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Cellphones Software Portables (Apple) Linux Hardware

Linux Kernel Booting On the iPhone 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-no-iphone-in-team dept.
mhm was one of many readers to note that the Linux 2.6 kernel has been ported to the iPhone. "Planetbeing, one of the iPhone devteam members, has been working on porting Linux to the iPhone (along with a custom bootloader called OpeniBoot). Today they managed to boot the kernel! Video showing the boot process has been posted. Instructions and binaries are available on the project blog."
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Linux Kernel Booting On the iPhone

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  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @09:18AM (#25924321)
    In other news, Apple has responded by issuing an update which accidentally causes an iPhone running a Linux kernel to become inoperable. Apple apologized for this mistake, and is working on a fix.
  • Android. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @09:20AM (#25924329) Homepage Journal

    For all those thinking "Android," check this from the blog entry:

    If you're experienced with hacking/porting Linux and especially if you're experienced with porting Android, I'd definitely like to hear from you.

    Oh, and read some of the blog comments. Man - I thought youtube comments were stupid, but this trumps even that:

    Ok, not to sound too stupid with this question, but since the iPhone is running linux already... why not use whatever drivers are there already?

    and:

    I have a biiig question. i have windows and ubuntu, can i still install linux on the iphone? i suspect that files you published are only for mac osx

    Oh - and the obligatory iphone linux comic [geekherocomic.com]

    • Re:Android. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:10AM (#25924883)

      I have a biiig question. i have windows and ubuntu, can i still install linux on the iphone? i suspect that files you published are only for mac osx

      This isn't as stupid as it sounds (though one hopes they RTFA'd.) I recall trying to put Linux on my Nintendo DS, only to find that installing it (without using additional hardware) required... Windows. I'm not sure if that situation has changed since, but it was a major disappointment and WTF at the time.

      Slow Down Cowboy!

      Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.

      It's been 53 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

      Chances are, you're behind a firewall or proxy, or clicked the Back button to accidentally reuse a form. Please try again. If the problem persists, and all other options have been tried, contact the site administrator.

      Is CmdrTaco a wanker or what? They never fix problems with Slashdot, they only introduce them. You remember the good old days when we had nice, workable, simple, user pages? Now going to your user page brings up a set of random shit pulled from various parts of Slashdot (a few comments you recently made, coupled with random articles from the past that appear to have no relationship to you whatsover.)

      What a bunch of tools.

      • by Agilo (727098)

        I have a biiig question. i have windows and ubuntu, can i still install linux on the iphone? i suspect that files you published are only for mac osx

        This isn't as stupid as it sounds (though one hopes they RTFA'd.) I recall trying to put Linux on my Nintendo DS, only to find that installing it (without using additional hardware) required... Windows. I'm not sure if that situation has changed since, but it was a major disappointment and WTF at the time.

        That's been changed a long time ago.
        Actually, it isn't even that accurate of a statement, since installing doesn't require any specific type of OS (as long as you can place the files on the media).
        What you're referring to is compiling, which (as far as I know) required not Windows, but Linux (I would even goes as far as to say this was always the case as, currently, compiling DSLinux for windows instructions [dslinux.org] instruct the user/developer to download a Linux live distro).

      • by mustafap (452510)

        >Now going to your user page brings up a set of random shit pulled from various parts of Slashdot

        I second that. The new interface is shit.

    • Re:Android. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by brianosaurus (48471) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:23PM (#25925899) Homepage

      >

      Ok, not to sound too stupid with this question, but since the iPhone is running linux already... why not use whatever drivers are there already?

      <sarcasm>
      What's wrong with that comment? If you recall from history, SCO stole linux to make Unix, which they time travelled back and sold to AT&T and Berkeley. Then Apple fired Steve Jobs, who put Linux in a black box and called it "NeXT". Then Apple bought him, made their own Linux, then retroactively created 6 major versions of FreeBSD as a front.

      Then Darwin created a kernel (evolution my ass!), which he published steganographically in that ridiculous "Origin of Species". Babbage was the first to discover the hidden message when he was reading the book to to figure out why his engine got such bad gas mileage (he later discovered the flaw was that the car hadn't been invented yet, and pouring gasoline into a stationary computing engine wasn't getting him anywhere. But I digress.

