreader. Find out the name of the card device with
sudo fdisk -l
If you have automounting enabled, you’ll want to unmount the card:
sudo umount /dev/<name_of_the_card_partition>
Replace <name_of_the_card_partition> with an actual name of your card’s partition. Usually it’s something like “/dev/sdx1″
Now, write an image to a device with dd:
sudo dd bs=4096 if=<full_path_to_the_image> of=/dev/<name_of_the_card_device>
NOTE: the <name_of_the_card_device> is an actual device, not a partition. So, if your partition was named /dev/sdx1, you’ll want to use /dev/sdx as <name_of_the_card_device>
Replace <full_path_to_the_image> with a (duh) full path to your Nemo Mobile image you downloaded, unpacked from the bz2 file.
If your card doesn’t have sufficient space, use this command instead. Replace <full_path_to_the_image> with the name of the …

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[7 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-to] SIP Calls on the N900

Interested in video calling from your N900? You probably know about Skype, but there are better alternatives available, like SIP.
SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is a signalling protocol, which is used mostly for controlling video and audio calls. And Maemo has a good native support for it! Let’s see how to setup an SIP account on your N900.
Before everything else, you’d want to get yourself an SIP account. There are literally hundreds of providers, so find one that suits you, just look them up in a search engine, like Google.
After you get one, you’ll want to go to your account settings. If you already have defined an account for other services, you can access the menu by pressing the “Availability” button on your notification menu. If not, you can find it under “Settings->VoIP and IM Accounts”. Add a new account, choose SIP as service. You’ll see a similar box to popup:

Now, just input your SIP address and password. Take Advanced Settings into account, most providers will require you to put in an outbound proxy and define a username. Refer to instructions on your provider’s website on whether you should put them there. Save everything and enable the account, login by switching the status to ‘Available”. Now, you’re ready to call SIP addresses and make regular calls via SIP, just select your SIP account as a call type in your Phone app. Video calling is available too, just find a contact you wish to call, select it and choose to videocall.

SIP is a very good (and much more open) alternative to Skype, so why not use it?
———————————————————————————————————-
Thanks to our reader, Steven O’ Dochartaigh, who asked us to do this how-to. Have your own suggestions? Put them up in the comments, or on our forum, and we’ll be sure to give them a look!

Applications, Featured, Headline, Reviews, Software »

[2 Feb 2012 | | ]
QR and Bar Codes with mBarCode

With all the latest hype about QR-codes, you must certainly would want a QR scanner on your phone. Especially if you’re living in Japan, where QR-codes are most popular.
Well, the N900 sure has a QR-scanner, and a pretty good one! mBarCode, together with a QR plugin can read both barcode and QR information.

You can get both mBarCode and the QR-plugin from the Extras repo:
sudo gainroot
apt-get install mbarcode mbarcode-plugin-qrcode
Launch the application and now you have a very good scanner! Target your camera at a QR or a barcode and the information gets read almost instantly. Links and other “can-be-malicious” content is shown to you before getting opened with your tap. You can even check the shortlinks by copying them and visiting this site.
You can also store the scanned code into a file, or read the code from a file you stored. That way you can use the codes later, or scan the codes downloaded from a website.

With all that, mBarCode is a must-have if you’re used to dealing with QR and barcodes.
_________________________________________________________________________
In case if you’d want to test how it works and you don’t have any scannable codes around, you can use an online generator, like this one.

Applications, Featured, Headline, Maemo 5, Software »

[25 Jan 2012 | | ]
Miniature: Play online chess games on your N900

Check out our new page Funny LOL Pictures (click here) – it brings you daily funny pictures that will make you LOL!
Are you in a liking of chess games? Playing with the AI doesn’t seem as good as playing with real players for you? Then you should totally check out Miniature, an FICS client for Maemo!

Miniature is currently only available at Extras-devel, which means you would want it enabled in your repo list. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean the game is not good enough for everyday use, I myself have tested many releases and they work perfectly. In case if you need help enabling it, check out this wiki article. Make sure to disable it right after downloading the package though.
Now, Miniature enables you to play games hosted at FICS with thousands of players all across the world and even allows you to play P2P games with people nearby or with people in your contacts list. Registering at FICS is not required, but is recommended, if you want to keep easy track of your own games and stats. Host a game or join one of those already available and you’re ready to dive into a nice game of chess with anyone. And you even have easy to use text chat!

Miniature also holds quite some learning possibilities, as you can watch games already played, view chess lessons and participate in one of the tournaments FICS often holds! In case if you would want to play different kinds of chess, like antichess, Miniature allows that too.
 
A great client for every chess player, or just somebody who would want a nice game while waiting for the bus to arrive, Miniature is definitely worth checking out.

