I am highly fascinated by the Plug Computer, ever since I got one (courtesy Marvell). Since its small, consumers very little power (2 watts) hence environmental friendly and can do a number of things like downloading latest Ubuntu  over night 🙂

I was trying to get Reliance Netconnect data card to setup on the Plug Computer, to be able to download during the night when its more cost effective to download. I have the plug sitting around for a year now but I finally thought of putting it to some use. The plug computer was pre-installed with Ubuntu 9.10, that runs an older kernel on which my data card was not detected. Hence I decided to install Debian.

I followed These instructions:  Installing Deiban on flashi.

Note: It is a long process to install, so attempt if you have ample amount of time and know Linux reasonably well. And yes are willing to burn the midnight oil 🙂

Most of the steps given on the wiki worked well. Here are a few suggestions based on my experience in installing.

  • You can monitor the progress on another laptop, just connect a standard USB cable into your computer and plug the other side micro USB slot into the Plug Computer. Now start any terminal client (such as putty) and configure with the following settings:

Connection Type: Serial

Port: /dev/ttyUSB0

Speed: 115,200

Data Bits: 8

Stop Bits: 1

Parity (Bits): None

Flow Control: None

On Ubuntu,  I just start terminal and type

screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200

This will show all the bootup messages  on the plug.

  • You need an empty SD Card/USB pen drive plugged in. Without this, you will go through the installation process and then at the final stages it will not be able to install. This is because Debian first installs on an external media, and then you can copy the image to internal flash. Note: Ensure that you have 512-1GB free and its a blank SD Card/USB drive with no critical data as it will need to be formatted. I used
  • I first tried to start the boot loader from a pen drive but I had all kinds of issues. I tried different pendrives/external drives, etc. But none of them worked. I tried formatting as fat32 and ext2, but no luck. I finally setup a tftpd server and that worked well. My suggestion is use a tftpd server. You can easily set this up on another Ubuntu system on the network. You will also need to open your firewall port for tftp to boot. Note: The standard tftpd server document is outdated, so better to install any other tftpd server such as atftpd or tftpd-hpa. I tried the atptpd and it worked well.

After going through the whole process, I was rather surprised to see that there was no wvdial,  so I used pppconfig, which took sometime to setup but worked with my 3G data card.