How does one instal an OS on a MENQ netbook?

January 7, 2010 at 10:08:47
Specs: Linux mips, JZ4730 @ 400MHz with 128MB SDRAM
I work at a computer shop where we usually perform a clean Windows install (in either English or Spanish) and install some utility programs like an antivirus, a P2P app, an office suite, etc.

This one customer brought in this cute little Chinese laptop. I like cute little things, but I have to install a Spanish operating system on it but I have no clue whatsoever. I never used something this... weird.

It has a sticker with these specs:
JZ4730 400MHz
7inch WVGA

It has some custom Linux installed, but I only know this because of the penguin image at boot time. There is no logo or anything, so I don't know which Linux distro it is.

A search on the CPU model name reveals that it is compatible with MIPS32. I thought I could use Windows CE, but I gave up looking for a download and/or purchase link. Windows, Linux, BSD; anything that works on MIPS with 128 megs of RAM and has a Spanish translation is cool.

Any input? Thanks.

If I connect my microwave to my PC, will I be able to download food? I posted a question, haha

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March 3, 2010 at 18:03:39
There aren't too many distributions that support MIPS anymore; its a dying platform. Even those that do often only support certain machines. Debian might be a good bet, but there are certain things I don't know about this machine that might be important:

1. Does it have a CD / DVD drive? Debian no longer supports booting from floppies, I've never heard of a MIPS machine that supported booting from USB, and a network boot would be very difficult to set up, even assuming the machine supports booting over a network.

2. Since it references "NAND Flash", its likely the system is either A.) burned into a ROM chip and uses the Flash chip to store settings, or B.) is installed entirely on the Flash chip. If the system is burned into PROM, it is nearly impossible to replace. If it is in Flash, it is easier, but special steps may need to be made to write to it and to make sure it isn't written to too often (such as by putting everything in a ramdisk and only writing the changes back on shutdown.

If you can access a command line on the system, try entering "uname -a" to get some information about the running kernel. It can help determine what "endian-ness" it is using (this is important in choosing a distro or installer CD for a MIPS machine), the kernel version, and possibly even the name of the distro.

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