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giri@nwrk.biz

Armbian on LY-F1/Gooseberry/Topwise A721 [Make old tablets great again]

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Hey guys! :)

 

Cheap Android tablets based on allwinner chipsets were pretty common back in 2012. Recently I found an tablet equipted with an Allwinner A10 SoC (LY-F1) lying lonely around on my fathers desk. He bought that tablet back then because of the cheap price, but never really used it. Luckily my father also saved an Android 4.0.4 ROM he downloaded from the suppliers website back then, because all websites of this supplier are offline now.

 

After playing around with my OPiZ and seeing how well the sunxi/armbian kernel works, I thounght myself i should try to boot linux from this tablet. At first I tried to pack an image that can be directly written onto the devices 8GB NAND storage, but soon found out that the device tries to boot from SD by default. After doing some research I found out that this device uses an PCB called Topwise A721 which was also sold as standalone board named 'Gooseberry'. This PCB was used in many Chinese Tablets back in 2012.

 

My next logical step was to burn the only avaiable armbian image for the A10 (pcduino2) and see if it boots. At first I thougth it did not work, because the screen kept blank and the tablet did not give any response, but after plugging the SD card back into my PC i saw that the filesystem was extended to the max 16GB of my SD :). (Hooray, no dissasembly and fiddeling around with UART needed)

So next I extracted the script.bin (attached to this post) from the android image and replaced it with the symlink on the armbian image. And voila even the screen works out of the box :) The only problem I have now is, that I do not have an USB mini OTG cable (I already ordered one) to plug in an keyboard and do further testing. LOL, just found an mini USB OTG in an USB Adapter set I bought some time ago. The desktop environment boots up fine!

 

The tablet itself has an mini HDMI port, so this may be useful for me! 

 

Picture of tablet with Armbian login + desktop:

Spoiler

Boot successful:

 

IMG_20170625_165109.jpg

 

Working Desktop:

IMG_20170625_174527.jpg

 

Screenshot made and uploaded from tablet only using touchscreen:

Screenshot_2017-06-25_21-07-10.png

 

I'll report back when I have done further testing!

 

EDIT1:

To enable wireless networking 8192cu has to be added to etc/modules (legacy kernel ofc).

 

EDIT2:

Audio works out of the box. 

 

EDIT3:

I now added following kernel modules to etc/modules (most of them are loaded on the android image too!):

Spoiler

zet6221
ssd253x_ts
gt811  
sichuang
ft5x_ts
ump
mali
mali_drm
videobuf-core
videobuf-dma-contig
gc0308
gt2005
gc030809
sun4i_csi0
usbnet
asix
qf9700
mcs7830
8192cu
rtl8150
bma250
mma7660
stk8312
dmard06
cdc_ether
cdc_eem
cdc_subset

 

This should enable GPU HW acceleration, enables the touchscreen of the tablet and the touch keys.

 

Touch key info:

Scancodes:

BACK: 10x02, 0x82

HOME: ^[0x01, 0x81

MENU: 20x03, 0x83

 

Keycodes:

BACK: 2

HOME: 1

MENU: 3

 

EDIT4:

Things I could not get to work:
camera module (missing kernel module? gc030809 or wrong I2C address?)

Volume HW keys.

 

EDIT5:

Cam somewhat works with cheese after changing gc030809 to gc0308 in script.bin (Yeah silly me, its because cheese tries to use OpenGL rendering.)

Cam works pretty nice with mplayer, making fotos using fswebcam also works!

 

EDIT6:

I made working configurations for the armbian build system (files attached!).

 

EDIT7:

Configs are upstream, but not officially supported ;)

 

EDIT8:

I am currently working on an tablet optimized image.

 

Awesome how nearly everything worked out of the box! Armbian on this tablet outperforms the original android image by far!

Moral of the story, check any old chinese tablets lying around and make them great again using linux :D

 

script.bin

linux-topwise-a721-default.config

topwise-a721.fex

topwise-a721.conf

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Thank you! I read your post and remembered I had an old cheapo tablet lying around somewhere. Wouldn't you know it, it was also based on the LY-F1 :D So I followed the instructions and it works. Mine is branded Allview Alldro Speed (a romanian company rebrands them).

 

Have you made any progress since the post? Have you found any way to write the image to nand? Thank you again for documenting your efforts!

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On 16.8.2017 at 4:15 PM, Nonsintetic said:

Thank you! I read your post and remembered I had an old cheapo tablet lying around somewhere. Wouldn't you know it, it was also based on the LY-F1 :D So I followed the instructions and it works. Mine is branded Allview Alldro Speed (a romanian company rebrands them).

 

Have you made any progress since the post? Have you found any way to write the image to nand? Thank you again for documenting your efforts!

 

Yeah, I made a tablet optimized image using matchbox and some custom scripts (to toggle keyboard etc.). It also has an desktop mode. I tried to use as few dependencies as possible.

I also got hardware accelerated video to work with gstreamer. This may come handy for some dlna/upnp related stuff.

 

No I did not try to write it to nand. It just felt to unflexible for me. But it should not be a problen to repack an flashable image with the tools you find in the sunxi wiki and on xda.

But imo it may make more sense to use the nand as additional internal storage :)

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Hi there,

Sorry to dig up this thread, but yesterday I tried to revive my old ly-f1 tablet. I burnt the pcduino2 image to sd, replaced script.bin and...

the tablet has started, shown an ubuntu prompt. I logged in as root, changed default password and rebooted. Then it didn't started. The screen was left blank, but was highligted. I thought that it maybe will took more time to boot and left it for a night, but nothing happened. What I did wrong?

Ok, and another silly question:

where to put the other attached files? to /boot? /boot/bin?

 

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