      Its turtles all the way down.
      </sarcasm>

      I used to be amazed at how many self-proclaimed geeks didn't know the difference between FreeBSD and Linux. How can you expect regular mortals to know what brand of unix-like subsystem Apple has running under the hood?

      I'm a little impressed when non-technical folks know that there's some sort of open source unix behind the pretty Apple curtains, even if they don't get it exactly right.

      Just like Richard Stallman says: who cares what they call it, as long as they didn't have to pay for it ;)

    • Oh, and read some of the blog comments. Man - I thought youtube comments were stupid, but this trumps even that:

      Ok, not to sound too stupid with this question, but since the iPhone is running linux already... why not use whatever drivers are there already?

      You should try reading slashdot comments sometime. Stuff like "OS X uses BSD so it should be easy to recompile Microsoft Office/StarCraft/iTunes for linux."

    • Man - I thought youtube comments were stupid...

      http://www.xkcd.com/202/ [xkcd.com]

  • Linux drivers? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by naapo (982524) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @09:21AM (#25924333)
    I wonder how they plan to get the hardware specifications for the necessary drivers from Apple. Booting Linux is not very useful, if you can't access most of the peculiar hardware in the iPhone.
    • Re:Linux drivers? (Score:5, Informative)

      by cbrocious (764766) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @09:40AM (#25924415) Homepage
      It's being reverse-engineered, like everything else on the iPhone. None of the specs for iBoot, the baseband, etc are public either and the iPhone hackers have done just fine. I'm confident they'll succeed.
      • Re:Linux drivers? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:27AM (#25924989)
        After a long enough period of time, yes, they will succeed. However, it is more likely than not that by the time they succeed, a new version will come out, and we will be back to square one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cbrocious (764766)
          Once you've reverse-engineered a hardware interface, it's rarely difficult to reverse the next iteration. The basic functionality is usually the same, it's just a slightly different version. The bigger issues are jailbreaking the new device, getting to the point where you can replace the bootloader, etc.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            however Apple dislikes people actually using their hardware and therefore they try as hard as they can to break anything someone does to actually make Apple hardware do something useful

        • > However, it is more likely than not that by the time they succeed, a new version will come out, and we will be back to square one.

          Yup, this is the situation rockbox finds itself in. No currently shipping hardware can run rockbox. And few of the existing ports ever get finished before the devs apparently lose interest in old obsolete hardware and begin porting to the new shiny. The lesson to be learned from this is simple. Unless you just get off on porting don't bother with closed hardware. So if

          • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

            > However, it is more likely than not that by the time they succeed, a new version will come out, and we will be back to square one.

            Yup, this is the situation rockbox finds itself in. No currently shipping hardware can run rockbox. And few of the existing ports ever get finished before the devs apparently lose interest in old obsolete hardware and begin porting to the new shiny.

            This seems to be the situation with a LOT of OSS projects. Some person (or group) thinks "what would it take to put Linux on an iPhone?" or "what if I made my own Linux distro that fixed all the problems I see in distro XXXXXX?" They work feverishly at it, get it more or less working, then get bored and stop caring.

            There's nothing inherently wrong with that - but given how often it happens, I'm not sure why most of this gets classified as "news" on Slashdot or Digg or wherever. Should it ever get to the poi

    • Re:Linux drivers? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @09:47AM (#25924447) Homepage Journal

      I wonder how they plan to get the hardware specifications for the necessary drivers from Apple.

      The same way many linux drivers have been written. Reverse engineering. [wikipedia.org]

      Apple certainly isn't going to help - I imagine they've got the lawyer cannon trained already.

  • by LWATCDR (28044)

    Now we just need to get android running on it.

    • Re:Cool. (Score:4, Funny)

      by zenwaves (610082) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:18AM (#25924563) Homepage

      Now we just need to get android running on it.

      Yes, the iPhone OS is clearly too user friendly.

      • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pandrijeczko (588093) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:30AM (#25924619)

        ...but so locked down to the point of being programmer unfriendly?

        • It's already running UNIX, it's just a matter of getting to that root prompt. And if you're willing to jailbreak the phone to install Linux on it, why aren't you willing to jailbreak the phone to install Darwin apps on it?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by omeomi (675045)
            It's already running UNIX, it's just a matter of getting to that root prompt. And if you're willing to jailbreak the phone to install Linux on it, why aren't you willing to jailbreak the phone to install Darwin apps on it?

            The BSD subsystem isn't installed on a stock iPhone. Installing it is a part of the jailbreak procedure.
            • by argent (18001)

              Installing it is a part of the jailbreak procedure.

              That's an implementation detail. It's still easier than reverse engineering the whole damn thing and re-doing that every time there's a hardware update.That's all part of "And if you're willing to jailbreak the phone to install Linux on it, why aren't you willing to jailbreak the phone to install Darwin apps on it?"

        • Android is for programmers. iPhone is for people who want an iPod phone. Both products are friendly to the people their makers give a damn about.
  • by Rikiji7 (1182159) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @09:34AM (#25924389) Homepage
    If android and a mobile-hacked debian can use every single piece of hardware of it i will get one soon.
  • It's the GNUphone [today.com] come to life!

    "Really, we're not out to destroy Apple; that will just be a completely unintentional side effect."

    Dialing from the command line will be the killer feature. Just type dial voice +1-555-1212 -ntwk verizon -prot cdma2000 -ssh-version 2 -a -l -q -9 -b -k -K 14 -x and away you go. Simple and intuitive!

  • Will it run Openmoko?

    Sorry, mod me into oblivion, I deserve it.

  • So in the other words, now we got the Linux OS ported to iPhone, we can finally get a GNU/Linux developing platform to iPhone in no time and then we can get all the wanted applications working... but does it still be a phone or toy?

    I dont know is the GNU/Linux developing platform needed at all, most important thing is just that Linux OS is ported and we can develop the needed applications on the PC/Mac and then just run them on the iPhone.

    • by argent (18001)

      Because the fact that it's already based on an open source UNIX isn't good enough for some people, they need to make sure it's running the politically correct open source UNIX.

      • by harry666t (1062422) <harry666t&gmail,com> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:26PM (#25925377)
        What happened to "because it's fun"?
      • by jmorris42 (1458) *

        > Because the fact that it's already based on an open source UNIX isn't good enough for some people...

        Because the one Apple ships is crippled. If it can't run your applications it isn't much use now is it? And an iPhone can't run any applications that His Steveness doesn't like so it should be expected that that situation will be rectified. Trying to fix the origional OS to remove the evil bits is a pointless game of cat and mouse so the obvious solution is to keep the (to some people at least) nice h

        • by argent (18001)

          If you don't want to play the jailbreak game you shouldn't get an iPhone.

          The hardware isn't THAT good, and it's not exactly cheap, either. You can get an OpenMoko phone for less *and* support free software in the process... instead of rewarding Apple for shipping a typical closed cellphone.

  • by gapagos (1264716) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:18AM (#25924569)
    That's the #1 question. Let's not forget the iPhone part of iPhone.
  • Ironically, the video of the boot process requires Flash, which Apple in their wisdom has chosen not to support. The devs surely knew this, and probably decided not to use YouTube to tweak the noses of those of us who occasionally use our iPhones to read /. (and even post!). Their motivation for doing so escapes me, however, since presumably we are their most interested target audience. Curious.

    • by Al Dimond (792444)

      You know, I dislike Flash in general because I think it's bad for the Web, and I never use a portable device to access the Internet. So I'm hardly a supporter of their decision to use YouTube. That said, if they were thinking about /. (or any other big site that might link them) at all, I'd bet all they thought is that they didn't want tons of people trying to download video off of their server at once, even on what's probably a pretty low-traffic Saturday. It's probably very easy to post video on YouTub

  • This is the year of Linux on the iPhone!
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:15AM (#25924915)

    Rockbox [rockbox.org] doesn't support the latest ipods. I thought I read that the iphone and the 6th gen ipods where very similar underneath the hood (and very different from previous generation ipods). Can someone who knows more say if this development will help rockbox port to the 6th gen ipod?

