Update 2008-08-13

I have used the procedure below to successfully add multiboot functionality to many many USB device both 1.0 and 2.0. For example, if you mobile phone appears as a removable drive when you plug it into your computer you can use the same process to make that a bootable medium. My XDA now holds a linux partition on its memory card that can be used as a system recovery tool. The linux system is an LFS one built from scratch for my needs!

Hacking the Archos Gmini XS202

My other half had picked up on me wanting to buy an MP3 player and took one step ahead of me and went and got a Gmini 202 for my birthday or christmas, cant remember which!!! It turns out, in the long run, she made an excellent choice =>. As an MP3 player its just like all the others, deals with mp3 wma 3mu playlists and such but in reality its more like a USB har drive that plays mp3's. The firm ware is completely sepearate from the hard disk, the Format Device entry in the system setup menu clarifys this, and to that end i started to think what else it could be used for.

If you break you Gmini, its you fault...NOT MINE!!!!

Although this page is for the Archos Gmini XS202 i see no reason why these pratices can not be applied to any USB hard disk or mem card for that matter!!! IF you do try this with other gadgets please let me know the outcome!!!!

I started by keeping non mp3 docs on the disk and it didnt seem to mind at all..! I mean it could'nt read a 40meg psd or tiff, it just ignored them. Next was intalling an app on it. I went for a copy of MS Office 2003! All went well without any problems at all, the app ran fine and the Gmini kept smiling :)...It was a bit slow to react but hey it seemed to work fine.

Next i chucked my olde win98 first eddition cd in and booted to win98 command with the Gmini plugged in and running. I could access the Gmini as D: so i did sys d:, shut down the pc and booted off the Gmini... Again, all went swimmingly well, which is nice =>. Having messed with dos many many times in my years ive installed a mock up version of dos made from several different versions. Its also got a dos version of pqmagic too. I would go through the whole setting up of network / internet on it but i really cant be done with it.

Right now im siting here waiting for winimage to take an image of the Gmini so if i do break it when i move on to the next stage in the hacking i can just scrawl the image back onto the disk again! The next stage!?! Getting a linux on there, gonna try for a little FC5 install or even an eLive... Updated soon, after i have slept for a while! Well , after a break and some kip it would seem i need to compile a kernel specifically for the Gmini XS202, the standard FC5 kernel does not have USB storage or SCSI bilt in so i will skip that for now. What i am gonna try is some of the smaller linuxes that are available these days Gentoo, DSL, puppy linux, Feather Linux, SLAX. These are all debian/Knoppix based and some are under 50 MB(dont have to wait for hours for a slow born USB device to read tons of files in).

After much messing about and many paddys i have got the installation of small linuxes sussed. Set the Gmini XS202 up to boot dos with all the files you want in a command directory. Give your self a menu system (grub does not seem to like himem.sys or emm386.exe) so you can boot normal dos or minimal dos. Mine looks like this:

config.sys:
[MENU]
MENUCOLOR=9,0
MENUITEM=GRUB
MENUITEM=DOS
MENUDEFAULT=DOS
[GRUB]
[DOS]
DEVICE=\COMMAND\HIMEM.SYS /VERBOSE
DEVICE=\COMMAND\UMBPCI.SYS
DOS=HIGH,UMB
DEVICEHIGH=\COMMAND\CDDRIVER.SYS /D:NAZI
DEVICEHIGH=\COMMAND\RAMDRIVE.SYS /E 2048

autoexec.bat:
PATH=\COMMAND
GOTO %CONFIG%
:GRUB (i didnt run grub here until i was sure it would boot properly)
GOTO END
:DOS
LH COMMAND\MSCDEX.EXE /D:NAZI
LH DOSKEY
GOTO END
END

Once you have that done you are ready! Grab some iso files from damnsmalllinux.org puppylinux.org and where ever else you can and grab the following files from them. Most of them have a kernel (linux24, vmlinuz) and an somthing.gz image which is the boot scripts and temp ram drive image linux uses to boot. You need both of those in a folder in folder (just for neatness). There will also be another file in either the root directory or the KNOPPIX directory, basicly its much bigger than all the other files on the disk. Remember its location!!! This is very important!!! If it is in the root folder of the cd/iso it needs to be in the root folder on your Gmini, if it is in a KNOPPIX folder or any other folder for that matter that is where it needs to live on your XS202. When you are finished with it the folder structure should look somthing like this (DSL first then Puppy Linux):

\KNOPPIX\KNOPPIX (needs to be in \KNOPPIX folder)
\KNOPPIX\linux24
\KNOPPIX\minirt24.gz
\puppy\vmlinuz
\puppy\initrd.gz
\pup_310.sfs (needs to be in root folder as does the 3fs file)
\pup_save.3fs (once you have created a persistant session)

Now the fun part! Configuring grub to boot all these os'es and, if your clever, other drives (my Gmini can boot 2 internal linuxes, dos, 1 linux on a hard disk in my computer, 2 different windows versions on 2 different hard drives and the first hard drive of any computer it is plugged into(if they allow USB boot that is :))!!!

 

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