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

8 February 2012Entry by

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If you have an N900, it’s highly unlikely you’ve got an outdated firmware.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 bz2 file, not the image inside it.

bzcat <full_path_to_image>.bz2 | sudo dd bs=4096 of=/dev/sdX

dd won’t show any output (*nix-way, after all) until it has finished copying, so be patient. Depending on the quality of your card, this might take a short, or a long while.

Once dd has finished copying, take the card out of the card reader and put it in your N900. Turn it on and Nemo shall begin booting. Note that the first boot will be a rather long one, later boots will be faster. If you want to boot into Maemo instead, just remove the SD card from your N900.

Enjoy your new OS!

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