Featured, Games, Headline, Maemo 5, Software »

[17 Jan 2012 | | ]
The Battle for Wesnoth on N900

Check out our new page Funny LOL Pictures (click here) – it brings you daily funny pictures that will make you LOL!
Do you like strategy games? Well, then you probably have heard of “The Battle for Wesnoth”, a popular free software turn based strategy game with a strong, Tolkienesque fantasy setting. But did you know that there is a complete port of this PC game for Maemo?

The game is currently available in Extras, you can find it in the Games category.
sudo gainroot
apt-get install wesnoth
Note that the game is pretty large and will consume about 240~ Mb of memory on your /opt Unpacking a large package can also take a lot of time, so make sure you have enough battery charge.
Optionally install the music files. (Not recommended as this will take up 100 Mb more of memory and will slow down the game a bit):
apt-get install wesnoth-music
Once installed, you can launch the game from your applications menu or with
wesnoth
Loading times can be a drag, but apart from that and a few resolution issues with menus, the game is completely playable. Add-ons, Multiplayer, Singleplayer campaigns are all functional. I was able to both finish one of the mainline campaigns and play co-op survival on the official server without any trouble, right with an N900 in my hand.

The Battle for Wesnoth is definitely a game every N900 gamer should take a look at. So install the package and dive into the world of dwarves, elves and orcs!

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[11 Jan 2012 | | ]
Callerx: a simple and effective call blocking solution

Quite often do we run into situations where certain calls are unwanted. Maybe you’re at work and you don’t want anybody outside of the working environment calling you, or maybe there’s just a certain annoying person who you don’t want to talk with. In any case, Callerx is a simple app that will help you solve these problems.
Once launched, you will be greeted with a screen that easily allows you to view all inbound calls and manage your lists with blocked/allowed phone numbers.

Adding new numbers or contacts to the list of blocked/allowed numbers can be done by pressing the ‘Manage Lists’ button, choosing a list of your choice and picking a menu option. It’s that simple.

Callerx also allows you to block any numbers that are not listed by enabling the whitelist mode and has an option to block all unknown numbers.
Being a daemon, it is configured to auto-start at each boot, and can be configured via a command line, by editing ‘blacklist.txt’ and ‘whitelist.txt’ files located under your MyDocs directory and calling
/etc/init.d/callerx loadblacklist for switching to blacklist mode or
/etc/init.d/callerx loadwhitelist for whitelist mode
Easy to use and effective, Callerx is all you need to stop any unwanted calls from ever bothering you.
 

Featured, Headline, Maemo 5 »

[2 Jan 2012 | | ]
Tweaks to improve your N900 performance (Advanced Users)

Tweaks posted here are for advanced users. Any beginners can give it a go, and if any problems occurs feel free to discuss it in the forums.
1. Enabling Hardware Accelerator which would speed up the hildon-desktop ( currently unstable and requires disabling if not working. Might need to reflash in case of reboot loop ).
First using XTerm, run this command
sudo gainroot
leafpad /etc/powervr.d/hildon-desktop.ini
Then change
WSEGL_UseHWSync=0
to
WSEGL_UseHWSync=1
 2) Installing Swappolube
sudo gainroot
apt-get install swappolube
Then use proposed values and click store
3) Install tracker-cfg to allow tracker using less CPU power
sudo gainroot
apt-get install tracker-cfg
Launch it and set to lowmemorymode
Any other tips and tricks are welcome. Just leave a comment and we will post it in our upcoming posts
via : Talk Maemo
 

Firmware, Headline, Maemo 5, Software »

[19 Dec 2011 | | ]
An update on NITDroid for the N900

NITDroid have been running over the years on the N900 and here is the current latest update :
Latest stable Android version running on the N900 is Version 2.3.7. Well this is practically a Gingerbread OS with Google Wallet support. This version is called N12 for NITDroid for the N900
N12 includes receiving and sending SMS successfully. However voice calls and camera are still under development
Here is a list with compatible games being able to run on the NITDroid itself. Overclocking and installation on internal EMMC would be suggested to ensure smooth game play.
And on the day the Ice Cream Sandwich source code is being released, a port of ICS has been done for the N900. Credits to the NITDroid developer drunkdebugger. Here is the link to the video : Video
Let’s hope more updates would come soon and we can get a stable NITDroid to replace Maemo for the N900.