    • by jeremyp (130771)

      If by "sixth generation iPod" you mean iPod Touch, then yes. The iPod Touch is the same as an iPhone but without the phone hardware or GPS.

      • I believe he's talking about the iPod Classic, tho I'm not sure how it would be similar to the iPhone 'under the hood'.

        Anyways, if you are talking about the iPod Touch, the 1st Gen is working just fine, but the 2nd Gen iPod Touch is very far behind, and the dev team hasn't even started working on it yet.
  • I already installed Linux on my iPaq, I'll trade you my iPaq for your iPhone and you can save yourself a bunch of hassles.

  • Question: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:00PM (#25925221)
    Is it possible to call people, and send or receive SMS messages, if you put linux on it?
    • I guess most of the hardware (including GSM, sound, etc) hasn't been reverse-engineered yet, and even then you'd need some GUI and actual userspace apps that'd talk to the drivers (or HAL, or however the stack is organized). Booting an OS vs having an usable OS are two VERY different things -- something I've learned while trying to write my own.
    • In short - once they reverse-engineer the baseband driver, yes. The dev team is already pretty intimate with the 2G baseband, and is almost there with the 3G baseband, so this may not take long.
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Is it possible to call people, and send or receive SMS messages, if you put linux on it?

      In two words:

      Not yet.

  • It comes to show that modern mobile phones, especially the high-end ones (smartphones), are basically just a general purpose computer, miniaturised, with some specialised user interface (small screen, a handful of buttons, camera, speaker and microphone).

    It's really an impressive hack, but hardly surprising that it is possible in the first place. After all the iPhone is running a specialised version of OS-X already.

  • any chance of a linux booting nokia phone that runs on symbian now?
  • But does it run.....

    nevermind.

  • Purpose? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And the purpose of it, is? To run a GTK or QTe UI on it? Wow!
    Linux is a great core, but unfortunately the UI bits are crap. Even the G1 UI looks like a turd compared to the iPhone.
    So as much as I like Linux on my boxes, I'll keep the OSX and the Apple UI on my iPhone. Thank you.

    • Not that I can afford an iPhone, but having GNU emacs, gcc, and TeX/LaTeX on such a device would be interesting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ash-Fox (726320)

      And the purpose of it, is? To run a GTK or QTe UI on it? Wow!

      They ported the kernel, not X.

      Linux is a great core, but unfortunately the UI bits are crap.

      Qt seems to be outdoing Microsoft and Apple's offerings in the UI department actually.

      I'll keep the OSX and the Apple UI on my iPhone. Thank you.

      Your phone wouldn't be usable at all with the current Linux offering at the moment anyway. I wouldn't expect anyone to want you to switch 'yet'.

  • The kernel is necessary but not sufficient. To run Linux apps (the point of running the Linux kernel), the iPhone HW devices must have drivers that run against the kernel. The graphics display, the touchscreen, the phone's radio and the storage filesystem all must run Linux drivers for Linux apps to use them.

  • Reminds me of when I tried and tried to run Linux on my Sega Dreamcast. Not sure why it was such an obsession for me, but it finally happened - and it had hardly any functionality whatsoever.

    I can imagine the iPhone will be much, much harder for developers to master, since RIM's Blackberry Storm OS can't even do touch interface right.
  • I find it ironic that I can not view the images of the Linux kernal booting on an iPhone on my iPhone, since those images were posted using Flash. Sigh....

  • As usual, someone out there manages to get linux up and running on yet ANOTHER platform. Maybe, Steve Balmer was right. Linux is a virus, that spreads to every nook and crany on anything it touches. Good for Linux. Why not run on the iPhone, I say? :)
  • ... but whoever tagged this story "hardhack" is wrong. This is NOT a hard(ware) hack. A hard hack would be something like "solder a resistor across these two points and the iPhone will boot off of whatever you connect it to."

  • How much of the hardware does it detect once you get linux running?

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