Updating the N800 to OS2008

Here are my notes from updating to OS2008 for getting root access via ssh and taking an early snapshot of the image filesystem with rsync:

  1. Download the OS2008 firmware image.
  2. Follow the instructions for flashing with new firmware image
  3. Go to Settings->Application Manager and go to Tools->Application Catalog and enable the Maemo Extras repo
  4. Click ‘Browse installable applications’ and inst the OpenSSH package
  5. Repeat the flasher steps but replace the flash command line with flasher/flasher-3.0 --enable-rd-mode to enable R&D mode
  6. Go to Utilities->X terminal and do sshroot@localhost
  7. Change the default password: passwd
  8. Repeat the flasher steps but replace the flash command line with flasher/flasher-3.0 --disable-rd-mode to put the tablet back into production mode
  9. Install rsync from the .deb package
  10. Take a snapshot of the root file system by using rsync to copy from the device to another machine: rsync -avzx root@:/ snapshot_dir
  11. Follow the instructions for entering Red Pill Mode
  12. Install apps such as less, screen, wget
  13. Return to Blue Pill Mode

The tips needed to get ssh root access working again mainly came from here.

Most of my previously installed packages in OS2007 are already available for OS2008. The main ones that I am still missing are gtick (metronome) and a UPnP client. IIRC, I grabbed everything form the official maemo downloads page and this list of Working 2008 OS Software.


  • This update increases the maximum CPU clock speed from 330MHz to 400MHz. The graphical interface feels snappier.
  • The browser is now the mozilla-based microb browser which seems to use more memory and slightly slower than the previous Opera browser. However, it’s free software and supports newer web standards, so I’m happy with the change.
  • The graphical interface is nicer. The designers appear to have responded to user feedback well in this area.
  • There are more codecs , but still no Ogg Vorbis support, which is very disappointing. The third-party package works fine with third-party media players, but doesn’t work with the default media player.
  • Media streaming on the ABC now works. Among other things, this means I can listen to the local radio station from anywhere, and not have to suffer crappy AM quality. Annoyingly, when playing Internet radio from the widget it keeps a message box open (“buffering”) for as long as I have it playing.
  • I haven’t done any careful measurements of the battery life, but it seems to be about the same. This is a bonus given the increase in CPU speed.
  • Newer kernel (2.6.21), Gtk (2.10) and DBUS (1.0) and gstreamer now supports the generic playbin,
  • The built-in media player has been substantially improved, but without Vorbis support it’s of limited use to me. I prefer to use Kagu or Exaile.
  • Why is there still no support for recording videos in the camera app?
  • The problem where, if Bluetooth is disabled from the system tray, the Bluetooth icon disappears, so must be re-enabled from Control Panel, still persists. Annoying.
  • Text prediction and automatic capitalization are off by default.
  • The on-screen keyboard seems to be a bit over-sensitive and often registers a key twice when it was only tapped once.

With this update, it feels like the Internet tablet OS platform is maturing nicely.

Filed under: maemo,N800 — twegener @ 23:35


  1. you mean ‘automatic capitalization’ is on by default and can’t be turned off?
    at least that’s what i’ve discovered. hate that auto. caps.

    Comment by jojomonkey — 2007-12-09 @ 8:09

  2. Can you say anything about the stability yet? I don’t want to return to the days of the first N800 firmware version, when it used to crash nearly every day even if I update to OS2008

    Comment by HeTo — 2007-12-10 @ 8:34

  3. Stability is the only thing we care about, not bells and whistles, especially stability with multiple browser windows open. How stable is it with 16 Mozilla windows open? How stable is it with 160 Mozilla windows open?

    Comment by Opener — 2007-12-11 @ 2:18

  4. The easiest way to get root access is to download and install ‘becomeroot’ and then just type ‘sudo gainroot’ in the terminal. No need for R&D mode or SSH.

    becomeroot is available in the Eko One repository here:

    Comment by technut — 2007-12-11 @ 8:01

  5. @jojomonkey
    I mean ‘Auto-capitalization’ is off by default in OS2008 and can be turned of via Control Panel->Text Input->Languages->Settings->Auto-capitalisation.

    Personally, I’m ambivalent as to whether to use auto-caps. I’ve left it turned off. I imagine they turned this off by default since it probably was causing people problems entering passwords.

    Comment by twegener — 2007-12-11 @ 21:24

  6. @HeTo
    It has been stable as a rock for me so far. Apart from the issues mentioned in my post, the other problem I can think of was clinking on links in the browser didn’t do anything if the memory was full. I experienced the same behavior on OS2007. It may even be intentional, but I find it annoying that it doesn’t notify you that this is the reason.

    I would say that it is more stable than OS2007. Occasionally with OS2007 my thumb-button (enter key thingy) would not work occasionally. This was especially problematic if the tablet was locked at the time. In that case I had to power cycle the device in order to unlock it.

    Comment by twegener — 2007-12-11 @ 21:29

  7. @Opener
    I’m not sure who the ‘we’ are for whom you are speaking. Anyway, I’m impressed if you’ve ever had 16 Mozilla windows open on the tablet, let alone 160. I can open 11 browser windows before it won’t let me open anymore on account of low memory. In this case I’ve opened a different web site on each page, some of which are quite heavy (i.e. lots of JavaScript etc.).

    The browser seems to be much more stable than the microb beta released for OS2007. I may have had the new one crash once. I can’t remember. The main glitches I’ve experienced are that the bookmarks menu seems to arbitrarily come up in thumb mode or pointer mode (i.e. big icons or small ones), and that links will become unresponsive when memory is too low.

    Comment by twegener — 2007-12-11 @ 21:37

  8. Can you please explain, why it’s neccessary to enable R&D mode in order to gain root access? I just did enable the maemo repository and did install oenssh. When installing openssh I was asked to enter a new root password.

    That’s all. Now I’m able to logon to the N800 via SSH as root. No R&D mode, no “becomeroot” package, not even red pill mode needed.

    What is the advantage of going via R&D mode?

    Comment by Michael Grandt — 2007-12-22 @ 2:52

  9. @Michael:
    This post was written based on my experiences installing the Beta version of OS2008, and possibly an earlier release of OpenSSH. I’ve since installed the general release version of OS2008 and the process is much simpler, as you have described.

    Comment by twegener — 2007-12-24 @ 0:59

  10. I’ve had an N800 for nearly two years now; OS2008 has been great, with much improved stability – with the now-available debian-over-OS2008, it’s a fantastic device.
    Actually, I’d love to get one for my 80-year-old mum, if I could get it to handle ABC Radio National – she now lives out-of-range of RN, and really misses it. However when I try to hook into it from the ABC website, it just hangs at ‘connecting’. Any suggestions would be _really_ appreciated.

    Comment by bmckay — 2008-12-23 @ 20:43

  11. Anyone googling this, I can now add the answer – go to the final abc web page (the one that starts the audio stream) in a browser capable of displaying ‘view source’, navigate to the bottom of the page where you’ll find the http: link to the .ram stream. In media player – library view, pull down the menu to clip – audio bookmark, and add a bookmark using the full http link you just found. Connecting to this works. So I guess Mum will be getting a Nokia for Xmas…

    Comment by bmckay — 2008-12-23 @ 20:59

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