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Debian Linux on Archos 43 Internet Tablet

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Published on Jun 8, 2011

I recently purchased an Archos 43 4.3" Android Internet Tablet. It is a phone/PDA sized device with a 4.3" touchscreen and runs Android 2.2 (as of now anyways). I chose it because I wanted an Android device but didn't want to mess with expensive data plans or contracts. It really is a nice device, it has a fast 1GHz TI OMAP3630 ARM processor, 256MB of RAM, PowerVR SGX graphics, an 854x480 touchscreen (resistive/single-touch type), WiFi N, and Bluetooth. It also features USB host (USB OTG through micro port) and mini-HDMI connections.

Archos released a special firmware called the Developer Edition which installs a bootloader that allows you to load a second operating system. The provided one is Angstrom Linux, a small distribution they threw together for demo purposes. It isn't very useful and many things don't work right, so I found a way to install Debian on it thanks to Debian-Archos and OpenAOS. The Debian distribution comes with OpenOffice, which allows for full-blown document editing right on the device, Microsoft format compatibility, and is free.

What Works:
ARM CPU and Linux kernel
TI WiFi chip
Touchscreen (calibration is necessary on Archos 43, but I have added it to my image)
PowerVR SGX framebuffer (OpenGL and graphics acceleration are not available, but the framebuffer is optimized for the graphics chip. Rotation is not yet supported and the A43's screen defaults to portrait so landscape isn't an option yet)
USB (client mode, allows for USB to PC networking in Linux)
Sound (Wolfson Audio controller) - Internal speaker and headphones both work great
Micro SD slot

What doesn't work:
Bluetooth
PowerVR SGX graphics acceleration, rotation
Battery monitoring

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