Featured, Headline, Maemo 5, News, Software »

[7 Oct 2011 | | ]
Portrait of the King

Have you ever seen meedieval castle with lots of potraits hanging around? Every single one reminds of great man, someone who did something really significant for country, region or family. Today let’s focus on some other portrait, the one related to our favourite phone, Nokia N900.
Portrait dashboard is something we could already see after previous CSSU update, so the only remaining thing was to propagate this feature to homescreen, which finally happened. Because everyday I see less and less news on N900 I feel obliged to mention it for the ones who haven’t yet updated.
I was a bit surprised that after update my N900 just switched to portrait mode after rotating it, but widgets, shortcuts and bookmarks were a bit messed up. It’s still not a problem, because portrait has its own setting for each homescreen, so you can easily rearrange all of your widgets on screen and make them look exactly as you want. Unfortunatelly some of really wide widgets (like 5 days weather forecast) just won’t fit in portrait, but I can live with that, can you?
Another tiny issue with portrait mode is loopable wallpaper, if you haveone that loops in landscape, it will probably make you feel uncomfortable, but for me it’s perfect situation for new inventions, wallpaper that will be loopable in potrait and landscape at the same time. I’ll surely share with you when I find some time to make one ;).
That’s enough for starters, our King is still alive, still breathing and has own portrait ;). Now that you know what comes with the latest update, just try it!

MJ

Applications, Headline, Software »

[2 Sep 2011 | | ]
Noor-Quran Translator for N900

Don’t have enough knowledge reading the Quran? Or don’t understand? Then Noor is the perfect application for you!! All you need is a Nokia N900, Noor and a chair to sit on It has a good appearance for the user and for easy reading, it has the Quran verses first followed by the English meaning directly beneath it.

Very useful if you’re in a journey to somewhere and don’t access to a Quran. Noor comes in 7 different languages namely : en English(default), ar Arabic, fa Farsi, ml Malayalam, ps Pushto, tr Turkish, nl Dutch.
Change the code : lang = (language of preference) in home/user/.noor and you can use leafpad, nano, vi or any other editor to do this. Not every device has the ability to support this application as only Python compatible devices are usable here. You need to have certain things before installing Noor :
noorgtk, noorhtmls, noorcgi and noortxt. All of this does come with the default Linux distributions like Ubuntu.
To install Noor, you input python setup.py install then after that, from any location noorgtk.pyw must be inputed. Stay tuned to this website for more.

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[1 Sep 2011 | | ]
Nothing lasts forever

Although the journey we have all taken with Maemo has been an amazing one, we do have to admit to ourselves that everything with a beginning has an end; and that end may just be in sight.
I know I personally wish I could hold onto my N900 forever, even when it must be replaced I know that I will hold onto it and still use it frequently, but how long does that all really last?  Although Maemo is an open system, and a very open one at that compared to the competition, there are still closed elements to it.  These elements are controlled by Nokia, and heavily restrict what we can do to keep the longevity of our devices going.  It has been proven that Nokia do not open up these parts of the system, as they still have not done so to older versions of Maemo and care even less now then they did before.

 We could always continue on as we are now, but how long would that course really keep us happy, as we start to feel restricted in our actions, seeing everything around us evolve while our platform remains stale.  While Maemo was ahead of the crowd at its release, and still age’s well, there is only so long it can steam along on the aging hardware of the N900.  What’s more is the hardware itself isn’t built to last forever, I myself have had my handset replaced a few times already, the most one lasted for was 12 months.
But what about the community?  I have always preached about the community, and I still think it is an amazing one, but with the limitations already listed, how long will the pillars of the community stick around?  What happens when their device bites the dust and a simple solder job will not suffice?
We all will need to face the facts that nothing lasts forever, and as the N900 fast approaches its 2nd birthday, it’s an anniversary that will be marked by sadness as more people will break away from the device, or break their device.  I am hoping …

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[25 Aug 2011 | | ]
Wristwatch of the future?

You may have seen around a year ago when Apple released its sixth generation of iPod Nano, that people started using them as watches.  This seemed like a look into the future, and while the concept is an amazing one, the current implementation is somewhat still lacking.  In the end, the device was still limited to what it could do, you were just finally ‘holding it right’. Another watch concept has recently shown up over on Hack a Day, based on Arduino, which is an open source single board microcontroller.  It consists of a pilfered Nokia LCD and other circuitry.  The fun part of this watch is that it is connected to a N900 via Bluetooth, and has a GUI for showing missed calls, messages, email, and is being worked on to support the Maemo media player.

The concept is one of brilliance, and Apple bias aside, I would still prefer one of these in a refined form then an iPod Nano on my wrist.  The idea of having my phone do all the work and my watch managing it is amazing, and would do wonders for battery life.  The other advantage of course is being able to leave the N900 in your pocket all the time and just having to check your watch as needed.
From a first look, there doesn’t appear to be an actual time feature as of yet, but one would be rather easy to implement, and would complete this watch of the future.  Of course the design would need to be refined further to scale it down and make it appropriate to wear out, but I still love that concept as a whole.
If I could connect everything to my N900, I would.  Working on tech to have such synergy with each other is what the big companies should be doing and if this amazing device brings about some form of consumer product, I think I would be lining up for one with the same fanaticism and dedication some do to buy their fruit.
 Check it out more over here